+ Construction on Ranch maintenance facility delayed
Plans to start construction this month on Lakewood Ranch’s new maintenance facility have been delayed.
Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority Board members voted Jan. 17, to award a construction contract for the 6,675-square-foot facility to Magnum Builders of Sarasota; contract approval was set for Jan. 31, with a groundbreaking tentatively set for mid-February.
However, the apparent low bidder, Halfacre Construction, has filed a bid protest, objecting to the district’s findings that the company was non-responsive because it failed to fill out bid documents according to bid instructions.
In a letter dater dated Feb. 24, Halfacre’s president, Jack Cox, wrote that there was a misinterpretation of Halfacre’s “intention in the method that it completed” a section of the bid document and it should not be considered “non-responsive.” Additionally, he wrote, Halfacre would have remained the lowest bidder, even after adding a $95,000 heater to the total cost of its proposal.
Lakewood Ranch Town Hall Executive Director Eva Rey, who oversees the IDA’s business, said Hearing Officer Kurt Lee was set to hear the protest Feb. 12, after the East County Observer went to press.
Members of the IDA are expected to vote on Lee’s findings at their Feb. 21 meeting.
“The IDA’s decision will be the final decision, unless (Halfacre) decides to file with the court,” Rey said. “We were hoping to award the contract in January; (the protest) does put us a little behind.”
Rey said the delay pushes the building’s construction timeline by one month.
The property lease for the IDA’s operations offices expires Sept. 30, and the delay automatically pushes construction into a six-month buffer period granted by the IDA’s landlord.
+ BounceU party venue set to close end of month
After five years of business, BounceU, inflatable party professionals in Sarasota will close Feb. 25.
According to an email sent to customers from BounceU owner Meridith Armstrong, the birthday-party center was too big and costly to run for the demographics it served.
“Often I am told that this business must be a gold mine, and that we always seem so busy. Truthfully, renting a facility of this size and maintaining the day-to-day expenses is much higher than many realize,” said Armstrong in the email.
Armstrong encouraged customers to take advantage of BounceU’s last days of business and book them for any birthday parties or events before it closes.
+ Mental health screening considered at CEO Roundtable
Mary Ruiz, the president and CEO of the Mental Health and Addictions Outpatient Practice at Manatee Glens, said Feb. 8, during the Manatee CEO Roundtable, that all incoming high school freshmen should undergo comprehensive mental-health screening.
Freshmen would complete a series of tests for mental health and wellness.
Ruiz said screenings could identify problems early and prevent illnesses such as schizophrenia.
Ruiz said the cost of adding the screening of freshmen would be around $300,000 to $400,000.
School officials said they will spend the next six months reviewing the idea.
Other agenda items at the meeting included talk about the district’s superintendent search; improving district financial accountability; and a Manatee Youth Commission update.
Meetings & Agendas
• Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Planning Commission Meeting — 9 a.m. Feb. 14, at the Manatee County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
• Manatee Technical Institute Dedication Ceremony — 3 p.m. Feb. 14, at Manatee Technical Institute, 6305 State Road 70 E., Bradenton.
• Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Work Session — 9 a.m. Feb. 19, at the Manatee County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
• Manatee County School Board Meeting: Superintendent selection — 5:45 p.m. Feb. 20, at 215 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
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28 Wine, Dine and Make a Difference
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
1 Manatee Audubon -- OPEN HOUSE at Felts Audubon Preserve
8:00 am - 11:00 am
1 Fine Arts & Crafts Extravaganza
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
6 Empty Bowls Luncheon at Main Street Lakewood Ranch
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
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On the calendar
It’s time for feasting on candy and family fun.
Merchants on Lakewood Ranch Main Street continue to mourn the surprising loss of fellow business owner Rebekah Hatmaker, co-owner of Serendipity Boutique.