'Better Manatee Day' comes to Palmetto

rdymond@bradenton.comMarch 23, 2013 

PALMETTO -- For the last 35 years, the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton has picked a day in March, called it "Better Manatee Day," and brightened a different locale in Manatee County with its labor and ingenuity.

The recipients are understandably pleased as their buildings get painted by Kiwanians, their school gets trees, their park gets a running track or their neighborhood gets cleaned up, thanks to this 90-year-old civic organization.

But last summer, when Kiwanis Club of Bradenton President David Bishop informed Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover-Bryant that from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today,30 to 40 club members would like to clear debris, put in Florida-friendly plants and add 16 palm trees as part of a $10,000 landscapingdonation including a new gateway to the city sign on the northeast corner of Eighth Avenue West and Riverside Drive in Palmetto, Groover-Bryant zoomed right past pleased to over the moon.

"When I got the call from David, it inspired me and others," said Groover-Bryant, who was at the site, just north of the Green Bridge, Friday afternoon as workers from Turner Landscaping planted the palms, too big of a job for Better Manatee Day volunteers.

Officials with the City of Palmetto and its Community Redevelopment Agency got city work crews to find some good dirt to build a platform at the site for the sign and, eventually, the sign will carry the city's new branding slogan, which hasn't yet been chosen, the mayor said.

"It has to express that we are hometown small but business big, we love the red, white and blue, we are the oldest city in the county and this is a great place to raise a family," said Groover-Bryant, who says people can email slogan ideas to her at mayor@palmettofl.org.

Kiwanis Clubs fromBradenton, North River,Sunrise-Anna Maria along with the Key Clubs from Manatee and Palmettohigh schools, all decided north of the river was the best choice for Better Manatee Day this year, the mayor said.

"We just felt the opportunity was perfect to work with Palmetto," Bishop said.

Groover-Bryant made sure the east side of Riverside Park near the new site was repaved and re-striped in time for today's volunteers.

She put up an electronic sign advising motorists to slow down today due to the work and safety vests will be dropped off for volunteers, the mayor said.

"Better Manatee Day" creator Dave Bassett, a past president and past chairman of the Kiwanis Foundation, likes the Palmetto project, which has enthusiasm on a scale reaching that of some projects years ago.

"We put in a large fit-ness trail at G.T. Braypark and we members built fitness stations out of lumber where you stop and train," Bassett said Friday, adding that the trail has since been removed.

"It has ebbed and flowed through the years," Bassett said. "It's not quite as large as it used to be. But the whole theory is many hands make light work and if we all contribute a half a day once a year, what kind of results can we have?"

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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