County libraries spared an extra day of closing but SCAT routes proposed for elimination as part of County Commission effort to balance 2019 fiscal year budget

Commissioners also agree not to raise fee for athletic field lighting, citing worries about the effect on youth participation in sports

Their goal on Jan. 31, laid out by administration, was to come up with about $5.6 million in cuts to ensure a balanced budget for the 2019 fiscal year. At the end of about four hours of presentations and discussions, the Sarasota County commissioners unanimously approved $5,391,350 in department reductions. (Read more »)

Avoiding undue pressure to complete North Port facilities in time, Atlanta Braves extend Spring Training agreement with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Team expected to play final 2019 Spring Training game in April in the West Villages

The Atlanta Braves will not be playing their entire 2019 Spring Training season in Sarasota County after all, the team announced on Jan. 31. Because of normal issues related to construction, their stadium complex in the West Villages near North Port will not be completed in time for the start of Spring Training next year, Jeff Maultsby, director of business and economic development for Sarasota County, told The Sarasota News Leader in a Feb. 1 telephone interview. (Read more »)

Proposal for modifying commercial building setbacks on Siesta Key to undergo revision with staff assistance, at the County Commission’s direction

Public hearing continued to April 11

The majority of the Sarasota County commissioners made it clear on Jan. 30 that they were uncomfortable with the language of a proposed zoning text amendment regarding commercial building setbacks on Siesta Key. As a result, they voted unanimously to continue a public hearing on the issue until April 11. (Read more »)

Sheriff’s Office Homeless Outreach Teams funded by County Commission to support Quality of Life Ordinance

Goal is to have employees trained before new county regulations go into effect on March 31 regarding sleeping out of doors and storage of personal property on public land

It took only about 3 minutes on Jan. 30 for the Sarasota County Commission to unanimously approve an allocation of “a small amount of money [that would] have a huge impact,” as Chair Nancy Detert pointed out. On a motion by Commissioner Charles Hines, with a second by Commissioner Alan Maio, the board agreed to a $725,606 budget amendment that will fund the creation of Homeless Outreach Teams (HOTs) for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. (Read more »)

Contract should be ready within two to three weeks for hiring of consultant to suggest zoning districts for county property near the Celery Fields

Commissioner Maio voices disappointment with the delay

Within two to three weeks, Sarasota County staff hopes to have a contract ready to recommend to the County Commission regarding the hiring of a consultant to rezone a parcel near the Celery Fields. That was the news County Administrator Jonathan Lewis provided on Jan. 30, referencing county-owned land that staff calls the Northwest Quad. (Read more »)

County commissioners applaud Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff for finding ‘creative ways’ to expand use of existing athletic facilities

Projects at Twin Lakes Park expected to get underway this spring

With the expense to be covered completely by impact fees, the Sarasota County Commission has taken a step that will make more than 8,600 additional hours of athletic playing time possible at the county’s Twin Lakes Park on Clark Road in Sarasota. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Health Department working with legal counsel on issues involving portable toilet at 10 Beach Road; cairns continue to proliferate at 162 and 168 Beach Road; update provided on Reopen Beach Road Charter petition drive; Condo Council members hear about more proposed laws; residents offer recommendations to help with beach traffic congestion; Condo Council survey results detailed; DOAH hearing transcript still not complete; Sheriff’s Office report offers information on north median incident; and a resident captures photos of an unusual looking sky

The environmental health administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County is working with legal counsel “to determine the best course of action” regarding Siesta resident Mike Cosentino’s installation of a portable toilet on the 10 Beach Road parcel Cosentino owns, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. (Read more »)

Commentary: A loyal but ignorant football fan asks a few questions

Still, one certainly can enjoy the game without knowing all the fine details

I bet there are not many people who will watch a very high-caliber football game for three hours and not know a single thing (well, almost) about the rules. I am one of those people. (And let me set this straight right away: This article will NOT be a paean to Tom Brady. I will save those thoughts for myself.) (Read more »)

A&E: ‘Troy Game’ shines as Sarasota Ballet combines contemporary ballets into a ‘Moving Identities’ program

Single-sex casts in two of the evening’s ballets produce mixed results

Moving Identities, the first Sarasota Ballet offering of 2018, is rather an odd way of describing a program of three contemporary ballets by three different choreographers: Paul Taylor, Ricardo Graziano and Robert North. Separated by age and experience, they are united by a vision of dance freed from pointe shoes and the boundaries of classical ballet choreography. (Read more »)

Early voting timeline announced for the Feb. 13 Florida House District 72 Special Election

Three locations available

Early voting for the Feb. 13 House District 72 Special Election will begin Saturday, Feb. 3, and continue through Saturday, Feb. 10, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner has announced. Voters residing in House District 72 may cast ballots between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily at any of the following three Sarasota locations. (Read more »)

Paving of U.S. 41 segment between 10th and 14th streets in Sarasota planned for Feb. 1-2 in preparation for traffic shift for roundabouts project

Traffic shift expected to go into effect the weekend of Feb. 4-5, city manager says

The medians along U.S. 41 between 14th Street and 10th Street in Sarasota have been removed as Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) crews prepare to shift traffic for the upcoming roundabout construction, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota couple donates $15 million to Ringling College, the largest single gift ever for the institution

Part of the money will be used for Ringling’s first endowed department chair in its virtual reality department

Ringling College of Art + Design has received its largest single gift and the first eight-figure gift since the institution was founded in 1931, it announced on Jan. 29. Dr. Joel Morganroth, a member of the college’s board of trustees, and his wife, Dr. Gail Morrison Morganroth, donated $15 million to the college this week. (Read more »)

Demolition of existing structures to begin Feb. 1 at Lift Station 87 site

That phase of project expected to take up to three weeks

Beginning Feb. 1, PCL Construction will begin demolishing existing structures at the Lift Station 87 site in the city of Sarasota, the City of Sarasota has announced. (Read more »)

House District 72 candidates invited to Feb. 5 forum at the Gulf & Bay Club on Siesta Key

Event to be held from 4 to 5 p.m. in the clubhouse

All three candidates for the Florida House District 72 Special Election, set for Feb. 13, have been invited to a forum on Monday, Feb. 5, at the Gulf & Bay Club on Siesta Key. The event is scheduled from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Gulf & Bay Clubhouse, which is located at 5730 Midnight Pass Road. (Read more »)

Sarasota County School District elementary teacher and two middle schools honored by state association for achievements in music education

Honors accorded during Florida Music Education Association Awards ceremony in Tampa

An elementary music teacher from Laurel Nokomis School and the music programs at Brookside and Woodland middle schools have been honored by the Florida Music Education Association (FMEA), the Sarasota County School District has announced. (Read more »)

Ahearn-Koch graduates from Florida League of Cities’ Institute for Elected Municipal Officials

16-hour course covers multitude of municipal issues

Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch recently graduated from the Florida League of Cities’ Institute for Elected Municipal Officials, the city has announced. (Read more »)