Wednesday, March 26, 2014

North River swears in new chief Michael Rampino, honors firefighter of the year Robert Tollise

Robert Tollise is the North River firefighter of the year.
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Michael S. Rampino has been sworn in as chief of the North River Fire District, replacing John W. McGinnis, who served more than 30 years in the district.

For more on the new chief, see the Herald's previous  story.

Also this month, Robert J. Tollise was honored as the district's 2013 firefighter of the year.

The firefighter of the year, as chosen by his peers, is one who exudes the qualities of professionalism, knowledge, skill, ability, dedication, and loyalty to the fire service and the North River Fire District.

Chief Michael Rampino and Fire Commissioner Michael Browning.
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Tollise, began his career in 1988 as a career firefighter with the City of Bradenton.  He left the fire service and joined the Tropicana-Bradenton Health and Safety Department in 1995 as their emergency response coordinator and hazmat team coordinator.

 In 2004 He became the Manatee County public safety hazardous materials chief.  He became a fire inspector with North River Fire District in 2010.  He  is a state certified firefighter, EMT, hazmat technician, fire inspector I and II, fire instructor III, arson investigator and he has earned a B.S. in Safety Engineering.

 His positive attitude and co-operative demeanor is evident to anyone who has the pleasure to work around him. He is recognized county wide as the “go to guy “ for hazmat advice."
Chief Michael Rampino, left, and Interim Fire Chief  Kenneth Cluley.
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Buchanan staffer to hold office hours in Ellenton

ELLENTON — A member of U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan’s staff will hold open office hours from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday in Ellenton.

Gary Tibbetts, field representative for Buchanan (R-Longboat Key), will be available to speak with constituents with questions, comments, or concerns regarding a federal matter, Buchanan’s staff announced.

The office hours will be held at Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lakewood Ranch resident, SCF student receives Coca-Cola scholarship

Evans Rimel, a Lakewood Ranch resident and student at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), has been named a 2014 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

Rimel will receive a $1,500 scholarship and a special medallion for being one of 50 students nationwide to be recognized as a Gold Scholar.

Another SCF student, Olga Klippert Blue, of Englewood and a native of Germany, was named a Bronze scholar and will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

“Our SCF students are extremely deserving of recognition for their hard work, leadership and stellar academic performance. Their success in winning these awards is a testament to their own commitment to excellence and to the quality education and support provided by SCF professors and advisers,” said SCF President Dr. Carol F. Probstfeld in a statement.

Only two students from each college can be nominated for the award, and recipients are selected by a panel of judges who consider academic rigor, grade-point average, academic and leadership awards, and engagement in college and community service projects.

In addition, Rimel, Klippert Blue, Palmetto resident Jourdan McKinnis and Corey Culbertson were named to the 2014 All-Florida Academic Team, which recognizes outstanding students for their academic achievement, leadership and service to their community. This year’s All-Florida Academic Team is composed of 109 students who were nominated by their respective colleges to the All-USA Academic Team competition sponsored by USA Today and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society. Awardees will be recognized with special medallions at an awards ceremony Friday, April 25, in Orlando.

Evans Rimel
Here are Rimel's and McKinnis' bios, courtesy of SCF:

Rimel is the vice president of scholarship for the Nu Zeta chapter of the PTK International Honor Society at SCF Bradenton and president of the SCF Bradenton Student Government Association. As a member of SCF’s Model United Nations Club, Rimel was the first SCF student to earn a perfect score on his position paper at the 2013 Atlanta Southern Regional Model United Nations Conference and is a two-time winner of the Outstanding Delegate Award for his work on the Security Council. He also was the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Student in Political Science Award, the flag bearer at the SCF Presidential Inauguration and the student speaker at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Academic Building. Rimel serves on SCF’s Student Activities Budget Review and Quality Enhancement Plan committees, and is active in the community as an Eagle Scout and member of the Manatee Young Professionals. After graduating with an Associate in Arts degree in May 2014, he plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Florida and later earn a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University.
Jourdan McKinnis

McKinnis is an SCF Collegiate School (SCFCS) student. She was the recording secretary for the Nu Zeta chapter of the PTK International Honor Society at SCF Bradenton and president of the SCF Circle K Club. She also served as the mathematics tutor at the academic resource center, participated in Relay for Life and volunteered as a tennis coach for elementary students at clinics at Terra Ceia Bay Country Club and Tidewater Preserve. After graduating with both an SCFCS high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from SCF in May 2014, she plans to attend the University of Central Florida and later earn a medical degree with the goal of becoming a surgeon.

Olaf from 'Frozen' will be at Lakewood Ranch health expo

If you or your kids can't get enough of Disney's "Frozen," listen up.

Olaf, the lovable snowman from the smash hit movie, will be a special guest at Lakewood Ranch's spring health & wellness expo this Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center's main lobby.

The expo will include more than 50 exhibitors sharing samples, services and information. The hospital will be offering tours of its new pediatric unit, the breast health center and free glucose and blood pressure checks.

And for the kids, there will be a chance to win raffle prizes including two bikes from Disney, several Disney games on the lawn and photo ops with Olaf.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Next Music on Main to fight muscular dystrophy in kids

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The next installment of Music on Main, Lakewood Ranch’s monthly concert series, set for Friday, April 4, will benefit Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD).

The nonprofit was founded by parents and grandparents of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood that results in progressive muscle weakness, which leads to serious medical problems, particularly relating to the heart and lungs.

Local residents Nick and Jennifer Tullio, whose 10-year-old son, Grayson, was diagnosed with Duchenne in 2005, will be pouring and serving beverages to Music on Main guests along with about 20 volunteers. Proceeds will go toward PPMD and its mission to end the disease.

“We are so grateful to the Lakewood Ranch community for their support,” said Jennifer Tullio in a media release. “Every dollar that’s raised gets us one step closer to finding a treatment to help Grayson and the thousands of boys like him who are living with Duchenne.”

The free event begins at 6 p.m. on Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Get your documents shredded in Lakewood Ranch on April 26

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Town Hall and the Lakewood Ranch Grow Financial branch will host a Free Community Shred Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 26.

Residents will have two locations where they can drop off old bills and receipts, account statements and other documents to be shredded: Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., and Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, 11008, at the corner of State Road 64 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

Only personal documents will be accepted (no commercial or business documents) and the maximum is two boxes, no larger than 24 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Harvest UMC delivers books, kind words to Samoset kids

SAMOSET — Members of Harvest United Methodist Church in Lakewood Ranch teamed up with an accomplished children’s author to deliver books and notes of encouragement to students at Samoset Elementary School on Monday.

Author Sandra Markle, a Harvest member, secured more than 600 books for the students through the nonprofit organization First Book.

Harvest UMC partners with Samoset Elementary through the School District and Manatee Chamber of Commerce’s Business Partner in Education initiative. Church members volunteer to read with and mentor students, provide administrative support and encouragement to teachers and make other charitable donations to serve students’ needs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lakewood Ranch High student's essay is winner again

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch High School student Alisha Erozer won first place for her essay, “Dig Deeper — What are the Mysteries in the Soil?” at the Association of Florida Conservation Districts (AFCD) Area III annual meeting recently in Orlando.

Erozer, representing the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District, will compete at the state level in Ocala in August.

Erozer won the district's speech contest in November as part of Farm City Week in Manatee County. She was also a finalist in the 2013-14 Martin Luther King Speech and Essay 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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ComCenter at Lakewood Ranch to host art reception

ComCenter at Lakewood Ranch is hosting a “Meet the Artists” art reception from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday , March 11.

The reception is open to the public and will be held in the lobby of ComCenter, 9040 Town Center Parkway, Lakewood Ranch.

The ComCenter lobby is designed as an art gallery, with art that changes several times a year. The art currently on display is from artists at Art Uptown on Main Street in downtown Sarasota.

For more information, contact Yasemin at 941-782-1200.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

'Leaning Tower of Pizza' can creation is award winner for LWR architects

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A local architecture firm’s “Leaning Tower of Pizza” creation made of canned food is an award winner.

A team from Fawley Bryant won “Best Use of Labels” in the 2014 AIA Florida Gulf Coast CANstruction competition.

CANstruction is a nonprofit organization that hosts competitions, exhibitions and events showcasing colossal structures made entirely of full cans of food. After the structures are built, the creations go on display to the public as a giant art exhibition. At the end of the event, all food is donated to local hunger relief organizations.
The Fawley Bryant team of Kirk Bauer, Chris Bretthauer, Stuart Henderson, Kathryn Witting and team leader Jenna Kiser built their structure using 1,826 cans of food.

“We chose one of the most iconic and recognizable structures in the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and merged it with our favorite meal, pizza.” Bauer said in a media release.

The proportions of the can structure and its famous lean were derived from the real-life tower and manifested through different can heights and diameters. Cans of pizza ingredients such as sauce, meat, mushrooms and olives were used.

"The Leaning Tower of Pizza" by a team from Lakewood Ranch-based Fawley Bryant was an award winner. PHOTO PROVIDED

Friday, March 7, 2014

Primrose preschoolers help kids in need to read

Preschoolers at the Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch Town Center and their families recently participated in a program to help provide books for local children in need in honor of Read Across America Day this month.

“Our philosophy and literacy goals at Primrose directly align with Read Across America Day, and it was truly a great day for the community and the entire country to establish a regular reading routine, promote early childhood education and celebrate the power of literacy together,” said Sharon Frank, owner, in a media release.

The book donation drive is a part of Og’s Bountiful Books, a Primrose reading program designed to encourage parents to read to their children at home and send in favorite books to school to share with their classmates and those in need. “Og” is the official Primrose school bookworm – as well as one of the school’s character development mascots.

From left, Brock Morgan, 5; Maddox Bose, 5; Max Bradley, 5; Lucy Preston, 6; and Ella Hartigan, 5. PHOTO PROVIDED
From left, Braxton Taylor, 4; Parker Lui, 4; Layla Bianes, 4; and Laila Pumarejo, 4. PHOTO PROVIDED

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Gold Coast Eagle Distributing makes $6.8 million donation

Lakewood Ranch's Gold Coast Eagle Distributing announced a $6.82 million contribution to Step Up For Students, a nonprofit organization that helps students in need.

Company leaders presented the contribution Thursday during an information session for Manatee- and Sarasota-area families about Step Up For Students’ K-12 scholarship program.

Step Up For Students helps provide scholarships to qualified low-income families throughout Florida, allowing recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.

“We are honored to partner with a company that goes the extra mile to spread the word about our scholarship program,” Step Up For Students Director of Operational Compliance & Training Jody Hysler said. “We are grateful for Gold Coast Eagle’s generous contributions that have helped so many Florida students, as well as their community outreach efforts.”

During the 2013-14 school year, about 800 students in Sarasota and Manatee counties benefited from a Step Up scholarship.

Gold Coast Eagle, located in Lakewood Ranch, is the 50th largest of 675 Anheuser-Busch beer distributors in the United States.

Jody Hysler, Step Up For Students director of operational compliance & training, joins Hugh Shields, Gold Coast Eagle marketing manager, to accept Gold Coast Eagle’s $6.82 million contribution to the scholarship program. PHOTO PROVIDED