Thursday, September 29, 2011

This baseball lover's kind of night

This had to be one of my favorite breaking news headlines of all times:

A wild night: Rays head to 12th; Cards win NL wild card

Last night was a baseball lover's dream come true -- I cared crazily about the outcome of four games. And with the Rays, Sox and Braves on TV and my No. 1 Cards on, we had plenty of remote control action!

Night Metro Editor Brent Conklin sent out the above posting at 11:49 p.m. last night. I have the e-mail headline saved for posterity -- if you've clicked through, you already found that in the world of instant updates, Brent updated that posting with the Rays' clinching less than a half-hour later.

Fabulous reason, BTW, to hold the presses for a half-hour. And the Bradenton Herald's front page and sports cover are great today. My only quibble is the headline. This long-time Cardinals fan knows: You gotta believe.

Go Cards!!! Go Rays!!!

AP Photos/
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter and catcher Yadier Molina celebrate.
Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria hits a 12th-inning home run off New York Yankees relief pitcher Scott Proctor

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tip alerts us to local storm damage

We love story tips -- keep them coming!

It's impossible to be everywhere, and we need you -- our community viewers -- to help out. And we're not talking just about misdeeds that warrant watchdog journalism. We're talking about what's going on in your world that warrants attention.

Here's a great example. I got an email at 4:55 a.m. this morning, photo attached, that a "mini-tornado" may have ripped through Christian Retreat. East Manatee Editor Jim Jones zipped out there as soon as I forwarded him the message. By noon, we had his story, with photos, posted that high winds had leveled trees, damaged structures and left a mess.

Keep those tips coming. Here's a link that provides contact information for the Bradenton Herald newsroom.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Seeking suspects in Palmetto slayings

Violent crime smacked this community exactly one week ago, and it's fighting back -- that's the only option.

That's the dire consensus of everyone we ask, but people in the know still aren't talking enough. That's the only way to stop such gangstyle violence that ripped through Palmetto last weekend. And yet there are still no arrests (best case scenario: This blog is trumped soon by the arrest of a suspect in the killing of two people and 22 wounded).

We fervently hope this weekend is peaceful. It still will be painful, as both victims from the shooting are buried today. Herald reporter Paradise Afshar and photographer Grant Jefferies will be monitoring and covering this throughout the day, with the families' permission.

The community's response to date:

A violent crime task force as reported in today's story.

Vigils throughout the weekend, including this one Friday night.

Ministers gathering Monday.

Videos asking for community cooperation (see below).

Funds topping $20,000 to encourage tipsters.

We will continue to cover and report every turn in this story, with the overarching goal to help keep our staff and this community safe.

Paul Videla/ Vigil Friday night as no one is arrested yet in mass shooting one week ago.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Palmetto shootings bring intense coverage

Bradenton Herald reporters Lee Williams, Richard Dymond, Vin Mannix and Paradise Afshar have been digging for answers since we learned of the horrific mass shooting Saturday morning in Palmetto. Williams has taken the lead in the coverage, and was the first to report Club Elite had canceled police coverage just months earlier.

Two dead, 22 injured. And no arrests made yet, despite a crowd of 300 at the club when at least two gunmen opened fire. Witnesses apparently are terrified of retribution.

As the Herald's editorial states tomorrow, this was an act of urban warfare. And it erupted even more disturbingly in the midst of commemorations on the 10th anniversary of 9-11.

I can't describe how jarring it was Sunday morning to be searching for an image of an AK-47 to post online with Williams' breaking news on the weapons used in the shooting. I had never seen one. As I searched, I heard the names of the 9-11 victims being read at Ground Zero echoing from my TV. I stopped working the shooting story to observe the fourth moment of silence.

And then I found the image of an AK-47. Two dead, 22 injured. Life seemed a whole lot safer before I learned that.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Emotions still run high with 9/11 tribute

As we headed Friday to the 10th Tribute to Heroes in downtown Bradenton,it was with a foreboding sense of ending.

So starts our editorial tomorrow in the Herald, which I finished just a little while ago -- hours after the Tribute to Heroes 10th annual luncheon concluded. (Editorial Page Editor Chris Wille is on vacation, so the honor falls to me...)

I found myself struggling mightily to opine, caught by surprise at the emotions that still overwhelmed me. I haven't missed any of the tributes, and watching the excellent video (see below) by METV and Charles Clapsaddle's crew brought back strong memories of each year.

I could barely hold back my tears as East Manatee Editor Jim Jones introduced me at the tribute to Stefenie Hernandez, Patrick Lay's mother. Her handshake was firm, her gaze clear, her voice strong as she thanked us for being there. Everyone in the room seemed to gravitate to her, as photographer Grant Jefferies captured here.

So much has changed; so much has stayed the same. The curse of war; the blessing of love. How do you put that into words?

Then I read Herald reporter Paradise Afshar's blog tonight, full of young hope, dreams, fears and convictions. She found the words. And I did cry.

I think we're going to be all right. And I hope we can help sustain the tributes to our heroes, as we encourage in the rest of Saturday's editorial:

Ticket sales have dwindled in the past few years. Indeed, the auditorium floor had plenty of room for more tables this year. At least one 10-top sat empty.

But next to that table, front and center, sat the family of Army Spc. 4 Patrick Lay II. Their heads were held high, their backs straight with pride, their faces wet with painful occasional tears. One of our own gave his life for our freedom.

Ten years ago, almost 3,000 Americans lost their lives in one of the biggest attacks in history on our country’s freedom. The victims at Ground Zero included 343 New York firefighters, 23 New York police officers, 37 Port Authority officers and 15 emergency medical technicians.

They are the men and women we honor each year at Bradenton’s Tribute to Heroes. Our community’s first responders gather, in full uniforms heavy with badges of honor, to remember their own who gave the ultimate.

So it was with great pride and relief to hear Mayor Wayne Poston preface his remarks at the Tribute with a declaration that, as long as he is mayor, Bradenton will continue to have some sort of 9-11 annual tribute.

We do need to look forward. We do need to move on, learning from that horrific day and the 10 years since. But we also need to remember the day we pulled together as a nation under attack. We need to remember the lives lost in the ensuing decade of war, praying that Spc. 4 Lay is our last loss, but knowing that more may follow.

Fly your flag this weekend. Join hands in prayers and hope.

We will never forget.

Never forget.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Help us build 'Bradenton Remembers 9-11'

I can't use overseas travel as an excuse not to blog anymore -- but it was a grand reason for almost two weeks! It also took the past few days to get my land legs back, and to work through more than 3,000 accumulated emails (dang, the blackberry refused to work in the Mediterranean!)...

So we labor a bit on Labor Day -- and admit we're extremely happy to be working.

As we close in on the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorism attacks, Bradenton Herald staff writers are looking back to their own memories -- among the first, Wade Tatangelo was a full-time student and journalist hurled into a new appreciation of the real world; Vin Mannix feels anew the loss of his best friend at the Pentagon. And they are capturing the contributions of so many in our community. What they're finding: The loss will always be heart-gripping. Still, the miracles of survival and selfless dedication in the days and years since help us look forward with hope.

I hope you take a moment to click here and share with us your memories of Sept. 11, 2001. They will be part of a commemorative online section, "Bradenton Remembers 9-11," that we'll publish next weekend.

Maybe your thoughts and hopes will help all of us resolve to make the next decade peaceful and prosperous.

The 9/11 World Trade Center Steel Memorial outside Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue District headquarters