+ Police pursue red light cameras
The Sarasota Police Department made a pitch to the City Commission July 6 to install red-light cameras at five of the most dangerous intersections within the city limits — Fruitville Road and Beneva Road; U.S. 41 and Siesta Drive; U.S. 41 and Bahia Vista Street; U.S. 41 and University Parkway; and U.S. 41 and Bee Ridge Road.
In 2007, the police department issued 4,595 tickets for running red lights and 4,214 tickets for speeding.
“We have a problem, and we’d like to take a look at it,” said Capt. William Spitler.
The police department is recommending a civil violation, similar to a parking ticket, for drivers caught on camera running a red light.
Running a red light is already illegal, but an officer has to catch a driver in the act in order to write a ticket. A new ordinance would have to be written to allow the cameras.
Spitler said the cameras would only take photos of cars and license plates, not the drivers.
The commission voted 4-1 in favor of asking the city attorney to draft an ordinance to allow red-light cameras. Commissioner Fredd Atkins cast the dissenting vote.
+ County property values plummet
City of Sarasota homeowners are seeing the values of their homes fall even further, but, compared to the rest of Sarasota County, they’re in better shape than most.
The Sarasota County Property Appraiser has released its preliminary taxable values, and they show a drop from $9,217,262,974 last year to $8,175,000,941 this year — an 11.31% difference. That follows a 10.8% decline from 2007 to 2008.
Here’s how the rest of the county fared this year:
Longboat Key -10.50%
Sarasota County -12.44%
City of Venice -13.13%
City of North Port -22.34%
+ Victim’s boyfriend arrested as suspect
A woman’s boyfriend is accused of orchestrating a home invasion in which she was the victim.
Brandon Best, 24, allegedly got Alyssa Harnisch, 22, and her boyfriend, Justin Bachner, 23, to break into the victim’s home, tie her up and steal several items. The crime occurred June 26, at 7868 Holiday Drive.
All three suspects have been arrested.
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Jolly good fellow
Just as Observer advertising representative Bob Lewis loves to garden, he also cultivates relationships with all of his co-workers and clients.
Going for the gold
Sisters Francesca and Elizabeth Martel returned victorious Monday, May 20, after a weekend at the Special Olympics of Florida State Summer Games, in Orlando.
Trevor Kunk is the chef de cuisine at Blue Hill in New York City’s Greenwich Village, which the James Beard Foundation just named "most outstanding restaurant."