From the Desk of the Sarasota
City Manager
January 30, 2015
Congratulations to the Sarasota Police Department's newest police officers!  Having successfully completed an extensive application process and background check, Veronica Hernandez and Hunter Craig were each sworn in as an Officer, 2nd Class Probation on Monday.  After taking the oath of office to serve and protect our community, each had their new SPD badge pinned to their uniform by someone special in their life.  For Officer Craig, it was his father.  For Officer Hernandez, SPD Lt. Ken Castro did the honors.  Lt. Castro had a profound impact on Officer Hernandez's life when she was growing up in Sarasota, including helping to facilitate a meaningful gift 18 years ago:  a new pair of eyeglasses.  Scroll down the newsletter to read about the special bond between Officer Hernandez, Lt. Castro and a prominent downtown business owner.  It's a heartwarming story that makes one realize how one act of kindness can have a lifelong impact. 

We're pleased to have Officer Hernandez and Officer Craig on board with the SPD.  Both are exceptional candidates.  And, it will be beneficial to have another Spanish speaking officer in the ranks to help with communication needs in our growing Hispanic population.  For the next several months, the two will go through rigorous field training before being assigned as a patrol officer in the community. 

SPD continues to accept diverse applications for qualified candidates.  For more information about career opportunities click here.


  • State Street Garage Community Update
    Mon., February 2 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • City Commission
    Mon., February 2 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., February 3 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., February 4 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • St. Armands BID
    Wed., February 4 - 10:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Independent Police Advisory Panel
    Fri., February 6 - 1:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Deputy Police Chief 
Lifeguard I  
Manager, Professional Business Services
Parking Enforcement Specialist 
Parking Garage Attendant  
Police Officer, 2nd Class 
Rec Attendant 
School Crossing Guard 
Treatment Plant Operator A 
Treatment Plant Operator B 
 Utilities Engineer (Contract)
Utility Mechanic I 

This Week's Items to Know:
Bobby Jones Open  - Celebrating 89 Years of Municipal Golf   The City will celebrate the 89th anniversary of our treasured municipal golf course, Bobby Jones Golf Club, with a professional golf tournament next month.  The 2nd annual Bobby Jones Open will be held the weekend of Feb. 14 and 15 with an impressive field of 80+ professional golfers on Bobby Jones Logo the West Florida Golf Tour.  Just since the inaugural event last year, interest in the Bobby Jones Open has grown as well as the cash purse.  This year, the players will compete for $20,000 in cash prizes with a guaranteed $4,000 for the first place winner, sponsored by Gold Coast Eagle Distributing. 

Many young professional golfers cut their playing teeth on municipal courses, like Bobby Jones.  But, here's the difference:   Bobby Jones is in very good condition and is considered to be uniquely challenging for a municipal course.

We hope golf fans can make it out to the tournament to watch these talented players.  Spectator admission is just $10 per person.  And, with Mattison's on the Green offering tournament menu specials, you can stay all day. 

For more information about the Bobby Jones Open contact:  941-954-4163.
The 89th anniversary of Bobby Jones Golf Club will be celebrated
with the 2nd annual Bobby Jones Open on Feb. 14 & 15. 
Hart's Landing - Repairs Underway     Repairs started this week to correct the structural issue at Hart's Landing and return it to a condition safe for public use.  The dock, bait shop and adjoining restrooms are popular with anglers, runners, walkers, bikers and others who enjoy the scenic view at Ringling Causeway Park.  But, Hart's Landing was closed in August when the structure was deemed unsafe due to the deterioration of several pilings supporting the dock and bait shop.

A piling is hoisted by a crane at Hart's Landing this week.

During the past several months, a structural engineer performed a comprehensive site inspection and provided recommendations on how to move forward.  With that necessary information, staff was able to seek and hire a qualified marine contractor who could get the job done as expeditiously as possible. 

A local contractor is now installing new pilings and adding structural beams where necessary.  With much of the work being done in Sarasota Bay, crews are scheduling their time to coordinate with low tide, so you may see contractors working at varying times during the day and night.  Barring weather events that would prevent work on the water, the repairs are expected to be completed by early April.

Hart's Landing is a treasured public space with captivating views of downtown, Sarasota Bay and its wildlife.  With moderate temperatures and bright blue skies, this is the time of year when our residents and visitors want to enjoy and experience this area.  We're taking action to facilitate the reopening as quickly as we can, while ensuring public safety.  We appreciate everyone's continued patience for the next couple of months. 

Eloise Werlin Park - Construction Started   Adjacent to Hart's Landing, construction is underway for the new Eloise Werlin Park.  Ernest "Doc" Werlin, an engaged Sarasota resident, generously gifted the funds through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to build a new children's playground along the eastern portion of Ringling Causeway Park.  The new park, named after Doc's wife who loved the area, will feature climbing and play equipment designed primarily for children ages 5-12.  Shade, new benches, a seaside garden and fresh sod also are planned and will be installed by a contractor hired by Doc.  The park is expected to open to the public by April.

The City will care for this new public amenity, and Doc has generously made arrangements for future maintenance support costs to be funded through his donation. 

The love for and philanthropy in this community continues to surprise and amaze.  During my past two years in Sarasota, I have witnessed more diverse, philanthropic endeavors here than throughout my 30 years of experience in other cities combined.  We greatly appreciate Doc's generosity and we look forward to watching Eloise Werlin Park become a reality.

 Eloise Werlin Park is now under construction.

Osprey Bridge - Both Lanes Closed Feb. 4 & 5      The inspection of the Osprey Bridge over the Hudson Bayou has progressed much faster than originally anticipated.  That's the good news.  To complete the inspection, though, the bridge will be temporarily closed in both
The Osprey Bridge over the Hudson Bayou will be closed Feb. 4 & 5, then normal traffic patterns will resume. 
directions on Thurs., Feb. 4 and Fri., Feb. 5.  After that, vehicular traffic over the bridge and boating traffic under the bridge will resume as normal.

As we've mentioned in previous Weekly Briefs, the temporary bridge and lane closures have been necessary to allow workers to safely access the area while they conducted a comprehensive bridge inspection before the City takes further steps with the Lift Station 87 project.

We understand this has been an inconvenience to drivers and residents in the adjacent neighborhoods, and we look forward to traffic patterns being restored to normal by next weekend.

SPD - Lasting Impact     We have a touching human interest story to share with you, which gets right to the heart of partnership policing.  As we mentioned in the Photo of the Week, Sarasota native Veronica Hernandez was sworn in this week as a SPD officer, and she has a special bond with one of our seasoned officers.

At 14 years old, Veronica was living in public housing at Cohen Way and attending Booker High.  As part of his patrol duties, Officer Ken Castro befriended Veronica and realized, like many teens, she was susceptible to peer pressure and could end up making some bad choices which could affect her education.  So, Officer Castro expressed an interest in her school homework and grades.   

Ultimately, Veronica
Lt. Ken Castro pins a SPD badge on newly sworn in Officer Veronica Hernandez, who he met years ago when he was a patrol officer and subsequently became her mentor. 
confided in him that while she could read, she couldn't decipher the blurry, jumbled words.  Turns out, her eyeglasses had been stolen and her family couldn't afford to replace them.

Officer Castro set into motion an act of kindness that would have an indelible impact.  He contacted his childhood friend Ron Soto, owner of Soto's Optical in downtown Sarasota and explained the situation.  Ron was happy to give the gift of sight back to Veronica with a new pair of glasses at no cost.

18 years later, the three were reunited, but in a much different setting.  Ron was in the audience this week watching as Ken Castro proudly pinned Veronica's new SPD badge on her uniform and she pledged to serve and protect our community.

Without question, Veronica says, she was motivated to become a police officer because of the kindness and generosity shown by Officer Castro so many years ago.  Now, Veronica plans to become a similar role model for young children in Sarasota.  What a powerful testament to partnership policing and the lasting positive impact of taking an interest in a young life.
Then and Now.  Top Photo:  1997 -  A Sarasota Herald-Tribune article chronicles Veronica Hernandez receiving a pair of eyeglasses thanks to a SPD officer and merchant.  Bottom:  This Week - Soto's Optical owner Ron Soto, Officer Veronica Hernandez and Lt. Ken Castro at Veronica's swearing-in ceremony.

With the headline, "Gift puts teen's world in focus', the Sarasota Herald-Tribune featured the Hernandez-Castro-Soto story on the front page of the local/state section on December 20, 1997.  To read the article click here.

Throughout the years, wherever Veronica was living in the world, she stayed in contact with both Ken and Ron.

By the way, Ron Soto still owns Soto Optical and is now Chairman of the Downtown Sarasota Merchants Association.  

Ken Castro has moved up the ranks during his 32 years of service with SPD and is now a lieutenant, and remains a mentor to Veronica. 

And, Officer Veronica Hernandez, grateful for the men's generosity and continued support over the years, is looking forward to a long career with SPD.  Interestingly, she no longer wears eyeglasses.  After undergoing two major eye surgeries, remarkably, her eyesight is now 20/20.  

Dad Classes    The important role of fathers continues to remain vital in our ever changing world.  Fathers are critical in the emotional and psychological development of their children.  To help dads focus on the skills and attitudes needed to be a nurturing parent, Children First is offering a free 10 week course, "Nurturing Dads".  Topics will include:  feelings and male nurturance, fathering without fear and violence, active listening and communication.

In its 15th year, the Children First dads class is known for diverse participation with married fathers, single, divorced, expecting, and step-dads from a broad spectrum of racial and educational backgrounds.

Classes begin March 4th and will be held each Wednesday from 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. through May 13th at Children First on Orange Ave.  The course is also offered in Spanish.  For more information click here.

Upcoming Events
Super Ice Bowl - Disc Golf 
North Water Tower Park 
Sat., January 31  
7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Sarasota Masters Art Festival 
Palm Ave. 
Sat., January 31  & Sun., February 1 
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Golden Boys
Tues., February 3 - 8 p.m. 
Golden Boys will perform Feb. 3
at the Van Wezel. 

Les Ballets Trockadero
Wed., February 4 - 8 p.m. 

106 Years of Broadway
Thurs., February 5 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
Fri., February 6 - 8 p.m.

The Piano Guys
Sat., February 7 - 8 p.m.

The Time Jumpers
Sun., February 8 - 7 p.m.

The Duke Ellington Orchestra
Mon., February 9 - 8 p.m.

Harry Connick, Jr.
Harry Connick, Jr. will be at the Van Wezel on Feb. 10.

Tues., February 10 - 8 p.m.

Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Orchestra
Wed., February 11 - 8 p.m. 

Peter and the Starcatcher
Thurs., February 12 - 8 p.m.

Diana Ross
Fri., February 13 - 8 p.m.

"The Sinatra Centennial" Starring Michael Feinstein
Sat., February 14 - 8 p.m. 

The Piano Men starring Jim Witter
Sun., February 15 - 8 p.m.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform on Feb. 17.

Dancing Pros Live!
Mon., February 16 - 8 p.m.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Tues., February 17 - 7:30 p.m. 

Discover DaVinci and Michelangelo "Side by Side"
Wed., February 18 - 8 p.m.

Garrison Keillor
Thurs., February 19 - 8 p.m.

Ringo Starr And His All Starr Band
Tues., February 24 - 8 p.m.

For more information visit

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Tom Barwin
City Manager