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Cheers and tears spotlight year that was 2010

What a year was 2010 in our town.

There was good.

Like a new ballclub at McKechnie Field. And numerous high schoolers showing they’re among the best and brightest.

There was bad.

Violent crimes and lives lost.

There was sad.

The passing of several folks who helped make up the soul of our community.

And there was hope.

Read on as we look back:

n Jake Austin was 2010’s first newborn in Manatee County, arriving at 2:22 a.m. at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Shandi and Kevin are his proud parents.

n Timothy Brooks, 19, was sentenced to life in prison Jan. 4 for the slaying of William White Jr., during an attempted robbery in July 2008.

A jury had found the one-time Lakewood Ranch High quarterback guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery.

n Manatee County endured a record-setting cold snap of 11 straight days with overnight temperatures below 40 degrees.

n Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputies Michael Gerholdt, John Lawson and Bryce Meade rescued an elderly couple from a house fire Jan. 10.

They would be honored as Deputies of the Year in December.

n The wrecking ball finally landed Jan. 12 on Manatee High’s Davis Building, a community icon built in 1926.

n A 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti, killing 230,000, injuring 300,000 and leaving 1 million homeless. Manatee County was part of the massive aid response.

One survivor was Jeanne Valescot, a Bradenton lab technician, who was in Leogane, near the quake’s epicenter.

“God got me out of there,” she said.

n Rodney Potter was named the 2010 Manatee River Fair Association Distinguished Citizen Award. Potter, who has spent more than 50 years at Pro-Build Lumber, was honored for his countless acts of kindness and devotion to preserving county history.

n Former Manatee East Little League and Lakewood Ranch High sensation Lastings Milledge reported for duty with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

n Manatee High’s cheerleaders captured the Manatee County Cheerleading Competition, snapping LRHS’s two-year win streak.

n Clifford Davis, 23, was sentenced to life in prison for the December 2005 slaying of his mother, whom he sexually assaulted after strangling, and grandfather, whom he stabbed and strangled.

n Sylvia Wood, a Palmetto High bookkeeper, was named 2010 School-Related Employee of the Year.

n Bradenton Police Master Patrol Officer Danny Bench received the Medal of Merit for resuscitating a man who suffered a heart attack and crashed while driving Jan. 13.

n Laura Dekker and Damon Zuchelli were married Feb. 6 at home plate in McKechnie Field.

n Delmer Smith III, already charged with beating and raping several Sarasota women in their homes, is charged with the August 2009 murder of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home.

n A jury found Cody Rogers, an accomplice of Timothy Brooks, guilty of attempted robbery in the slaying of William White Jr. in July 2008. He was facing first-degree murder.

n Dave Marino, a longtime assistant football coach in Manatee County, was named new head coach at Palmetto High School.

n The Ellenton Ice Arena’s stars, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, finished 10th and Caydee Denny and Jeremy Barrett finished 13th in pairs figure skating at 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.

n American Red Cross Youth Volunteers Chloe Bergeron, Annie Curry, Crystal Curry, Rachel Dawson, Quinton Fitzgerald, Robert Hall, Andrew Mullins, Mary Kate Mullins and Megan Smith received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

n Scott Taylor, longtime fixture in Bradenton’s baseball fraternity and beloved Sugg Middle School gym teacher, died March 1 at the age of 54 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

n Family restaurateurs Popi and Manny Ameres went to Seminole Hard Rock and hit the jackpot.

Not just at the gaming tables, either.

Popi’s name is the winner in a drawing for a new Cadillac.

“I had a good night,” she said.

n John Brown and Jim Bailey were inducted into USA National Shuffleboard Association Hall of Fame.

n Haile Middle’s Vincent Franco won the county spelling championship and a spot in the 2010 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Among the words he spelled were: angst, enchilada, knish and providence.

Vincent reached Day 2 at the nationals in June, but did not qualify for the semifinals.

n Richard Taft Johnson, a part-time resident, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison after scamming five people for more than $5 million in a $13.2 million Ponzi scheme.

n President Barack Obama OK’d drilling off Florida’s coast.

n Scarlett Davis was the new Miss Southeast. Her court included Jessica Holt, Samantha Marvel and Dakota Schoettle. Celeste Matthews won Miss Congeniality.

n The Bradenton Marauders’ mascot, a jolly rotund bearded pirate who would eventually be named Marty, made his debut at the annual Children’s Parade on Good Friday in Palmetto.

n Speaking of the Marauders, the new Florida State League ballclub, trounced the Fort Myers Miracle 18-3 in the April 8 season opener at McKechnie Field.

n Marquis Sanders, 19, was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of a 55-year-old Maria Lerma in a February 2009 home invasion in Bradenton.

n Ed Dick, a Salvation Army volunteer for more than 40 years, was named a Lifetime Member of the Salvation Army board.

n Eleni Sokos succeeded Natalie Lopez as DeSoto Queen.

n Braden River Little League umpire Nick Marino was selected to work Little League 2010 Senior League Baseball World Series in Bangor, Maine.

n The Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, sank two days later and will spill 185 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next five months, according to researchers at Columbia University. Residents and business owners all along the Gulf braced for the fallout.

n Southeast’s Courtnei Smith, LRHS’s Po-Yi Ho, Saint Stephen’s Kathleen Addison and Vanessa Moody from Out of Door Academy were National Merit Scholarship recipients.

n Pat Geyer, beloved owner of Duffy’s Tavern, a Holmes Beach institution for 40 years, died May. 1. “Miss Duffy” was 79.

n Coach Tim Hill’s State College of Florida baseball team won the Florida Junior College state championship, qualifying the Manatees for the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

SCF went 0-2 and was eliminated early at the World Series.

n Former Braden River High head football coach Josh Hunter was found guilty of DUI manslaughter May 17. Doug Garrity, Hunter’s best friend and an assistant coach, was killed in the March 2009 accident. He was eventually sentenced to serve more than 10 years in prison, but appealed it.

n The Florida Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction and death sentence of Blaine Ross, who was convicted in May 2007 of killing his parents with a baseball bat in January 2004 at their east Manatee home. A new trial was set for April 2011.

n Miller Elementary dedicated McKelvey Park to honor Coach Bob McKelvey, the school’s retired iconic gym teacher.

n Ezra Fine Foods, Polo Grill and Bar, Gator Plumbing, Trophy Case, Fete Catering and Willis A. Smith Construction were the winners June 3 at the 31st annual Manatee Small Business of the Year Awards.

n Mike Radzilowski, Bradenton Police chief since December 2002, marked 40 years as a lawman.

n Palmetto Police Chief Garry Lowe abruptly resigned July 7, and is succeeded by MCSO Lt. Rick Wells, son of retired Sheriff Charlie Wells.

Lowe spent 29 years with the Palmetto PD, the last nine as chief.

n Amidst the roiling controversy over “pill mills,” an Ellenton pain clinic was ordered closed by Manatee County after failing to obtain a permit to operate under the county’s new pain clinic moratorium ordinance.

n Despite a litany of financial problems -- unpaid teachers, IRS issues and a foreclosure of its 11-acre campus -- Bradenton Prep’s new owner Hendrik Lamprecht said school would reopen in August.

Renamed the Prep Learning Academy, it held classes at numerous locations, including two churches, as well as a Cortez Road strip mall.

n Jim Forssell’s run as “Voice of the Hurricanes” came to an unceremonious end after 47 years behind the PA microphone at Hawkins Stadium.

The Manatee High administration wanted to retire him with a halftime celebration at the ESPN televised Kickoff Classic, but the beloved former music department chairman tells them no thanks.

n Daniel Williams, 19, took a plea deal of 25 years in prison and pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of manslaughter with a firearm Aug. 16, the day jury selection was to begin in his trial for the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Jazmine Thompson.

A Bayshore High cheerleader, Thompson had cheered just hours earlier during the Bruins’ 2009 regular season opener at Manatee.

Williams never apologized to the slain girl’s family.

n Palmetto’s city commission OK’d the sale of alcohol on Sundays, repealing a law that lasted 18 years.

n Doug Schembri, a world renowned horseman, collapsed and died Aug. 17 at his Char-O-Lot Ranch, a Myakka City landmark on Route 70.

He was 61.

n Lakewood Ranch High teacher Michael Gallen upset incumbent Gwen Brown for a Manatee County Commission seat. Brown had served 16 years on the commission.

n A surreal battle over the Seminole nickname, insignia et al erupted when Florida State demanded Southeast High cease using the mascot they’ve shared for more than 30 years.

An agreement was eventually reached and Southeast remains the Seminoles.

n Joe Kinnan’s Manatee Hurricanes hammered Tampa Plant 48-10 before an ESPN national audience in a rematch of the Class 5A state championship game won by Plant the previous December in Orlando.

The Canes were highly ranked both in the state and nation the rest of the regular season.

n Byron Galloway, 17, was found guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated assault for the August 2009 shooting death of Dejuan Williams, 18, during a July 2009 backyard confrontation over Williams’ younger sister.

n Richard and Mayumi Heene and their three sons moved in with relatives in Waterlefe Golf & River Club in early September. The Heenes gained nationwide notoriety in October 2009 when their runaway helium balloon hurtled across Colorado supposedly with their 6-year-old son, Falcon, aboard. The Balloon Boy turned out to be an elaborate hoax.

n Greg Williams, a 47-year-old unemployed meat cutter, rescued 6-year-old Victor Rodriguez from a near-drowning in an apartment complex pool.

n Bradenton Marauders clinched FSL’s Southern Division second-half championship, but dropped a best-of-three playoff against first-half champion Charlotte Stonecrabs.

n Ed Deane, who made Deane Machine a Bradenton institution for decades, died Sept. 7. He was 86.

n The Southern Manatee Fire District commission voted down a motion to suspend Fire Chief Foster Gover with pay during an ongoing investigation that includes scrutiny of former Fire Chief Thomas Hennessy’s $1.6 million retirement payout.

Gover resigned Dec. 16 with pay and benefits through May 1 and will get an eventual payout of $192,000.

n Mike Blakely’s four TDs ignited the Manatee Hurricanes 31-24 comeback victory over crosstown rival Southeast on Sept. 17.

n Dr. Irving Hall, Manatee County’s first pediatrician who practiced for more than 50 years, died Sept. 17. He was 86.

n Eugene Aubry replaced Anna Maria City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus after a contentious recall battle.

n After winning the Formula One In Schools National Championship in Baltimore in July, Southeast High’s team of Brandon Miranda, Tony Griffin, Yatrik Solanki, Amanda Clark, graduate Mark Nanney and Virginia middle schooler Neiman Pest won the world title in Singapore on Sept. 22.

They built 14 miniature CO2-powered balsa wood race cars that go 45 mph in 1.8 seconds.

n General Electric announced it would close its Palmetto digital plant, which makes smart meters for FP&L.

n East Manatee residents Cheri and Steve Ziegler hit the Oct. 6 Powerball bonanza of $61.5 million. They decide to cash it in for a one-time $34.5 million payout.

n Ta Heem Blake, 17, a quadriplegic from wounds suffered in a deadly home invasion in which he took part, gets life without parole for his role in the slaying of 55-year-old Maria Lerma in February 2009.

Accomplice Marquis Sanders received the same sentence six months earlier.

n Paul Maechtle’s Southeast Seminoles blow out Sarasota Booker 62-32 to take a strangle hold on the Class 3A-District 10 race.

n John J. O’Connor and Frank Connor were inducted into the Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

O’Connor served nearly 35 years on the Manatee River, Soil and Water District Conservation Board. Connor, who is deceased, was the agricultural agent for the Seaboard Airline Railroad and introduced the railroad to Manatee County farmers as a way of shipping produce in the late 1930s.

n Julie Aranibar defeated incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker in a bitter school board race, while Jim Boyd and Greg Steube won seats in the Florida State House of Representatives.

n The District 10 champion MHS Hurricanes finish the regular season 10-0, their first perfect season in two decades, routing Sarasota Booker.

n Donzi Marine announced it’s shutting down its South County plant after 15 years and relocating to Washington, N.C. Wellcraft, another South County boat manufacturer, moved to North Carolina in 2008.

n The Obama administration decided Florida’s coastline will remain closed to offshore drilling through 2017, reversing its spring-time decision.

n Paul Maechtle’s Southeast Seminoles won back-to-back heartstopping 21-20 playoff victories over Polk County powers Lake Wales and Winter Haven.

But they lose a 28-21 heartbreaker at South Fort Myers in the Class 3A-Region 3 Championship, closing out a 10-3 season.

n Manatee’s season ended Dec. 10 in Fort Lauderdale, where the Hurricanes were beaten 31-7 in the state semifinals by a St. Thomas Aquinas squad out to avenge a 28-20 loss to the Canes in the 2009 semifinals. The Canes finished 13-1.

n Bradenton-Sarasota was named the No. 1 retirement spot in the United States by

Prescott, Ariz., is No. 2 and Lake Havasu City, Ariz., was No. 3.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Naples, Palm Bay-Melbourne, Homosassa Springs, Ocala, Punta Gorda and Port St. Lucie round out the Top 10.

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

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