Friday, July 29, 2011

Herald has new Washington correspondent

You may have noticed a new Washington byline on our front page: Erika Bolstad.

Erika now covers Washington for the Miami Herald and Bradenton Herald. She replaces Lesley Clark, who has been promoted to cover the White House for all McClatchy newspapers. Since 2006, Lesley has done a great job tracking down our local politicians and covering stories extremely pertinent to Florida.

Erika has quickly stepped into those shoes in the past week. On the same day Erika was named our new correspondent, I shot her an email around 4 p.m. -- and asked her to chase down a story about Vern Buchanan. She had this story turned within two hours.

Erika has been in McClatchy's Washington bureau since 2007 as the correspondent for the Anchorage Daily News and the Idaho Statesman. I wagered she'll find hotter stories coming out of Florida -- and while she agreed, Erika reminded me that her clips include plenty of stories about Sarah Palin. And her work on the Larry Craig scandal for the Statesman was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in the breaking news category.

Follow Erika on Twitter: @erikabolstad

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Harry Potter contest has sweet ending

Features Editor Jana Morreale summoned us into her office yesterday to pick the winners for our Harry Potter contest. An impressive pile of entries awaited on her couch -- hundreds of our readers had rummaged through the pages of the Herald and/or to find the coveted "snitches," cut them out, paste them to the game card and then deliver them to the Herald.

I got the first pick for a runner-up, and randomly was drawn to the envelope emblazoned with a screaming "PICK ME!!" Turns out Kevin Belanger of Bradenton was the magnet.

Web developer William Winter made the next pick, and we had geographic diversity with Sandra Engel of Parrish winning another $25 gift certificate to the movies.

Then Jana, the diva of our “Harry Potter -- Find the Golden Snitch” contest, stepped forward to pick the grand winner of tickets to Universal Studios.

And what a grand pick she made, as announced within minutes on and featured today on 1A in the Herald:

Becky Raburn, a longtime Holmes Beach resident who credited her team of family and friends for her entry when Jana called her with the news. Mrs. Raburn also shared that she is a cancer survivor who once again is battling the disease -- and her joy at winning the contest brought Jana and me to tears.

As Jana wrote in her kicker, here’s hoping they have a magical time with their winnings!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Manatee businesses help starving food bank

The economy took a vicious swipe at Manatee County's food bank, depleting most of its stock of food and supplies for our community's hungry.

The call for help came Monday morning, and our story published soon after on and in the Herald this morning. Photographer Grant Jefferies added visual proof of the empty shelves, as the above image shows.

Well, this community is answering the call for help. Kristen Theisen, vice president of development for Meals on Wheels and the food bank, says the response has been fantastic today.

"We've had more than a dozen businesses request barrels today," she told me. "We're thrilled with that because we need all the help we can get. Thank you, thank you for the coverage."

The Herald has its barrel by the front door. Let's fill 'er up!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter contest is all the rage

Blogging on something you don't quite get is dangerous, but here goes: We're challenging you to find the Golden Snitches.

Harry Potter fans know all about it, and we hope they're combing through the pages of and the Bradenton Herald to find a numbered Snitch each day. The contest started Friday, so we're on No. 3 today.

I don't want to make it too easy, but in case you snoozed on Saturday, I'm anchoring a shortcut below. Sure, it counts -- click here for all the rules. And here's a link for you to download the game card. The grand prize: four tickets to Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Happy hunting!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting the crossword puzzle r-i-g-h-t

Don't cross the crossword puzzlers -- for this I can vouch today.

The company that paginates the Herald's puzzles/comic pages placed the wrong crossword grid on Saturday's page. Oh, did we hear about it! And having to wait until Monday morning to figure out a solution added fuel to the fire.

Here's one soundbite from a -- rightfully so -- irritated puzzler:

The last thing that irked me was the totally screwed up crossword that appeared in Saturdays, July 9th 2011, edition. Not only were some of the clues kind of weird but the blank puzzle form was not correct for the answers required i.e., some squares were blocked out that should have been clear and some squares that were clear should have been blocked. Consequently some numbers were in the wrong squares.

In spite of this, I was able to(with great difficulty) solve almost all of the puzzle except six words...

Thanks to Features Editor Jana Morreale's diligence in tracking down the problem, we have two puzzles publishing in Tuesday's editions: the corrected Saturday puzzle on Page 6C (answers are on 2A with the correction), and Tuesday's regular puzzle appears on Page 5C.

Me? I'm sticking with Jumble and Sudoku.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Herald photographer for 25 years!

This was definitely cause for celebration: photojournalist Grant Jefferies’ 25th anniversary with the Bradenton Herald.

We commemorated the occasion July 1 with a cake -- and vowed to reserve our cake-giving for joyful celebrations in the future rather than departures as has been the tradition. We sent Grant off with a bottle of bubbly and good vibes for his vacation to the Keys.

Now, as he returns to the grind Monday, Grant will probably lose that vacation glow in a day or so. But we welcome him home -- and thanks, Grant, for the countless amazing images you’ve captured over the years to document Manatee County’s history.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hometown Fourth of July: quite a blast

We're still hearing the oohs and aahs of a glorious fireworks display, witnessed last night just off the banks of the Manatee River from our perch near the Warner's Bayou Boat Ramp in Bradenton. Herald photographer Paul Videla, positioned right along the RiverWalk and downtown bridge, caught the grandeur in this beautiful gallery of fireworks photos.

Nothing makes you feel more young at heart than sharing sparklers and the Fourth of July with your loved ones. Mix in some baseball, brats and beach, and you have a perfect home-run weekend in Manatee County.