Recent Developments on the Coast

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Free Parking app available in Sarasota

A free parking app for iOS and Android is now available in Sarasota on smartphones and tablets. The app, called Parker, helps drivers find a public parking space in downtown Sarasota, Southside Village, St. Armands Circle and Lido Beach. Parker combines data from sensors as well as other app users to provide a real time map on your smartphone or tablet showing on street parking availability. Streets highlighted red on the map may not have open parking spaces, those highlighted yellow have some open spaces and streets highlighted green have several available parking spaces.

“Parker not only benefits those using the app, but it also helps us gather data about parking usage,” said Parking Operations Division Manager Mark Lyons. “Plus, it cuts down the amount of time a driver spends looking for parking, which ultimately reduces congestion and carbon emissions.”  

Created by the company Streetline, the app provides directions to a parking area and reminds users where they parked as well as the parking time restrictions. Parker also provides hours of operation and prices for parking facilities. Merchants also can link to the app through their website, providing patrons with easy to access parking information. For a video explaining how to use the app, click here

To download Parker, go to the Apple App Store and Google Play or visit

Mote: Whale shark hotspots described with help from citizen scientists

Vital scientific information about whale shark behavior, biology and ecology was released Nov. 29 in the scientific journal BioScience, thanks to a 22-year citizen-science program enabling ecotourists and others around the world to photograph whale sharks for research, and ultimately, conservation. The project Wildbook for Whale Sharks invites the public to submit photos of whale sharks’ unique spot patterns to an online database, helping scientists identify individual animals. This effort has helped describe 20 hotspots for whale sharks around the globe and has expanded scientists’ understanding of these endangered sharks’ mysterious lives.

Lakewood Ranch Home Sales Hit Record Levels

Lakewood Ranch hit a milestone with 1,050 sales year-to-date in 2017, a figure that surpasses the previous highest of 1,023 in 2004, which was in the midst of the housing boom. The number is some 50 percent higher than 2016’s totals at this point in the year.

News of the record sales comes on the heels of record attendance numbers for this year’s annual Tour of Homes event, held Oct. 20-Nov. 19.

The Tour saw an impressive rise in traffic to the community over the duration of the event, compared to 2016. Overall onsite traffic during the Tour was close to 3,000 visitors, up 18% over last year’s event. The models saw an increase of 91%, and new registrations saw a bump as well.

Manatee County Clerk of the Court seeks volunteers for Teen Court

The office of the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller is seeking adult volunteers for Manatee County’s Teen Court and Teen Court Too, diversionary programs designed to stop youthful delinquent behavior before a pattern is established.

Adult volunteers are needed for courtroom monitoring and contract writing. No prior knowledge of social services or child welfare is needed. Hearings for the programs are held every Tuesday from 5:15 – 7:15 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Manatee County Judicial Center at 1051 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Sue Lockliear or Rina Madrid at 941-741-4027 or visit

Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy Announces Winter Semester: 2017-2018

January 8-March 2 | Registration Opens December 12

The winter semester includes more than 100 courses on a wide variety of topics.

It also features a special series by David Houle designed for business owners and entrepreneurs, the “Boomer Conference 2018,” and a lecture and performance by award-winning songwriter and singer Jill Colucci.

“Supreme Court: 2017 Cases,” “Symphonic Life,” “iPad for Beginners,” “Aromatherapy,” “20thCentury Elections,” and “Quantum Mechanics.” This is only a sampling of the more than 100 in-depth courses offered this winter by Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy. Classes and events are held at the Academy’s interim headquarters at Temple Beth Sholom, 1050 S. Tuttle Ave., Building #1, Sarasota. Classes are also offered at State College of Florida in Lakewood Ranch, The Center of Anna Maria Island, Westminster Towers and Shores in Bradenton, and, new this semester, a lecture series at the Paradise Center on Longboat Key. To register, visit or call 941-309-5111.

The Arts and Cultural Alliance Announces Tourist Development Grant Orientations

Sessions will be held at Sarasota’s Center for Arts and Humanity

Orientation Sessions for the upcoming Tourist Development Cultural / Arts FY19 grant making cycle will be held in Sarasota at the Center for Arts and Humanity’s downstairs conference rooms, 1226 N. Tamiami Trail, on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 2 – 4 p.m. and on Thursday, December 7, 2017 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce, 597 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice.

Please pre-register with Rachel Denton, Communications Manager at the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, at Click here for more information. New applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Fern Tavalin in advance of the orientations at Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to attend.

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