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Sarasota County

Trees and a plain of grass
SRQ360 Photography

The largest undeveloped property in Sarasota County will remain untouched as conservationists have sealed the deal on a decades-long quest to preserve the nearly 6,000 acres of land.

In February, the Florida State Cabinet voted to purchase Orange Hammock Ranch in North Port for $21 million. As part of the deal, the state agreed to spend $19.5 million in Florida Forever conservation money. For its part, The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast pledged to raise the remaining $1.5 million by June 1st.

A beach with people sunbathing
Visit Sarasota

Sarasota's Lido Beach will remain closed for now but city owned boat ramps at Centennial Park and Ken Thompson Park have been reopened to the public.

A green lifeguard stand on Siesta Beach, with a few people milling about.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

Sarasota County Commissioners have voted to reopen beaches.

But there will be restrictions.

Beginning Monday, people will be able to walk, swim and fish at Sarasota County beaches. These are deemed as "essential activities" outlined by Governor Ron DeSantis' stay-at-home order.

A bag of Covid-19 testing supplies
Manatee County Department of Health

Sarasota County has opened a drive-thru Covid-19 testing site but like others locations across the region, resources are very limited.

A green lifeguard stand on Siesta Beach, with a few people milling about.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

Sarasota and Manatee counties will close all public beaches amid worries about the spread of the coronavirus.

People sit at a line of computers to learn about property risk
Kerry Sheridan/WUSF Public Media

Coastal flood zones across Florida are changing, and many property owners across Florida are seeing their flood risk go up – or down – for the first time in 40 years.

These Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps recalculate the risk of what’s often called a 100-year flood.

A field vista from Orange Hammock Ranch in Sarasota County
Everett Dennison

State leaders have agreed to acquire more than 5,000 acres of land in Sarasota County for conservation.

Environmentalists have long had their eyes on Orange Hammock Ranch in North Port because of its proximity to other preserved lands in the Myakka River watershed.

Red tide is getting worse in the Tampa Bay area, causing fish kills last week in parts of Sarasota County.

General elections were held across the Tampa Bay region Tuesday. Results from key races are below. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Red tide has returned to the Tampa Bay area.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that a bloom of the organism that causes red tide was detected over the past week off Sarasota and Pinellas counties.

Respiratory irritation was also reported in Sarasota.

Red tide was first detected off Collier county in late September and slowly made its way north to Lee and Charlotte counties.

Climate change is a major problem, and solving it will be complicated.

But people can make a difference in their daily lives, a local environmental expert said Tuesday during a free class aimed at empowering individuals to make meaningful changes.

A film crew at work
Film Tampa Bay

Numerous films and TV shows have been filmed in Florida through the years, from Burn Notice and Miami Vice to The Truman Show, The Punisher and Scarface.   

Doctor treating a baby
iStock

Health officials have long touted the benefits of breastfeeding.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, human milk protects against a variety of diseases.

The "Big Latch-On" is an annual global effort to promote the benefits of breastfeeding to improve infant health. The goal is to educate mothers on best practices and to offer peer support.

Hillsborough County evacuation zones.
Hillsboroughcounty.org

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Emergency management officials say it's important residents know which evacuation zone they live in. Florida residents should have an evacuation plan in place before a storm is on the radar. 

  

When counties mandate evacuations, they will do it by zones A-E. The zones are set based on a home’s vulnerability to deadly storm surge, with Zone A being most vulnerable. Evacuation zones are not the same as FEMA flood zone designations.

The Bruzon family celebrate Jonathan's acceptance to Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio.
Cathy Carter

The recent college admissions scandal exposed the role of wealth and privilege in gaining entry to America's best schools.

But its also helped bring attention to the issue of access to education for low income students and communities of color.

The 1Million Project Foundation is teaming with Sarasota County School District and Gulf Coast Community Foundation to provide high-speed internet to low-income students.
The 1Million Project Foundation

With schools continuing to lean more on technology, students without access to the internet at home are left at a greater disadvantage. Sarasota County is attempting to close the gap for its students who don’t have reliable internet by offering hotspot access.

Under an order from Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida counties will be required to provide Spanish and English ballots.
Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered Spanish-language ballots to be provided across Florida. The move comes amidst legal pressure from a number of groups and a judge's order.

Sarasota waterway
Sarasota County Government Facebook / Sarasota County Government

Sarasota County is under fire for the massive amount of treated wastewater that has spilled from its Bee Ridge treatment facility into local waterways. Three nonprofits have told the county they plan to sue if it cannot figure out how to stop the spillage.

Sarasota High School / Sarasota County Schools

The Sarasota County School Board has voted to keep its new gender guidelines following weeks of acrimony over the issue of parental notification.

The instructions were sent to Sarasota County schools in October.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium’s planned facility is one step along in the approval process. The Sarasota County Commission has signed off on some of the terms to put a new aquarium in Nathan Benderson Park.

Wikimedia Commons

The Sarasota County School Board released a new set of gender guidelines that will allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds to their preferred gender identity and names. This decision came after years of back and forth on the best course of action.


Libreshot

The Sarasota County Commission has rejected a preemptive ban on recreational marijuana because of an error found in the ordinance.

Courtesy of the Sarasota County Fire Department / WUSF Public Media

Paramedics in Sarasota County are turning away from opioids to treat patients in pain.

Instead, they will primarily use nitrous oxide also known as laughing gas.

The worst of the red tide in Sarasota County may have passed. That's the word from county officials, who say fewer dead fish washed ashore Thursday.

State Signs Off On Two Hospital Projects

Jul 17, 2018

Florida’s top health-care regulator gave final approval last week to a pair of new hospitals for southern Sarasota County. 

Tom Matrullo

Fresh Start for the Celery Fields, a group concerned about having development coexist with one of the birding areas in Sarasota County, chose four options to use the public land Wednesday. The group presented the picks to Sarasota County Commissioners.

Wildlife officials want to know who ran over eight sea turtle nests on a South Siesta Key beach.

The man who was struck by lightning on Clearwater Beach earlier this week has died.
NOAA

Authorities say lightning struck and killed someone on a Florida beach.

Hillsborough County

This is the 2018 list of evacuation zones, for the 2019 version click here.

With hurricane season here, authorities say residents should know whether they live in an evacuation zone, so they know when it’s time to leave.

USF Sarasota-Manatee

In the next 30 years, figures show the fastest growing demographic in the Sarasota-Manatee region will be people 80 or older. In addition, just 31 percent of the nurses currently there have baccalaureate degrees.

The University of South Florida Health College of Nursing hopes to remedy both of those issues by offering its program at its Sarasota-Manatee campus.

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