+ Manatee County calls for caution during traffic signal project
Manatee County officials are asking drivers to use extra caution on county roads in coming months as traffic signals at several intersections are adjusted and re-timed under the second major implementation of the Advanced Traffic Management System.
The re-timing project began Jan. 14, and will allow more than 230 traffic signals in Manatee County to be better coordinated with each other.
The Florida Department of Transportation-funded project is designed to decrease travel times by increasing the efficiency of traffic signals.
Some of the major roads included in this phase include Lakewood Ranch Boulevard between state roads 64 and 70 and University Parkway east of I-75.
More specifically, they include:
University Parkway intersections:
• Market Street
• Town Center Parkway
• Lakewood Ranch Boulevard
• Deer Drive/Legacy Boulevard
• Lorraine Road
Lakewood Ranch Boulevard intersections:
• Main Street/Health Parkway
• Natures Way
• Summerfield Parkway
Drivers who are familiar with certain left-turn signals on their routes may notice that the lights don’t turn green when they expect them to turn.
The re-timing project is the fourth major phase of the Advanced Traffic Management System project, which includes upgrading traffic signals and adding vehicle detection devices.
+ Two killed in East County crash
Two women were killed Jan. 8, in a two-car collision off State Road 64, in East County. Two others were seriously and critically injured. A Florida Highway Patrol report states 50-year-old Lisa Kaye Gunn, of Bradenton, and 56-year-old Nadine Hoffman, of Sarasota, died in the accident.
Hoffman’s passengers, 58-year-old James Hoffman and 15-year-old Josh Hoffman, were taken to Blake Medical Center with serious and critical injuries, respectively.
The FHP report states the accident occurred around 7 p.m. Gunn was approaching Verna Bethany Road, heading eastbound on State Road 64, when she failed to negotiate the curve and traveled into the westbound lane of S.R. 64.
Gunn’s 2008 Mazda struck the right front of the 2004 Ford Explorer driven by James Hoffman.
Gunn’s vehicle rotated clockwise, coming to a final stop on the guardrail on the northbound shoulder of S.R. 64 East.
The Hoffmans’ vehicle rotated clockwise and came to a final stop blocking the eastbound lane of S.R. 64 E.
+ Manatee County commissioners want Hunzeker to delay retirement
Manatee County commissioners like the work County Administrator Ed Hunzeker has done so much that they asked him to postpone his retirement, initially scheduled for 2014.
Commissioners made their plea publicly to Hunzeker after he presented the county annual report at a Jan. 8 meeting.
Hunzeker, scheduled to retire this summer, has been Manatee County administrator since 2007.
He previously held leadership posts with Hillsborough County and with a hospital and a transportation authority in St. Louis.
“(Hunzeker) has accomplished many money-saving measures in his time here, and he’s given us a peek of an ambitious agenda ahead,” Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle says. “Ed’s leadership is vital. I think it’s a bad time to let him go.”
The annual report Hunzeker presented detailed several highlights from the past year, including success with the county’s new no-kill animal policy; lowered health insurance premiums due to county employees’ weight loss of 5.4 tons in the past year; and lower building department fees.
Hunzeker didn’t comment officially on the commission’s call for him to stay, though the state’s pension and retirement program could jeopardize some future pay and benefits if he stays.
“County Commission policies and the efforts of our remarkable staff have put Manatee County on the cutting edge of some innovative projects and programs that are making a difference in lives,” Hunzeker says.
“Counties around the state and the region are looking to Manatee County as an innovator and a leader. We have a clear opportunity to become a leader in other areas, not only in 2013, but for years to come.”
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Lakewood crowns students
Lakewood Ranch High School juniors Connor Jones and Kristen Mendez became school royalty March 31, after being named Mr. Mustang and Miss Lakewood Ranch.
MTI takes top awards
The Manatee Technical Institute Postsecondary Chapter of HOSA, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, dominated the Postsecondary-Collegiate Division at the HOSA State Leadership Conference April 3 through April 6, in Lake Buena Vista.
Schooled on Jazz
Students at Haile Middle School kept the audience’s toes tapping April 8, during the school’s Night of Jazz event.