+ Smoking ban approved for all city parks
The City Commission took the advice of its parks advisory board and approved a smoking ban in all city parks.
But it also took it one step further.
Commissioners asked city staff to examine the feasibility of banning smoking on all city property, including places such as City Hall.
Sarasota County government and Sarasota Memorial Hospital have instituted similar campus-wide smoking bans.
The parks advisory board wanted to impose the ban in part to drive out criminal vagrants from Selby Five Points Park.
Board members also recommended to the commission removing the remaining six benches in Five Points Park, but commissioners, instead, voted to break up any groupings of benches.
So the city will immediately begin looking at areas that have two or more benches placed in close proximity.
For example, the city will remove three of Five Points Park’s six benches and place them in other parts of downtown.
The goal is to prevent vagrants from gathering en masse.
+ City employees get health center
The city cut the ribbon April 4 on a new health center for its current and retired employees.
The facility is located at 237 Payne Park Way, near the Payne Park tennis courts.
City officials hope to cut health-care costs by encouraging voluntary preventative health screenings and follow-up consultations.
CareHere, which runs similar facilities in 18 states, will run the health center and will staff it with two doctors.
The health service is meant to be convenient and more affordable for its patients.
The new employee health center will cost the city about $1 million in the first year.
It expects the cost savings to add up to $988,000 after three years.
+ Conservation Foundation receives accreditation
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission has awarded accredited status to the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.
“The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review,” said Tammara Van Ryn, commission executive director.
The Conservation Foundation was founded in 2003 to protect bays, beaches, barrier islands and other land.
It has protected more than 8,000 acres by working with landowners, businesses and government.
Meetings & Agendas
+ County Commission — 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 12, Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
+ Charter Review Committee — 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, City Hall, 1565 First St., Sarasota
+ County Commission — 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 13, County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
WHAT YOU MISSED ON THE WEB
The top-five most read stories online last week were:
• Petition seeks to end homeless feedings (March 31)
• Athlete of the Week: Megan Wallin (March 31)
• Athlete of the Week: Martina Coppenrath (March 24)
• Home demolition begins at park (March 28)
• DUI suspect left kids home alone (March 30)
See all photos from this week’s events online:
• Sarasota Republican Club (March 31)
• Tatum Ridge Kindergarten Roundup (March 31)
• Keep Sarasota Beautiful Cleanup (April 2)
• Mote’s Run for the Turtles (April 2)
• Selby Garden Music Series (April 3)
• Glenridge Renaissance Faire (April 4)
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1 Community Cookout
2 3rd annual 'Power of the Girl' Business Breakfast
2 French apÃ©ro evening
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
2 Florida's Children First 2014 Sarasota Reception
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Bridging the gap
The Children’s Guardian Fund wants to help teens get hired.
Win big in two Observer contests
Starting in October, the Observer will now offer prizes for winners of the weather photo contest, sponsored by Manasota Flooring Inc.
Can you dig it?
Third- and fourth-grade students of Temple Beth Sholom had a chance to brush up on their paleontology skills last week while digging for faux dinosaur bones.