Thursday, January 31, 2013

Life-threatening illness puts it all in perspective

McNeal Elementary School teacher Nancy Newby and her husband Jim. (provided photo)

What's on your to-do list?

Bills to pay, gas for the car,  birthday gift for someone special, an appointment with the dentist.

How about saving a life?

If you're between the ages of 18 and 44, you could be the one person in 100,000 or more who is a match for someone needing a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

Nancy Newby, a beloved McNeal Elementary School teacher battling multiple myeloma, a form of cancer in the blood, is awaiting a compatible match.

Several local campaigns are planned by the Icla da Silva Foundation, a recruitment center for Be the Match.

When a person registers as a possible donor, they have a swab taken from the inside of each cheek to determine the tissue type. Confidentiality is guaranteed.

Drives are planned at:

* Bradenton Urgent Care, 4647 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton,  9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6.

* Lakewood Ranch Urgent Care, 9908 S.R. 64 E., East Manatee, 3 - 7 p.m. Feb. 6.

* Sarasota Urgent Care 6272 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.Feb. 7.

Anyone wanting to help may also make a direct financial contribution on line at:

For more information about Nancy Newby and efforts to save her life, visit:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

East Manatee makes education news

Braden River High School took home $78,000 this week for student participation in career academies. Shown above, from left, are John Frank, Vanessa Gianmanco, Jillian Bieber, and Christy Goehring. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)
Lakewood Ranch High School took home $87,000 this week for student participation in career academies. Shown above, from left, are Quinton Jones, Michelle Todoroff, Elaine Bowling and Linda Nesselhauf. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)
When you think of East Manatee, you probably think about growth and development, wide-open spaces, cattle, and orange groves.

To that list we should add education.

Manatee Technical Institute opened its new campus on Caruso Road and S.R. 70 this month, putting it at a more centralized location to serve all of Manatee County.

This week, there was discussion among State College of Florida trustees that in the next 30 years, maybe SCF would shift its main campus to Lakewood Ranch. That's very conceptual, and probably not even preliminary right now.

But it is an interesting line of thought. Of course, Lakewood Ranch already has a SCF campus, technically on the Sarasota side of the county line. If a new main campus were to be built at Lakewood Ranch, it would be at a new, larger location north of the border.

The logic is that SCF serves Manatee and Sarasota, and a new East Manatee location would be more convenient and centralized for all of  that student population..

Bricks and mortar are important. Got to have buildings to house those students, which are even more important.

This week at the Manatee School Board meeting, some of the students and teachers who serve them were spotlighted.

Nathalie Kabongo-Chavez, a ninth-grader at Lakewood Ranch High School,  was recognized by the school board for winning the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest. Also recognized was middle school winner Alex Kumar of Nolan Middle School.

The board was so impressed with Nathalie that they stood and applauded after she delivered her speech.

All six of  Manatee County's traditional public high schools were also represented this week at the school board meeting, taking home their share of $385,000 they had earned through their career academies.

State lawmakers in 2008 passed legislation which recognizes career and professional education academies. In essence, the training through career academies adds value to the high school education, makes students more competitive in the job market and aids in technical skill development.

The academies receive funds for each graduating senior receiving an industry certification.

Bayshore, Palmetto, Southeast, Lakewood Ranch, Braden River, and Manatee high schools all received nice checks.

It wasn't too long ago that Braden River and Lakewood Ranch campuses didn't even exist, and now they hold their own with schools everywhere in the county.

For more:

Nathalie Kabongo-Chavez, shown with her mother, Rosa, was recognized by Manatee School Board members this week for her oratory. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Waiting for Mama at the Suncoast Half Marathon

Among the many images I took away from the Suncoast Half Marathon at Lakewood Ranch on Sunday, one of my favorites was not of the runners at all, but of two dogs and man looking hard for something..

Check 'em out. You can see they are straining to see their mom, obviously their favorite runner.

As soon as she comes into sight, they lock on and give chase, nearly pulling the gentleman with the leash down.

Such exuberance, such, longing, such love!

For the record, nearly 400 runners took part in the 13.1 mile race. From everything I saw, there was little to no  interruption of community life. A great edition to a great place to live, work and play.

Hope to see it return next year.

For more photos,

For the story,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Remembering some great teachers

It was a little unusual to have Larry Rhodes, former long-time director of Manatee County's mosquito control efforts, recite William Shakespeare's Love Sonnet to me over the phone this week:

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds

"Admit impediments. Love is not love

"Which alters when it alteration finds,

"Or bends with the remover to remove:

"O no! it is an ever-fixed mark"

Corrine Miller
Larry, a 1950 graduate of Ketterlinus High School in St. Augustine, Fla., had read my Sunday column about a great teacher, Corrine Miller.

The column prompted Larry to call and relate his own experiences with Miss Miller and some of the town's other unforgettable teachers. Among them were Miss Eleanor Alden. Larry surprised her by standing and reciting the Shakespeare sonnet in class.  

Miss Alden was moved to tears, and Larry moved into a whole new realm of can do no wrong.

Larry can still recite the sonnet from memory.

Larry also was in Miss Miller's Spanish class. She had spent time in Mexico, and told the class the Spanish she would teach would be more like they would hear in Mexico City than Madrid.

Larry was  one of several folks I heard from after the column appeared, some with stories about Miss Miller, or other teachers in Bradenton or elsewhere.

One of my classmates shared this memory of Miss Miller:

"I read and enjoyed your article about Miss Miller, who was indeed an exceptional teacher. I always tell people that I never learned anything else about English after having her as a teacher. One story, however, concerns Spanish II, which I took from her during my senior year. If you will recall, Miss Miller used to make us write repetitions of whatever we had missed. It was the last 2 or 3 weeks of our senior year, and Miss Miller told me I had to write some phrase 500 times so that I wouldn't forget how to do it right.

My classmate decided that he was so close to graduation that he could ignore the requirement.

"Well, when I went back to get my diploma after commencement, instead of my diploma, there was a note from Miss Miller which said, "Be in my class next Tuesday to complete your assignment or you don't get your diploma." That was Miss Miller.

Ann Jerman of Horseshoe Cove, a former teacher, also wrote: 

"Loved your commentary!   It brought back fond memories so your column did its job!     I always told my little first graders every day that we will have a day filled with the joy of discovery - and we did!  Thanks for the memory."

And I heard from a couple of Manatee County teachers, one of whom wrote in part:

"My epiphany came in my sophomore year with Ms. Daniel, who instilled in me an undying love of English literature. I never will forget her, Ms. McKinzey (history) or Coach McChesney (sociology). More so than any other high-school teacher those three saw and cultivated the potential I did not even know I exhibited."

For more, http://www.bradenton.c

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bill Field, known countywide, will certainly be missed

Bill Field, right, was known countywide as a tireless worker for veterans.
 (Herald file photo)
The death of American Legion Post 24 commander Bill Field in a traffic crash Monday morning was a huge loss to the veterans community and Manatee County.

"The community lost a great patriot," retired Col. Fred Graves told me in an email this morning.

We also heard from retired Army Lt. Col. Lee Kichen, who has helped literally thousands of veterans over the years.

"He was a great one. He was once Manatee County Veteran of the Year, but he was really Veteran of the Decade," Kichen said of the hard-working man who led a post 1,200 members strong.

"The irony is that he survived some really bitter fighting in Korea. They should name a school after him," Kichen said.

Scotty Blomeley, a veteran of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, remembered Bill Field as a tremendous leader at Post 24, who not only built the post membership, but personally tended to the little and big details such as cooking, gardening, mowing, maintenance and more.

Blomeley recalled visiting local schools with Field to share their war time experiences.

"I never saw a kid fall asleep," Blomeley said. "I am gonna miss him. He was a wonderful friend."

Marty Leise advises that a memorial for Bill will be held at the American Legion Post 24, 2000 75th St. W.,  Bradenton, at 2 p.m.  Friday, Jan. 11, with a luncheon to follow.

For more,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thunder on the Bay

Nick Trankito of Lakewood Ranch, left, and Richard Mitchell of Sarasota helped with parking motorcyclists during the blessing of the bikes Sunday at Thunder on the Bay. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)
In case you wondered about that steady thundering sound the past several days, think of a four-letter word -- bike -- and then multiply it hundreds of times.

It's the annual Thunder on the Bay motorcycle festival, which wraps up Sunday, Jan. 6.

Although it was centered mostly in Bradenton and Sarasota, East Manatee residents got into the fun as well.

Here are photos of a couple of East Manatee folks we spotted.
George "Chrome" Buchanan, left, visits with Howard Nelson of Myakka City Sunday during Thunder on the Bay. (Herald photo by Jim Jones)

For more photos:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crash closes portion of U.S. 301 near Parrish

Crash with injuries this morning near Harrison Ranch. (Photo by Nelson Krantz)
The Florida Highway Patrol is reporting a crash with injuries at 9:08  at Harrison Ranch Boulevard and U.S. 301, Parrish.

Road block was being reported in the south-bound lane of U.S. 301.

Photo provided by Nelson Krantz above shows overturned car well off the highway.