Sunday, December 25, 2011

The best Christmas is filled with love

We receive so many heartfelt letters, requests, thank-yous and well wishes this time of year. Yes, we've had countless stories about how so many families are so much needier and struggling this Christmas season. But we thankfully have had just as many selfless stories about people giving to others.

Here is one of the more beautiful letters, passed along by Editorial Page Editor Chris Wille. A mom's "thank you" is one of the most cherished gifts in the world:

My husband I have a son with Down Syndrome who is quite self-sufficient for his condition. Last week he rode his bike to Taco Bell on Cortez Rd to purchase some lunch. Counting his money is not easy for him, so he generally shows the cashier what he has and they help him decide.

On this particular day he had a couple of singles and change in his pocket. According to his report, a young girl walked up and handed him several dollars and change. He was shocked and didn’t understand why. When I asked him what he did, he said he thanked her and wished her a Merry Christmas! Then, of course he ordered whatever he wanted and enjoyed his favorite food.

The irony of this story is that Matt can never pass a Salvation Army Kettle without putting money in and wishing the Bell Ringer a Merry Christmas. He says he loves to give to the less fortunate.

Thank you to the young girl for her generosity and the act of reminding us what the Christmas Season is all about, love and sharing what we have with others.

Merry Christmas to all.

Julie Warrender

Merry Christmas, everyone. And here's a hearty wish for a Happy New Year! May 2012 be a grand, prosperous year filled with love, peace and hope.

-- Joan

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Canes are state champs -- let's keep celebrating!

The thrill of a state championship won't wear off soon! That definitive 40-0 romp by the Manatee Canes is one for the ages.

Columnist Vin Mannix joined the latest round of celebrations last night at Lee Roy Selmon's, as you can read in his feature story today. I made sure he had $20 from me for the championship T-shirts above -- they're keepers. (To order at $10 each, call Gene Brown at 941-720-9153.)

There are rumors of a citywide parade in January. Stay tuned to the Herald and for details.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I can say this: Go CANES!!

"On way to work with game face on. State title game tonight for Manatee High. Excuse my cheering in the press box. #BHCanes"

That was just tweeted by Night Metro Editor Brent Conklin ( @brentconklin ), heading in to cover the Metro Desk -- and back up the Sports Desk on a huge night: the Manatee Hurricanes are in Orlando for the Class 7A state title game, vying for their fifth state championship ever.

Just a few minutes later, I tweeted Go CANES! But as Sports Editor Tim Wolfrum and writer John Lembo reminded me: They're psyched, but not cheering for the team. They're covering the game. And that, dear readers, is not an easy distinction. Lembo, Alan Dell and Vin Mannix will all write columns from Orlando tonight and tomorrow, and those will have plenty of opinion. But the dozens of advance stories and tonight's game story should be void of that -- and of cheerleading.

We're glad we're on the sidelines as fans tonight! These students, captured by photographer Grant Jefferies as the team left Manatee High today, say it all:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Becky Canesse: Girls' leader extraordinaire

"You can't be what you can't see."

That quote by Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, was the message that Becky Canesse quietly pounded home Monday.

As long-standing executive director of Just for Girls, Becky Canesse knows the prophetic truth in those words. So she has spent years making sure that the girls who go through her alternative school in Manatee County get to meet strong role models. And Becky keeps those community leaders in clear sight for those girls.

During Just for Girls' annual luncheon meeting Monday, Becky spent almost two hours singling out volunteers, board members, community leaders and her award-winning staff. She proudly brought Marimar Urieta-Morales, an eighth-grader at Just for Girls, to the podium. As Marimar spoke of the confidence the all-girls’ school has given her, the knowing nods could be seen throughout the room.

Becky reminded us that the power of woman starts in the power of "Mom." Marimer's mom, Maria Lina Urieta, was there, and Becky thanked her in Spanish for entrusting her daughter to Just for Girls. (Marimer proudly poses with her mother, at right.)

Becky also recognized her own mother, honoring her with a donation to the new West Bradenton Center and asking others to do the same for their moms, loved ones and future generations of troubled girls.

But Becky Canesse forgot to pay tribute to the key reason this school is working: Becky Canesse. Others made sure they did:

"I just love this lady!" board member Murrie Bumpers declared as she thanked Becky for all she does.

And Just for Girls President summed it up: "You get good leaders, you hang onto them."

Here's hoping Becky Canesse leads the way for a long, long time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Staff photo shows hit-run suspect with officer

The top local story this week has been the Herald's coverage of the tragic hit-and-run death of 5-year-old Kimora Samuel. We broke the news this morning that Kieron James, 38, has turned himself in and told investigators he was the driver they were looking for.

When we posted his booking mug, Herald photographer Tiffany Tompkins-Condie immediately realized she had already photographed him -- on Tuesday, while he was talking with a patrol officer next to the car that apparently struck and killed Kimora.

In this photograph, James, at right,is seen talking with Florida Highway Patrol's Master Cpl. Darrell Carrol and another resident. The vehicle has been impounded as the car that killed Kimora on U.S. 41 Monday night.

Why did it take investigators until James turned himself in 1 1/2 days later to charge him in the case? Keep watching for updates.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Live coverage from Delmer Smith trial

Laura Morel, the Herald's new crime/immigration reporter, is covering her first trial for us. Although the trial is in Sarasota, the defendant is of extremely high interest in Manatee County as well: Delmer Smith, suspected in a string of brutal home invasions -- including the murder of Kathleen Briles on Aug. 3, 2009, in Terra Ceia.

Laura and her editor, Marc Masferrer, have been tweeting and posting updates from the trial on Both @lauracmorel and @MRMasferrer are using this hashtag for the trial: #Smithtrial

Laura is doing a great job at taking us inside the courthouse. Check 'em out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reporter helps nudge film scoop onto 1A

Sometimes a little lobbying will help land a reporter's story on Page 1A.

That was certainly the case with the Herald's strip story today about Armand Assante. Features reporter Wade Tatangelo got a tip late Wednesday that Assante might be coming to Tampa Bay for his next film, playing a wealthy patriarch with a horse farm in the thriller “Blind Pass.”

Wade's pitch: Before Assante and filmmaker Steve Tatone head to Italy and Ireland next month for shooting, they're coming here. For at least two weeks, Manatee and Sarasota will serve as backdrops for the principal photography.


Wade also added some great detail about the movie in his blog Buzz Worthy today, if the story piqued your interest.