From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
December 4, 2015
When it comes to wildlife, you never know what you'll see in the city limits!  We spotted these two feathered friends enjoying a brisk strut in a retention pond adjacent to the Utilities campus.  (No turkey sightings during this post-Thanksgiving week.)


  • City Commission
    Mon., December 7 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., December 8 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Historic Preservation Board
    Tues., December 8 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Dir., Parks and Recreation
Engineering Technician III
Facility Maintenance Technician
Human Resources Coordinator
Maintenance Mechanic II
Network Administrator
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Reliability Maintenance Planner I
Senior Procurement Specialist   
Utilities Capital Manager 

This Week's Items to Know:
Employee of the Quarter - From Homeless to Hired to Honored    We enjoy recognizing the hard work and dedication of our employees, especially those who give a little extra and are standouts.  Every three months one employee is selected to be recognized as the Employee of the Quarter.  And, this time our Employee of the Quarter, Wes Byington, has an especially compelling story. 

Wes and his tremendous work ethic were discovered by City staff when he was homeless and participating in the Street Teams -- a homeless program for those looking to get off the streets and find employment.  The City funds the program which offers work experience in the form of landscaping and litter collection, while The Salvation Army provides meals, shelter, and a path to finding a job and housing.

While doing City landscaping with the Street Teams, Wes' motivation impressed the Public Works crew immediately -- so much that when a full time position opened he was encouraged to apply.  That was two years ago.

Since being hired in 2013, Wes has earned two professional certifications and has been promoted twice.  He no longer is a landscaper.  Now, he oversees the maintenance of all the facilities in the City's 49 parks.

Wes is quite handy and creative and is regularly able to make plumbing and other repairs himself, saving the City thousands of dollars.

He's a true example that sometimes a person just needs a hand up.  Wes will be honored by the City Commission Monday night (Dec. 7) at 6 p.m.

You can learn more about Wes' story and the Street Teams program by watching this brief video produced by Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg:
Wes Byington: Employee of the Quarter 
City Hall - Elevator & Fire Alarm Upgrades    You may encounter some maintenance and construction crews at City Hall over the next few weeks as we undergo some necessary upgrades.

First, the elevator in the main building is being brought into the 21st century.  It will be wider to accommodate wheelchairs, braille will be provided next to the buttons and the interior will receive a makeover. During the work, the elevator will be out of service. For those who need to conduct business on the second floor with our Purchasing Division, and are unable to use the stairs, a telephone and employee directory have been installed adjacent to the elevator.  Once contacted, the employee will meet you down in the lobby. The heavy construction work is being scheduled on the weekends.  The new elevator is expected to be up and running by the end of January.

Also, you may see crews on ladders working in the ceiling at City Hall.  The fire alarm systems at City Hall and the Annex are being upgraded, and crews are working on the electrical system.  Heat detectors are being added as well as emergency horn strobes, plus additional smoke detectors and fire alarm pull stations.

Like most construction projects, these are a bit inconvenient.  But, the final results will help make City Hall a safer place to work and conduct business.  We appreciate your patience.

Neighborhood News - Arlington Park Bridge    For those who visit Arlington Park frequently and may have noticed a lull recently with the construction Logo on the new pedestrian bridge, we have an update.  The company building the bridge for the City encountered some manufacturing difficulties, which are being corrected at this writing.  The good news is...this temporary delay is not expected to impact the completion date.  The new bridge is still expected to open to the public by mid-January.

Downtown Holiday Parade - Dec. 5     We will help kick off the holiday season this weekend with one of the biggest and most popular events in Sarasota:  the Downtown Holiday Parade!  This is the 20th year for the holiday parade, and it will be held tomorrow (Sat., December 5) at 7 p.m. on Main Street, starting at  U.S. 301 and ending at Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park at Gulfstream Ave. 

Make sure you arrive early.  The parade attracts as many as 20,000 spectators who enjoy taking in all the festive floats, marching bands, of course, jolly 'ol St. Nicholas!  Also, keep in mind that temporary street closures will begin at noon.  For a comprehensive list of closures click here.


Bobby Jones Golf Club -  Busy Holiday Week     Our historic municipal golf course, Bobby Jones Golf Club, was very busy this past holiday week with a brand new tournament being hosted in addition to a popular holiday golf outing.
John Vaccaro & Ray Wenck holding the first place trophy for the inaugural Men's Senior Better Ball Championship. 

First, the inaugural Men's Senior Better Ball Championship was held over two days with more than 70 players participating.  The grand champions are John Vaccaro and Ray Wenck with an impressive 14 under par  -- congratulations!   It was a tight battle for second and third place.  Taking second:  Joe Branconi and Randy Spring at 6 under par.  And, one stroke behind, in third place, were Jimmy Smith and Rich Kyllonen at 5 under par.  Bravo to all the competitors!  And, a big thank you to our staff at Bobby Jones for making this new tournament a reality after listening to suggestions from our regular senior golfers.
Golfers lining up for the 7th Annual 'Turkey Shoot' on Thanksgiving Day. 
Several days later, almost 100 golfers gobbled up the opportunity to shoot 18 during the 7th Annual 'Turkey Shoot' on Thanksgiving Day.  This fun event has become a tradition for many who enjoy hitting the links before settling in for Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.  Thanks again to our staff at Bobby Jones for making the holiday extra special for many of our residents and visitors.

Next up at Bobby Jones:  Reindeer Games on Christmas Day.

Silkies Hike - Employee Participation    We're proud that many of our employees volunteer their time during their off hours to bring awareness to a variety of worthwhile causes in the community.  Recently, Doug Logan, our
Doug just before the start of the Silkies Hike. 
Director on Special Initiatives on Chronic Homelessness participated in something called the Silkies Hike.  The Silkies Hike was an enthusiastic and challenging walk by military veterans to draw attention to veteran suicides.  We're told that, on average, 22 veterans take their own life each day.  To raise awareness, veterans walked 22 kilometers (approximately 14.6 miles) carrying 22 kilograms (approximately 49 pounds).  A decorated Vietnam veteran, Doug understands the emotional difficulties veterans can experience as they assimilate into civilian life.  So, when he heard about the hike he was all in.

As Doug spearheads our current efforts with a Housing First initiative, we remain committed to helping homeless veterans.  Along with many community partners, we have helped get 80 veterans off the streets and into housing over the past 15 months. We appreciate everyone for their help and Doug for continuing to draw attention to these veterans who need assistance.     

Upcoming Events 

Gem & Jewelry Show & Sale
Municipal Auditorium 
Fri., December 4 - Sun., December 6
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
Holiday Night of Lights    
St. Armands Circle
Fri., December 4
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

AIDS Walk 
Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park & Ringling Bridge
Sat., December 5
8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Christmas in the Park 
Fredd Atkins Park
Sat., December 5 & Sun., December 6
Noon - 6 p.m.

Downtown Holiday Parade 
Main Street
Sat., December 5
7 p.m.

Chanukah Menorah Display Lighting 
Selby Five Points
Sun., December 6
(No formal ceremony scheduled)  

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through February 2016.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 

Women of Ireland ~ Celtic Angels' Christmas 
Thurs., December 10 - 8 p.m.

Carrot Top 
Sat., December 12 - 8 p.m.

Bowzer's Rock & Roll Holiday Party 
Sun., December 13 - 7 p.m.

A Christmas Carol 
Wed., December 23 - 7 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker

Mon., December 28 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

The Producers
Wed., December 30 - 8 p.m.
A Christmas Carol will be at the Van Wezel on Dec. 23.

The Ten Tenors
Thurs., December 31 - 7 p.m.
Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert
Sun., January 3, 2016 - 7 p.m.

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
Mon., January 4, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Tues., January 5, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Wed., January 6, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Ron White
Thurs., January 7, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Black Violin
Tues., January 12, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Jim Witter - The Piano Men II
Wed., January 13, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Catskills on Broadway
Thurs., January 14, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Lisa Lampanelli
Fri., January 15, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Air Supply
Sat., January 16, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Paul Anka
Sun., January 17, 2016 - 7 p.m.
  Catskills on Broadway will be at the Van Wezel on
Jan. 14, 2016.

42nd Street
Wed., January 20, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Thurs., January 21, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Wynonna & The Big Noise: Stories & Song
Sun., January 24, 2016 - 7 p.m.

ABBA Mania
Mon., January 25, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Renee Fleming with the Sarasota Orchestra
Wed., January 27, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Thurs., January 28, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Dancing With The Stars:  LIVE! Dance All Night Tour
Fri., January 29, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Joshua Bell

Sat., January 30, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Tues., February 2, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Masters of Illusion - Believe the Impossible
Thurs., February 4 - 7:30 p.m.
The Book of Mormon
February 9 - 12, 2016:  8 p.m.
Sat., February 13, 2016:  2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Sun., February 14, 2016:  1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Neil Berg's 107 Years of Broadway
Wed., February 17, 2016 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Michael Feinstein and his 17-Piece Band
Thurs., February 18, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Patti LaBelle
Tues., February 23, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Moscow Festival Ballet - Cinderella
Wed., February 24, 2016 - 7 p.m.

The Beach Boys
Thurs., February 25, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.
Neil Berg's 107 Years of Broadway will be at the Van Wezel on
Feb. 17, 2016.

Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett
Fri., February 26, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.

Kristin Chenoweth
Sat., February 27, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Josh Groban
Sun., February 28, 2016 - 8 p.m.

The Australian Bee Gees
Mon., February 29, 2016 - 8 p.m.

To purchase tickets over the phone call 941-953-3368 or stop by the Box Office at 777 N.Tamiami Trail. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit

Thanks for reading this week's edition.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

Tom Barwin
City Manager