News Briefs for Sept. 14, 2012

International Coastal Cleanup planned for Sept. 15

Keep Sarasota County Beautiful is seeking volunteers to participate in the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Sept. 15.

A Siesta Key Association team of volunteers will clean up the island’s coastline, SKA Director Michael Shay announced during the organization’s regular meeting on Sept. 6.

“We had a pretty large group that volunteered last year,” Shay said.

People started at three different areas of the shoreline: Beach Access 3, Turtle Beach and the Siesta Public Beach, he said.

The county provides each volunteer a kit with bottled water, gloves, an event T-shirt and even a little snack, he added.

Anyone interested in participating in the SKA group may call Shay at 364-4880 or email

Anyone interested in volunteering at another county location may call Keep Sarasota County Beautiful at 861-5000.

New county hotline available to report suspected fraud

A new hotline is available to the public and Sarasota County government employees to report suspected fraud, waste and abuse, the county announced this week.

The new toll-free fraud hotline number is 855-506-0304. People who call are led through voice-prompted instructions; they can speak to a person anytime, including holidays, a county news release says.

“We must do everything we can to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in county government,” said County Administrator Randall Reid in the news release. “The hotline also provides a way for the public and employees to anonymously report suspected fraud without any retaliation.”

If people do not want to use the hotline, they may report suspected fraud, waste and abuse directly to the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller.

The mail address is as follows: Attention: Fraud Hotline, 
P.O. Box 3079, Sarasota, FL 34236.

To contact someone in the Clerk’s Office by phone, call 941-861-5704.

To deliver a report in person, visit the Sarasota County Administration Center’s 
Internal Audit office at 1660 Ringling Blvd., 
Sarasota, 34236.

For more information about the hotline, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 or visit and click on the “Ensuring Honest Government” link.

New College earns No. 5 ranking from U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report has put New College of Florida in the No. 5 spot for public liberal arts colleges on its 2013 list of the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges, which was released this week.

Among all liberal arts colleges, public and private, New College ranked in the top tier, coming in at No. 87, up seven spots from last year, the college announced in a news release.

In a list of schools whose students graduated with the least debt, U.S. News placed New College in the 11th spot among America’s public and private liberal arts colleges. Only 32% of New College’s 2011 graduates left college with any debt, a New College news release says. The average among them was $14,172, the release adds. The national average is $20,467, according to a 2012 study by the Institute for College Access & Success.

The 2013 list marks the eighth consecutive year New College has been ranked one of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges overall by U.S. News & World Report. It also marks the eighth year in a row New College has been ranked in the top six among public liberal arts colleges, with military academies in the top four spots this year. New College is the only liberal arts college in Florida to be listed in the nation’s top 100.

The 2013 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook is available on newsstands Sept. 18 and online at

The following are the Top 10 Public Liberal Arts Colleges in the magazine’s 2013 list:

• 1. U.S. Naval Academy (Md.)

• 2. U.S. Military Academy (N.Y.)

• 3. U.S. Air Force Academy (Colo.)

• 4. Virginia Military Institute

• 5. New College of Florida

• 5. St. Mary’s College of Maryland

• 7. University of North Carolina–Asheville

• 8. University of Minnesota–Morris

• 9. Purchase College–SUNY

• 10. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Volunteers sought for National Public Lands Day event 

Sarasota County Community Services will host a volunteer event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center, 570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood, to celebrate the 19th Annual National Public Lands Day.

Staff will guide volunteers in removing invasive plants, painting tables and benches, cleaning the mangrove shoreline, maintaining trails and working in the butterfly garden, a county news release says. Volunteers are welcome to wade or bring kayaks to remove debris along the shoreline.

“This event is an excellent opportunity for volunteers to help maintain the park’s amenities and natural features,” said Kenya Leonard, parks naturalist at Lemon Bay Park, in the news release.

Volunteers should register in advance online at To register, select the “Calendar” tab on the left, then select “September” from the drop-down list and click “go.” Choose “National Public Lands Day” on Sept. 29.

Space for this event is limited to 25 volunteers.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring loppers, clippers or shears if they have them, the news release says. Volunteers also should bring water, bug spray, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, and they should wear closed-toe, closed-heel shoes such as hiking boots or sneakers, the release says.

“National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America’s public lands,” the news release points out. Last year, more than 170,000 volunteers nationwide built trails and bridges, planted trees and plants, and removed trash and invasive plants. This effort contributed an estimated $17 million to improve public lands across the country, the release says.

Sarasota County has more than 106,000 acres of natural land that is home to hundreds of protected and endangered species of animals and plants.

For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000 and ask for Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources.

New College a collection site for unused prescription drugs

The New College Campus Police Department will be a collection site to turn in unused and expired prescription drugs for safe disposal during National Prescription Drug Take

Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participation in the program is completely anonymous, a news release says; no questions will be asked.

Campus Police is located at 501 College Drive, one stoplight north of the intersection of U.S. 41 and University Parkway in Sarasota. Members of the public should park in the Heiser Natural Sciences parking lot opposite the police station. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is conducted through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. For more information, visit

Open house to be held on Siesta pedestrian crosswalks

On Sept. 17, the Florida Department of Transportation will conduct a public information meeting for the upcoming pedestrian crosswalk project on Midnight Pass Road between Beach Road and Stickney Point Road.

The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 5394 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key.

It will feature an open-house format, allowing members of the public to view displays and to discuss the project with team representatives. No formal presentation will be provided.

The project will consist of installing six pedestrian crossings, including rectangular rapid-flashing beacons, milling and resurfacing and signing and pavement markings between Stickney Point Road and Beach Road, to improve pedestrian safety, an FDOT news release notes.

“These improvements will not affect access to properties, and will minimize impacts to left turn movements,” the release adds.

Anyone with questions about the meeting or the project may contact Brian Bollas, public information liaison for FDOT, at 727-946-1869.

For more information about the public information meeting or the project, visit the project website: