20160422-22 Apr 2016

HOT teams leader assures City Commission that request for 10 more beds for the homeless is not a ‘backdoor’ means to creating a shelter

Board approves $127,750 for expanded contract with The Salvation Army

Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman had sought a number of details on Monday, April 18, regarding a Sarasota Police Department request for $127,750 to reserve 10 more beds for the chronically homeless at The Salvation Army before she finally hit the point Mayor Willie Shaw acknowledged was his greatest concern.  (Read more »)

Education specifications for school district facilities a starting point for addressing transgender bathroom issues, superintendent says

Deputy Sarasota County schools superintendent tells the School Board that staff could ask an architect to look at ways to modify the district’s basic construction plans for future projects

A comment this week about the upkeep of toilets in the Sarasota County Schools segued into statements by Superintendent Lori White and Deputy Superintendent Scott Lempe that they already have begun discussing potential modifications to the district’s standard construction plans to incorporate bathrooms that could serve multiple uses — including offering privacy to transgender students. (Read more »)

Mediation in ACLU lawsuit against City of Sarasota postponed until May 16

Concern about the Sunshine Laws’ effect on the proceeding led to the plaintiffs’ request for clarification

Mediation in a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed against the City of Sarasota last fall on behalf of eight homeless individuals has been postponed until May 16, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. (Read more »)

City Commission chooses not to hold referendum this fall on changing city election cycle

Vice mayor the only board member to offer support for the ballot initiative in November

It came down to the lack of a second. After hearing pros and cons from more than a dozen city residents — including two former city commissioners — four of the current Sarasota City commissioners chose not to hold a referendum this fall on moving the city elections from the spring to November. (Read more »)

‘Ad hoc’ committee recommends minor changes to School Board policy on awarding construction contracts

Expanding the number of firms that can compete for projects was among the suggestions

Given that the Sarasota County School Board has had only one protest of a construction-related contract in 25 years, the chair of an ad hoc committee that reviewed the school district’s policy for awarding such contracts has recommended only minor changes to the process. (Read more »)

Veterans the group showing the smallest increase among the homeless in Manatee and Sarasota counties

City of Sarasota continues to have the highest number of homeless overall among the municipalities in the Point-in-Time survey

Although the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness reported that 270 more people were homeless in Sarasota and Manatee counties in late January of this year compared to the same period in 2015, the nonprofit organization says the figures for veterans show the smallest increase, while those for families with children were slightly lower. (Read more »)

Schedule calls for Mid-County Tax Collector’s Office to open in 2017

Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office has recorded a 58-percent increase in customer traffic since its facilities took over all driver’s license transactions in late May 2015, the deputy tax collector says

Next month, as the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office marks its first anniversary of taking over all driver’s license transactions in the county, other county staff members will be getting closer to completing the work necessary to start construction of the new Mid-County Tax Collector’s Office, which is planned on Sawyer Loop Road near Interstate 75 in Sarasota. (Read more »)

SKVA, Chamber members voice concerns about revised food truck ordinance, which is set for a May 5 public hearing

The new county law still would require any petition for such a business on one of the barrier islands to be heard by the County Commission

Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) Vice President Mark Smith — who also serves as chair of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce — has voiced concerns about the new food truck ordinance on which county staff has been working for years, even though any petitions regarding such an operation on Siesta Key would still have to be reviewed by the County Commission during a public hearing. (Read more »)

Casey Key petitioners turned down in attempt to rezone property

County commissioners concur with Planning Commission that the change would not be compatible with the existing land pattern

In the end, Commissioner Charles Hines said he had to agree with an opponent’s assertion that a request for the Sarasota County Commission to rezone Casey Key property so it could be divided into two parcels with a new house to be built on each was an example of “pretzel logic.” (Read more »)

Free content:

Let us all celebrate Earth Day

We should give great care to nature, as it has nurtured us

On a blue-sky day at Kissimmee Prairie, I walk a vast landscape of saw palmetto and tawny grasses dotted with colorful wildflowers. Islands of sabal palms offer relief to flat vistas. Eastern meadowlarks and red-winged blackbirds provide background music. (Read more »)

Single-lane closures planned on the Stickney Point bridge next week

Crews will be painting portions of the structure

Drivers should expect single-lane closures on the Stickney Point bridge to Siesta Key next week, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced on April 21. (Read more »)

Contributions sought to continue ACE basket-weaving class for blind adults

Cut in state funding threatens popular program

Blind and visually challenged adults may no longer be able to take a popular class, Basket Weaving for the Visually Impaired, which has been offered for more 35 years through the Sarasota County School District’s Adult and Community Enrichment (ACE) program, the district has announced. (Read more »)

Community participation requested for Sarasota County School District’s superintendent search

First forum set for April 26 at North Port High, with others scheduled for May

“The Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Florida School Boards Association are collaborating with the Sarasota County School District to gather information from families, staff and community members about their hopes and expectations for the new superintendent of schools, who will succeed Lori White when she retires next February,” the district has announced. (Read more »)

Residents and visitors encouraged to ride SCAT for free on April 26

Offer is part of Try Transit Day celebration

Residents and visitors are invited to ride Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) buses for free on Tuesday, April 26, in celebration of Try Transit Day 2016, Sarasota County has announced. (Read more »)

First pool dedicated to teaching adults to swim to open in Sarasota May 1

Public invited to free festivities at McIntosh Road facilities

The first pool ever dedicated to teaching adults to swim will open in Sarasota on May 1, a Sarasota-based nonprofit organization has announced. The Miracle Swimming Pool, which formerly belonged to the Flanzer Jewish Community Center, is located at 582 McIntosh Road in Sarasota. (Read more »)

Volunteers welcome for county’s Seagrass Survey on April 30

Members of the public may register online

Sarasota County staff members are inviting the public to volunteer for a Seagrass Survey on Saturday, April 30, at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota. (Read more »)

May 12 evening session set for parents, students and school staff interested in planning for a new Venice library

Meeting will be held in the Venice High School cafeteria at 6 p.m.

In response to requests from Venice-area parents, Sarasota County staff has scheduled a separate evening session specifically for parents, students and Sarasota County School District staff in Venice to participate in the planning of a new public library for that community, Sarabeth Kalajian, director of libraries and historical resources for the county, has announced. (Read more »)

County hires new assistant fire chief

William Burns expected to begin work in early May

William Burns has accepted a conditional offer to become the new assistant chief of operations for the Sarasota County Fire Department, the department announced on April 18. (Read more »)

Fitch and Standard & Poors rate Sarasota County utility bonds AA+

Utility system planning to issue new revenue bonds to pay for improvements

Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services both have announced that approximately $209.5 million of Sarasota County’s Utility System bonds will maintain their current AA+ rating with a stable outlook, the county has announced. (Read more »)