Venice homeless shelter

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DECEMBER 19-20, 2015 • Vol. 70 No. 76

An Edition of the Sun

Venice homeless shelter

State record!

Venice location never took off By GREG GILES News editor

after Venice Mayor John Holic and Sarasota County’s Director of Homeless Services, Wayne Plans for a Hybrid Housing Applebee, mentioned the orgaproject for homeless people in nization may still be planning a Venice were quietly dropped Venice shelter. months ago, long before it ever “At one point, we did share got off the ground, according with the city possible plans to Captain Scott Hoover of The to partner with The Salvation Salvation Army of Venice. Army in Sarasota to develop a “We don’t foresee moving for- Hybrid Housing program (in ward in Venice now that (there’s Venice) for families and india shelter) going to be built in viduals who are on the brink of Sarasota,” Hoover said. homelessness,” Hoover said. He clarified the Salvation The idea was to build an apartArmy’s position recently in ment complex for the homeless, an email to the city of Venice, with eligibility based on income

and size of family, on land available in Venice. But much of that land has since been scooped up by developers with plans to build residential subdivisions. Also, The Salvation Army of Sarasota decided to move ahead on its own project — a Hybrid Housing community on property it owns near 10th Street. “Our direct involvement in this project has changed due to the Salvation Army of Sarasota deciding to build (its own) facility on property which they already own (in North County)


The amazing & mystical Nokomis Drum Circle


Venice High School junior weightlifter Natalie Deto sets a new state record in her weight class in the clean and jerk lift with a 175-pound lift in this week’s Sarasota County Girls Weightlifting Championships. For the full story, see Page 14.

River Road upgrade near top of priorities By CLINTON BURTON


sarasota CouNty editor River Road is near the top of the list of funded projects approved by the Sarasota/ Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization board of directors this week. The widening of River Road from Englewood to Interstate 75 was the second-ranked project for the MPO’s Strategic Mobility Plan, part of the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, according to the MPO’s senior transportation planner, Mike Maholtz. “Two projects have risen to the top of the list and have been the focus of a lot of planning,” he said. Topping the list is 15th Street East in South Manatee County. The street is a mix of industrial, heavy commercial, office and neighborhood-serving retail businesses, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. The project was ranked high because of the traffic volume and for access to the industrial park. “The street is very well-traveled,” Maholtz said. The funded project has an estimated cost of $99 million. In South Sarasota County, the widening of River Road from the U.S. 41 intersection near North Port ranked second in the two-county region. Like the 15th Street East undertaking, the MPO has approved funding the $146.8 million project, but


The man knowns as Maji is a regular and colorful character at the Nokomis Drum Circle. In a scene that seems taken from a fairy tale movie, hundreds of people gather twice a week on Nokomis Beach and dance to drums beating, all while wearing fanciful, colorful clothing and lighting the night with various hoops, balls and, yes, even wings. For a good look into this uniquely Nokomis event, see Page 8A.

As the sun sets, people begin playing with hoops that soon will be illuminated and fill the sky with color.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization has approved funding the $146.8 million project but promised state and federal funding has to come through to bring the project to fruition. promised state and federal funding has to come through to bring the projects to fruition. “What we do now is the state of Florida, FDOT in Sarasota County and perhaps the city of North Port will sit down and work out a timeline,” Maholtz said. He expects the project to be done within 10 years. The LRTP is a strategic document for multimodal transportation investments over the next 25 years, according to the MPO. It’s not all about congested roads and streets. “What people don’t often realize is the long-range plan includes increased access for people who walk, ride bikes or ride the bus,” Maholtz said. “These projects are often overlooked. No one cares that 200 feet of sidewalk has been poured, unless it affects them.” Along with the government-funded projects, there are others that can be developer-funded through impact and mobility fees. Manasota Beach Road is slated to be extended to River Road in two phases. Keyway Road, near the Overbrook


Heroism, work ethic honored at firefighter awards By GREG GILES News editor Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series on firefighters. New Fire Chief Shawn Carvey didn’t waste time after being sworn into office earlier this month. Facing a department with low morale — over an internal investigation and many months of discussions about merging the department with Sarasota County — Chief Good morning, Gondolier Sun subscriber Gerald Lefave

Carvey resurrected the Venice Fire Department’s annual awards program. It had been discontinued under the LT. BLANCHARD previous administration. Held on Friday, Dec. 11, at the Venice Community Center, Carvey reportedly funded the event and emceed the program. He issued citations

FRONT SECTION LEGALS ........................................10A LOTTERY........................................ 2A OBITUARIES................................13A


POLICE BEAT ................................ 6A SPORTS ........................................14A WEATHER ...................................... 2A

Achievement Award, and recognition for retiring firefighters and promotions. Here are a few highlights:

Officer of the Year, Valor Award EATON


for outstanding service and various life saving awards, the Firefighter of the Year Award, EMT of the Year Award, Officer of the Year Award, Citizen of the Year, a Lifetime

Lt. Scott Blanchard was named Officer of the Year. He’s the firefighter who trains Sarasota County Firemedics who man Venice fire stations. “While the role of an officer includes training and sharpening the skills of present members,

he has gone above and beyond to extend this to guidance to members of the Sarasota County Fire Department,” Carvey told the audience of 160 attendees, which included the mayor, some council members, and the city manager and assistant city manager. “This past year when a SCFD paramedic needed help for a variety of upcoming tests, Lt. Blanchard agreed to help without hesitation and includes all




CROSSWORD.............................7B OPINION.....................................8B RELIGION ...................................6B SOUTH TRAIL ............................4B VENUE.........................................3B


MRT Lawn................................15A George Amos Venice Car Care ........................ 3B Franklin Clement June Cort-Hare Vernon Hoover Jacqueline Pritchard








The Nokomiss Drum Circle


People congregate to celebrate life As the sun arcs its way across the sky, heading into the late afternoon, it creates diamond-like sparkles on the beautiful turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The air becomes electric with excitement in anticipation of the Nokomis Beach Drum Circle, which is rapidly approaching. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a few hours before sunset, the drummers and all the other participants of the circle happily come together to celebrate the sun, and revel in the rhythmic sounds. The participants journey from Venice and Nokomis, and from Sarasota and North Port. Tourists and visitors journey from farther. They come from all over the country and even from across the world. They find themselves enjoying the sights and sounds produced by this wonderful twice weekly, rain-or-shine event. Some of them come back and are no longer just observers. They become participants. People bring drums, cymbals, maracas, lawn chairs, blankets, wine, cocktails and all kinds of goodies as they join with everyone else and have a great time people-watching, listening and participating. Wyatt Boone, one of the drummers, comes early to set up the circle itself. “I draw an 80-foot diameter circle — 8 represents infinity, 0 represents the circle, the circle of infinity,” he said. “The center ring is 8 feet in diameter mirroring the circle and drawing the energy into the vortex. “When I draw the circle, I also open the four directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky, creating the positive space for us to work and play with the universe. For me personally, it is a ritual that I feel very deeply, energizing and centering.” Anyone is welcome to place something special in the very center. Sometimes it’s seashells, flowers and palm fronds. Even artistically drawn sayings can be seen placed about the inner circle. On occasion there are tributes to

Women in various stages of colorful belly-dancing garb join in — Jacquie Baldelli, Catherine Geisen, JoEllyn Bavosa, Michelle Harris, Cyndie Crosby and Lorna Winter, to name a few. Some participants even have wings made of shiny material or butterfly-painted designs and swirl themselves around, fluttering among the crowd. There are those who use “orbiters” — what used to be called “Hula Hoops” back in the day — and demonstrate just how proficient they are with them, hips swiveling the hoops around and around their bodies. While watching Jasmine Levine The “belly dancing girls” adorn themselves in making magic with her hoop, Michelle colorful costumes. Harris commented,“She does work that hoop like there’s no tomorrow! I’m totally opposite and always have a slow lost members, with pictures and other groove going on like I have all the time personal memorabilia. At times, Scott in the world.” Mitchell has been seen “smudging” The number of people inside the cir(purifying) the circle and its particicle swells even more as the sun moves pants with burning white sage. closer to the water. They are all in their From the oldest to the youngest, all own little worlds celebrating the beauty seem to be enjoying themselves listenof the moment — and of life. ing to the sounds of the drumline that Most turn to face the sun as it casts its generally features a cluster of regulars. rays across the sky for its final seconds, Some of them include Stuart M., some hoping to see the elusive “green Gonzo Thompson, Marco DeSousa, flash.” The drumming intensifies in Tommy Guggino, Chuk Willy, Michael tribute, taking everything and everyone Katala and Sandra Winogrocki. to a different level. Bob Heggan, Kurt Dixon, Linda Skel Present-day shaman Mic McManus Pupke, Robert Browne, Sandra Godwin, blows on the conch shell to salute the Ryan Burks and Kelly Finn round out setting sun. As it slips below the horisome of the regulars. They are joined zon, the onlookers have been known to now and again by all comers who want to sit in and happily make drum music. burst into spontaneous applause and loud cheering. As the rapid beats of the bongos and As darkness takes over, LED-lighted the steady rhythm of the accompanying hoops and various styles of fiber optic drums fill the air, the circle soon swells wands and patterned laser lights come with those who like to lose themselves out to create a completely different in whatever frees their spirits. and very colorful atmosphere while the Some create huge bubbles to float drumming continues, sometimes well on the breeze through the crowd, while children tumble about doing cartwheels. into the late evening. “This is one of the most interesting Maji, in his colorful tie-dyes and and fun things I’ve had the pleasure to distinctive, multicolored and pointed jester’s hat, engages the onlookers with observe,” said Sherry Gibson, a recent transplant from Illinois. “It’s so natural smiles and jokes. As the sun begins to set, participants turn to wattch the Gulf as the drumming intensifies. and earthy. I’m definitely looking forSharon Girard is always seen happily ward to experiencing this again, as it’s dancing around. So is Jasmine Yuriko quite an enjoyable way to spend some Vogt, as she adds the sound of her of my leisure time.” maracas to that of the drums.

On the Drumline are Bob Browne, Tom Sizemore, Gil Stillings, Gonzo Thompson, Wyatt Boone, Michael Katala, Don R, Marco DeSousa and Kurt Dixxon.

Photos & Story By Meredith W. Nicholson Max Kapps serves as the youngest drummer one night.

JoEllyn Bovasa dances with her rainbow fans.

Jasmine Levine makes both her hoop and her earrings sway to the beat.

Scott Mitchel “smudges” (purifies) the Circle and its members.

After the sun has set, Drum Circle participants bring out various forms of lit hoops and fans that bring new colors to the beach.