Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Readers, thanks for calling to 'Celebrate'

We published our eighth annual edition of "Celebrate Bradenton" this past Sunday, and it's a refreshingly bright magazine, thanks in large part to Features Editor Jana Morreale. Each year she motivates the staff to find the good in Bradenton. And they found plenty this year.

New businesses. New wildlife preserves. New theater. Rejuvenated McKechnie Field, Riverwalk and Village of the Arts. Hey, and the new Bradenton Herald digs at 1111 Third Ave. W.!

I've received several surprising calls about my column in the section -- the biggest surprise was that the callers weren't critical. Each one wanted to share what they celebrate about Bradenton -- especially if I didn't mention it. They all mentioned one that I didn't: South Florida Museum and Snooty, our favorite manatee in Manatee. Their list of favorite restaurants is extensive. Anything outdoors. And what about the beach??

Thanks for taking the time to call, because it made me realize my biggest omission: Our readers. You are absolutely the best reason for us to "Celebrate Bradenton."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Filling Vin's Crocs will be a big job

Credit: Paul Videla/pvidela@bradenton.com
We had quite the sendoff last week for Herald columnist Vin Mannix, who has retired after 16 years here. In my column Sunday, on the rest of the op-ed page and in Vin's final column, we paid him tribute. Vin made a career out of writing about people. No detail was too small, every person was significant. And Vin made sure everyone knew that.

Vin certainly didn't retire quietly -- that wouldn't be his style. His last story, published Sunday, is an epic on 'Spittin' Bill Doak -- Bradenton sweet shop owner makde big impact on national pastime'

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/03/30/5075668/spittin-bill-doak-bradenton-sweet.html#storylink=cpy
Doak played for the St. Louis Cardinals (I swear I didn't put vin up to this story!) from 1914-1924, worked with Rawlings on a revolutionary new design of baseball gloves that became a prototype for year and retired to Bradenton. Here, Doak became a fixture in short order, with a downtown sweet shop and the patience of a saint in coaching boys' baseball. Few knew what a legend he'd been.

Does Vin see a bit of himself in Doak? Maybe he should. I took a call this morning from a reader in Rubonia, upset because she hadn't talked to Vin last week before he retired. Everyone in her family has been mentioned in Vin's columns over the years -- birthdays, a wedding, a sports highlight. She didn't want me to "bother" Vin in retirement -- she said, "Just let him know Ruby is gonna miss him terribly."

We know we can't really replace Vin, but we're going to keep some of his traditions going. Another Herald retiree, Carl Mario Nudi, has returned part time, and he'll start writing a weekly "People" column. Carl's a character in his own right, so we think you're going to enjoy his banter. You can send him items at cnudi@bradenton.com any time. And reporter Richard Dymond, rdymond@bradenton.com, is changing beats and will be covering health & social services, picking up where Vin left off in great coverage and story-telling about our vast non-profit world.

When a newsroom staffer moves on, as I wrote in my Sunday column, it's a long-standing tradition in newsrooms to put together a front page that pays tribute to the departing compadre -- complete with touches of newsroom humor. We asked some of Vin's friends, former cohorts and community contacts to contribute, too. So here's to Vinny. Enjoy retirement!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Meet your favorite Manatee chefs 'In the Kitchen'

Americans love to eat out -- at least once a week, sometimes three or four times, national surveys show. And the younger you are, the more likely you'll hit restaurant row in the next couple days.

But one trend is changing, according to a twice-annual industry survey. In ranking the top reasons they might not eat out, consumers say they will dine out less frequently this year because of concerns about health, the North American Restaurant Consumer Sentiment Review found.

That's a big change from during the Great Recession, when financial woes were the No. 1 reason likely to dampen restaurant visit frequency, the survey showed. As the economy improves, we're venturing back to our favorite eateries more often.

Tourists and residents alike have plenty of choices in Manatee County. We're blessed with an abundance of local, original restaurants and top-notch chefs who are creating innovative fare. And, starting today, we're helping you get to know our favorite chefs.
Chef Greg Campbell
“In the Kitchen with ...”  will feature local chefs sharing their thoughts on the local food scene, favorite recipes, cooking techniques, farm-to-table and more. The column -- the brainchild of Herald Features Editor Jana Morreale -- will publish every Wednesday in Taste, and the series will be shared online at Bradenton.com/in-the-kitchen.

Today's first serving comes from Chef Greg Campbell of Pier 22 in downtown Bradenton. In this inaugural "In the Kitchen," Chef Greg introduces us to his Grandma Simone, who embraced the love of shopping locally and instilled a glorious sense of community in her grandson. And he shares a family secret I can't wait to try: Grandma Simone's very own recipe for “chowdah”.
Interested chefs should contact Jana at 941-745-7059 or jmorreale@bradenton.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Holy Molé, good morning!

"I loved your commentary in today's Herald. I'm so glad you're getting Holy Molé back. I used to enjoy it so much, and have missed it. Our world needs more of that which brings joy, and also makes us "stop and think about life" as you so beautifully expressed in your article. Thank you."

That was one of a dozen or so e-mails I received on Sunday, thanking the Herald for the return of Holy Molé,  a cartoon strip by local artist Rick Hotton and a source of joy and retrospection for his loyal followers. As I wrote in my Sunday column, we thought the long-term hiatus of Garry Trudeau's 'Doonesbury' was the perfect opportunity to bring Holy Molé back.

So check him out. He's situated right above the crossword puzzle today on Page 5C, and will be there every day -- and he'll be in the color Sunday funny pages, too.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Celebrating our Letter to the Editor authors

Dear Letter to the Editor authors:

The Bradenton Herald's editorial board wants to highlight the best of the best letter writers this year. So we've launched a  Letter of the Month contest -- with you, the readers, as our final judges.

Part of a newspaper's legacy is its ability and responsibility to engage the community in conversation. A favorite vehicle for that conversation is through Letters to the Editor. The Herald has a rich history of letters from our readers, publishing thousands in our 92-year history. Politics is probably the most popular (maybe that's un-popular) topic. But our passionate letter writers will commend, condemn, rant or rave about almost anything they've read in the Herald -- or, sometimes, what they didn't read and think they should have.
So how do we narrow down the field to the "best"? First, Herald editors will highlight one letter each week. The writer's opinion will not be a consideration for that choice -- everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that's what makes the letters so rich and diverse. Instead, letters will be judged on strength of argument, writing style and clarity. Those that address current issues and events will get bonus points. Humor will not be disqualified. And if your letter gets the most traffic in the week after it's posted on Bradenton.com, we'll add another bonus point.
At the end of the month, readers can vote online for their choice among those weekly nominations. Bookmark this link for voting: www.bradenton.com/letter-of-the-month 
The online voting will begin on the first Sunday of each month and continue until noon Friday.  We'll announce the readers' choice on the second Sunday on the Opinion page, and here online.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/01/10/4929038/welcome-to-the-letters-of-the.html#storylink=cpy

And get ready for a party, letter writers! We plan to get our dozen winners together in January 2015 to celebrate something typically discouraged in newsrooms: opinionated writing!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A new day for 'no-kill' news -- it's very much alive

Some passionate pleas are streaming in tonight, asking the Bradenton Herald to keep publishing the popular "A View to No-Kill" column by Manatee County's Animal Services Director Kris Weiskopf.

I need to get the word out: We didn't "kill" the "no-kill" column. Kris has written this weekly column for the Herald for almost three years, and it has been a great run. But that venue has run its course, Kris and I agreed last week.

That said, the Herald is still committed to the no-kill mission, as we have stated in so many columns and editorials. We will continue to get the word out -- through our photo galleries of pets ready for adoption, through our weekly Neighbors feature of "Pets of the Week," through news stories -- and, as Kris agrees, an occasional column or news update as warranted. And the archives will stay live on Bradenton.com.

We want to try a fresh approach -- to accomplish exactly what you are imploring in your letters tonight, but to focus on the animals, and news as it develops. If anything, your emails prove that this has been -- and will be -- an important community mission.

Here are some of your heartfelt thoughts:

Please choose to be a voice for these helpless and homeless creatures that God has entrusted to us by allowing the column to continue.
-- Caryn Hodge

 I am a volunteer for MCAS and was inspired to become a volunteer because of that column. We need as many residents of Manatee County to support the no-kill policy as we can get..
-- Joyce Jordan
Thank you, in advance, for supporting the shelter, and OUR COUNTY animals.......more adoptions are the responsibility of all of us!
-- Jo Marble
 The community needs to hear what is happening at the shelter! People need to understand that there is a pet overpopulation problem and that it is imperative to have pets spayed and neutered! 
--Margo Williams
 We have too many perfectly healthy and adoptable animals being put to death in this county. Our county shelter (and the pets!) need all the publicity they can get.
-- Rennie Finck 

I volunteer my time, I don't have extra funds to give to the shelter. This is a community issue. Please keep helping all the animals find there forever homes. -- Lisa Malone

 I go to the shelter 2 days a week to walk the dogs. The column helps get animals adopted, so the county doesn't have to kill the animals. 
--Jeff Goss  

After all, our dogs and cats are family. Two videos have brought me to tears this week -- and each one starred an amazing puppy.

Carol Whitmore sent this one: 'If you only read one thing today, read this.' And you really, really must.

And on the lighter side, I love Budweiser's Super Bowl commercial, "Puppy Love,"

We -- and our furry friends -- are so fortunate that so many people care. Let's work together to keep the community informed, and look for lively ways to engage even more readers.