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SRQ Daily May 17, 2018

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"It's important to them to get this particular trail up and running."

- State Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota

[Politics]  Gruters Grilled on Amtrak Plans
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Joe Gruters helped President Donald Trump win the White House. Now can he help get the trains to run on time? The Sarasota state representative told leaders in Washington on Wednesday he will focus on safety and efficiency if confirmed as a member of Amtrak’s board of directors, and promised he’d try and expand service in the Sunshine State. “As a Floridian, I look forward to working with you for a reasonable way to make this work,” he told senators.

Gruters told SRQ after the hearing that he wants to make Amtrak more profitable, and that if he can prove better rail connecting the Gulf Coast to the national train network would be viable, he'll try to make that happen. "There are so many snowbirds coming from the Midwest and the Northeast down to Florida," he says. "Now it [Amtrak] goes to Orlando. Why not an expansion into Southwest Florida? If it needs more profitable routes, this is a destination people want to come to. If we can expand alternative transportation options with rail, I'm all on board."

President Trump appointed Gruters to the Amtrak board in February, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a confirmation hearing Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, serves as the ranking Democrat on the committee, and stressed the importance of the train service to the state both he and Gruters call home. “Florida relies on having reliable, on-time long-distance service to the state,” Nelson said in an opening statement. He also made note that since Hurricane Katrina struck the region in 2005, there’s been no Amtrak service in the Florida Panhandle, where a route connecting from New Orleans to Jacksonville once made numerous stops.

During questioning from U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, on that route, Gruters said he’s heard requests since his appointment to speak to leaders from towns along that former route. “It’s important to them to get this particular trail up and running,” Gruters said. As an accountant, he said he hopes he could find financial efficiencies that would help in that mission. He also accepted an invitation from Wicker to ride Amtrak in Mississippi with the senator and discuss the importance of the service with riders there.

Following questions from U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Maria Cantrell, D-Washington, Gruters promised to enforce safety standards at Amtrak, which had four fatal train crashes over a two-month span earlier this year. Gruters praised current Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson for hiring a chief safety officer tasked with enforcing new safety protocols.

The appointment marks a major foray into national politics for Gruters, who currently serves in the Florida House of Representatives and is running for state Senate. Gruters previously worked for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R- Sarasota, and serves as chairman for the Republican Party of Sarasota. Perhaps most relevant to the Amtrak appointment, he served on the Florida State University board of trustees as finance and audit chairman. Gruters served as co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign in Florida.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, introduced Gruters to the Senate subcommittee today and stressed Gruters history of community and political leadership. “President Trump is fortunate to have an appointment of Joe’s caliber willing to serve,” Rooney said.

Amtrak has train stations in Tampa, Clearwater and Sebring, and connects to public service that runs through Sarasota and Manatee. The eight members of its board of directors get appointed by the Presidents and require Senate confirmation. While technically a private corporation, the federal government is the only investor for Amtrak. 

Amtrak service map.

[ShopTalk]  Buried Treasures
Jordan Glover, jordang@srqme.com

Nestled alongside Fruitville Rd by Whole Foods sits a local gem called SPARCC Treasure Chest, a thrift store constantly stocking its shelves with high-end antiques, collectibles, clothing, furniture and more, for both men and women. With donated inventory always in flux, you never know what you will find with each visit.

One hundred percent of the Treasure Chest’s profits go toward the Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), an organization in Sarasota that provides free services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Treasure Chest encourages visitors to purchase items at the store as well as donate their own possessions.

Volunteers at the Treasure Chest aim to ensure their customers remain satisfied while benefiting the great cause they represent. Supplying everything from old books and vinyl records to novelty coffee mugs and rugs, SPARCC ensures a catering to any individual interest. The Treasure Chest also houses a plethora of furniture styles suitable for nearly every design of home. Pictured is a vintage, seven-piece dining room table set adorned with black and cream floral-printed chairs sure to bring personality into any room.

Not only does SPARCC provide customers with bargain prices, but it features special deals every Saturday. All items in the store stay marked with varying colored price tags, and some examples of these specials might include “50% off all red tags,” “30% off all handbags,” “50% off of everything in the store,” etc. Paying a visit to the Treasure Chest is worthwhile, whether you embark on a hunt for home décor on a budget, a new denim jacket, some dapper vintage pins, or simply just peruse for nifty little trinkets and finds. 

SPARCC Treasure Chest, 1426 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota, 941-953-7800.

[15 South Ristorante]  Are You Not Entertained?
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

Sidestep from the bustling sidewalks of St. Armands Circle into this bi-level Italian eatery providing dinner and a show every night of the week. Inside 15 South’s Mediterranean-inspired walls, revel in the nightly offerings of entertaining experiences, because this place is so much more than just a restaurant. Sway your way from the ground floor to the top floor, as each level designates itself to its own musical features and ambiance.

In the charming dining room, which also consists of an elegant piano/wine bar with high top tables close to the action, discover an eclectic array of live entertainment playing worldly music with soulful instrumental vibrations. Sounds range from Blues/Motown to Jazz to Latin and Classic Italian/American music—a master at the trumpet plays on Sundays and Monday, a piano savant on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, a romancer on the Spanish guitar on Thursdays, and a popular Latin band on the weekends to get you on your feet for salsa and merengue. Many of the artists play without sheet music, so have your requests ready and be blown away by some seriously underrated talent.

After a delicious dinner, continue your evening by heading upstairs to the nightclub for cocktails at the horseshoe-shaped liquor bar in the back, while moving to the upbeat music of a DJ playing into the wee hours of the night. Enjoy a drink on the large, open balcony overlooking the Circle, then shimmy over to the stage-front to tear up the granite dance floor amongst great company.

15 South Ristorante is a member of Nosh, SRQ Media's content marketing program for local restaurants. 

15 South Ristorante Enoteca, 15 S Boulevard of the Presidents, Sarasota, 941-388-1555.

[Community]  Ringling College Looking for Gallery Feedback

Ringling College of Art and Design is looking for feedback from the community regarding its gallery programming and presentation. To that end, the college has invited all who have attended galleries throughout the year to take part in a quick survey to share their opinions. As an added incentive, those who participate are eligible to win a Fujifilm instax 210 camera and 20 exposures of instant film. To see the survey, follow the link below. 

Ringling College Gallery Survey

[Exec Moves]  WBTT Names Ferguson Marketing and Comms Director

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has recently named Scott Ferguson as its marketing and communications director. In this role, Ferguson will oversee all facets of the organization's marketing and public relations efforts in order to support ticket sales, assist in donor cultivation and satisfaction, and maintain positive relations with the media. Most recently, Ferguson has served as media relations consultant for the Classical Music Celebration, a showcase of international musicians staged at the Sarasota Opera House in May. Previously, he held the titles of manager and media relations specialist of the Communications and Community Relations Department for Sarasota County Schools; he worked for the school district from 2007-2018. Ferguson’s role will be particularly vital for WBTT as the organization prepares to embark on the second phase of its campus renovation project, funded by the ongoing $6 million Heart & Soul Capital Campaign. 

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

[Recognition]  Elizalde Named Full-Time Forbes Contributor

Forbes has named Sarasota investment advisor Raul Elizalde as a full-time contributor for its website Forbes.com, which boasts a monthly digital readership of roughly 53.9 million. Elizalde has been a guest contributor for Forbes for over a year; beginning May 2018, he will write under his own byline, covering market trends, investment mistakes, and overlooked risks. Elizalde focuses on analyzing historical trends to avoid current and future market risks and minimize investment vulnerability for his clients.  As a former Wall Street strategist, Elizalde has advised portfolio managers across the US and the globe, and has made presentations at the World Bank. Elizalde is the past chair and current member of the Asset Management Committee at State College of Florida, as well as the founder and chief investment officer of Path Financial, a Florida-registered investment advisory firm located in Sarasota. 

Path Financial

[Exec Moves]  Polosky Joins RE/MAX Platinum Realty

Realtor David Polosky has joined RE/MAX Platinum Realty as a team member with his wife, Jessica Bow (The Golden Group), in the Downtown Sarasota office. He was formerly with Bright Realty. An Ohio native, Polosky moved to Sarasota in 2006. He brings extensive local knowledge and strong customer service skills, and offers extra services including free home/termite inspections and home warranties. In addition, his background as a home inspector gives his clients a decided advantage in selling or buying a home. As a bonus, Polosky’s team also provides free labor his clients to spruce up their home, whether buying or selling. RE/MAX Platinum Realty offers full-service residential real estate solutions in Sarasota and Manatee counties in Florida, specializing in luxury and waterfront properties. With offices in downtown Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Osprey, Venice and the West Villages, the company leverages RE/MAX corporate resources to market homes to more than 90 countries in 32 languages. 

RE/MAX Platinum Realty

[TODAY]  GALLERY: Southern Watercolor Society Curated Show , May 15 – June 22

Bringing its 41st Annual Juried Exhibition to Bradenton, the Southern Watercolor Society takes over all three of ArtCenter Manatee’s galleries with a collection juried by international award-winning master watercolorist John Salminen. In addition to the exhibit, each annual show brings with it a watercolor workshop for interested artists. Salminen will be teaching the workshop as well.

ArtCenter Manatee, 209 9th St. W., Bradenton

[TODAY]  MUSIC: Sky Stahlmann Returns to the Reserve , May 17

The Reserve's (former) singing barista returns for a very special performance to show off what she has learned at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In her music, Sky Stahlmann grew up singing and dancing opera and plays with the genres of jazz, musical theatre, rock and pop in her music. She is currently working on her first EP in a style that she calls "popera" which signifies her mesh of pop and her classical roots.

The Reserve SRQ, 1322 North Tamiami Tr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Bombers vs. Swan City , May 19

Watch Bradenton's favorite, fierce roller derby squad face Swan City in their home arena. Prepare for a night of tough competition and keep the good times rolling to benefit Ewenity Farm, a herding dog haven. 

Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 5309 29th St. East, Ellenton.

[SOON]  FILM: Bag It Film Screening , May 22, 7pm

Sponsored by Rethinking Plastics, the goal of this screening is to raise awareness regarding the average American's overuse of plastics. Americans use roughly 60,000 plastic bags a day for a few minutes of single use before it is thrown away. Jeb Berrier's film, Bag It, follows where "away" is and the fate of these plastic bags. For environmentalists and for those looking to learn more, the film is an interesting piece that will open eyes to just how much we use plastic, why that is harmful and what people can do.

Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Martha's Vineyard Location - Feeling Fresh , May 24 – June 20

Nikki Sedacca Gallery is pleased to open with an exciting exhibition, “Feeling Fresh,” debuting work by nationally-acclaimed artists Kathe Fraga and Carter Wentworth, and featuring new works by Linda Richichi and Joan Konkel. This show seeks to highlight the light, bright, and joyous excitement that builds as the warm summer breeze infuses the salty air to signal the start of seasonal activity on Martha’s Vineyard, featuring diverse mediums such as oil paint, watercolor and metal mesh and fresco.

530 Burns Gallery, 530 Burns Ct., Sarasota

[SOON]  THEATER: Studio Year End Showcase , May 25

Students from The Players Studio will showcase their talent, appearing in songs, dances and acting scenes. A must see!

The Players Centre for Performing Arts, 838 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota


KidSpace is a program for kids who want to explore everything there is to know about space and become Masters of the Universe. From 10:15–11am on the second and fourth Saturday morning of each month, we'll unleash the awesome power of the Bishop Planetarium, taking off from Earth's surface and flying to places no human has gone before.

South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. West, Bradenton

[SOON]  MUSIC: The Roots of Unity (with Chris Kottke) , May 27, 2pm

This performance is from a jazz ensemble called The Roots of Unity, headed by trumpeter Chris Kottke. Their repertoire includes both straightahead and latin jazz, from classic standards to modern originals. Kottke attended the Berklee College of Music and was active in the Boston jazz scene for about a decade before moving to Sarasota in 2016 to pursue his day job as a math professor at New College of Florida. In addition to the Roots of Unity, Kottke can be occasionally heard in such Sarasota-based jazz ensembles such as Ocean's 11 and the Sarasota Jazz Project.

The Reserve SRQ, 1322 North Tamiami Tr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Always...Patsy Cline , May 30 – July 1

A tuneful and memorable tribute, Patsy Cline's rise to legendary stardom is told through the eyes of her biggest fan, Louise Seger. From her performances in honky-tonks to the Grand Ole Opry, Patsy Cline will "always" have a place in country music, with hit songs such as, “Walking After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “Sweet Dreams,” and many more you know and love.

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota.

[SOON]  THEATER: Menopause the Musical , May 30 – June 10

Inspired by a hot flash and a bottle of wine, writer Jeanie Linders created Menopause The Musical® as a celebration of women who find themselves at any stage of “The Change.” Set in a department store where four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra meet by chance at a lingerie sale, the all-female cast makes fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges. 

Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. West, Bradenton

[SOON]  THEATER: The Twenty-Third Annual Loveland Show–Unplugged: The Best Day of Your Life! , May 31 – June 3

Venice Theatre and the Loveland Center have been partnering for 20 years to provide adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities the chance to grow and learn through theatre study. Loveland students, under the direction of professional staff and with help from community volunteers, rehearse all season to present this full-scale musical on MainStage.

Venice Theatre, 140 Tampa Ave West, Venice

[SOON]  FOOD: Reserve Spring and Summer Wine Tastings , May 31, 6pm

Come through the Reserve to help them fine tune their retail wine selection. Wines from a wide array of places such as France, Italy, Argentina and more are offered. Pair the wine with a savory meat and cheese platter and enjoy the low key evening. The event is reoccuring, so May 31 is not the last chance to take advantage of this wonderful deal.

The Reserve SRQ, 1322 North Tamiami Tr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: World Oceans Day , June 2, 10:00am-1:00pm

A worldwide ocean celebration is on the horizon. Join the fun during the World Oceans Day Family Festival on Saturday, June 2 at Mote Aquarium. Mote’s World Oceans Day event will spotlight the ocean's deep connection to the human spirit and the boundless inspirational power of our natural world's greatest resource. The family festival is free with regular paid admission to Mote Aquarium and is free for Mote Members.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium , 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: All About Women Expo , June 3, 12pm–5pm

Experience a day of pampering for women with four featured areas that host Beauty, Wellness, Fashion and Girls Wanting to Have Fun. Enjoy make-up and hair care techniques, massages, sample products, talk to doctors and health professionals, watch a fashion show and more, all for free. Register to have access to the VIP area with wine tastings, a painting class, photo booth, appetizers and everyone receives a glam bag full of swag.

Westfield Sarasota Square Mall, 8201 South Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Music Festival , June 4 – June 23

Classical musicians from around the world converge for three weeks of breathtaking concerts, featuring artists such as Vijay Venkatesh and Robert Sirota.

Sarasota Orchestra, Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Jungle Book , June 6 – June 24

Join Mowgli, Baloo and friends when Asolo Rep presents the world premiere of Jungle Book from the creators of the hit show Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Using the same jaw-dropping multi-media theatrical approach, Jungle Book re-imagines Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories through modern eyes to transport audiences to the world’s jungles. Family Day is June 16; Family Package pricing starts at just $15 per ticket when one person in the party is 18 or younger.

Asolo Repertory Theatre , 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243

[SOON]  THEATER: Incognito , June 8 – July 8

In a cerebral journey through neuroscience, amnesia, and the theft of Albert Einstein’s brain, playwright Nick Payne investigates the nature of identity in a series of mysterious and touching interwoven tales.

Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St., Sarasota

[SOON]  GALLERY: Floridian Artists Exhibition , June 8 – June 30

As the warm summer heat sets in, 530 Burns Gallery is pleased to highlight artists who hail from Florida. Summertime and sunshine always bring inspiration, and each artist uses his or her diverse style to create innovative and original art works. Featured artists include Gary Borse, Linda Richichi, Katie Cassidy, Todd Andrew Babb, Randy Colbath and Bettina Sego.

530 Burns Gallery, 530 Burns Ct., Sarasota

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Summer Circus Spectacular , June 12 – July 28

The 2018 Circus Spectacular will amaze and dazzle you. Join the performers for an hour of incredible family fun at affordable prices. Presented in collaboration with The Circus Arts Conservatory of Sarasota, this onstage exhibition of circus artistry provides delightful summer entertainment for “children of all ages.”

Historic Asolo Theatre, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota

[SOON]  THEATER: Carole's Kings , June 12 – July 15

Be transported back in time with Carole's Kings, an all-male Carole King tribute that mixes fabulous music with clever writing by The Second City, the legendary home of sketch comedy and improv. With a cast fresh from Broadway, Carole’s Kings will have you singing and dancing along to “The Locomotion,” “You've Got a Friend,” and “I Feel the Earth Move.” Jam-packed with humor, this salute to Carole King will take you back to when she was the queen of the airwaves.

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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