New Sarasota red light camera contract approved, but without use of license plate reading technology

Commissioner Hagen Brody raises concerns about invasion of privacy

On a 3-2 vote, the Sarasota City Commission this week approved a new contract for red light cameras at 10 intersections within the city that will save it $19,000 a month. (Read more »)

Ordinance to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in city of Sarasota to be focus of third public hearing on Feb. 5, after winning unanimous approval this week

Regulations would require 1,000 feet of separation between facilities in the city’s main business district

One more public hearing will be required, but if the Sarasota City Commission vote early next month mirrors the one it took this week, medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in a number of zoning districts as of Feb. 5. (Read more »)

Parking requirements reduced for smaller housing units to spur development of affordable dwellings

Board members amend staff proposal to call for one parking space for a unit up to 900 square feet

Sarasota County commissioners this week applauded staff for helping them take the first in a series of steps they have pressed for as they seek to increase the number of affordable housing units in the community. (Read more »)

Jonathan Lewis wins quick confirmation this week as the new Sarasota County administrator

Commission chair calls contract ‘a good deal’ for both sides

It took less than 3 minutes on Jan. 16 for the Sarasota County Commission to give unanimous approval to a contract with Jonathan Lewis, making him the official successor to Tom Harmer as county administrator. The contract went into effect at midnight on Jan. 16. (Read more »)

Sarasota County to seek information from firms involved in mass transit in effort to reduce expenses

Process to have no bearing on SCAT’s proposals for reducing expenses, with Jan. 31 budget workshop set

With their first budget workshop of the year looming on Jan. 31, the Sarasota County commissioners this week unanimously approved a staff proposal to issue a Request for Information (RFI) designed to help them figure out how best to achieve future savings with the operations of the county’s bus service. (Read more »)

Mayor convinces majority of Sarasota City Commission to continue to keep $2.5 million in Big Pass dredging ‘insurance policy’ fund set aside in February

Shelli Freeland Eddie relates comments she and city engineer heard from members of Congress about lack of federal funding thus far for Lido Renourishment Project

Sarasota Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie convinced the majority of her colleagues this week to keep $2.5 million set aside as an “insurance policy” in the event the proposed dredging of Big Sarasota Pass were allowed to proceed and resulting damage needed to be mitigated. (Read more »)

Democrat Jan Schneider gearing up once again for District 16 congressional race

Sarasota attorney also faced Vern Buchanan in two previous races for the U.S. House

Once again, Democrat Jan Schneider of Sarasota has launched a campaign for the District 16 congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Mysterious artwork appears on 162 Beach Road parcel; new signage in the Village violates county regulations; Fandango Café demolition permit OK’d; SKA officer talks of long waits for some FDOT actions; new and proposed state laws for condominium associations on Condo Council’s upcoming agenda; Jan. 21 recital planned at Siesta Key Chapel; Siesta Key Wastewater Treatment Plant project expected to be finished by the end of this month; north Village median suffers in another accident; resident fishes python out of canal; fog blankets the pass, but only one boating incident reported; Givens Street light shining, finally; and resident offers a Top 10 list

On Jan. 12, Siesta Key Association (SKA) President Catherine Luckner told The Sarasota News Leader she had been observing changes on the 162 Beach Road parcel, which the owners agreed last year to sell to Sarasota County. She spied two men on the property in early January, she said, and they appeared to be creating an art project dominated by cairns. Four days later, she continued, the undertaking appeared to be complete. (Read more »)

Crowds can provide comfort to the solitary participant

The community offers an array of opportunities for people to be alone yet enjoy lots of company

I have always enjoyed pursing various activities and visiting various places by myself, experiences I have written about in the past for The Sarasota News Leader. However, as I have been reflecting lately on the comfort I find in crowds, I would like to explain that my choices for outings involve more of a hands-on approach than I earlier may have indicated. I am not just a passive observer/people watcher. (Read more »)

Gulf Coast Games for Life to be held in February

Registration deadline is Jan. 26

Registration is open for the 2018 Gulf Coast Games for Life, which will take place Feb. 10-17 at venues throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties, Sarasota County has announced. (Read more »)

House District 72 vote-by-mail ballots due back in elections office by 7 p.m. Feb. 13

Three locations in county will accept ballots, which also may be submitted by mail

Citizens who plan vote by mail in the Feb. 13 Florida House District 72 Special Election must return their voted ballots in time for the ballots to reach the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on election night, Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner has announced. (Read more »)

‘Tree Quest’ planned for the public in Sarasota County in celebration of Florida Arbor Day

Educational program focusing on trees in Shamrock and Urfer Family parks

In celebration of Florida Arbor Day, Sarasota County staff is inviting members of the community to journey on a “Tree Quest,” during a two-week scavenger hunt at county parks. (Read more »)

Sarasota County to host flood zone workshops

Sessions intended to educate not just residents but also lenders and insurance and real estate agents

Sarasota County will host a series of flood zone workshops throughout 2018 at several county libraries, the county has announced. “The workshops are intended to educate residents, lenders and insurance and real estate agents about flood risks, zones, maps, regulations and mandatory insurance purchase requirements,” a news release explains. (Read more »)

Lift Station 87 site work on hold as contractor seeks FDOT permit to facilitate construction traffic access

Delay not anticipated to affect timeline for project completion

Demolition work at the city of Sarasota’s Lift Station 87 site has been postponed briefly to allow the contractor an opportunity to pursue a right of way permit from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the city announced on Jan. 11. (Read more »)

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Sarasota recognized by State of Florida for diversity efforts

Organization receives grant from Division of Cultural Affairs for its free WBTT Voices program

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has been honored by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs with a Diversity and Inclusion Award for its ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the Troupe has announced. (Read more »)

Halfacre Construction Co. awarded contract to construct new headquarters for Mercedes Medical

$7-million project slated for Lakewood Ranch

Halfacre Construction Co. has been awarded the contract to construct the new 54,667-square-foot building for Mercedes Medical Inc., a privately held, national laboratory products distribution company, Mercedes Medical has announced. (Read more »)