Saturday, May 31, 2014

Parrish Civic Association elects officers, gets sneak peek of the latest Dry Creek show

Parrish Civic Association leaders, front, left, vice president Tami Vaughan, director Iris McClain, director Pearl McCraw, second row, left, director Gretchen Fowler,  president Ben Jordan, director Michael Wells, secretary Cookie Jordan, and treasurer Norma Kennedy. Bradenton Herald photo by Jim Jones
Members of the Parrish Civic Association recently elected their 2014-2015 slate of officers, and the new lineup looks a lot like the old one.

Ben Jordan was elected president, replacing Tami Vaughan who held the post for the past three years. Vaughan takes over Jordan's old seat as vice president.

Cookie Jordan was elected secretary and Norma Kennedy was elected treasurer.

Directors include Cindy Chin, Gretchen Fowler, Jim Gertz, Denise Greer, Karen Lanese, Iris McClain, Pearl McCraw, Malcolm Norwood, and Michael Wells.

Afterward, everyone watched "The Doll," the 15th episode of the Dry Creek project which premiered three years ago.

Many of the cast members were in the audience during the showing.

Dry Creek cast and crew members attended a meeting of the Parrish Civic Association for a showing of their 15th episode, The Doll. Bradenton Herald photo by Jim Jones

Friday, May 23, 2014

Lakewood Ranch Elks help Freedom students stay safe from strangers

From left, Joanne DiCarlo, Darlene Jenny, Kay Thorson, Kathy Dattilo, Kay Ogren, Rick Thorson, PER, Barbara Blackwell. Also with the group is Brenda Zofrea, the author of the program.
Seven Elks from Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge #2855 recently read a book titled "Let’s B Safe" to first-graders at Freedom Elementary School in East Manatee.

The Let’s B Safe program teaches children about the dangers of going with strangers who might be sexual predators. Because the main character of the book is a bee, each child received not only a copy of the book to take home but also received a plush bee.

"Often a child who has been abused is either ashamed or frightened and unwilling to tell a responsible adult what has happened to them," said Rick Thorson of the Elks in an email to the Herald.

"We teach the child to confide in the bee and then let the bee tell the adult what has happened to them. Last year alone there were three 'exposures,' so the program works well."

The lodge applied for and received a Gratitude Grant from the Elks National Foundation to purchase the books and the bees, Thorson said.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New fire engine pulling its weight in Myakka City

Firefighters Brittan Williams, John Creaser, Nathan Mahon, and Chris James are pleased to have a new engine at the Verna Bethany Station. Herald photo by James A. Jones Jr.
MYAKKA  -- The addition of a new $500,000 fire truck has helped the Myakka City Fire Department move up a couple of notches on its 10-year plan, Fire Chief Dan Cacchiotti said this week.

The E-One engine, complete with computer system that gives crew a read out of the emergency they are responding to, and directions on how to get there, already has answered about 50 calls.

One of the most recent  was an eight-acre brushfire this week. The new engine, nicknamed "The Beast of the East" by Myakka Elementary School students, joined several other fire engines and brush trucks, and the Division of Forestry in putting out the fire, Cacchiotti said.

The fire truck, which has been paid off with district funds and a $400,000 grant from the Mosaic Company, helped the district move to 24-hour-a-day staffing for Station 2, better known as the Verna Bethany location.

Firefighter Nathan Mahon said it's a "night and day" comparison of the new engine to an older one  based at Station 2.

Brittan Williams said that he likes the tight turning radius of The Beast, the amount of gear that firefighters can carry,  and the 1,800 gallons of water on board.

Another handy feature is  the video camera that aids the driver in backing the fire engine.
Chief Cacchiotti with some of the new fire engine's  electronics.
Herald photo by James A. Jones Jr.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Alligator safety tips from the FWC

GRANT JEFFRIES/Bradenton Herald
In a Bradenton Herald story published today, I wrote about Lakewood Ranch officials' concerns that there is an increase in alligator trapping in Country Club West. Officials are thinking this uptick has to do with residents' misconceptions of how dangerous gators really are. Many residents are unaware that once a gator is trapped, it is almost always killed for its valuable meat and hide. CDD and HOA board members are encouraging residents to think twice before they make the call.

Here's a few gator safety tips from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

• If you encounter an alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets or property, call the FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline at (866) 392-4286.
• Be aware of the possibility of alligators when you are in or near fresh or brackish water.
• Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Therefore, avoid swimming at night.
• Dogs and cats are similar in size to the natural prey of alligators. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators.
• Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing, possessing or feeding alligators.• Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them into the water.
• Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites can result in serious infections.
• Observe and photograph alligators from a distance.

-- Sabrina Rocco,

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One Night Rodeo to serve as guest bartenders at fundraiser in Lakewood Ranch

The members of One Night Rodeo will serve as celebrity bartenders at an upcoming fundraiser for the Myakka City Foundation in Lakewood Ranch.

The event, 6-9 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at Polo Grill will feature Cory Hildreth and Duane Allison behind the bar.

The evening will include a raffle for an autographed One Night Rodeo guitar and a side of beef. There will also be a silent auction featuring prizes like four tickets to SeaWorld Orlando.

For more information, visit or email

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Free concert at Fort Hamer Park, Music by the River, rescheduled for May 10 after rainout

PARRISH — Music by the River, which was rained out May 3, has been rescheduled for 2-4 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Fort Hamer Park.

The free concert will feature Kim Betts and the Gamble Creek Band, music by JD and Zetha Lewis, the Buffalo Creek Middle School Jazz Band, and cowboy poet Les McDowell.

Parrish Arts Council officials are hoping Music on the River becomes a regular concert series to attract residents and visitors to Fort Hamer and other nearby locations.

They also are seeking to attract more Parrish residents to help with plans to revitalize the historic village.
Fort Hamer Park is on the south end of Fort Hamer Road. The park is also home to the Manatee County rowing training facility.

Concertgoers should bring lawn chairs or blankets. Refreshments will be available for sale at the park.

Art Association of Palm-Aire wraps up season with talk by artist couple

Along the Ice Floes, by John Seerey-Lester
Where Have They All Gone? by Suzie Seerey-Lester
The Art Association of Palm-Aire  has wrapped up its season, and will return in the fall.

John and Suzie Seerey-Lester, both artists, presented the final program of the season.

Here's a report by Audrey Wilkinson and Barb Saabye:

 John and Suzie Seerey-Lester  had many interesting stories about their travels and art. John was born in Manchester, England, and is a world-renowned wildlife artist who currently lives in Osprey, Florida. He started his career as a painter during his early years, receiving his first commission at 13. At first, he painted portraits and figurative works, which he still does on occasion. After traveling to East Africa in 1980 and painting wildlife there, he made a decision to paint only wildlife he has seen firsthand.

John is meticulous in his preparations for a painting. While on location, he paints the wildlife he observes in acrylic or oil on pieces of 8-by-10-inch Masonite. Back at his studio, he will set up the whole scene he intends to paint. He needed two hunters in one picture he was doing, so he found two people to go out on a golf course where there was an elevated green and had them pose on the hill with guns while he sketched them. Then he blended the two components into the final oil painting.

John’s work is in galleries and museums in the United States and Europe. He was recognized for his work in conservation by Prince Philip. He moved to the U.S. in the 1990s and has had many limited-edition prints published by Mill Pond Press.

While he was teaching a class in Guatemala he met his future wife, Suzie Zimos, who was a diving instructor before she became a serious painter. Some of her diving students were FBI and CIA agents.

While in the deep she was able to study marine life and transfer that knowledge to her paintings. Suzie paints primarily North American animals and rural scenes. Her work is displayed in galleries around the U.S. and Europe. At present, she works with researchers at the Mote Marine Laboratory doing research on turtles.

They each have a new book out: "Camp Fire Tales" by John Seerey-Lester; "My Painting is Done, Now What Do I Do?" by Suzie Seerey-Lester. Find more information at

The Palm Aire Art Association recently celebrated its 31st annual Art Show with a Gaugin-themed gala. Guests dressed to the theme, while table decorations featured pineapples and leis. With the proceeds from its activities, the Art Association gives a scholarship to a local Ringling College of Art+Design student. Shown above is Nancie Shellenbaum, Charleen Gorbet, and Gela Rozic.  Photo by Marilyn Nordby.