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Canes brighten up tough year

Unemployment.

Foreclosures.

Crime.

What a year.

Thankfully, we had Hurricanes.

And, thankfully, not the tropical kind.

Manatee High’s Hurricanes are what I’m talking about.

Their enthralling post-season gave us the kind of headlines that took our minds off the grim news we’ve been battered by during 2009.

To wit:

Unemployment.

Countywide it surged to 12.9 percent in November.

Will it peak in mid-2010?

Good luck.

Foreclosures.

A record total of 5,857 filings were made in Manatee County Circuit Court through November.

Experts say the trend won’t change any time soon, either.

Ooh, boy.

Then there’s crime.

It’s an issue that had plenty of us looking over our shoulders and taking precautions we never have before.

Homicides. There were 29 investigated countywide, an all-time high.

Bradenton had four — three more than 2008.

Teens and guns.

The homicides included the senseless slayings of 2009 Bayshore High grad DeJuan Williams and Bruin senior cheerleader Jasmine Thompson.

Home invasions.

A vicious and vexing series of these attacks alarmed our community.

But the arrest of a man suspected in a series of Sarasota home invasions seemed to ease fears caused by the crime wave in which the same man is also a suspect.

Enough doom and gloom. There was good news, too.

Bradenton finished No. 1 in a nationwide Gallup survey, funded by the Knight Foundation, that said the emotional attachment residents have with our fair city actually grew stronger despite our economic struggles.

Speaking of No. 1, how ’bout those Hurricanes?

Joe Kinnan’s Manatee Hurricanes had the town afire the past month.

Their 28-20 triumph over No. 1-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 5A state semifinals had jam-packed Hawkins Stadium rocking and the reverberations could be felt all week.

That the Canes lost 21-14 to Tampa Plant for the state championship hurt, but what a great ride those kids gave us.

Then there was the announcement the Bradenton Marauders, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ newly minted Florida State League ballclub, are coming to town and begin play in April at McKechnie Field. A baseball team to finally call our own.

At least from a vantage point of a seat within the grand ol’ ballpark on Ninth Street West, the new year’s looking up already.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee Count. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fl. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.

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