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Robusting Rubonia's Community Center


BRADENTON -- At Last Tuesday's BOCC meeting, Neighborhood Services Director Cheri Coryea presented an inspirational snapshot of what has conspired over the last few months at the Rubonia Community Center. As one of central Florida's oldest communities, Rubonia's population never added up to much and is now on the decline, if for no other reason then there wasn't much to do. That, however, may be changing.

In the fall of 2012, the center had closed for lack of activity. Coryea accepted the challenge to reorganize the curriculum, invited assorted activities for people of all ages, and brought the attendance up to an encouraging level. Recreation, book club, health seminars and many life skill issues have found the center. Coryea suggested taking the momentum through the summer, and petitioned Manatee's BOCC for assistance.


Rubonia's vogue, over the last 20 years, has been its annual Mardi-Gras parade. On parade day, the population soars from the regular 500 plus, to as many as 20,000. The street is lined with venders, music and parade for the complete one-half mile of road that runs through the town. 

Rubonia is located five miles north of Palmetto It is a small, residential community with approximately 365 single family homes and its history dates back to the 1920s. 

In February of 2013 the county reopened the center under a contract with United Community Centers, that is set to expire on June 14. Since February, attendance has been rising, and Coryea contributes it to the added activities: English classes, adult-education programs, a Spanish book club, women's club meetings and exercise classes.

Coryea says the number of people using the center has increased to 30-40 per day, and would like to see the programs continue through the summer. She estimated the cost of keeping the center open through the summer at around $20,000. "I would like to see the momentum continue and the programs be through the summer." said Coryea.

Coryea says the demographics of the community are changing. "The young aren't hanging around, they are moving out, but an increasing amount of older residents are using the facility," she explained.

Both Commissioners DiSabatino and Gallen presented motions that would produce the $20,000 needed to carry the program through the summer. At first there was some resistance by other commissioners until an amendment was attached. The amended motion was to have staff find a way that could produce the funds needed, and present a plan within the next few weeks. The motion was then approved with a unanimous vote.


The county is looking for volunteer-based programs that can teach life skills to local citizens; farming, crafts, finance, cooking and healthcare issues. Those interested can contact Coryea at the Neighborhood Services link at the top of the page.  


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