Manatee County's Mike Bennett to serve on Florida Defense Support Task Force

Manatee's Bennett chosen for Florida defense group

MANATEE -- Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner has appointed Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett to the Florida Defense Support Task Force.

The task force is meant to "preserve, protect and enhance Florida's military missions and installations," according to the release. Bennett said its main focus is to enhance state economic benefits through the military.

"I want to take a dual role with it, and also increase benefits to our veterans," Bennett said.

Bennett will begin July 1 and serve until July 2019. The former state senator and House representative, has served on the military affairs and domestic security committees, among others.

Honor Flight nears goal; trip to D.C. for vets assured

MANATEE -- Honor Flight of West Central Florida has nearly raised $32,000 needed to finance "Mission 22," an all-expense-paid round-trip June 23 for 80 World War II veterans from Manatee and Sarasota counties to visit Washington, D.C.

Honor Flights are free for veterans accompanied by escorts and medical staff.

The nonprofit brings veterans together for a day of camaraderie to honor their service with a visit to the World War II Memorial.

More than 300 local World War II veterans are on the Honor Flight waiting list. They average 91 years of age.

Nonprofit Honor Flight encourages donations to help honor members of the Greatest Generation. Regardless, Honor Flight has sufficient reserves to send Mission 22.

Donations may be made at honorflightwcf.org/donate-today.html or by check at Honor Flight of West Central Florida, P.O. Box 55661, St. Petersburg FL 33732. Specify "Mission 22" in donations or via email to info@honorflightwcf.org.

Gag grouper rec harvest opens in most Gulf waters

MANATEE -- Gag grouper will open July 1 for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Manatee and Sarasota counties, and all Gulf federal waters.

The season will close in state waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties the same day.

The gag grouper recreational harvest season runs through Dec. 3.

In state and federal Gulf waters, the gag grouper recreational harvest minimum size limit is 22 inches total length and the daily bag limit is two gag grouper per person within the four-fish grouper aggregate limit.

-- Herald staff reports