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Manatee County Administrative Building COVID Outbreak

Due to a number of COVID-19 cases detected among employees, the County AdminBuilding will close to the public today at 2:30pm.  Employees are being directed to leave the building early to enable the entire facility to be disinfected, including fogging.

According to sources, the outbreak includes 6 employees in the IT department.  Despite the free availability of vaccines for these employees, none were vaccinated.  Of the 6 employees, 2 passed away this week and 4 are currently hospitalized.  County Administrator Dr. Hopes is working closely with the County Health Department to conduct contract tracing to determine the next steps.  As an epidemiologist, Hopes has a unique set of skills to ensure the county is taking all the necessary precautions to keep this contained. 

Offices will reopen on Monday, June 21 at 8 am. When the offices reopen, COVID-19 safety protocols will resume, including mandatory face masks.




List of things to consider when selecting or working with a financial advisor

It’s an early Monday morning, I just sat down at my desk and started work for the day. My phone rings, when I read the caller ID, I notice that it’s one of my old clients from when I worked for a different financial firm. This client always had her money managed in different locations, I managed a portion, her bank managed some, and she also had some of her money in a few annuities with a third financial institution. Her call was out of the blue as I had not talked to her in over 2 years. She asked me a lot of questions because she was having concerns about her new advisor and some of the recommendations that he was recently making; “Why does he want me to convert money to a life insurance policy?”, “Why does my bank want to sell me another annuity?”, “Do they get incentivized to sell me different products?”. I listened to her vent and say all that she had to say before I offered any kind of response. This is a topic that I am extremely passionate about, so I needed to take a second to calm down and gather my thoughts. 

Conversations like the one I just described is the reason why I decided to start my own business. I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t encouraged to offer my clients exactly what I felt was in their best interest. I gave her some advice on what she needed to do, but after getting off the phone, I realized that I could have worded it differently. I was not sure I adequately made all the points that I wanted to make.  As soon as I put the phone down, I decided that I needed to go and write an article about this to pass on some insight to other people. If this person was feeling this way, I am sure a lot of other people feel the same. 

Here is my list of things to consider, questions to ask yourself, and questions to ask your financial advisor.

First, do some research on the firm and the advisor you plan to use. You want to know what kind of advisor and business that you are working with. Go to brokercheck.finra.org. Here you can look up the name of the advisor you are considering to see what licenses they have and if they have any complaints. Also, go to their firm’s website. Almost anyone can call themselves a Financial Advisor. You want to know what kind of advice they really give. Sadly, a lot of advisors are only capable of selling certain products, like annuities or life insurance, so those are the products they recommend. It’s not always based on what is in the best interest of the client. 

Second, ask the advisor how they get paid and if they get paid differently for different products. A lot of advisors use a fee-for-service model, usually charging a fee of 1%-3% on the assets they manage for you. Some advisors charge a commission on the products they offer. For financial advice, the advisor may charge an hourly or set fee for a financial plan, or they may charge a monthly subscription service. The basic thing to understand is, there are lots of different ways that advisors can charge you. You need to ask and understand what you are being charged. 

Lastly, ask the advisor about their investment philosophy. If you and your advisor don’t see eye to eye on anything and they aren’t willing to take your thoughts or beliefs into consideration, they are probably not a great fit.  Here are a couple of examples: What if there are things that you don’t want to be invested in, like tobacco or fossil fuels?  You have the right to tell your advisor that you don’t want your money invested in those kinds of businesses. What if you are extremely conservative with your money, but the advisor wants to put you in all speculative and risky investments? Once again, that’s probably not a great fit. 

If you are going to have someone manage your life savings, you need to make sure you know, like, and trust them. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it is important to do your due diligence making sure you have the right person for the job.  


Alex Garner is a Financial Advisor, but do not take the information in this article as financial advice. 

Registered Representative, Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. a Broker/Dealer, member FINRA/SIPC.

Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Garner Wealth Management LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated.

The information in this article is not financial advice. Diversification and asset allocation strategies do not assure profit or protect against loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk. Depending on the types of investments, there may be varying degrees of risk. Investors should be prepared to bear loss, including loss of principal.




Op Ed- The BOCC Budget Will Be Based on Facts, Not Emotions

When I was elected as a County Commissioner, I was tasked with a fiduciary responsibility to spend your tax dollars wisely. We are not afforded the flexibility to allocate funds based solely on emotions or personal desires. This community should always insist that each dollar budgeted is fully vetted and utilized in a manner that maximizes your safety, well-being and quality of life.

This Wednesday (June 16) at a work session on our future Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), the topic of the future animal shelter took center stage. (The full discussion can be seen in the video here or view it on YouTube starting right around the 2:00 mark.)

I have made it known that I believe that animal services and how we care for these animals are an important component to the overall quality of life in Manatee County. I have stated my support of our no-kill policies and I will continue to do so while on this Board. I was one of four votes that has now started the process of creating a local Ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs and cats. I anticipate that Ordinance to come before us later this summer and I will fully support it once again and hopefully see it executed and become law in our county. I understand the emotions of the animal shelter, but I must put them aside and look at things rationally when I am tasked with using your money.

I believe our entire Board agrees that the current animal shelter is well past its useful life and needs to be shut down permanently and expeditiously. When I first took office, I reviewed the plans and was prepared to move forward with the East County Shelter. However, things took a turn when we learned that the County would be receiving an extremely generous donation of the Bishop Animal Shelter, one of the premier shelters in Florida. Bishop resolves all the issues we currently have with our Palmetto shelter. We, as a Board and as a community, need to factor in opportunities like this when assessing our plans. Clearly, we at least need to ask ourselves if a $10MM shelter in addition to Bishop is warranted or the best use of your tax dollars?

I have done my due diligence and I believe my proposal on Wednesday was both rational and financially responsible. Until we know exactly what we need once we have Bishop, we cannot possibly know what we must provide out east. However, the CIP recently handed to us reflected the start of the East County Shelter immediately. A financially sensible option is to take control of Bishop in order to assess our capacity needs, service needs and financial needs before making rash, emotional decisions. I proposed leasing flex space or retail space out east on a three-year lease to have an adoption outpost near our population growth. This would most likely cost us around $150,000 for the full 36 months (assuming $10/sf for 5,000 sf) plus maybe $100,000 to build out the space, or around $250,000 for the three years. This is a far different budget than the revised $6,000,000 proposed in the CIP. It would give Manatee County a second location, additional capacity and time to truly determine our needs before expending your dollars.

We, as Commissioners, are constantly tasked with making difficult decisions and occasionally unpopular trade-offs for our constituents. They are never easy and there are always parties on each side of every decision. Before I took office, I vowed to always do my homework and always do what I felt was right, even if the opposing side occasionally felt louder or more passionate. I pledged to everyone that I would be fiscally responsible with your hard-earned tax dollars and use them in ways that maximized the quality of life for all of Manatee County without increasing the financial burden on individual families. This current Board of County Commissioners will remain fiscally conservative with your dollars and we will always stand behind facts over emotions.

Here are the facts versus narrative:

I believe this is a rational plan based on facts and data and not based on emotion and protest. Of course, not everyone sees it this way. Today, we received an email stating that the organization that was fundraising for our animals is pulling out entirely due to the “misrepresentations and half-truths” heard in our meeting. That got me thinking about the “truths” being passed around in the media, on social media and through our inboxes to rile up opposition to our commonsense approach.

  • “The Board is ignoring the citizens that voted for this animal shelter. We’re ignoring their wishes at the ballot box.”

FACT: The Infrastructure Sales Tax was voted on and approved on November 8, 2016. At the time of that ballot, Animal Services was listed at $1,000,000 (0.3%) to renovate the existing shelter. The Board at that time did not feel the need to allocate funds to a new shelter and were comfortable renovating the current building.

On April 23, 2019 (two and a half years later), the Board unilaterally voted to remove $8,000,000 from Parks funds (that were voted on by the citizens) and move them to Animal Services to add the new East County Shelter. (You can view the whole discussion here or on YouTube starting around the 2:05 mark.) In fact, they knew it was going against the voters so they debated moving Animal Services under Parks just to “keep the percentages the same” due to “perception versus reality” so people wouldn’t complain about losing funds for tennis courts.

It was at this time, in 2019, when the Board ignored the citizen’s wishes and took the voted-on funds that could have been funding our shortfall in boat slips, pickleball courts and pools to reallocate at their personal discretion.

  • “The Board is removing $8,000,000 from Animal Services and leaving them with nothing.”

FACT: Manatee County is receiving the incredible gift of the Bishop Animal Shelter. This is a state-of-the-art facility that is substantially better than what we originally intended to build. We are going to improve it even further by allocating $4,000,000 of these funds to renovating this facility. This is already 50% of the previous Parks funds going toward Animal Services. Additionally, we need to be aware that building something is one thing; operating it is another. Our CIP reflects the revised operating budget for Bishop to be almost $3,250,000/year, a 20% increase to our existing budget. These additional funds come out of our general tax funds – your tax dollars – in place of other services. We, as a Board, are agreeing to commit these additional funds for the improvement of our Animal Services. Building a second, substantial facility would further inflate this annual budget and further strain our general funds. These are the facts and data that need to be considered when we are responsible for your money.

  • “The County is underfunding Animal Services because we don’t care about the animals.”

FACT: The budget we received, and past budgets, show funds for animal services greater than the allocated funds for affordable housing for our teachers, first responders and others at need as well as allocated funds for Veteran Services, including homeless vets…combined. Yes, as unfortunate as it is, the truth of our budget is that we already spend more funds housing and caring for our animals than we do for housing and caring for our people in need. While that speaks to the underfunding of these critical human needs, it also puts the funding for Animal Services in perspective.

  • “We’re turning our backs on an organization that’s raised $2,000,000 from the community.”

FACT: Part of the proposal back in 2019 that led to this non-voter approved CIP adjustment to build the animal shelter was a promise of a $2,000,000 “public-private partnership”. At that Board meeting, it was stated that the then-County Attorney would finalize an agreement with the organization. As of earlier this week, I was told there is absolutely no formal agreement and it’s entirely verbal and good faith. Their website states that they would fund this partnership “as requested” during construction. My personal conversation with them was different. I was told they expect the County to build an $8,000,000 fully-functioning facility entirely with your tax dollars and then, down the road when it is at capacity, this organization would fund the expansion – with no agreement to guarantee that the taxpayers wouldn’t be held responsible for that cost resulting from protests of overcrowding. As of today, through large donations from Mosaic and a $100,000 match grant from a Foundation, as well as individual donations via PayPal and a PO Box on Holmes Beach, their website reflects total contributions of $332,859 after two years. This is a sizable amount for sure, but far short of the $2,000,000 pledged in both the initial CIP and the currently presented CIP. You, the taxpayer, would be well on your way to funding this additional $2,000,000 (above and beyond the $8,000,000) in place of other CIP projects without an agreement or funds available. Fortunately, their website specifically states, “In the event that the Manatee County Government has not begun construction on the new animal shelter by July 15, 2022, the funds shall be contributed to one or more Manatee County animal welfare/sheltering organizations.” – so this is good news for our animal community.

  • Finally, we are told that Bishop “can only handle 60 dogs” so this is not adequate capacity: thus, the need for another $6,000,000 taxpayer-funded shelter.

FACT: The original two buildings at Bishop have a combined 60 dog capacity. Fortunately, the new $9,000,000+ facility has 68 individual dog bays in additional to a 250-cat capacity and other wildlife accommodations. This is a combined 128 dog capacity which is over 50% larger than the 80-dog capacity of our current shelter and it exceeds the 120-dog average occupancy of the current shelter. Yes, we do occasionally exceed this average, but a) you cannot always build to a maximum when costs are involved and b) the leased outpost via flex/retail space out east would cover a substantial portion of this deficit.

George Kruse, Manatee County Commissioner, At Large, can be found on Facebook for comment or reached at george.kruse@mymanatee.org




14th Annual Fire Charity Fishing Tournament with first ever weekend festival was a great success

This past weekend the 14th Annual Fire Charity Fishing Tournament realized its vision of becoming a weekend-long fishing festival.  The Palmetto location of Riverside Park was a perfect venue to showcase a variety of local musicians, vendors, and activities for all to enjoy making the event a success.

The junior division fished Saturday from the Green Bridge Fishing Pier with over 120 kids participating.  The offshore teams were able to get an early start Friday night while the inshore and spearfishing teams were part of a shotgun start in the mouth of the Manatee River with beautiful weather early Saturday morning.  The teams were challenged by weather at times over the weekend but it didn’t stop them from producing some incredible results.

Events like this take a lot of work to plan, organize, and execute.  Erik’s Nicholson, local fireman and tournament founder, has a passion and dedication for this event that is contagious spreading from the participants and crowd to the vendors and volunteers.  The sponsor list is filled with many great businesses, the volunteers were plentiful and organized, the crowds were large and family-friendly.  The new venue required a few last-minute changes and extra work but everyone pitched in to make it a success.  Being the humble host that he is, Erik took every opportunity to thank his volunteers and sponsors who went above and beyond to ensure the weekend’s success.  The results of everyone’s contributions have made the Fire Charity Fishing Festival rise to become one of the premier regional fishing events. 

Erik Nicholson shares a moment on stage with the crowd and kids.
Some of the young participants celebrating others catches during the weigh in.

The “vibe” of the tournament is best understood by Erik’s words while describing the inshore comradery and sportsmanship, “Being our first year as a festival brought a lot of new challenges, but we were blown away by how each challenge was overcome; Above all, I was blown away by the sportsmanship and integrity of our participants. With over 500 participants who fished the event, for the first time ever one of our folders disappeared which had us miss one of our winners. When we found this mistake, we went to the team and let them know and what I was met with blew my mind. Captain TJ Stewart and Captain Trevor Hoff went back on stage together to share the spotlight. These competitive teams’ fish “against” each other and have been neck in neck, year after year; to see them come together and congratulate each other with no ego, or hurt feelings was one of the best things I’ve ever seen at this event in 14 years.”  

Events like this are important to the community for many reasons. People can come out and collectively enjoy some of our beautiful natural assets, mingle with friends, meet new friends, support local vendors, engage in some fun competition, and support a great cause.  

“We are still in the process of determining the final proceeds, but I can say without a doubt, we will be once again able to fund the Children’s Burn Foundation of Florida’s attendees and do some other amazing things for our community,” said Erik on the funds received for the charity.  It’s clear that no matter what names you read in the results below, the real winner was the community and those that are directly helped by the funds raised.  

Check out this video of the tournament’s start filmed and edited by MakSchu Productions, LLC.  MakSchu Productions “main focus is creating designs, animations and promotional videos for locally run companies. These videos will help businesses market their missions, and reach out to the community. They set out to start a company in Sarasota, FL to better serve local businesses in branding and promoting themselves in an affordable and professional way.”  

Tournament Results

Below are each team’s captains name and their boat or team name

Junior Division

1st Place: Cooper Duquette, fishing on boat Tipin Pigs

2nd Place: Devin Calderon, fishing on boat SaltyBonz

3rd: Place: Layla Turner, fishing on boat Lil Grass

Spear Division

1st Place: Ben McCann, fishing on H2O StorPro 

2nd Place: Mike Jeanes, fishing on boat Team Trident

3rd Place: Logan Reiber, fishing on boat Pokin’ Holes

Inshore Division

1st Place tie: Trevor Hoff, fishing on boat Team Hoff Enterprise powered by Star Fish Co

1st Place tie: T.J. Stewart, fishing on boat Richardson Stinton Roofing powered by Skeeter Boats

2nd Place: Nick Cardieri, fishing on boat Secret Sauce

3rd Place: Josh Bibler, fishing on boat Team Naturdays

Offshore Division

1st Place: Randall Langley, fishing on boat Gotcha

2nd Place: Paul Christi, fishing on boat Jumbo Shrimp

3rd Place: Danny Pool, fishing on boat Team Seaviche

This set of photos were taken by tournament volunteer, Heidi Scott, who does an excellent job capturing some great moments and shared with Manatee Herald for this article.  Heidi has been the face behind the camera at this event since it started 14 years ago.  She has become very close to the committee and many of the fishermen and their families.

Below are some additional moments capture by Manatee Herald staff.




Local Florida House of Representatives, Will Robinson, Provides Recent Legislative Highlights

Local Representative Will Robinson (Republican) of District 71 is the Chair of the Professions & Public Health Subcommittee and holds a seat on 4 other committees: Health & Human Services Committee, Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, Regulatory Reform Subcommittee.  Manatee Herald reached out to Representative Robinson for comment on the recent legislative session.  Here is what he had to say:

We just completed the 2021 legislative session.  The session was exceptionally successful.  At the outset of session, the fiscal outlook for Florida’s upcoming fiscal year was uncertain, given the COVID-19 budget restraints.  There was even concern about completing the session on time but with careful protocols and weekly testing, we completed our work on time and presented to the Governor a budget that addresses the needs of our great state in a fiscally responsible manner.  In early June, the Governor signed the budget. 

During this session, I was honored by Speaker Chris Sprowls to chair the Professions and Public Health Subcommittee, which covers many health care policy areas, including medical marijuana, scope of practice for doctors and nurses, telehealth, and abortion.  I am proud of the work that we did on the subcommittee to deliver more free market and affordable health care options to all Floridians.  This session I also served on Health & Human Services Committee, Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, and Regulatory Reform Subcommittee.  In each committee, we accomplished great work.

In the 2021 session, 275 bills passed both Chambers.  I sponsored five bills that dealt with a variety of topics that passed both Chambers.  Six of my member appropriations were part of the approved budget.  Those appropriations included much needed funding for Easterseals of Southwest Florida and to the Manatee School District for a STEM Career pathways pilot that had been so very successful at Palm View Elementary.  I was also pleased to work with Senator Boyd and the Governor to secure $100 million dollars to finally close out Piney Point, which earlier this year sustained a major breach and caused nearby neighbors to evacuate and untold environmental damage.  

We accomplished a lot during the session, but I’d like to highlight three important policy bills that the Governor has already signed from this session.

One of the first bills that passed this session was SB 72, which enhanced liability protections against COVID-19 related claims filed against businesses.  This law is so important to provide certainty due to the threat of unknown and potentially unbounded liability claims that may arise from the lawsuits filed because of the pandemic.  Many businesses struggled to stay open and did their very best to safely protect their employees and customers.  Lawsuits that could bankrupt business owners and force employee layoffs would be unfair and not good for Floridians.

SB 2006 was a comprehensive bill that included many provisions including banning the production of vaccine passports.  It also required cities and counties to limit any emergency orders that limit the rights or liberties of individuals.

Finally, SB 90 improves our current election system in Florida by requiring better monitoring and placement of drop boxes, prohibiting someone from submitting more than one completed ballot not belonging to a direct family member, and requiring that to vote-by-mail it must be renewed each election cycle.

Committee weeks for the 2022 session start in September so please reach out to my office [my district legislative office phone number is 941-708-4968 and my email address is will.robinson@myfloridahouse.gov].  Please feel free to contact me if you ever have any concerns or need any help.




Meet Pete Britton, Active Local Community Member and Small Business Expert

Pete Britton is a long-time resident of Manatee County. He graduated from Manatee High School in 1978. Pete is a people person which is why his career in sales has been so successful. He enjoys connecting with people in ways that are beyond the superficial “know your customer” methods. With exception of a brief time at Northern Trust, Pete has been in the Professional Employee Organization (PEO) industry for almost the last 30 years. The PEO industry used to be called the employee leasing industry but changed its name for clarification.  Pete, President of Bridgely Key Options, told the Manatee Herald, “Many people were confusing us for temporary help as employee leasing.  The term professional employer does a better job of representing what the industry is all about.” His start in the PEO industry was at Staff Leasing.  Staff Leasing is widely known for being responsible for the industry’s success today.  Given his roots and experience in the PEO industry, in 2013, he and his partners started Bridgely Key Options, LLC.   

Bridgely Key Options is an insurance agency specializing in providing solutions for small business owners using PEO and traditional insurance products.  “Using all the great tools from a PEO and having the ability to supplement that with insurance products when necessary really allows us to create a solution for our customers that is cost-effective and unique to them.  Companies that use a PEO grow 7-9 times faster, their turnover is 10%-14% lower, and are 50% less likely to go out of business,” explained Pete.  


Bridgely Key Options works with independent brokers and agents to create a large salesforce across the state.  “Brokers and agents work with us (Bridgely Key) because of the relationships we have with several PEO’s to help them with pricing and underwriting.  They trust us, which is very important.”  

Pete is active in the community with a variety of organizations.  “I believe in giving back to the community.  We regularly give to charities, organizations like the Bradenton Blue, and similar great local foundations.  We can’t give to them all, but I wish we could.”  As a small business advocate and solutions provider, Bridgely Key Options is active in the local chamber of commerce.  “Bridgely Key’s service model is designed to support all business owners and employees.  Many people think you have to be a larger employer to benefit from a PEO, but it is actually quite opposite.  Employers that have 3 or more employees make great customers as they benefit from the PEO model allowing them to focus on their business and growth.”  Pete added, “An additional benefit, often overlooked, is the time saved by using a PEO and how that enables business owners to spend more time with their family.  We love to hear how we helped them save the money and gave them the time to go on a vacation.”

If you would like to learn more about the small business solutions and insurance products Bridgely Key Options offers, you can call Pete at 941-896-4880 or visit their website at https://bridgely.com.


If you would like to advertise in Manatee Herald, please click here to learn more.

Editorial Disclosure:  Dennis Cooley, the Publisher of Manatee Herald is one of Pete Britton’s partners at Bridgely Key Options, LLC.  




Manatee Chamber – Call for Nominations

The Manatee Chamber is proud to recognize outstanding businesses and non-profit organizations that exemplify the diversity, spirit, and community-mindedness that make small business in Manatee County special.

Nominate your favorite small business – or businesses – along with your favorite non-profit organization and help them get the recognition they deserve.

Nomination Deadline: July 16

Click here to nominate

Save The Date – on Tuesday, October 5, we will celebrate all finalists and winners in a special awards breakfast at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.

Manatee Chamber of Commerce
Bradenton Office: 222 10th St. W. | Bradenton, FL 34205
Lakewood Ranch Office: 4215 Concept Ct. | Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211
941-748-3411 | Info@ManateeChamber.com | ManateeChamber.com




Special Election passed by the BOCC, will it pass the Voters?

After a month of bouncing the date of the 1-millage property tax vote back and forth between the Manatee Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and the School Board, the BOCC ultimately voted in favor of calling the special election. The BOCC had a very limited role or authority regarding the election and risked a potential lawsuit for denying the School Board their right to place the subject in front of voters. During the May 11 BOCC meeting, the item of calling the election by the BOCC was deferred to a later date and the BOCC decided to write a letter to the School Board requesting to change the date of the Special Election from November 2021 to the primary or general elections in 2022. The School Board countered by decreasing the effective period of the millage from 4 years to 3, so the vote will appear in future presidential elections and not be held in a special election again. 

During the meeting, Commissioner George Kruse stated “The 1-millage property tax vote should have been placed on the 2020 ballot and this entire situation could have been avoided.” All the Commissioners were in agreeance that the School Board demonstrated good faith by amending the years on the original resolution. Kruse expressed concern that the School Board is “setting a budget to match a millage and not a millage to match a budget”. Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge took a strong stance against holding a special election but believed the compromise to be fair. 

One of the many components to be funded with the possible passing of the 1-millage property tax is an increase in teacher salaries. Van Ostenbridge and Kruse both shared concerns about tethering teacher salary increases to an unstable source.  Van Ostnebridge said, “I don’t agree with tying employees’ salaries to a nonrecurring funding source.  It’s reckless and disrespectful.”  Kruse stated, “They (teachers) are number one asset of the school and their salary should not be tied to this.”  Commissioner Vanessa Baugh also urged the School Board to place teacher salaries into their main budget.  Commissioner James Satcher respectfully forewarned about the possible outcome of the special election that “the School Board may have the BOCC votes but that does not mean they (School Board) have the support of voters.” 

County Attorney Clague made it a point to remind the public that the role of the board on this topic is very limited.  This vote is just approving the date of the special election for the referendum.  He added that “all other issues should be addressed to the school board directly.”

Many citizens took the opportunity to speak on their frustrations about the School Board and the 1-millage property tax. Some concerns were the millage being used for mortgages and leases-not just teacher salaries, disappointment that the School Board would jeopardize teacher salaries and suppress voters, not addressing what could happen in the future if the 1-millage property tax fails in this special election, and the extremely low turn out of the School Board’s special election in March 2018. 

School Board Member Charlie Kennedy provided a brief history of how the Manatee School Board was following Sarasota’s School Board lead creating a more competitive teacher’s salary. He believes the opportunity for the School Board and BOCC to make a compromise on changing the resolution for the vote to fall on future presidential general elections will most likely mean Sarasota’s School Board to follow Manatee’s lead. 

Superintendent Cynthia Saunders clarified the special election in March 2018 on the 1-millage property tax vote was funded by PACs and community members – not by taxpayers. The special election in November 2021 will also be funded by community members, PACs, and the School’s Extended Day Enrichment program, which is fee-based and paid by parents for afterschool childcare.  Saunders added that she “heard the message loud and clear” but couldn’t adjust completely due to the expiration of the current millage.  She was glad they could make the adjustment going forward.  

You can watch the video coverage here of the discussion at the BOCC meeting.  Just click play to view where this topic began.




Manatee Officials Clash Over Special Election

The Manatee Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will be voting this upcoming Tuesday on the School Board’s request to call a special election for the 1-millage property tax increase on November 2, 2021 at the tune of $400,000. Members of the BOCC and public have been very vocal that the School Board should save taxpayer dollars and wait for the issue to be placed on the ballot in the 2022 elections. A special election was held by the School Board in March 2018 that barely passed the 1-millage property tax to fund employees’ salaries, charter schools, additional 30 minutes of instruction time to students, and expand career and technical education programs that will expire on June 30, 2022.

During the May 11 BOCC meeting, the Commissioners were originally scheduled to vote on calling a special election about the 1-millage property tax for the School Board.  The BOCC vote is required per a bureaucratically fashioned Florida Statue. The BOCC has to approve the School Board’s request to place the 1-millage property tax for voters to decide to avoid the risk of a potential lawsuit, however, the BOCC can request the special election be held on a different date. The School Board submitted a resolution to the BOCC specifying the effective dates would be July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2026 if the 1-millage property tax passed. 

The cost of $400,000 and the time of the special election was met with sharp criticism by many members of the BOCC. Commissioner George Kruse indicated that he “hates special elections” because of being a waste of both taxpayer money and election volunteers’ time, as well as traditionally low voter turnout. Kruse suggested that trim notices sent in July 2022 to residents should list their property taxes with and without the 1-millage and recommended the BOCC Chairwoman should write a letter to the School Board requesting changing the date to the 2022 elections. Kruse expressed concern that the issue of the 1-millage property tax may have to be conducted by the means of a special election in the future and the BOCC should insist the topic be pushed to the August 2022 primary election. Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge chimed in about special elections saying they “are a form of voter suppression and would like to see this placed on the general election ballot in November 2022”.  He also believes the School Board should want to hear from as many constituents as possible because the intent of the 1-millage is to continue to keep taxes higher. Ostenbridge indicated in his opinion that the School Board had ample opportunity to place the millage in the 2020 election but chose not to do so. Commissioners Misty Servia, James Satcher, and Carol Whitmore indicated their support of requesting the School Board to change the date for the 1-millage property tax vote. The BOCC postponed the vote on calling the special election in favor of having Chairwoman Vanessa Baugh write a letter to School Board Chairman Charlie Kennedy requesting to change the date of the 1-millage vote to the 2022 elections.

The BOCC received a response from Superintendent Cynthia Saunders on May 14 regarding the change of the date for the 1-millage vote and answered questions on the timing or if the matter should appear on the ballot in a later election. Saunders noted the present millage will expire in June 2022, that trim notices cannot be modified, and moving the vote to August primary in 2022 is not feasible because the School District would lose a whole year of revenue. Saunders highlighted in the May 14 letter (referencing the original resolution) that the School Board adjusted the timeline of the millage vote to be held during the special election in November 2021 for the potential issue of continuing the millage will appear in the future to voters on a general election ballot. 

On May 25, School Board members voted to approve decreasing the number of years to the additional 1-millage from 4 to 3 years so the millage will appear during presidential elections after “careful consideration of the input provided by the Board of County Commissioners” School Board Member Mary Foreman, told the Manatee Herald “changing the number of years of the millage rate was an attempt by the School Board to compromise with what the BOCC was requesting”. 

The BOCC is set to vote again on calling an election for the School Board during a meeting on June 8.

Attached are the following documents:

This story is developing so check back for more. 




Manatee Clerk’s office offers high school seniors and recent graduates a great place to work

BRADENTON – Last fall, the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s office introduced local high school students to job and career opportunities available with the Clerk’s office. By working with the School District of Manatee County, seniors were invited to apply for exciting part-time positions. These positions offered technical, on-the-job training, specifically within the Clerk’s Courts division. Janessa Almodovar, Ella Botko, and Alexander Dantoulis joined the team in late 2020/early 2021. 

Meet the Students

Janessa Almodovar, a Manatee High School Senior, has been working in the Traffic division since December 2020

Janessa Almodovar, a Manatee High School Senior, has been working in the Traffic division since December 2020. Management has described Janessa as being very mature, professional, and a quick learner. Janessa accepted a full-time position with the Clerk’s office, which begins June 17. While working for the Clerk, she will attend State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) in the fall.

Ella Botko, a Lakewood Ranch High School Senior, has been working in the Traffic division since January 2021.

Ella Botko, a Lakewood Ranch High School Senior, has been working in the Traffic division since January 2021. Management has described Ella as having “the best work ethic ever” and is a very positive presence. She plans to attend Florida State University (FSU) in the fall and major in Political Science.

Alexander Dantoulis, a Lakewood Ranch High School Senior, has been working in our Criminal division since January 2021.

Alexander Dantoulis, a Lakewood Ranch High School Senior, has been working in our Criminal division since January 2021. Management has described Alexander as a very ambitious and enthusiastic learner. He plans to attend the University of Florida (UF) in the fall to study Political Science and Law.

Clerk Angelina “Angel” Colonneso is a strong advocate for on-the-job training. She worked for the Clerk’s office part-time while attending college.

“I am grateful the School District of Manatee County embraced our request to offer part-time work to high school seniors. The seniors have been so enthusiastic about learning and are eager to work,” said Ms. Colonneso. “One student relayed to me that the college representatives were impressed he worked for the Clerk’s office during his college interview. He felt his experience with us factored into his college acceptance.” 

Please join the Clerk’s office in congratulating all three seniors on their upcoming graduation.

If you are a recent graduate or someone interested in a rewarding career, contact the Clerk’s office. Entry-level job and career opportunities can be found online at https://www.manateeclerk.com/departments/hr/jobs/. The Clerk’s office offers full-time employees competitive wages, unparalleled benefits, and professional growth.  

About the Clerk’s Office

The Clerk of Circuit Court was established as a public trustee by the Florida Constitution in 1838. The Clerk of the Circuit Court serves as the Clerk of Courts, the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, Auditor, Recorder, and Custodian of all County Funds. In Manatee County, the Clerk’s office also administers a local child support enforcement program, violence protection advocacy program, and Teen Court programs. Located at 1115 Manatee Avenue West in Downtown Bradenton, the Courthouse is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Please be sure to visit our web site at: www.manateeclerk.com.




Loving the Art of Wealth Management: Businessman Alex Garner

Alex Garner is the founder of Garner Wealth Management and a 4th generation Floridian. Alex was born and raised in Bradenton with deep family ties in the community. His grandfather and great grand uncle started Starfish Company, a commercial house and restaurant in Cortez Village in 1923. Alex graduated from Manatee High School and earned his business degree from the University of South Florida. After accepting a job opportunity with a financial advisement firm owned by a long-time friend and former church youth pastor, he began his venture into wealth management. Alex stated “I fell in love with the finance world” but left the firm once realizing the company’s culture was not a perfect fit. Afterward, he gained diverse working experience as a financial advisor from small independent firms to large international companies before starting his own business called Garner Wealth Management in September 2020. Alex stated, “I decided the time was right for me to launch my own business”. Garner Wealth Management is structured to provide all investing services. Alex stated “my main priorities as a financial advisor are to help families and young professionals begin with a solid financial foundation” and he offers continued education so all of his clients achieve their goals. Garner Wealth Management services accounts such as IRAs and 401ks for an individual that has separated from their employer, retired, or recently moved into the community.

When questioned if COVID affected his decision to start a company, Alex responded “COVID was very influential in the creation of my business because of being able to reassess aspects of my life during that time” to decide what direction to take his career. He realized that creating his own wealth management firm would allow him the opportunity to implement his preferred financial strategies to help his clients. Throughout Alex’s career, he has had many discussions on the “importance of having both a personal mission and vision”. Since he views Garner Wealth Management as an extension of himself, Alex decided to use his personal values as the business mission statement “My Mission: Help improve the lives of others and bring Glory to God and envision a world where more people live abundant lives.”

Alex Garner, founder, Garner Wealth Management

Alex has a regional office located in Tampa, however, most of his clients are in the Manatee and Sarasota counties area and conducts in-person meetings at local coffee shops, within a person’s homes, or on zoom. He has discovered the best marketing for his business is by “word of mouth”, referrals given to family and friends by satisfied clients, and uses all forms of social media to reach potential customers. Since Alex is an individual financial advisor and fiduciary, he can “always perform and make recommendations that are in the best interest of my clients because I am not incentivized to sell a particular product or service.” He is the only employee of Garner Wealth Management that is a sole proprietorship and partners with a broker-dealer for the purpose of trading and compliance. The most common feedback Alex receives from clients is “thank you” due to being pleased with their financial progress because of “doing what I love to do.”

If you are interested to learn more about Garner Wealth Management services, please schedule an introduction call at Garnerwealthmgt.com. Readers can also find Alex Garner on LinkedIn and Facebook: @GarnerWealthMgt.

Scan for more information on Garner Wealth Management

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POLL: Manatee County Beach Parking Access Restrictions

The beaches in Manatee County are one of the main reasons many people live and visit the area. Currently, parking spaces are still limited from restrictions in Holmes Beach placed during the pandemic.  Most places in Florida are now fully open with all pandemic restrictions lifted.  It has been reported the City of Holmes Beach closed street parking to stop people from coming to the beach and the Mayor of Holmes Beach recently stated she has no intention to re open those spots to all Manatee County residents and its tourists.

All beaches in Manatee County are owned and maintained by county tax dollars.  Manatee County Commissioners would like to see the spots opened back up to the public to give greater access to parking for all residents and visitors.  Removing the restrictions would open over 1,600 parking spaces for all to use.

“The citizens of Manatee County spend millions of dollars maintaining the beaches that the residents of Holmes Beach enjoy, and if that’s going to continue, the beaches need to be accessible to all the residents of Manatee County,” said Van Ostenbridge.




POLL: Should Manatee County School Board remove the mask mandate?

In an upcoming meeting, the School Board is expected to discuss and vote on the continued mask mandate in schools.  Cast a vote to see the results in the poll above.

Occasionally Manatee Herald will run a poll or survey on topics to learn more about our communities opinion on events, topics, services, or products.  Subscribe to our newsletter for more!




Kevin Durant Enhances His Legacy But Not His Ring Total, As Brooklyn Nets Fall Short Of Title Expectations

Kevin Durant had an NBA-record 48 points in Brooklyn’s Game 7 overtime loss to Milwaukee.

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Pregnant Gal Gadot Wears Bump-Hugging Dress While Out for Lunch

Gal Gadot is showing off her growing baby bump!

The 36-year-old Wonder Woman 1984 actress stepped out for lunch with a friend on Friday afternoon (June 18) in Studio City, Calif.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Gal Gadot

Gal dressed her baby bump in a skin-tight black dress paired with sandals as she stepped out for a bite to eat.

The day before, Gal sported a comfy black jumpsuit and zebra-print face mask as she ran a few errands around town.

If you didn’t know, Gal is currently expecting her third child with husband Yaron Varsano. The couple, who have been married since 2008, are already parents to daughters Alma, 9, and Maya, 4.

Earlier in the week, Gal and Yaron were spotted out with a few of their friends!

Originally found on Just Jared Read More




Elisabeth Moss Reveals If She Would Want to Reprise Her ‘Mad Men’ Character

Elisabeth Moss is dishing on the possibility of reprising some of her major roles.

Earlier this week, the 38-year-old The Handmaid’s Tale actress chatted with Gillian Anderson for their Actors on Actors interview for Variety.

During their chat, the two actresses chatted about which characters they’d like to revisit if they had the chance.

Click inside to read more…

Despite the show being a major hit, Elisabeth explained why she isn’t 100% down to play Peggy Olsen again in a possible Mad Men reboot.

“I like where we left her on Mad Men,” Elisabeth shared. “It was from 1960 to 1970, and I feel like I know what would happen to her. I think she became creative director of the agency, and worked the rest of her life, as she wanted to. But never say never, I guess.”

As for which character she would like to play again, Elisabeth chose her Top of the Lake character, Detective Robin Griffin.

“We had always talked about it being three seasons,” Elisabeth said. “That’s one I think there’s actually definitely more story to tell.”

If you missed it, Elisabeth recently chatted about that extremely bloody final scene in the season four finale of The Handmaid’s Tale!

Originally found on Just Jared Read More




Biden Objects to Raising Gas Tax to Pay for Infrastructure

WASHINGTON—The White House made clear Friday that President Joe Biden was opposed to letting the federal gasoline tax rise at the rate of inflation to help pay for an infrastructure package that a bipartisan group of 21 senators is trying to craft. The gas tax increase was part of an early package that called for $579 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, rail and public transit. It’s unclear if it will make the final cut and the White House seems intent on making sure it doesn’t. “The President has been clear throughout these negotiations: He is adamantly opposed to raising taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. The federal gas tax stands at 18.4 cents a gallon and has not increased since 1993. It helps pay for highways and mass transit programs around the country. Congress has traditionally relied on the …

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Megan Fox, Kourtney Kardashian, & Addison Rae Attend Machine Gun Kelly & Travis Barker’s Rooftop Concert!

Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian are supporting their boys!

The 35-year-old Jennifer’s Body actress and the 42-year-old reality star attended Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker‘s surprise rooftop concert on Saturday afternoon (June 19) in Venice Beach, Calif.

Also in attendance at the concert was Kourtney‘s BFF Addison Rae.

While the musicians performed, Kourtney, Megan, the 20-year-old TikToker were spotted hanging out, laughing, and taking photos together.

MGK and Travis‘ performance was a total surprise for fans, as they just took to social media hours before they started performing.

The other day, Kourtney took to Instagram to share some super steamy makeout photos with Travis!

If you missed it, the trailer for Megan and Machine Gun Kelly‘s new movie Midnight In The Switchgrass was released! Check it out here.

55+ pictures inside of the stars at the surprise performance…

Originally found on Just Jared Read More




Vaguely Cursed Memes For Uncomfortable Time-Wastage





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