Siesta Key Crystal Classic Draws International Sand Sculptors To Sarasota

Siesta Key, located in Sarasota, Florida, gathered sand sculptors from Canada, Texas, the Netherlands and all around the world. The event began on Veterans Day, giving the sand sculptors three days to carve.

Canadian Delayne Corbett has been sand sculpting for over 10 years.

“I got into sculpting sand because of a passion for sculpture,” Delayne said.  “I’ve been carving stone for over 25 years; sand is nothing but a bunch of little pieces of stone, so it was pretty natural for me to jump into sand sculpting.”

Spectators believe sculptors use glue-like substances to keep the sand intact. However, according to Delayne, all they use is a lot of water and sand to build the form they desire.

“We basically have to make a birthday cake of sand,”Delayne said.

McKenzie Lee traveled from Venice, Florida to see the sculptures. “I thought they were awesome there is so much detail and I think it is crazy that they can make all of these sculptures out of sand,” Lee said.

This event draws thousands of people to an art gallery with a beautiful view. The purpose is to raise money for endangered sea turtles through the Mote Marine Aquarium. This year marks the seventh year in a row of a successful Siesta Key Crystal Classic.


WMNF Bridges the Gap


The WMNF radio station hosted its third Bridging the Gap series. The series was a fundraiser that included five poets and five rappers from the Tampa Bay area.

Xavier “Cool Kid” Grullon, a 22-year-old slam poet, was excited to perform at the show.

 “I think we’re creative in two different outlets, but I think we should be able to come together and share the same stage,” Grunion said when asked what “bridging the gap” meant to him.

Mike Mass, a rapper in the Tampa Bay hip hop community was also excited about the series.

 “There’s a shared interest between those two crowds and the consumers of those two crowds,” Mass said, 

Bridging the Gap is a semi-annual event designed to raise money for WMNF, a radio station run almost entirely on donations and volunteers. The radio event was aired on Saturday evening, and is available for download on the station’s website.

The event itself was not a competitive one. It was used primarily to bring the audiences of the Saturday night shows together. The ten performers were given roughly ten minutes each, or the equivalent of a set on a local stage. The show aired from 11 P.M. Saturday night to early Sunday morning around 1 A.M..

Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 17, 2016

In this episode: a motorcyclist crashes into the barrier wall on southbound I-275, flips into northbound lanes, and an oncoming Pinellas patrol car accidentally hits him; the USF student who reported a robbery earlier this week admits she fabricated the story, is charged with false reporting; a suspect from yesterday’s Chase bank robbery is identified; Florida Highway Patrol is hosting a job fair; big-cat rescue sanctuaries from across the country are working with Big Cat Rescue Tampa to give five tigers a new home.


Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 16, 2016

In this episode: a toddler is hospitalized after being shot, police believe it was accidental; the University of South Florida is warning students to stay alert after a student is robbed on campus; a 15 year-old is arrested in Manatee County for having marijuana stuffed down one sock, and meth stuffed down the other; Pasco County Fire Rescue is supplying and installing smoke detectors for those who need them; pig carcasses block northbound lanes on I-75.


Florida Focus Nov. 14, 2016

In this episode: authorities respond to a fire inside a vacant mobile home and discovered anti-Trump messages on the neighboring home; one woman is dead and another is injured after their vehicle falls from a highway overpass; it’s Fraud Awareness Week and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is hosting workshops to protect you; a new mobile app launches for Hart Buses in the USF and Carrollwood areas; a new art museum to break ground in St. Pete.



Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 10, 2016

In this episode: Devon Lee Freeman is in custody, charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting a Bradenton teen; Clearwater police are searching for a serial armed robber, suspected of hitting two Wal-Mart stores as well as a Seven-Eleven; a Disaster Recovery Center opens in Manatee County to assist victims of Hurricane Matthew; new bike lanes are coming to down town Tampa; the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate our veterans with camouflage warm-up jerseys, holiday cards from fans to troops overseas during the Lightning’s Military Night at Amalie Arena.


Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 9, 2016

In this episode: Uber and Lyft make a deal with the Public Transportation Commission; Charles Hunter Walton is charged with DUI man slaughter after striking and killing a 72 year-old crossing guard; a house fire breaks out in Ybor this morning and leaves a man dead; the University of South Florida is recognized for its commitment to veteran student success, ranked number one by the Military Times; a Lakeland woman wins $18 million dollars in the Florida Lottery.


Getting an in-depth look into millennial Kristen-Soltis Anderson


Having Kristen Soltis Anderson in class is something I don’t take for granted. While I have had the pleasure of knowing her for the past five or six years, it’s always nice to hear her speak. We happen to be from the same area of Washington, D.C. What I enjoyed the most was the conversation I had with Anderson before the class Q&A began.

Arriving early to class gave me the opportunity to speak with Anderson. Our conversation started as if we never said good bye six years ago. We discussed Trump’s chances of winning the election.

“In order for Donald Trump to win the White House, he must win North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire…no Republican has become president without Ohio.” Anderson said.

Anderson was able to give me insight into how she handles debating other TV political panelists such as Michael Moore and Bill Maher.

“While we disagree on some issues that are brought up during the show, I usually can remain calm because we all respect each other as colleagues,” Anderson said.

Anderson gave her childhood story on how she got into polling and data.

“I started playing Sim City 2000 and that was my first introduction into how government works.” she said.  “I learned important things such as if you raise taxes too high, people leave your city and if you lower taxes too much, you can’t afford hospitals or police departments.”

She continued explaining her journey to me.

“After playing for hours every day when I was a kid, I learned that the most important piece of data in the game was your job approval rating,” she recalled. “I became a pollster because I learned that job approval was a very important metric of success.”

Anderson and I were able to discuss the latest happenings in D.C. as well as her “30 Under 30 Changing the World” award she received from Time magazine. This award is handed out to people in all fields including culture, sports, and politics. Winners have included Brandon Stanton and Ronda Rousey.

“I always laugh at being named one of the under 30 people who is changing the world, because it reminds me of how young I am,” she said. “When I was still in college at Johns Hopkins, I remember watching the people I admired receiving this award, so it actually made it surreal when I received the award in 2015.”

Anderson and I followed the same political pundits when we both lived in Washington. However, what set us apart was her decision to intern with the National Republican Congressional Committee. She was responsible for making sure sitting members of Congress made calls to very rich donors, asking for donations to the party.

“Forcing members of Congress like Ron Paul to call donors is not a fun task,” she said. “Surprisingly, they hate talking to people on the phone and literally having to beg for donations,” Anderson said.

Before class started, Anderson offered insight into getting involved in polling and data analysis.

“Study Excel inside and out, understand how it works,” she advised. “Pay close attention to what is trending every day and every year and compare what changes each week, month and year.”


Yoga From the Heart is a Sarasota Mainstay

Yoga From the Heart is a boutique yoga studio in Sarasota, FL. Owner Lynn Burgess was voted the No. 1 yoga instructor in Sarasota. Yoga from the Heart offers a wide variety of classes for those willing to step on a yoga mat.

Assistant State Attorney Kate Wallace, also a yogi in her free time, practices at Yoga From the Heart.

“Yoga From the Heart is a place where I come just to enjoy and unwind from a busy day or a busy week,” Wallace said. “I come here to learn something new. Lynn is a teacher’s teacher; I mean, she spends so much time polishing herself. She constantly is working on getting better and keeping the yoga fresh.”

Yoga From the Heart has been operating for more than 17 years and is the longest standing yoga boutique in the city of Sarasota.

“I would say the primary way that I keep the business a success is through discipline,” Burgess said. “Discipline in how we run the operations of the business, discipline in my own study of yoga, discipline in how we market the business and explain to people what yoga is and what it can do for them.”

Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 7, 2016

In this episode: Florida breaks their early voting numbers; the Clinton Campaign is holding a get out the vote concert with Jimmy Buffet and Donald Trump rallies in Sarasota; Election officials release some safety tips on election day; and the Hillsborough county vote turn out becomes a good predictor for which presidential candidate will take the victory.




Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 3, 2016

In this episode: check wait times at early voting locations on the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections interactive website; on the heels of two anti-amendment one lawsuits, Interim President of The Florida Solar Energy Industry Association is touring the state and urging voters to “vote no on one;” three robbers stole lawn equipment, lead deputies on an I-4 chase, and drove into a ditch; four dogs and seventeen cats were voluntarily taken from a Spring Hill home because their owner failed to give them rabies vaccines; Bay Area baseball fans celebrate the Chicago Cubs world series win with former Rays manager, Joe Maddon.


Non-profit organization helps children succeed

According to the website, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential.

Fifth grade student Sonja Assidy is the CEO of Bright House. She works hard to make sure her business runs smoothly.

“I take checks to Kane’s Furniture, I go get the checks from Kane’s Furniture, bring it here, make sure my CFO signs it and then put it where it needs to go,” Assidy said.

Sally Eidge is the Director of Junior Achievement and sees over a hundred students daily. She wants every student to learn a valuable lesson.

“They need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you actually have to earn it and then spend it wisely,” Eidge said.

Before visiting JA BizTown, students complete a pre-visit curriculum program where they learn basic economic principles such as how to manage their personal bank account.

Kelly Thorne is a fifth grade language arts teacher at Deer Park Elementary and prepared her students for 12 weeks prior to coming to JA Biztown.

“We spend a lot of time on how to write checks, how to deposit checks, that whole process and how to budget their money,” Thorne said. “How when they get a paycheck, they have to make sure they save some money for their lunch, and then they have some spending money.”