From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
December 18, 2015
A coalition of Newtown community organizations, spearheaded by One Church One Block, is working together to activate Fredd Atkins Park --- including hosting free Jazz in the Park concerts the second Saturday of each month.  The inaugural event was held last weekend with Sarasota resident Synia Carroll crooning a mixture of classic blues tunes and traditional Christmas carols.  (Click here to enjoy a sample.)  The neighborhood coalition also is responsible for acquiring wreaths, bows, Christmas trees and decorative lights for the park.  And, with the help of our Public Works staff, the park is decorated and looking quite festive!  We appreciate the residents' passion for this historic area and their desire for it to be a family-friendly neighborhood destination.  Another exciting and new event is planned for this weekend -- horse drawn carriage rides.  More details below in 'Upcoming Events'.


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This Week's Items to Know:
Homeless Update: More Emergency Shelter Triage Beds    To help get more chronic homeless into recovery programs, the City has boosted the number of emergency shelter triage beds reserved at the Salvation Army.  These beds are set aside specifically for individuals escorted to the shelter by the Homeless Outreach Teams or the Sarasota Police Department.  The original agreement with the Salvation Army, which went into effect in October, reserved six beds.  That number is now 10 -- with the option for the City to reserve an extra 20 beds at any time.  So, a total of 30 beds can be reserved by the City.

Rather than being cited, individuals thought to be violating the City's lodging out-of-doors ordinance are offered the opportunity to go to the Salvation Army where they will have a roof over their head, meals, and a chance to meet with the City's mental health case workers.  The Salvation Army staff also will work with these individuals and encourage them to voluntarily enroll in programs and services offered by the Salvation Army.

Although it's preliminary, we're seeing early positive results with this partnership, which is one of the reasons for the increased number of beds.  Since October, 53 homeless individuals have been transported to the Salvation Army by SPD.  35 have requested additional social services beyond just emergency shelter -- that's an encouraging 66 percent.  With the help of the Salvation Army, we're moving toward addressing the root cause of the each person's homeless situation, and hopefully, helping to make real improvements with that individual's life.

We appreciate the Salvation Army's continued partnership with us in addressing the chronic homeless living on the streets and we look forward to more positive results and progress in 2016.

Holiday Hours: No Garbage Collection Fri., Dec. 25  City administrative offices will be closed next Thursday and Friday for Christmas.  Please note:  Regular Friday pickup for garbage, recycling and yard waste will be the following day on Sat., December 26. 

City Hall also will be closed on Friday, January 1, 2016 with no garbage collection.   Regular Friday pickup will be one day later on Sat., January 2.

Holiday hours at our recreational facilities will vary:
  • Bobby Jones Golf Club:  Open 365 days a year and will host 'Reindeer Games'  (Details below)
  • Lido Pool:  Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day
  • Robert L. Taylor Community Complex: 
    -  Thurs., Dec. 24:   Open 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.
    -  Christmas Day:    Closed
    -  Thurs., Dec. 31:   Open 6 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    -  New Year's Day:  Closed
Bobby Jones Golf Club - 'Reindeer Games'    For the 8th consecutive year, golfers will don Santa hats and reindeer antlers on Christmas Day and participate in 'Reindeer Games' at our historic municipal golf course. 

'Reindeer Games' is a festive, fun event with a shotgun start at 8:45 a.m. on the British Course.  18 holes with a riding cart is $28.  Also, those with a 'Reindeer Games' receipt will receive a $3 discount on a $13 breakfast served by Mattison's Grille on the Green.

The American Course will be open for regular play on Christmas Day from sunrise to 9 a.m.  Then, 9-hole play will be available until 11 a.m.  Please note:  the last tee time for all courses will be 11 a.m., so our staff can spend part of Christmas Day with their families. 
Happy Holidays from Bobby Jones Golf Club!  L to R:  Daniel Bailey, Doug Keil, Sue Martin, Bill Lowery, Roger Mendez.

Van Wezel - Gingerbread House Winner!    We're discovering some hidden talents with our staff at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall -- including gingerbread design and creation!

The Van Wezel enjoys a mutually beneficial partnership with Hotel Indigo, adjacent to the Hall.  Earlier this week, the hotel hosted its annual client appreciation luncheon and gingerbread contest ---- and the Van Wezel won the "Best Company" category.  What's particularly impressive is that our very own Booking and House Operations Manager, Victoria Jones, created it.  The 'VW' on the door is perfect -- and the shade of purple just right.  Bravo!
A Van Wezel gingerbread house earned top honors at the
Hotel Indigo client appreciation luncheon. 
CEO Graduation     The North Sarasota Redevelopment Office's Community Entrepreneur Opportunity (CEO) Program celebrated its 18th graduating class earlier this week during a ceremony at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.

The CEO program is a free 12-week Introduction to Business Development Course with classes focusing on all aspects of a business plan from launching a new business to improving an existing one.

Twelve local entrepreneurs were enrolled in this class, and as part of the graduation ceremony, each student presented an overview of their business and how they benefited from the course.  Mayor Willie Shaw was among the attendees, wishing the new graduates well with their future endeavors.  Congratulations, graduates!

The CEO program partners with CareerSource Suncoast and Manasota SCORE, and is sponsored by SunTrust and Wells Fargo. 

The CEO Winter 2015 graduating class with Mayor Willie Shaw. 
Under the Category of 'Great Ideas':  'One Book' Program    In commemoration of local author John D. MacDonald's 100th birthday, Sarasota County Libraries is focusing on his works for the 2016 'One Book One Community' program.  A prolific novelist, writing 78 books across many genres, MacDonald lived in Sarasota from 1952 until his death in 1986.  His novel "The Executioners" was adapted to the silver screen and became the popular film "Cape Fear". 

During the next seven months, many events will take place at Sarasota County Libraries to honor John D. MacDonald.  The program will conclude with a celebration at Selby Library in downtown on July 23  -- the day before MacDonald's 100th birthday.

To learn more visit

Upcoming Events 

Winter Wonderland Holiday Party 
Fri., December 18
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex

Christmas Carriage Rides & Breakfast

Fredd Atkins Park & Town Hall 
Sat., December 19
8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.
12 Springs Church Christmas Eve  
Gillespie Park 
Thurs., December 24  
5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Christmas Eve Service  
Selby Five Points Park
Thurs., December 24
6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

New Year's Eve Celebration/Pineapple Drop 
Main St.:  Central Ave. to Orange Ave.
Lemon Ave.:  State St. to First St.
Thurs., December 31
1:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

Van Wezel Executive Director Mary Bensel with musician Phillip Phillips.

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

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.
  Black Violin will be at the Van Wezel  on January 12, 2016.

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.
Air Supply will be at the Van Wezel Jan. 16.


Paul Anka
Sun., January 17, 2016 - 7 p.m.

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.
The Beach Boys will be at the Van Wezel on Feb. 25, 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

Dear Fellow Sarasotans,

Ensuring that our city is safe and the infrastructure is functioning properly is a 24/7/365 operation.  We greatly appreciate the employees who will be working this holiday season whether they're protecting the community, ensuring we have clean drinking water, or just helping us relax and have fun at one of our recreational facilities.  Thank you, all -- and, Happy Holidays!

By most accounts, 2015 has been a terrific year for our community and we look forward to another year of positive community building in 2016.  Thanks to all for your support and spirit of collaboration.

On behalf of Mayor Shaw, the City Commission, all the employees and our many volunteers, we hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus for the next couple of weeks.  We'll be back January 8th.

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