Thursday, May 31, 2012

Majical Miniatures looking for artists, business donations

By Nick Williams

Volunteers and money aren't the only things lacking at Majical Miniatures, a non-profit animal care and education center in Parrish.

The center, which cares for over 200 farm and exotic animals, is also in search of local artists and business donations for upcoming fundraisers. 

Beginning July 1, the center will hold a two-week online auction on Facebook. Its Christmas in July auction will fund a new turtle habitat. The auction will consist of merchandise and services donated by local businesses. The auction ends July 14. For more information on the auction, click here.

Though a date has yet to be determined, the center is planning to hold a contest for local artists. The contest will require artists to create birdhouses, bathhouses, squirrel feeders, goat houses and goat climbing structures out of recycled or repurposed materials. The winner will receive prizes donated by local businesses. The artist and business will be featured on the center's website, newsletter and social media pages.

In addition to the events, students in the Ringling School of Art & Design 'Freshman Intro to Advertising Design' class recently donated their marketing and creative skills to Majical Miniatures. The 10-person class, led by professor Matt McCutchin, spent the spring semester creating a variety of marketing pieces, including strategic research, videos, brochures and print ads.

Fore more information on Majical Miniatures, call 941-981-9121 or visit

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inaugural Joey Powers Memorial Lacrosse Bash a success

By Nick Williams

This past weekend, friends and family of Joey Powers, a former student at Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota who died of leukemia in 2010, gathered with lacrosse players across the Tampa Bay area at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch for the inaugural Joey Powers Memorial Stick-In-Bash.

The tournament welcomed 179 lacrosse players of all ages and raised $5,000 for the Joey Powers Leukemia Project, which donates money to families battling leukemia. Over the past year, the Joey Powers Leukemia Project has raised tens of thousands of dollars.

The first Joey Powers Memorial Stick-In-Bash raised $5,000. Courtesy Photo

The sports campus, owned by Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood Ranch, will provide six fields for the tournament free of charge. Tim Mulqueen, director of the sports campus, has offered to name one of the 22 fields after Joey Powers.

Five months after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 16, Joey Powers lost his battle with cancer one day shy of his 17th birthday on Nov. 20, 2010.

During their son's treatment, Jim and Angie Powers witnessed other families struggle with finances as their children suffered. Before his passing, Angie's sister created a charity in Joey's honor to help raise money for families affected by leukemia.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas has growing economic, entertaining impact

By Nick Williams

The movie going experience will probably never die, despite more people watching movies on mobile devices and their home entertainment center.

Still, "there's nothing like seeing what you want to see on the big screen," says Tim Calandra, director of community outreach and public relations for the Sarasota Film Society. "The great thing about going to movies is it's still an inexpensive day out."

For Lakewood Ranch residents, Lakewood Ranch Cinemas continues to offer a entertaining day out while also impacting the local economy.

The six-screen cineplex sold 230,000 tickets last year and generated $1.25 million, Calandra said.

"It has become a focal point to Lakewood Ranch," Calandra said.

Movie goers can purchase alcoholic beverages at the cinema and Calandra is hoping to bring in more independent films to the cinema.

The cinema is located on Main Street, which includes shops, restaurants and a mini-golf course.

"It's a great area," Calandra said. "It's family oriented."

ABWA Sunset chapter has raised $250,000 in past decade

Left to right: ABWA Sunset officers Francine LoCrosto, Jeanne Hardman, Lynn Luken , Val Filipksi and Victoria Roberts
By Nick Williams

Each year for the past 11 years, the American Business Women's Association Sunset chapter (Bradenton-Sarasota) has raised an average of $22,000 at its annual dinner for scholarships serving Manatee and Sarasota area women. From time to time, men will also be awarded scholarships.

 In that span, the chapter has raised $250,000.

"I can tell you from experience, if you're really kind to women and support them to get educated and get better jobs, they will take care of their children," said Victoria Roberts, president of the Sunset chapter. "When you get women to take care of their children, you turn the community into a more productive place. It shows the affects western women have on the community and this country."

The yearly scholarships have ranged from $100 to $1,000, depending on the financial need of the student.
In 1992, Barabara Kiracofe created the Sunset Chapter. Since its creation, she said the organization has helped dozens of local women. One in particular, Kelly Tellis, has truly benefited from the organization's funding.

Tillis was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, a condition which mimics a brain tumor and causes intracranial pressure to build. The pressure can cause, among other things, swelling of the optic nerve and result in blindness. She has had multiple surgeries.

When the chapter learned of her story, it funded her education through her years at the University of South Florida and then Barry Law School.

"I can't tell you how proud we are of her," Kiracofe said.

Kiracofe has been a member of the ABWA for 47 years. The work she and her fellow members put into the annual fundraiser is strenuous, but fulfilling.

"We know how much good is being done."

For more information on the chapter, visit

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tribute to Heroes to highlight Lakewood Ranch Memorial Day observance

Lakewood Ranch will observe Memorial Day with the Tribute To Heroes Memorial Parade and Celebration at  6-9 p.m. May 27 on Main Street.

The event will kick off at 5 p.m. with speeches and acknowledgements from the stage.

 The Tribute to Heroes Parade goes down Main Street starting at 6 p.m.  More than three dozen floats, bands, clubs and organizations are expected to take part.  Following the parade there will be a white dove release, donated by Jackie Greenough of Sarasota Dove Release. Bicycle riders are also invited to decorate their bikes and enter the competition on the the Lakewood Ranch Community Center Facebook page.

 Events include face painting, balloon artists, music, grilled foods and beverages.

Manasota Operation Troop Support will be filling a truck with toiletry and non-perishable food items. These simple but much needed items will be placed in care packages and sent overseas to our active military.

Letters will be placed in each packet to create a personal message of thanks, a note of appreciation, and a meaningful token.

For more on Memorial Day read the Lakewood Ranch Herald  and the Bradenton Herald and check this week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lakewood Ranch to consider allowing marathon through neighborhoods

By Nick Williams

Lakewood Ranch community development district 1, 2 and 5 supervisors will consider allowing a 13.1-mile half marathon to run through its neighborhoods on January 27, 2013.

The marathon, organized by Active Suncoast, would begin on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch and continue along Lakewood Ranch Blvd. to Hidden River Trail through Riverwalk and Country Club and go south on Lorraine Road along the boarders of Summerfield and Country Club. The course would then turn west into Country Club on Players Drive, Thronhill Court and Edenmore Street. The course turns southeast and follows Legacy Blvd. to Arnold Palmer Green, and Master's Ave., eventually reaching University Parkway until it reaches Lakewood Ranch Blvd.

District 1 serves Summerfield and Riverwalk while District 2 and 5 serve the Country Club and Edgewater neighborhoods.

Karen Haynes, event coordinator for Active Suncoast, made the presentation to the district boards on Tuesday for their approval. She said nearly 700 runners and walkers are expected to participate.

"It's a fun activity for the community," she said.

During a join meeting between districts 2 and 5, supervisors cautioned of possible inconvenience to residents. After studying the course map, supervisors said some residents would not be able to leave their subdivision due to road blocks and would have to navigate through alternative roads.

The supervisors agreed to contact other neighborhoods in Manatee County that allowed a similar marathon through its neighborhood to weigh the pros and cons.

Haynes said she would need the districts' decision within the next month.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Drumming up interest in Braden River Library

Drummer Steve Turner (Herald file photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

EAST MANATEE — Six special summer events for school-age children are planned 2 p.m. Thursdays at the Braden River Branch Library, 4915 53rd Ave. E.

Steve Turner, who leads popular drumming programs for children, kicks things off  June 14.

Also planned at the library this summer:

- June 21 -  Balinese Shadow Puppet Theatre and Puppet Making

-   June 28 -  Nocturnal Neighbors presented by the Manatee County Natural Resources Department

-   July 5 - Storyteller Windell Campbell

-   July 12 - Tang Martial Arts Academy

-  July 19 -  Incredible Insects presented by the Manatee County Natural Resources Department

Seating for all of these events is free and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No registration is necessary except for the Balinese Shadow Puppets.

Information: 941-727-6079.

Split with Aquaterra would be a process for Heritage Harbour CDD

By Nick Williams

When Heritage Harbour South Community Development District supervisor Joseph Jaudon expressed his concern over repair costs the district had to pay for a broken irrigation pipeline during a meeting last week, he also suggested the district sell ownership of the pipeline to Aquaterra, a developer-controlled irrigation utility.

That might be easier said than done.

The district could try to sell the irrigation line, but because it is a government agency, the line would have to be independently valued and offered for public bid, said district manager Jim Ward.

It could become a lengthy process.

Though the irrigation pipeline is not within the district's boundaries, the district has an agreement with Aquaterra that permits the utility company to transfer water through the district's irrigation pipes to serve the community, Ward said. The district does not pay Aquaterra, but an agreement exits for sale of the water with the homeowners associations in the community and the irrigation company, Ward said.

Jaudon said paying for a pipeline that does not serve the district is unnecessary.

"We receive no revenue from them," he said. "That pipeline feeds three private lakes that sells us water and we get no compensation for that pipeline."

The district paid $3,000 to help repair a broken water line owned by the district. The cost to repair the pipeline, which occurred nearly two months ago, was between $70,000-80,000, Ward said.

Ward said the $3,000 was taken from the district's emergency repair account, which contained roughly $5,600 at that time. The majority of the cost of repair was covered by insurance.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Celtic lap harp will travel

Celtic lap harp in Dan Cacchiotti's Myakka office. (provided photo)

Here's something you won't see in just any fire chief's office: a Celtic lap harp.

But Myakka Fire Chief Danny Cacchiotti has one.

Not that he knows how to play it.

"I think if you know how to play a piano, you might be able to play this," Cacchiotti told me.

The lap harp, in like-new condition, was donated to the Myakka City Foundation by a resident who moved out of the area.  

It will be auctioned 6:30 p.m. June 14 at a fundraiser for the foundation at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch.
For anyone who has missed playing a lap harp, or just wants a beautiful conversation piece for their home, this could be a golden opportunity.

"My question is does anyone know how to play this harp, or know someone that can play it?" Cacchiotti asks.   If so, give him a call at 941-812-3029.

Monday, May 7, 2012

No-parking signs along Post Boulevard to help keep everyone safe at Premier Sports Campus

No-parking signs now line Post Boulevard at the entrance to Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch. (Herald file photo)
Those new no-parking signs along Post Boulevard at the entrance to Premier Sports Campus are the result of a recommendation by George Ellington, deputy chief/fire marshal for East Manatee Fire Rescue District.

The signs went up about a month ago after Ellington wrote with a concern to Aaron Burkett, traffic operations division manager for Manatee County Public Works.

"We have found that during events, even though adequate parking is provided, cars are being parked on both sides of Post Boulevard as well as in the U.S. Post Office Parking lot," Ellington wrote.

"This road has a sharp rise to it and pedestrian traffic walking from one side of Post Boulevard to the other may not be seen by oncoming traffic from State Road 70," Ellington said.

He was also concerned about parking along 59th Avenue East, which dead-ends at Post Boulevard.

Premier Sports Campus has vast acreage and there is no reason that motorists shouldn't use the safe off-road parking that is provided.

And yes, all those cars and trucks that converge at Premier Sports Campus are a quiet testimonial to what a success it has been in its one year of existence.

Tim Mulqueen, director of sports at Lakewood Ranch, says that after the crush of traffic at a Labor Day event, organizers knew they needed to take a hard look at parking.

Changes have been made to add hundreds of additional parking spaces, while clearly marking areas where parking is not allowed, all in the name of improved safety, he said.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May a busy month for Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance

By Nick Williams

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance will host a number of events throughout the month of May. Nonmembers are able to attend at a price.

The alliance will hold its May Membership Luncheon on Wednesday, May 9 between 11:30am-1:00 p.m. at the Polo Grill on Lakewood Ranch to discuss local economic development. Sharon Hillstrom of the Manatee County Economic Development Corperation and Mark Huey of the Sarasota County EDC will lead the discussion. The cost is $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers.

On Wednesday, May 16, the alliance will hold its May Executive Briefing. The session, which will take place at Keiser University between 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., is titled “Protecting Your Intellectual Property”. The brief will be presented by Sarasota-based attorney Douglas  Cherry. The cost is $15 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

The organization will start a 15-week golf league that will be open to all members starting May 17. The league will play every Thursday at the Legacy Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch. Members must join by May 11. The cost to join the league is $395.  

Lastly, on Wednesday May 30, LWRBA will have a new membership orientation between 7:30 a.m.-9 a.m. at Keiser University.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

West Coast Black Theater Troupe visits University Park women

Kathy Bondur, Nate Jacobs, Angelia Wood, Mary Conklin and UPWC President, Cheryl Kleiman. (Provided photo)
Nate Jacobs, founder and artistic director of the West Coast Black Theater Troupe, recently performed several songs from one of the company's production for the University Park Women's Club during a celebration of  the arts at Lakewood Ranch Country Club.

He also gave a stirring account of the troupe's history, accomplishments and mission.

Everyone was captivated by his talent and enthusiasm, said Katy Arrillaga, club historian.

Members had an opportunity to learn about and experience the great artistic treasures available in Manatee-Sarasota.

Co-vice presidents Mary Conklin and Kathy Bondur, and member Angelia Wood helped plan the program for 129 members and their guests.

Also attending the meeting was Kristen Theisen, vice president of Development for Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee, which operates the Food Bank of Manatee.

Kris Higgerson, Kristen Theisen and
Cheryl Kleiman (provided photo)
In addition to the club's previous gift of $16,000 to the Food Bank, Theisen accepted another check for $5,000.

  This money will be used to help stock the pantry shelves and provide lunches during the summer months for children who otherwise would go without.

Outreach co-chairs Kris Higgerson and Ann Nellis took the lead in making the food bank donation possible.

Seated, left,  Donna Katos, Beckie Suverkrup, Mary Bennett, Jeanie Blazey, and standing , left, Maureen Ryan, Bea Levey, Mary Conklin, Theresa Wride and Marty Gersman. (provided photo)