Sunday, December 28, 2008

A dog, a cat and Christmas miracles

Today's Bradenton Herald is filled with year-end flashbacks -- and what a year it has been. But with a few days left of 2008, I wanted to revisit a really bright spot from just last week. Reporter Donna Wright talked us into running a story on Delsie the cat and Rachael the dog -- the two animals holding the current records for the longest stay at the Humane Society of Manatee County.

Well, talk about a success story. The very next day, both animals were scooped up by loving new owners.

Here's the gracious "thank you" that Executive Director Denise Deisler sent Donna:
Rachael and Delsie went on to wonderful homes with their new families yesterday and so did record breaking numbers of equally deserving dogs and cats. There is absolutely nothing that could have made our staff and volunteers happier and I can’t thank you enough for the joy you have filled us with this holiday season. Both Delsie and Rachael’s adoptive families told us that they were not “in the market” for a new pet. It was the eloquently written article detailing Rachael and Delsie’s individual stories and the compelling photos that led each family to seek out the Humane Society and answer our Christmas prayers. I am profoundly touched by your kindness and I hope you will extend my heartfelt thanks to Tiffany, Robert and your editors too for their roles in making this Christmas miracle possible. I am deeply grateful that The Bradenton Herald has a heart and soul – our animals, our organization, and our community are very fortunate beneficiaries as a result!
Best Wishes for a happy holiday!

So give your pet a hug and a treat this Sunday morning. And if you're a bit lonely and need a furry best friend, check out the Humane Society. There's a little guy taking Delsie and Rachael's places.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Searching for the joy in this world

Good morning, it's Christmas 2008. We've unwrapped our presents, the coffee and mimosas are going quickly, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is singing "Joy to the World."

The joy has been tinged with so much pain and desperation lately. In reporter Robert Napper's story today, we have just a glimpse of how too many of our neighbors are fighting to survive.

When Robert came back to the office yesterday to post a "breaking news" story on, he told us of the jolt when, almost from nowhere, homeless men came forward for the kind help of Kim Johnson and Shelley Troyer. Editor Jennifer Rich had tears in her eyes as she worked through the story.

That compassion led the newsroom to quietly donate this week to help another family, suddenly homeless at Christmas, when Barbara Brownell, program director of the Family Partnership Center, e-mailed us about their plight. As sports news editor Alan Bellittera said as he emptied his wallet, "They need this far more than I do."

That's the joy in this world. That, and the balmy sunny Florida sky that greets us here in Bradenton today. To loved ones braving frigid temperatures and snow in Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Connecticut and yes, even Arizona -- we wish you were here to wish you...

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Working from home is too easy

Well, that 24-7 newsroom includes a lot of turf -- including my home study! Our new computer system allows us to work from almost anywhere. And that can be downright dangerous, if you're a workaholic...

Anyway, it did help out this morning as I went to link to my Sunday column online for this blog. Alas, the night crew hadn't sent it to "NetNews" -- the online queue in our news system that gets swept for stories to post.

In the past, I'd have to alert someone in IT or call an online guru. Now, I just fire up the laptop, sign in and click the column through.

Now, however, I'm returning to my piles of newspapers. They're still my Sunday favorite.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

State Farm canceled me -- and my agent

I got the sterile form letter several weeks ago: My homeowners insurance was being canceled.

It was an out-of-state notice from State Farm headquarters, and the "sincere apologies" added insult to injury. My family has been insured by State Farm since time began, it seems. Dad always used State Farm, and I've made my payments dutifully since I turned 16. All our car insurance, all our home insurance, all of our policies have been State Farm -- we didn't shop for bargains, we went with Old Reliable.

Well, whatever hurricane never arrived in Manatee County but posed a threat apparently changed that. As of Jan. 11, 2009, my home, like so many others, won't be covered by State Farm.

So I grumped my way over yesterday to my still-reliable State Farm agent -- I selfishly think Wayne Scroggins is the best in Tampa Bay. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Scroggins had lost their home insurance -- and he's been working for State Farm for four decades.

We've signed up with Citizens Insurance, and actually will save a sizable amount. So the glass is half full, right?


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Series examines Cuban revolution at 50

The Miami Herald launched a 10-part series today examining the movement led by Fidel Castro: the Cuban revolution that affected millions of people, not just in Cuba but throughout Florida and the world. The Bradenton Herald taps into that series in today's editions and here online.

As the editors explained today, the series will explore whether anything was achieved in a nation that now boasts a highly educated populace, but one steeped in economic despair.

Bradenton Herald intern Victoria Bekiempis interviewed several Cubans in Manatee County for a sidebar story today. Ronaldo Cruz is one of those voices. As Bekiempis reports:

Like the hundreds of thousands of Cuban-born Americans who have come to the U.S. to think, write, pray and politic freely, Cruz has watched the watershed events on the island — such as President Fidel Castro’s convalescence and brother Raul’s ascent to power — take place from afar.

On the eve of the Cuban revolution’s 50th anniversary, he and other area Cuban Americans remain skeptical, if not hostile, of what followed the 1958 ouster of Cuba’s strong-armed President Fulgencio Batista.

This behind-the-scenes series promises a unique look into one of the most significant movements in our time. A sobering summation by columnist Andres Oppenheimer:

"Fifty years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, the big question about the Cuban revolution is not whether it was justified, but whether it was worth it. From all available evidence, it wasn't."

-- Joan

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's a special day in our home

I was at the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, another McClatchy newspaper, yesterday for an editors' meeting, so I first read reporter Robert Napper's story on coyotes online here. It remains one of the more heavily trafficked stories today on It's a fascinating issue, and comes very close to home.

Full disclosure: I, too, live in northwest Bradenton's Hawthorn Park and don't like sharing it with these coyotes. We've seen them circling right in the back of my house, and you can hear them all times of day -- not just at night. And I worry for the safety of my dog -- a little guy who thinks he's a ferocious bear when he needs to "protect" me. So we're being extremely careful, and the advice in Napper's report is helpful.

Another full disclosure about my puppy, Joey, and a reason to celebrate: Today is his 14th birthday, and we're taking a vacation day to commemorate.

Happy Birthday, Joseph Pulitzer Krauter!

-- Mom

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Note on "Letter from the editor"

Thanks to Steve Metallo for opening his classroom to me last week for my column today. He's "Mr. Metallo" to most, and that's reassuring. Respect for our teachers will go a long way toward a better tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanks to EDC, local businesses honored

And the winner is...

Manatee County's Economic Development Council for its solid belief in this community. Each year, the EDC honors companies with its "Excellence in Industry" awards. OK, so times are tough. That only prompted the EDC to champion this recognition even more, culminating in today's luncheon.

Each year, I'm reminded how much business is generated within Manatee County that has global impact. The lunch crowd was smaller this year, but it still filled the Bradenton city auditorium. And the most notable thread through all the acceptance speeches was "family." Whether by blood or community, each winner talked of family and promise.

Mixon Fruit Farms has been here for 70 years, founded by the Mixons' grandfather. Their loyal employees' average age: 65. has grown to reach 30,000 customers in all corners of the world in just 10 years.

Robrady Design helps create products from people's dreams. How cool is that?

Galati Yacht Sales, founded in 1970, has five siblings running the company. They've been in Manatee County all their lives, and love it.

Gould & Lamb, a medical bill processor, is one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. And they're based right here.

The Bradenton Herald's business staff produced a special section on the winners -- kept under tight security, of course -- that we handed out at the luncheon. You'll find it in Thursday's editions, and here online. Key in producing the sections were Business Editor Jennifer Rich and Night/Sports Editor Kamon Simpson. It's our way of paying tribute to stellar local companies.