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Manatee County approves solar panel installation, saving $100,000 a year in energy costs

Manatee County approves solar panel installation,  saving $100,000 a year in energy costs

Manatee County, Florida -- Manatee County Commissioners this morning approved an agreement to install solar panels atop several County facilities, action that will result in taxpayer savings of up to $100,000 a year in energy costs.

The Board accepted an agreement to install 26 solar panel systems at 17 County facilities including the DeSoto Center complex, the Tax Collector’s Office, the Property Appraiser’s Office and Central Library. The photovoltaic equipment will capture free kilowatt hours that will add up to an annual savings of $100,000.

Under the agreement, Datacomm Services (DCS) will loan Manatee County the panels for five years. At the end of the term, DCS will sell the equipment to the County for $1.00 apiece or will remove the equipment at no cost to the County. The County will pay approximately $4,000 per system in engineering, permitting and net metering costs.

Skyway pier demolition to benefit Manatee's Three Mile North Reef

Skyway pier demolition to benefit Manatee's Three Mile North Reef

Manatee County, Florida – Crews working to demolish portions of the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier will deliver and submerge 70,000 tons of artificial reef material off the Anna Maria Island coast early as Monday, July 18. Boaters and fishermen are advised to avoid the Three Mile North Reef area during construction which could last until February.

The project will significantly upgrade the Three Mile North Reef, a 26-acre artificial reef located three miles west of the northern shores of Anna Maria Island. The work is being done at no cost to the County in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation’s $2.2 million project to demolish portions of the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier.

Manatee County Natural Resources officials who helped negotiate the transfer of the materials, said expanding the reef could have significant economic and recreational benefits, in addition to improving the marine environment. A recent University of Florida study on artificial reefs showed that Manatee County's eight near-shore and five offshore artificial reefs return more than $23 million dollars annually to Manatee County in reef-related expenditures.

Marina D’Abreau named County's Agriculture and Extension Service Manager

Marina D’Abreau named County's Agriculture and Extension Service Manager

Manatee County, FL – Marina D’Abreau, a longtime Florida Extension Service Agent, has been hired as Manatee County Agriculture and Extension Service Manager.

For the past 10 years she worked at the Hillsborough County Extension Office, where she was a Florida Yards and Neighborhoods coordinator and a horticulture agent. During her time in Hillsborough, she achieved a doctorate in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. D’Abreau attended the University of Florida where she achieved a bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation and a master’s degree of education in environmental education.

D’Abreau takes over a staff of 23, including extension agents who are subject matter educators, program assistants and support staff, and the Soil and Water Conservation District. The Agriculture and Extension Service provides research-based educational programs, materials, and services to the community and provides leadership in the areas of youth development, family and consumer sciences, community and economic development, agriculture and natural resources, and nutrition and wellness.

Manatee earns Green Government Certification

Manatee earns Green Government Certification

Bradenton, Florida – Manatee County Government recently received its Green Local Government Certification through the Florida Green Building Coalition.

Dr. Jennifer Languell, past president of the Florida Green Building Coalition, executive director of the Coalition, presented the certification to Manatee County Commissioners on Tuesday, June 21.

“It’s an incredible challenge to parent sustainability and that’s what you’ve done in Manatee County,” Languell said. “Nothing of this magnitude is going to move forward without some enthusiasm and leadership behind it. This was more than just doing your jobs; it was about doing your jobs well and thinking of the greater community by finding these efficiencies.”

Sarasota, Bradenton join world in "Hands Across Sand"

Sarasota, Bradenton join world in "Hands Across Sand"

On Saturday, June 25th, thousands of citizens, businesses, political leaders, and organizations around the world will unite for the second annual "Hands Across the Sand" event, a demonstration of opposition to expanding drilling and support for cleaner energy choices.

"We are joining hands to keep up the pressure to protect our coasts and tourism economy and to call for alternative energy solutions such as solar power," said Cathy Harrelson with the Florida Organizer for Gulf Restoration Network.  "Congress is proposing dramatic increases to offshore drilling, yet has done nothing to implement any recommendations from the Oil Spill Commission.  Likewise, threats to drill in state waters will loom over the legislature's agenda in January."

"Hands Across the Sand participants will show our state and national leaders the breadth of opposition to offshore drilling and support for clean energy. Offshore drilling will never be safe, and our oceans are just too important to risk.  We're here to say NO to offshore drilling, and YES to clean energy," said Dave Rauschkolb, the Florida restaurateur who founded "Hands Across the Sand."

For 15 minutes, starting at 12:00 p.m. in each time zone, attendees will join hands.  Participants are meeting at 11:00 a.m. at locations listed on www.handsacrossthesand.com.

Girl Scout plans salt marsh harvest to benefit Clam Bayou

Girl Scout plans salt marsh harvest to benefit Clam Bayou

Alicia Klingensmith, a girl scout and long-term volunteer of Tampa Bay Watch plans a community salt marsh restoration project on the morning of Saturday, June 18 at Clam Bayou to achieve her gold award. This project is in partnership with Tampa Bay Watch and Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Surface Water Improvement Management Program.

Miss Klingensmith, her family, friends and community volunteers will harvest 5,000 plugs of salt marsh from a donor marsh in Port Manatee in Palmetto on Friday, June 17 and plant the grass along the shoreline of Clam Bayou on Saturday morning. Clam Bayou is a 170-acre estuary in Pinellas County and approximately 127 acres are publicly owned. It is surrounded by the cities of Gulfport to the west, St. Petersburg to the north and east and Boca Ciega Bay to the south.

Sea turtle released on Lido Beach

Sea turtle released on Lido Beach

Sarasota, Florida - Wicker is a little wetter this morning. The green sea turtle swam away in Gulf waters off Lido Beach after a rehab stint at the Mote Marine Laboratory.

Wicker was rescued near the Wicker Inn in Manatee County back in March lending to his given name. 

The juvenile sea turtle was weak and had tumors on its skin. But the experts at Mote Marine Laboratory soon had Wicker eating again and gaining strength. The sea turtle also had some minor surgery to remove some tumors.