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Sarasota

Young African America woman smiles for the camera.
Giancarlo Osaben

Theaters across the region remain closed because of COVID-19. But some organizations have found ways to keep artists employed.

In Sarasota, Florida Studio Theatre used some of their federal coronavirus economic recovery money to launch the Playwrights Project. Local and national artists were tasked with creating an original play, sketch comedy show, or a cabaret.  The material generated will be considered for future productions at FST.

Mother posing with toddler daughter who is looking through a camera lens
Sylwia Ok

From job loss, to balancing work from home to the isolation of following stay-at-home orders, coronavirus has changed our everyday lives. WUSF is giving you a voice to share those experiences.

Today, we meet Sylwia Ok from Sarasota.

The professional photographer opened a new studio just four months before the pandemic temporarily closed her business.  In her own words, Sylwia shares her story of navigating a business during the stay-at-home order and the joy of being able to spend more time with her young daughter.

Woman playing a guitar and singing
SRQLive

From job loss, to balancing work from home to the isolation of following stay-at-home orders, coronavirus has changed our everyday lives. WUSF is giving you a voice to share those experiences.

Today, we meet Sarasota based singer-songwriter Sara Nelms. Before the pandemic, Nelms had an active schedule with gigs at bars, restaurants and clubs.

In her own words, Nelms shares what it means to be a performer at this time of social distancing.

When the 1918 flu pandemic broke out, Joe Newman was 5 years old.

Today, he's 107. He lives in a community for seniors in Sarasota, Fla., with his fiancée, Anita Sampson. They met 16 years ago.

On March 28, Anita turned 100. They had planned a big party, with cake and karaoke.

But because of the coronavirus, their community is on lockdown. They had a Zoom birthday party instead.

Joe has memories of the flu pandemic in 1918. He remembers when the neighbors' young son died and officials attached signs to the door of their house.

Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

One of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Tampa Bay area is a patient who has no recent history of travel. 

The man is in his 60s, and is a resident of Manatee County. His name has not been released.

Graph of Florida being the number one out-of state destination to move to
Hire A Helper

We’ve all seen the signs of Florida’s population growth: more housing complexes are being built, traveling to work takes a few minutes longer than before, the parking lots have less empty spaces. But where are all these people coming from?

In a study on migration, HireAHelper found that in 22 states, Florida is the top destination for those who decide to move out.

Bob Woodward at lectern.
Clifford Roles

Investigative journalist and author Bob Woodward of the Washington Post spoke in Sarasota Monday.

Perhaps best known for teaming up with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein in uncovering the Watergate scandal, Woodward has also written books about the last nine U.S Presidents.

The movie industry’s marquee celebration happens on Sunday and there’s a good chance former students from Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art & Design will be a part of the team behind some of the award-winning films.


Close-up photo of man wearing hat, speaking.
Robert Pope

The first thing former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly addressed in Sarasota was the hat. It's unusual to see the retired Marine general wearing a baseball cap as he did on stage at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, but as he told the audience, he recently had a run-in involving a chainsaw and a tree in his backyard.

Vickie Oldham has made it her personal mission to preserve the history of Newtown, where she's lived almost her entire life.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on one of the first African American communities in Sarasota, Oldham talked about how Newtown Alive, the community organization she’s the director of, chronicles the neighborhood’s stories.

Patrick Carter spent most of his childhood in Newtown, one of the first African American communities in Sarasota. He left to play college football at Florida State University before moving on to the NFL. While he still remains involved in the Newtown community, particularly through sports mentorship, he chose to live in Bradenton instead.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Carter shares some of his fond memories growing up in the community and explains why he decided not to return.

La'Tiara Love recently moved to the Newtown as she was looking for a predominantly African American community to live in.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Love, 33, talked about why she moved there and what she’s found so far.

With the exception of the time he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, Willie Charles Shaw has lived his entire life in Sarasota, much of it in the African American neighborhood of Newtown.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Shaw shared what the neighborhood was like when he was young, and how it’s changed over time.

Newtown resident Johnny Hunter grew up in the Sarasota community and plans to spend the rest of his life there. He left the area for a while, but returned as an adult and went on to co-publish Tempo News, a weekly African American newspaper that has been in the Sarasota-Manatee region since 1987.

Harriet Moore is principal of McIntosh Middle School in Sarasota and grew up in the Newtown neighborhood during the 1960’s and ‘70’s. She spent much of her childhood hanging around her parent’s grocery store.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Moore paints a picture of what the business community was like back then.

Fredd Atkins grew up in Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood during segregation. He went on to become the city’s first African American mayor in the 1980’s, while serving on the city commission in the Newtown district seat, which was created several years prior following a federal lawsuit by the NAACP.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Atkins talks about some of the ways African Americans struggled in the community and the progress they have made since.

City of Sarasota

There is a building boom in Sarasota and that means a loss of trees.

Now the city is hoping to grow its urban canopy by offering an incentive to homeowners.

In 1963, Thomas Clyburn was summoned to the principal's office at Sarasota's Booker High School. He thought he was in trouble - instead, he was being asked to transfer to Sarasota High School, where he became one of the school's first two African American students.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Clyburn shared what that experience was like.

Newtown is one of the first African American neighborhoods in Sarasota, and the people who live there want to make sure its importance isn’t lost to time. They’re getting some assistance from students at the University of South Florida.

The holidays bring back fond memories of childhood for many people. As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, one of the first African American communities in Sarasota, one resident shared some of the traditions her family and neighbors shared in the community.

Photo of Charles & Margery Barancik
Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

Sarasota philanthropist Charles Barancik was killed in a car crash on Longboat Key Wednesday night.

His wife Margery, 83, suffered serious injuries and was transported from the scene to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where she died late Thursday.

Google Earth

The Florida Department of Education is investigating the Sarasota County School District after a state judge found the district placed a number of children into programs reserved specifically for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Sarasota County commissioners decided on Wednesday to side with residents and prevent the industrial rezoning of an area adjacent to the 400-acre Celery Fields wildlife reserve. 

Tensions ran high at a special school board meeting on Tuesday in Sarasota, where school superintendent Todd Bowden faced mounting pressure to resign over allegations he acted too slowly when he learned that a subordinate was accused of sexually harassing a co-worker.

Mass transit in Tampa Bay's densely populated big cities grabs the headlines. But there's a case to be made that transportation has even more of an impact on people living in rural areas.

Sarasota's City Planning Board will continue hearings Wednesday on a master site plan for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

Selby Gardens is seeking zoning changes and other approvals from the city which its CEO says is designed to make the layout of the gardens more efficient. Those plans include a welcome center, and a greenhouse but it’s the proposed 5-story parking garage with rooftop restaurant that's drawn the ire of some residents.

A proposal to ban polystyrene products, commonly known as Styrofoam, and to limit the use of plastic straws is moving forward in the city of Sarasota with a public hearing scheduled for Monday night. 

Electric scooters stand in a row.
Wikimedia Commons

By Carrie Pinkard

Electric scooters have been getting a lot of attention in Florida lately at both the state and local levels.

St. Petersburg is the latest city to take a closer look at both the pros and cons of the transportation trend. 

The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle found in Florida. Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

By Cathy Carter

It's just after sunrise on Sarasota's Lido Beach and the start of sea turtle patrol for Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium Senior Biologist Melissa Bernhard.

“We have a report of a possible nest a couple hundred feet down,” she said on a recent morning. ”We're just going to walk down to it and see if it is a nest and take some data on it, regardless."

Computer Keyboard
Wikimedia Commons

By Adam Bakst

With recent cyber attacks on Riviera Beach and Lake City, security of computer systems and information seems to be a growing concern even for the smallest of cities.

This is leading local information technology departments throughout the state to try and control this problem before they fall victim to hackers.

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