Week in review: Manatee County loses in court + elections trickery? + baby formula shortage + Sarasota Bay mangroves + new I-75 overpass + more COVID-19 deaths
Election shenanigans, a new bridge at Fort Hamer and a star teacher at a Manatee County elementary school were all in the news this week.
But first, this:
Nine more COVID-19 deaths were reported this week in Manatee-Sarasota, raising the two-county total during the pandemic to at least 3,120, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Two of the new deaths reported this week were of Manatee County residents, the other seven were in Sarasota County.
Of the total number, at least 1,312 Manatee County residents have died, and at least 1,808 Sarasota County residents have died after contracting the coronavirus.
Related coverage | Sarasota County COVID Therapy Coalition offers guidelines on finding therapies locally (Herald-Tribune)
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Here are three stories you ought to know about this week:
Manatee County violated public records law during animal shelter living conditions case (Herald-Tribune)
From the story:
Manatee County was found to have violated public records laws after a volunteer raised alarm about living conditions at the county's animal shelter.
The civil lawsuit, filed in November by Paul David Daniels, claims Manatee County withheld emails he requested without a valid statutory citation in violation of Florida statutes.
The violation came amidst a years-long legal battle between Daniels and Manatee County.
In that case, Daniels filed a lawsuit in the Florida Middle District Court against the county after he was fired on June 16, 2020, from a volunteer position for posting negative information on Facebook about living conditions at the county's animal shelter, according to court records.
Daniels had grown increasingly concerned over the way animal services housed dogs outdoors with little to no air ventilation, particularly during Florida's extreme summer heat. The matter came to a head in September 2019, when a dog that was kept outdoors all summer had become ill and was found dead in her cage, court records show.
Daniels took to Facebook to voice his concerns and was fired from his volunteer position in June 2020. Daniels claimed the termination was retaliation and violated his first amendment rights to free speech, court records show.
The case was dismissed in February after the case was settled.
However, in November 2021, Daniels filed a civil lawsuit against Manatee County for open records violations related to requests he made during the court case between August and September 2021, where he requested emails from various county officials associated with his lawsuit.
Related coverage | No answers in mystery deletion of Manatee County records queries (Bradenton Times)
Related coverage | (Opinion) Yes, Manatee County’s problems with public records are ‘remarkably bad’ (Bradenton Times)
Manatee County looking to slow traffic on the roadways (SNN)
From the story:
Manatee County wants people to slow down on the roads, and is considering to their traffic calming program to make the roads safer.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a thoroughfare or Manatee County Street,” said county Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. “I mean we have cars that are speeding on every single road in Manatee County, it’s horrible, it’s terrible, it’s the biggest complaint that residents have.”
They are looking at new traffic calming initiatives, like installing new speed tables or small traffic circles to naturally slow traffic down in problem areas.
Sarasota-Manatee group helps moms tackle baby formula shortage (WTSP)
From the story:
Here at home in Tampa Bay, the private nonprofit group "Mothers Helping Mothers" is striving to get bottles to babies in need.
"It is one thing to get the plants up and running, but it's a whole other thing to finish the cans, get them on the trucks to get them into the stores," said Martha Brookley of Mothers Helping Mothers.
Many moms with babies in need of formula are finding support from a network of local moms who have banded together to solve the problem caused by the shortage.
The nonprofit is located at 5933 North Washington Blvd and serves families in Sarasota and Manatee counties. That location houses a store that's stocked with a range of items for new moms and babies including clothing items, diapers, car seats, and strollers among other things.
A recent donation of baby formula to restock their nearly-emptied shelf was welcomed with delight.
"Before we did like to purchase and keep all of this full and keep the back room full because we have a constant steady supply of newborn babies coming through," Brookley said.
"We have around 40 client families that come through on every appointment day and we have only 11 appointment days per month," she said.
Many families come with newborns and infants; and many of the moms who are pinched by the shortage come to the store when they have run out of options.
"It took me about four stores to find at least five cans and then when I did find five cans it was only limited. It's a little overwhelming and is a little concerning," said Antonnet Johnson of Sarasota.
Rep. Vern Buchanan @VernBuchananPleased to see President Biden announce plans to: 1. Use the Defense Production Act to ramp up domestic production of infant formula. 2. Ship infant formula in from overseas. @SenRubioPress and I introduced legislation on Monday to do exactly that.
Other headlines you should know this week
Write-in candidate limits who will be able to vote in Manatee County Commission race (The Bradenton Journal)
Marc R. Masferrer @MRMasferrerICYMI | Write-in candidate limits who will be able to vote in Manatee County Commission race, by @MRMasferrer https://t.co/IcfLtu18Bj
Employees claim Bradenton City Councilman Bill Sanders created a hostile work environment (Herald-Tribune)
Rising interest rates appear to be "putting pressure" on Sarasota-Manatee real estate market (Herald-Tribune)
Opinion | What can we do for you today, Mr. Neal? (Bradenton Times)
Manatee seeks federal funding for second span of Fort Hamer Bridge (YourObserver.com)
FDEP releases Aqua mangrove trimming report (Anna Maria Island Sun)
Manatee schools ending free lunch for all program (MySuncoast.com)
Manatee School District works to address cafeteria, custodial staff shortages (YourObserver.com)
City of Bradenton to end curbside recycling due to worker shortage, but opening drop-off centers for residents (Fox News 13)
New law could mean a change in firefighters for some Bradenton residents (Florida Politics)
Plans move ahead for I-75 overpass to link growing Lakewood Ranch, University Town Center areas (Herald-Tribune)
Longboat Key hopes line in the sand will solve boating problem (MyObserver.com)
Ellenton-based Ringling Bros. announces comeback tour without animal acts (Herald-Tribune)
Insurance executive buys downtown Bradenton property (Business Observer)