Friday, November 29, 2013

Ovation becomes 'Grand Ovation at Lakewood Ranch'

Ovation, the popular community festival in Lakewood Ranch, has a new name.

The new Grand Ovation at Lakewood Ranch will celebrate its seventh annual festival from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 on Main Street.

The festival will include performances from a variety of local school groups, professional musicians, dancers, chorus groups, drama teams and more, plus food and shopping, organizers say. The event is free to attend, and there is no charge for nonprofit groups to participate and receive table space.

Find applications to participate and information about sponsorships at or at the SMR headquarters at 14400 Covenant Way in Lakewood Ranch. Call Rachel Gray at 941-757-1548 or Linda Gross at 941-907-9507The application deadline is Jan. 1.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Local pastor spins Wheel of Fortune, takes home $10K

The Rev. Steve Price took home $10,400 from his appearance on Wheel of Fortune, but his chance at even bigger money got burnt up in an erupting volcano.

Or better yet, an "E R _ _ T I N G    _ _ L _ _ N _"

That was the final puzzle in the bonus round for Price, co-pastor at Harvest United Methodist Church in Bradenton and a contestant on an episode of the game show that aired Tuesday.

Price couldn't solve it, but he still called his appearance a success when he spoke to the Herald last week.

"All I can say is it was a great experience," Price said. "It's a memory I'll always carry with me."

Friends, family and congregation members attended a watch party Tuesday at Ranch Grill to cheer Price on. Of course, he gave the church and Bradenton a shout out when he chatted with host Pat Sajak at the start of the show.

You can read more about his experience in his contestant blog on the Wheel of Fortune's official website.

- Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor.

Steve Price at the gates of Sony Studios in Los Angeles, where he filmed an episode of "Wheel of Fortune" last month. PROVIDED PHOTO

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fashion show celebrates women, giving

The models at Nov. 13's fashion show. PROVIDED PHOTO

The Women's Giving Circle Social & Fashion Show, presented by the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund and Northern Trust on Nov. 13 at the Lake Club in Lakewood Ranch, brought together nearly 80 local leaders to celebrate the power of women to raise funds for a variety of charitable causes.

This year's event featured a fashion show with local celebrities and a philanthropic purpose, plus the unveiling of the Chic Boutique, a resale shop and collaboration between HOPE Family Services and the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee County.

The host committee included Diane Brune, Angela Massaro-Fain, Julienne Smith, Jenifer Schembri, Ardell Terry and Patti Wrobel.

Lakewood Ranch Women’s Giving Circle is celebrated each year "as a dynamic group of women bonded by friendship, shared interests and values in supporting organizations and programs in need," according to a news release.

The evening also served as a great success with the addition of two new circles and the distribution of four start-up kits for circle development. Each circle must commit to establishing a $10,000 minimum endowed fund to be a part of the Founders’ 50 of the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund

A check presentation. PROVIDED PHOTO

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lakewood Ranch student wins soil speech contest

Alisha Erozer, first-place winner from Lakewood Ranch High, and John O’Connor, Jr., Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District board vice chairman. PHOTO PROVIDED

A Lakewood Ranch High student won the annual Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District’s speech contest Nov. 14 as part of Farm City Week.

Alisha Erozer was awarded $150 for her speech on this year’s topic, “Dig Deeper - What are the Mysteries in the Soil?” Her first-place finish also qualifies her to compete in an area contest to be held next March.

Finishing second and awarded $100 was Cheyenne Atkinson of Bayshore High School. Third was Samantha Baum, a student at Haile Middle School, who received $75.

Students in grades 6 through 12 performed six- to eight-minute speeches in the contest, designed to develop leadership through participation in public speaking activities and to stimulate interest in conserving our natural resources. Basia Kuehn, a Nolan Middle School student, wrote and recited poetry to communicate her point. Students from Palmetto High School also participated.

Judges were Carrie Ann Green, senior probation officer for the Manatee County Government Community Services Department and Toastmasters member; Juan Vega, USDA/NRCS resource soil scientist; and David Neely, USDA/NRCS agricultural engineer.
Samantha Baum, third-place winner from Haile Middle School, and John O’Connor, Jr., Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District board vice chairman. PHOTO PROVIDED
Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District speech contestant, from left, Basia Kuehn, Joey Leto, Tiffany Bunch, Tabetha Lex,  Samantha Baum, Alisha Erozer and Cheyenne Atkinson.

Cheyenne Atkinson, second-place winner from Bayshore High School, and John O’Connor, Jr., Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District board vice chairman. PHOTO PROVIDED

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

145 gallons of blood lands man in Donation Hall of Fame

Roy Richards has bled for a cause he believes in.

One hundred and forty-five gallons worth, to be exactly.

Richards, 85, was inducted into the Donation Hall of Fame, sponsored by Fenwal, for his achievement on Oct. 31 at the Lakewood Ranch Donor Center.

He began donating blood in 1947 whenever the bloodmobile visited his workplace in Wisconsin. Soon after, he began traveling to the Milwaukee Donor Center because the bloodmobile didn't come around frequently enough.

Richards continued donating platelets 24 times a year after he and his wife, Sylvia, moved to Sarasota.

"It's helping people and that's what's important," Richards told Bay News 9 recently.

For more information about donating blood, center locations and hours, go to

-- Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor

JB Gaskins, left, and Barrett Mulford, from Fenwal, join Roy Richards as he is inducted into the Donation Hall of Fame. PHOTO PROVIDED

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Preview of Parrish play is a hit

Find out more about "Red Rooster Tales," a folk life play about the history of Parrish, by visiting

The first preview performance of "Red Rooster Tales," a folk life play about the history of Parrish, put on by residents of Parrish, was a huge success last month, according to Ben Jordan, acting executive director of the Parrish Arts Council.

"It was better than I would have ever imagined," Jordan said.

The recently formed arts council created the play as a way to instill a sense of community in Parrish and to boost the local economy. A short preview of the play was performed for potential donors and again for a sold-out crowd of residents at the Parrish Branch Y and community center a few weeks ago.

"They just nailed it," Jordan said. The performance was great. It proved, 'OK, hey, the community will support this.' "

(Read more about "Red Rooster Tales" and what it could mean for Parrish's future in the Herald's recent story.)

The full play will debut sometime in spring 2014, and there's a lot more work to be done before then. Most importantly, the arts council hopes to find -- or build -- a larger venue that might serve as a permanent home for the play and draw visitors and tourists to Parrish.

"We would like to put a building at the (Florida) Railroad Museum," Jordan said. "That's the real dream."

Jordan and the rest of the arts council members were meeting this week to decide their next steps, then go out and seek the funds to accomplish them.

For more information about "Red Rooster Tales" and how you might get involved, visit

-Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor

Friday, November 1, 2013

Neal golf tourney raises $19K for Gullett Elementary

Pat Neal , far left, of Neal Communities, joins B.D. Gullett Elementary School principal Kathy Hayes, far right, in presenting a check from this year's golf tournament fundraiser. PHOTO PROVIDED
The 5th Annual Neal Communities Golf Challenge benefiting B.D. Gullett Elementary School in Lakewood Ranch raised more than $19,000, including a $10,000 donation by the home builder, the, lead sponsor of the event.

“The tournament, which began in 2008 to provide much needed technological resources for students and a growing population in the area, has proved to be a huge asset to fundraising goals for B.D. Gullett Elementary,” Neal Communities said in a media release.

 Money raised at this year’s tournament, held Sept. 21 at University Park Country Club, will fund laptops and computer equipment. A total of $19,289.61 will go directly toward the school.

 “On behalf of the students and staff at B.D. Gullett Elementary, we extend our gratitude for our generous community’s support of the 2013 Neal Communities Golf Challenge,” said principal Kathy Hayes.

- Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor