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Community Manatee Movers and Shakers, 11/1/12


O’Brien Family Farms Local Farm Stand and Educational Center Re-­‐Opens on November 1st for the Season

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Tom O’Brien, second generation farmer and President of O’Brien Family Farms re-opens his farm stand and educational center for the third season. O’Brien’s farm stand features hydroponically grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

The farm stand carries 90% local produce grown at O’Brien Family Farms where customers can pick their own in our hydroponic farm or buy in bulk. This season O’Brien Family Farms will carry a significantly greater variety of fruits and vegetables and has expanded operations to withstand winter weather. “We’re using different growing techniques in order to increase the volume of fruits and vegetables that we grow to better serve our customers,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien’s have not only increased their outside production, but plan on bringing in new retail items inside the store as well. O’Brien’s have added more local retail brands such as E’s Best Barbeque Sauce and more.

Last season O’Brien had groups from elementary, middle, high and special needs schools to learn about the live bee hive observatory, farming and to pick their own fruits and vegetables. This season O’Brien is looking forward to more groups and field trips, “we’re looking forward to educating chefs, schools, Leadership Manatee and more groups on the importance of farming and agriculture.”

O’Brien Family Farms is known for their strawberries, but grows tomatoes (including University of Florida variety Tasti-­Lee), peppers, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, onions, lettuces, herbs and much more.

The Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce (GCLCC) welcomes its 2012-2013 Board of Directors.

The board officers are as follows:

  • President and Chairman of the Board  - Jason Fromi, Florida Blue
  • Vice President - Jason Ramos, Berlin and Patten Attorneys at Law
  • Treasurer -  Arturo Santos, Jr., Guti the Premier Beauty and Wellness Academy
  • Secretary - Carla Rayman, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
  • Immediate Past President - Joe Mercado, Community Coalition on Homelessness

Joe Mercado will continue to be active on the board as he transitions into the role of President and Chairman of the Board of the Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The board directors are as follows:

  • Board Director -  Erv Helmuth, Health Coach
  • Board Director - Andres Coballasi, Kenyon Law Group, P.L.L.C.
  • Board Director -  Elizabeth Anzellini, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
  • Board Director - Ricardo Diaz, La Placita

“We have a great board assembled with a mix of small and large business leaders as well as non-profit and community representation.” says Jason Fromi. “In 2013, we will continue our focus on enhancing business for our members and offering excellent networking events for Hispanic and non-Hispanic businesses. The diversity of our board is uniquely positioned to promote cross-cultural understanding and we look forward to building strong relationships throughout the Gulf Coast region."

The mission of the Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce founded in 1994 is the promotion, development and dissemination of information, trends and opportunities available in the Hispanic business coummunity of the Gulf Coast region. The chamber website is www.latinchamber.org

Habitat And Palmetto CRA Dedicate Home

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity and Palmetto CRA will celebrate the completion of a joint rehab construction project during a home dedication on Thursday, November 1st at 11am at 207 12th Street West in Palmetto. Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, representatives from Habitat and Palmetto city agencies and local residents will be on hand for the dedication. The funding for this project was provided by the Palmetto CRA. Manatee Habitat construction staff and volunteers worked alongside homeowner Gwen Peterson for several months to make the necessary repairs to the home. The project also partnered with Palmetto Police Department, Code Enforcement and Palmetto Fire Department to ensure that the home included additional health and safety features. This is the second joint rehab project between Manatee Habitat and Palmetto CRA and additional projects are planned for the coming year.  

Lakewood Ranch High Teacher & Coach Dave Moates Inducted Into Donation Hall Of Fame

89-Gallon Blood Donor Mentors Students to Save More Lives!



David Moates, whose blood donations have impacted hundreds of people, was inducted into the Fenwal Donation Hall of Fame at Florida Blood Services’ Bradenton Donor Center on Saturday, October 27, 2012. Moates was chosen from numerous applicants submitted by blood centers across the country, based on their demonstrated commitment and passion to donating blood and/or encouraging blood donation. Each winner will received a personalized award from Fenwal and will be featured in the company’s 2013 product-dating calendar provided to U.S. blood centers.

David Moates has donated 89 gallons of blood and platelets over many years, saving or sustaining the lives of hundreds of patients. In 1994, he became the Donor Chairperson and Faculty Advisor for blood drives held regularly at Lakewood Ranch High School. There he began to mentor students in leadership by overseeing the efforts of 24 student volunteers who recruit students, parents and faculty to donate blood. During his leadership tenure, Lakewood Ranch High School has surpassed all other Manatee County schools annually in most blood donations. During the 2011-2012 school year a total of 691 donations were given there.

In the spring of 2007, to promote ongoing service to the community, David began to challenge each senior class to "Leave A Legacy," a challenge for the underclassman to surpass the donations given by the previous seniors at their final blood drive. Results over the past years have demonstrated the success of this vital challenge.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County is awarded $5,000 grant from The Rays Baseball Foundation


The Rays Baseball Foundation, the official charity of the Rays, awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County $5,000 during a pregame ceremony on October 1st.

The $5,000 grant from The Rays Community Fund Grant Program will contribute to the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Project Learn program at our new Johnson Middle School Club.  Project Learn provides an exciting but highly structured program of homework help and high yield learning activities daily after school.  The program particularly targets low performing students whose progress in academic performance is hindered often by factors unrelated to their academic capacity, such as poverty.   Project Learn assures that children complete their homework and are geared to begin school daily with the capacity to succeed.  This program is also a key ingredient in their summer programming.  The program has been described as a “lifesaver” by parents, whose struggle to make ends meet has been exacerbated by the poor economy.

“We were very impressed by the creativity and depth of the applications we received and were able to fund,” said Rays President Matt Silverman.  “The Foundation selected grant opportunities that will help sustain and strengthen not only the youth-focused, nonprofit organizations themselves, but the greater community.”

The Rays Community Fund Grant program provides assistance to local nonprofits in the Tampa Bay Area.  Grants are awarded to help support and enhance current youth and education programs offered by community-based nonprofit organizations.

The Rays Baseball Foundation is committed to supporting youth and education programs throughout the Tampa Bay community.  Key contributors to the Foundation include Rays owners, players, sponsors and fans.  Since 2008, the Foundation has proudly invested more than $2.5 million in youth and education program in the region through grant programs and special events.

Blalock Walters Expands the Firm’s Business and Health Care Practices with the Addition of Attorney Ann Breitinger

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Blalock Walters is pleased to welcome attorney Ann Kathryn Breitinger to its Business and Health Care Practice groups.  Breitinger counsels clients regarding entity formation, business governance issues, business transactions and health care transactional and regulatory matters.  She also audits and analyzes arrangements under fraud and abuse, fee-splitting statutes, Stark II, related anti-referral laws, HIPAA and HITECH Act and Medicare and Medicaid rules and regulations.

Breitinger received her B.A. from DePauw University, cum laude, and J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law, where she also received a Certificate of Concentration in Health Law and the Academic Excellence Award in Business Associations.  She was a staff editor of the Saint Louis University’s Journal of Health Law and Policy and a member of the Health Law Moot Court Competition Team.

“The Firm is thrilled to have Ann as a part of its Health Care and Business Services Practice Groups,” said Jonathan Fleece, Health Care Law principal at Blalock Walters.  “Her skills and dedication to clients and our community fit the “we make a difference” culture of Blalock Walters.  We are so fortunate to have her join the firm and add to our continued growth and success.” 

Breitinger is a recurring contributor to Health Care Ethics USA as well as a guest columnist for JURIST.  Her legal internships included the Office of General Counsel of the Iowa Governor’s Office, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Advocacy and Outreach of Blank Children’s Hospital, and Families USA.


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