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20 04, 2021

Boat show to anchor in Sarasota

By |2021-04-21T02:19:10+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

SARASOTA — The Suncoast Boat Show returns to Sarasota from April 23-25.

It’s the 39th year the show will offer up a variety of boats and yachts, according to a news release. It takes place at Marina Jack along 65,000 square feet of dock space and in the waters of the Sarasota Bay.

It is hosted by Informa Markets and its U.S. Boat Division. Along with boats, it’ll have about 400 exhibits and children’s events as well, including youth fishing clinics.

“Hook The Future” will be presented by Don Dingman on April 24-25. Participants receive a free rod and reel, according to the news release.

“The program not only teaches kids how to fish, parents also learn how important it is to spend quality time with their children,” it said.

Tickets cost $16 for adults; children ages 15 and under are free.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, April 23; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 24 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 25.

20 04, 2021

Plan board rubber stamps capital schedule

By |2021-04-21T02:19:12+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

VENICE — City of Venice Development Services Director Jeff Shrum and Planning Manager Roger Clark asked the members of the Planning Commission for their opinions on the proposed capital improvements schedule Tuesday.

They didn’t have any.

To be more accurate, they didn’t feel they had the information or expertise to offer informed opinions.

The CIS sets the priorities for the capital improvement projects that enable the city to meet the level of service standards in the comprehensive plan, Shrum said. It mainly focuses on utilities and transportation.

The discussion began with water production and quickly bogged down.

“I wouldn’t begin to thinks I have the expertise” to decide rankings, said Commissioner Bill Willson, a former City Council member. “I wouldn’t know what most of those things are.”

The City Council is the next stop for the CIS.

Even on transportation, which the Commission members are more familiar with, they felt somewhat in the dark.

The traffic counts available to staff are more than a year old and don’t account for some recently approved developments.

“With a few exceptions, I just don’t feel qualified,” Commissioner Richard Hale said.

The fact that most of the projects are unfunded didn’t help.

“If money were unlimited, this would be a lot easier,” said Commissioner Kit McKeon, also a former Council member.

Shrum urged them not to consider funding, but acknowledged that it can take 20 years to get a project from conception through construction.

The bypass widening that’s in its final stages took 25, McKeon said.

His inclination was to approve the CIS as presented, including the top three transportation priorities the Council set just a week ago: the Pinebrook Road/East Venice Avenue intersection; the widening of Laurel Road from knights Trail Road to Jacaranda Boulevard; and the widening of Pinebrook Road from Edmondson Road to East Venice Avenue.

The Council essentially preempted the Commission on those choices, Commission Chair Barry Snyder said.

A motion to approve the CIS, with transportation projects not previously ranked given priority based on the percentage of their capacity that’s in use, passed 7-0.

“At least it’s basing it on something,” Willson said.

Other business

The Commission also approved a site-and-development plan for Island Village Montessori School to allow the replacement of five classroom buildings on its campus off Pinebrook Road.

The plan will need to be amended later, when the school decides to go forward with a planned multi-purpose building.

The Commission also voted to recommend that the City Council grant the school a waiver from the requirement of installing a sidewalk along Kilpatrick Road on the north side of the campus.

20 04, 2021

Rental, utility assistance available in Sarasota County

By |2021-04-21T02:19:13+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

SARASOTA — Sarasota County received $13 million to help residents with emergency rental assistance in May.

On Tuesday, Sarasota County Commissioners called the program helpful to residents countywide who experienced job loss or reduction and other impacts of COVID-19 that caused them to fall behind on their rent.

“The trick to its success is that people know about it,” said Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert. “It’s timely and I just want to make sure people know it’s available.”

The emergency rental assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury has specific guidelines. However, the county added additional stipulations Tuesday including applicants must be US citizens and not live with their landlord.

Assistance pays for up to 12 months of back rent and utilities, plus an additional three months if needed to ensure housing stability, as long as funds are available. Applicants must be 80% or below the area median income, AMI, and are facing homelessness or housing instability due to inability to pay rent and/or utilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Priority will be given to households that fall under one or both of these situations where the household income is below 50% of AMI or one or more people in the household are unemployed and unemployed for the last 90 days prior to the application. The AMI is listed online at

Anyone interested in the program can fill out a notification form at to receive information via email in the coming weeks about the program. Notification will include all required documents, available resources, and notification when the application portal goes live.

Assistance in Englewood is available at the Englewood CRA office at 941-473-9795. In North Port, residents can call North Port Social Services at 941-429-3701.

20 04, 2021

Karin’s Causes’ 14th annual Estate Sale is May 13-15

By |2021-04-20T21:21:22+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

SARASOTA — The 14th annual edition of Karin’s Causes Estate Sale is scheduled for May 13 to 15 at Sarasota’s Women’s Resource Center in Sarasota

“The popular event raises valuable funds for area nonprofits and is attended by dealers, collectors and weekend garage/estate sale enthusiasts, all of whom look forward to its eclectic array of carefully curated selections and attractive prices,” the WRC said in a news release.

The estate sale was founded by Karin Gustafson and continues to has raise funds for area nonprofits.

“The three-day event features items collected by Gustafson, along with distinctive donations from special friends and donors,” it said in a news release. “The event is known for its carefully curated items that feature the rare and beautiful, and items of historic and decorative interest, many with collectible appeal and value.”

The 2021 event will include more than 1,000 pieces of jewelry, art, tableware and decorative items.

It also includes “rare books and first editions, timepieces and globes, and many other collectibles,” it said.

It will be held indoors at the Women’s Resource Center and masks and social distancing will be required.

The funds raised go to the Women’s Resourse Center, the Animal Rescue Coalition and the New College Foundation’s scholarship fund.

A special preview takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. May 13 with a $15 donation requested at the Women’s Resource Center, 340 South Tuttle Ave., Sarasota.

It then continues — and is open to the public — from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 14 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 15.

20 04, 2021

Hospice volunteer honored for 20 years of service

By |2021-04-20T20:33:59+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

ENGLEWOOD — Gail Kovach once read these words: “There’s a difference between living every day and dying inch by inch.”

They stayed with her for 20 years as a Hospice volunteer, caring for people who are near the end of their living years.

Kovach, 77, is one of the longest-serving volunteers at Tidewell Hospice in Englewood. She is one of about 1,200 people on the Hospice’s volunteer team. Last year, they gave more than 110,000 hours of service, worth $2.4 million, and equal to the production of 53 full-time employees.

Tidewell is honoring Kovach during National Volunteer Week.

“She’s one of seven volunteers in the region in four counties who have been with us for 20 years,” said Timothy Wolfrum spokesperson for Tidewell Hospice.

In 1998, Kovach moved to Port Charlotte. She golfed with her newly retired husband. As a former licensed practicing nurse for 12 years in Michigan, she realized golfing and gardening wouldn’t be enough for her, she said. She needed to do more for others. 

She took a Hospice class and read lots of books on grieving and death before becoming a Hospice volunteer.

“I felt that’s where my gifts are,” Kovach said. “Over the years, I developed listening skills, laughter and silence. You know it can’t be always somber or mellow when you are dealing with death. That’s where I used what I had read in the book, that there is a difference between living every day and dying inch by inch. Each moment is precious, especially at the end of life.”

In the old days, some patients were in Hospice care for five or six months. She would get to know a lot about those staying at the Hospice House facility at 12034 N. Access Road in Englewood East. She listened as family members spoke about their loved ones.

For years, during quiet times, Kovach showed book of Normal Rockwell paintings to dying patients who recognized the pictures and knew they were based on true stores.

“I once read in a heroes book something else that stuck with me, it said, ‘to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the whole world,'” she said. “I believe it’s true. I’ve used that in talks when I speak to new volunteers. I explain how there will be some real special moments you have with people who are dying. Some don’t have families. Others are estranged and see them one last time.”

Kovach said she’s had patients die as she’s saying the rosary with them. Another simply wanted to go to the beach. Because it wasn’t possible, another Hospice volunteer went to the beach and came back with some sand. She put the patient’s feet in the sand one last time.

“Volunteers do those type of things,” she said. “They are in special world and it’s a special place to be a part of the dying. Volunteers follow Hospice guidelines, but they sometimes put emotion in it.”

With their son and mother in the room, a patient once told Kovach the “miracle didn’t happen.’

“That statement took me by surprise,” Kovach said. “I answered back, it isn’t happening in saving your life, but your family can see your compassion, and you are living and loving every moment of your life. Anything I can do to help, I do. I can tell in a person’s face — even if they can’t talk — they can smile, nod or clutch your hand. They know you are there for them and their families.”

Kovach said she would tell anyone whose interested in Hospice to take every class offered, even if they aren’t as interesting at first. She said she’s learned more about respite and arts for the dying that are now part of her training.

“When you are on an airplane, a stranger likes to talk, they will tell you their life story in an hour,” she said. “In Hospice care, families sometimes need to talk. They need someone to listen and sometimes laugh with or just share a conversation.

“Being a Hospice volunteer means you can make a difference in somebody’s life. It’s a good feeling.”

20 04, 2021

Watch the life of Rose Phillips Wilson online

By |2021-04-20T20:34:00+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

VENICE – The Venice Area Historical Society has added another online-only presentation. 

The lecture series, titled “Celebrating 100th Anniversary of Sarasota County by Bringing Local History to You,” features reenactor Kathryn Chesley looking at the life of Rose Phillips Wilson, who was in charge of a Sarasota newspaper more than a century ago. 

“Her editorials spearheaded many changes in the area, including the period when Sarasota became a county and women were encouraged to vote,” the society said.

The viewing lasts about 41 minutes. 

The series is a part of the Betty Intagliata Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the VAHS with permanent funding from the Bill Jervey, Jr. Charitable Foundation.

20 04, 2021

Need to dispose of old prescription drugs?

By |2021-04-20T16:17:07+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

VENICE — Those wanting to get rid of old drugs but not sure how to do so will have an event to help out Saturday.

From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 24, the Venice Police Department has its drive-thru Prescription Drug Takeback for residents “to responsibly dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications from the safety of their vehicles.”

In a news release, the department noted Venice Police officers will be assisting.

“VPD has partnered with Drug Free Sarasota, Florida Department of Health-Sarasota County, Poison Information Center and First Step of Sarasota, along with the Florida National Guard, to organize this event as a drive-thru for residents’ convenience and safety,” it said.

It’ll take place at the new Public Safety Facility, at 1575 E. Venice Ave. It noted only tablets and capsules will be accepted on Saturday.

“This ongoing program allows the public to return unused prescription medications into a controlled collection system,” it said. “In doing so, the medications are destroyed without being deposited into our landfills or water system, substantially reducing any potential environmental damage and the chance of the meds becoming a health hazard. Safe disposal of these medications also decreases access to addictive drugs for accidental or intentional misuse.”

For more information, call 941-486-2444.

20 04, 2021

Open air performance makes a memory

By |2021-04-20T14:18:50+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

Some of my favorite theater memories have been at open air venues: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Wolf Trap National Park in Virginia, The Starlight Theatre in Kansas City.

Now I’ll be adding to those great performances under the stars last Saturday night’s opening of “Ana Isabelle & Friends in Concert” outside at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.

Not sure what to expect, I was splendidly surprised by the variety of delights served up by two singers, two dancers, and the four-piece band. More of the unexpected showed up as projections onto the building of colorful kaleidoscopes, movie montages, and even subtitles for some of the Spanish songs.

Having never heard Ana Isabelle’s incredible vocal range or seen her take a stage and own it, I can only compare her to a cross between Jennifer Lopez and Idina Menzel. Her performance of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” and “Let It Go” from “Frozen” could be mistaken for the latter if you close your eyes.

The show, expertly woven together by Director Josh Rhodes, included three elements: vocal medleys from Broadway, Latinx music, “Evita,” and one they call “Good News,” tango to tear your heart out (more on that later), and personal sharings from the guest stars. The pace and interplay worked well.

The Broadway medley was one of my favorites, with just the right amount of powerhouse solos like “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and captivating duets like “Somewhere” from West Side Story and “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera.

I say one of my favorites, because the showstopper of the night came from a risk Josh took with this production that was truly memorable. He cast the Argentinian Tango partners Justin Lopez and Guadalupe Garcia as his dancers. Guadalupe is six months pregnant with their first child.

I will admit it took me a full song to wrap my head around it. The most passionate dance form known to man with a woman who is that far along? But once my head got out of the way, my heart could enjoy her grace, form and artistry in completely new ways.

And then mid-show came the introduction of their baby’s name as she emerged in a costume that celebrated her madonna-like beauty. While Ana and Justin sang “The Prayer,” she and her husband danced a love song that brings me to tears as I recall it.

Enough spoilers — suffice it to say, I strongly recommend this creative musical revue. The show runs through April 25 and tickets are available by calling 941-351-8000 or by going to their website at

Just remember to bring a blanket to throw over your knees and the experience is sure to warm your heart.

Note: Masks are required for all patrons and all seats are socially distanced. There is also some seating on blankets on the grass for younger audience members and their parents.

20 04, 2021

'Terrace Program 2 – Voices of Her' returns to the outdoors

By |2021-04-20T14:18:52+00:00April 20th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

SARASOTA — The Sarasota Ballet teams up with Asolo Terrace in its 30th season for an outdoor performances of “Terrace Program 2 – Voices of Her.”

“Celebrating the creative endeavors of women in ballet, ‘Terrace Program 2 — Voices of Her’ is a collection of ballet World Premieres choreographed by six female dancers of The Sarasota Ballet and Studio Company, and danced by The Sarasota Ballet and Studio Company,” it said in a news release. “Featuring a mix of classically inspired and contemporary works, ‘Terrace Program 2’ is an exciting and unique opportunity for these six young dancers to express their creativity and challenge themselves through the medium of choreography.”

“Voices of Her” runs April 28 to Saturday, May 1. It will be held at the Asolo Terrace Stage at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, the news release said. It starts at 8 p.m.

“For ballet fans eager to see Company Dancers of The Sarasota Ballet return to live performance, and especially to catch a glimpse of the next generation of choreography, ‘Terrace Program 2 — Voices of Her’ is a perfect fit,” it said.

19 04, 2021

Dump trucks a dilemma for Burnt Store Road residents

By |2021-04-20T02:22:45+00:00April 19th, 2021|Punta Gorda News, punta-gorda|0 Comments

PUNTA GORDA — Residents of Parkhill Estates and neighboring communities are fed up with the noise from what they say are hundreds of dump trucks using Burnt Store Road near U.S. 41 on a daily basis.

“People who have lived here for years are leaving because of the noise,” said Larry Larson, a Parkhill board director. “Others are moving deeper into the community away from the road.”

Larson is one of over 500 residents from the Parkhill, Eagle Point, River Haven and Gulf View RV Resort communities along Burnt Store Road who have signed a petition pushing for Charlotte County to find a solution to their dump truck dilemma.

Residents believe the increase in dump truck traffic is due to construction and development taking place in Cape Coral and North Fort Myers.

Dump truck traffic on Burnt Store Road a problem for area residents

A map showing the intersection of U.S. 41 and Burnt Store Road in Punta Gorda. Communities along the busy roadway say that dump truck traffic is out of control.

“We have followed some of the trucks and they go all the way down to there,” Larson said. “It’s residential and business development happening.”

The noise is not the only problem, Larson said, but also the high speeds at which the dump trucks are traveling.

“People are afraid to go on the road,” said Larson, who has lived in Parkhill for 15 years. “I don’t know why all of a sudden these dump trucks have the right to do whatever they want.

“What rights do we, who pay all the taxes in this area, have to have any say in this because we can’t do anything.”

Over 600 residents live in the four communities, which lie within the first mile of Burnt Store Road immediately south of U.S. 41.

“For the past year, our communities have been turned upside down by the traffic, speed and noise created by the dump trucks that use this section of road,” wrote Larson, along with board directors from the other three communities, in an April 5 letter to the Charlotte County commissioners and the Punta Gorda City Council.

Parkhill was annexed into the city limits years ago, but Burnt Store Road and the other three communities are under the county’s jurisdiction.

For a year or so now, community residents say they have been dealing with the increased speed and “incredible noise” from over 300 unmuffled dump trucks a day.

They also attribute a number of car crashes to the dump trucks’ speed, including one where a vehicle lost control, went off road and crashed into a Parkhill resident’s home.

Dump truck traffic on Burnt Store Road a problem for area residents

A vehicle on Burnt Store Road lost control and crashed into a home in Parkhill estates about a month ago.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to requests for comment regarding the crashes or the traffic concerns.

Punta Gorda Police Lt. Dylan J. Renz said their department has assisted CCSO with some traffic enforcement in the area but could not speak to any specifics because the roadway was outside the city limits.

The residents have made three suggestions to the county to resolve the problems. The options include:

Rerouting the dump trucks to U.S. 41 south to Zemel Road — where there is high-volume truck traffic due to a nearby landfill — and then east to Burnt Store Road.

To lower the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph within that section of Burnt Store Road.

Enforce the Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles muffler requirement for trucks, which regulates decibel levels of vehicle’s exhaust systems, among other rules.

“The only option that we feel has any ability to fly is lowering the speed limit,” Larson said.

The county’s public works engineering division does have a traffic study in the works on this section of Burnt Store Road, according to county spokesperson Tracy Doherty.

“The traffic data along Burnt Store Road in Acline Road’s vicinity, south of U.S. 41, has been collected and is under review,” Doherty said. “This data provides volume, speed and type of vehicles that travel Burnt Store Road.

“When the engineering division has completed analyzing the data, their findings will be shared with the residents.”

Larson feels the county would have taken action sooner if their communities’ home values were higher.

“If we were in the $500,000 to a million-dollar range, this would have been taken care of already; it wouldn’t be an issue,” he said.

Larson said most of the homes in the area probably average around $85,000.

“Dollars make a difference, and this would never happen if these people (here) had lots of money,” he said. “We are no less a citizen than someone else; it just doesn’t seem fair.”