+ Manatee County Commission approves lower permit fees
Manatee County commissioners unanimously lowered county permitting fees 6%, effective Oct. 1. The lower fees were originally presented in the county administrator’s proposed budget in May and are the result of increased efficiencies in the Building and Development Services Department and a rebounding construction industry throughout Manatee.
Permit fees were also lowered in the following areas: Accessory structure fees were reduced to $275 for structures below 500 square feet, or 51 cents per square foot more than 500 square feet; commercial additions and alterations were reduced to $375 for structures below 680 square feet and 51 cents per square foot more than 680 feet; residential additions and alterations were reduced to $275 for structures below 635 square feet and 42 cents per square foot more than 635 feet; windows/door/hurricane shutters replacement fees dropped from $125 to $75; reinstatement of expired or voided permits dropped from $200 to $50.
Permit fees may only be used to fund building review-related costs and cannot be used to fund other areas of the county budget.
For more information, visit mymanatee.org.
+ Soccer tournament scores big for Lakewood economy
The second Labor Day soccer tournament at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch brought in about 19,000 amateur athletes and fans and generated more than $13 million in economic impact to the region.
More than 3,500 cars delivered players from 328 soccer teams from all over the state to compete in 400-plus games over the three-day period.
“We are thrilled with the success of Premier Sports Campus and the recent Labor Day soccer tournament,” said Nicole Rissler, director of sports for the Sarasota County Sports Commission, a division of Visit Sarasota County. “In a traditionally slower part of the year, this was a huge boost for our local hotels and restaurants.”
This year, thanks to a $1.1 million investment, eight fields at the sports campus were lighted, extending play into the nighttime hours, as needed.
“The lights make us unique in that we are the only local facility that is privately owned that has playing fields with lights,” said Premier Sports Campus Director Tim Mulqueen. “We are now able to host national events – events that are massive in terms of economic impact and exposure to the area.”
For more information, visit premiersportscampus.com.
+ New University Park eye center offers retina care
Retina Care Consultants, P.A. opened Oct. 1, at University Health Park Building One.
The staff at Retina Care Consultants is trained in vitreo-retinal medical and surgical care and treats a variety of conditions, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, flashes and floaters and retinal detachment.
Retina Care Consultants’ founder, Dr. Thomas Scott Shane, holds a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and attended the Washington University School of Medicine. He is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and has served as chief resident and director of the ocular trauma service at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.
Retina Care Consultants is located at 2401 University Parkway, Suite 205, Sarasota. Evening and Saturday appointments are available. For more information, visit retinacareflorida.com or call 351-1200 to schedule an appointment.
+ Neal Community home sales surge in 2012
The sales records continue to stack up at Neal Communities, one of the region’s most prolific homebuilders.
The latest news: The firm reported 442 sales in 2012 through September — a figure that already beats the 2011 tally of 403 sales. In September, meanwhile, the firm sold 62 homes, up 59% from the 39 sales it had in September 2011, according to a release.
A key community in the company’s sales surge, according to the release, has been Central Park in Lakewood Ranch, just east of I-75. Neal sold 17 homes in the community in September and has now sold 314 homes there in two years.
River’s Reach, a newly opened community in Parrish, has also contributed to the sales growth, according to a separate news statement. That community has reported 19 sales since June 1.
“We are off to a fast start at this unique and scenic community,” Neal Communities sales director David Hunihan says in the release. “We took strategic steps as the growth went north over the past few years to reignite this community with great pricing, home sites and amenities, and it’s paying off during a typically slower time of the year in Florida.”
+ Medallion closes on 553 acres in eastern Manatee
East County-based developer Medallion Home recently closed on 553 acres on State Road 64, along the county’s eastern boundary.
The developer currently has no plans to develop the property, but the acquisition does include an environmental resource permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to excavate 3.7 million cubic yards of sand.
Medallion Vice President Pete Logan said the permit was the “sweetener” on the deal.
“We’re always looking for not only short term holds, but longterm holds,” Logan said. “This was a fantastic opportunity for something we could develop a longtime down the road.”
+ Argosy expands program offerings in education
Argosy University, Sarasota has launched the Initial Educational Program, which will allow students to earn a doctorate of education.
The new program is designed to prepare individuals to serve as school principals and/or building-level administrators. The program is designed for practicing educators who already have completed a graduate-level program from a regionally-accredited or an appropriately-certified foreign institution.
Completion of the EdD in Initial Educational Administration degree program includes specific writing, research and dissertation sequence.
The program also has been introduced at Argosy’s Tampa campus.
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12 Cooking Class: At Season's Peak: Winter Squash
13 Holidays around the Ranch
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
13 Holidays Around the Ranch-Lakewood Ranch
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
14 FREE Pictures with Santa Cow!
8:00 am - 10:30 am
14 Gingerbread Houses
14 Italian Wine and Dine
15 A 1913 Florida Cracker Christmas
11:00 am - 4:00 pm
15 Gingerbread Houses
Members and guests of the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club ventured Dec. 4 to Orlando, to view holiday decorations at the Grand Floridian and to have lunch at Downtown Disney.
The Play Readers of the Asolo Repertory Theatre Guild were in fine form as they entertained at the Art Association of Palm-Aire’s opening winter luncheon with “Fractured Fairy Tales.”
Catapulting into first place
Seven Manatee County elementary schools competed in the countywide Technology Student Association catapult competition Nov. 16, at Southeast High School. Students built the catapults on-site.