News Up & Down the Trail

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Sarasota news

Compiled by Debbie Flessner/Bob Stein

Sarasota deputies find two pounds of marijuana during a routine traffic stop

When Sarasota County deputies stopped 20 year-old Carmon Meredeth for following another car too closely in his 1990 Ford F-150 truck, they found that the driver had a little extra cargo inside.

During a probable cause search of Meredeth’s truck, deputies uncovered nearly two pounds of marijuana, $740 in cash and a set of weighing scales covered in marijuana residue. Though Meredeth said he lives in Pompano Beach, he was carrying an Indiana driver’s license. Needless to say, he was arrested and charged by the Sheriff’s Office with possession of cannabis with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

This is not Meredeth’s first encounter with the law, as he was also arrested in 2012 on similar charges. At that time, police found 250 grams of marijuana, a BB gun, cocaine and $18,000 in cash on his person. 

Sarasota’s annual street repaving

Each year, the city of Sarasota initiates a repaving program for its nine miles of streets. This year’s milling and resurfacing project recently began, and is expected to last through January, 2015.

The scheduling of work on each particular street is prioritized, based on a rating system the Public Works Department employs throughout the year. As workers are driving around the city, they assign a rating of the condition of the roads, on a scale of 1 to 100. The streets in the worst condition receive first priority on repaving, though the communities’ residents also have a say. Prior to the commencement of work in each neighborhood, signs will be posted with the dates crews will be in the area.

For more information on the city’s repaving schedule, visit the website at 

The future of Longboat’s beach

One could make a cogent argument that as Longboat Key’s beaches erode, so do property values and the enjoyment of both residents and visitors. In many ways the days of simplicity are long gone; the cost of dumping millions of yards of sand in island-long beach renourishments appears to be over.

The economic pressure has ushered in another set of beach engineers and a Town Commission adopting a far different approach that targets addressing hotspots – areas of severe erosion – and structural solutions such as cement groins to trap sand and stand against the ravages of wave action. Long Boat Key News 

Selby Gardens, Forty Carrots Create “Partners in Play”

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in September will embark on a new school-year partnership with Forty Carrots Family Center. One Saturday a month, Forty Carrots will bring its “Partners In Play” program to the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden. “Partners In Play” is a parenting education program that provides parents with support and information about early childhood development, while creating an enriching learning environment for children. The sessions held at Selby Gardens will be garden-themed. They will give children and their parents a chance to explore the rainforest garden and learn about the environment.

New GFS Marketplace store opening in Sarasota

GFS Marketplace, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan is opening its newest location in Sarasota. The new store is located on 6307 South Tamiami Road. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on October 7th at 10 a.m., kicking off a week of grand opening events. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, GFS Marketplace staff will present a $1000 check to a local charity.

GFS Marketplace has locations throughout the U.S., with the nearest being in Bradenton at 4605 14th Street. The foodservice store offers a unique shopping alternative for retail and wholesale consumers.

GFS Marketplace customers can shop without membership and purchase restaurant quality items at affordable prices. Customers also enjoy wide aisles, quick checkouts and expert advice from knowledgeable staff, which distinguishes GFS Marketplace from traditional grocery and big-box bulk food stores.

“We are pleased to be opening this new location in Sarasota,” said Jay Zylstra, president. “We appreciate the opportunity to be able to offer our quality products and services to the residents of Sarasota, Florida.”

After the ribbon cutting, the celebration will continue with a week of grand opening festivities through October 11th. There will be food tastings each day and a drawing for a $300 shopping spree. Shoppers will have an opportunity to sample some of GFS Marketplace’s most popular items at their Giant Taste Fest which will be held from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday of that week.

The new GFS Marketplace location employs approximately 35 people including store manager Matt Blank.

GFS Marketplace will be open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m.

Stranded sea turtle babies saved

In August Longboat Key Turtle Watch Volunteers found a hole dug in the sand in what is termed as Zone C. There was a hole that beachgoers had dug and had not filled in. The nest nearby had hatched, and 16 hatchlings were found by the volunteers stuck in the hole on their crawl to the ocean. Luckily, since the members came across them early and took the hatchlings out of the hole, they were all able to get out to the ocean. The volunteer group wanted to use this event as a reminder for people who use the beach to fill in any holes they make or find. Long Boat Key News 

Venice MainStreet proposes LED sign for Venice Avenue

When entering onto Venice Avenue from US 41 Business, there is a marquee where information about happenings on the Island of Venice are posted.

Venice MainStreet, an association dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting historic Downtown Venice, is responsible for the content of the sign. Recently, Kat Quast the Venice MainStreet director, proposed replacing the sign with a modern, energy-efficient LED version. Quast said that the new sign would be black and white and would fit into the theme of the downtown area.

Venice MainStreet’s hope is to first raise money to produce the sign, and then they will ask for the Venice City Council to approve the installation.

Sarasota Police Department to crack down on drunk drivers during holiday weekend

The Sarasota Police Department will be out in full force to aggressively target drunk drivers during the Labor Day weekend holiday. As part of the nationwide effort to end drunk driving and save lives, the department hopes the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign will increase public awareness and result in fewer drunk drivers on Sarasota’s roads.

Kevin Stiff, assistant commander, Patrol Division, Sarasota Police Department, said that there will be no warnings and no excuses, especially during the weekend campaign. If you are caught driving under the influence, you will be arrested.

The department released statistics that stated more than 10,000 people die on the roads each year as a result of drunk driving. And last Labor Day weekend, one person was killed every 34 minutes in an alcohol-related crash. This holiday weekend, don’t let your or your loved ones’ festivities turn into fatalities–don’t drink and drive.

Sarasota News Leader suspends publishing

Here is part of the announcement sent out August 15 to all the on-line readers from Rachel Hackney. It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know we have suspended publication of our weekly digital edition of The Sarasota News Leader. Advertising revenue never amounted to nearly enough to sustain the publication, and costs of staff and publishing were coming from our personal funds.

Fortunately, based on our recent survey of subscribers, there is strong support for a paid subscription to the News Leader. If we can sign up enough subscribers to cover our basic editorial budget, then we can recommence publication.

In the interim, we will continue to maintain our website and all of our archival issues, dating back to Sept. 21, 2012, all accessible at Additionally, we will use that website to provide news reports and commentaries about events we feel are of importance to our readers; we will alert subscribers to any published articles by email.

We are so grateful for our readers, whose words of encouragement and gratitude, along with frequent social media shares, helped boost the profile of the News Leader and earn us almost 6,000 subscribers. You are the ones who have valued our comprehensive coverage and unique voice in the community. We hope the silencing of that voice is only temporary.

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