Sarasota News Leader

10/12/12

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DOOM FOR ST. ARMANDS? TOP STORIES Business owners fretting about impact of parking regulations — Stan Zimmerman As the first decade of the St. Armands Business Improvement District draws to a close, property owners are increasingly concerned about parking. New restrictions had them shaking their heads during the Tuesday, Oct. 9, BID meeting. What was supposed to be a uniform policy of parking enforcement has turned into a hot topic. Several months ago, the Sarasota City Commission decided parking enforcement for downtown and St. Armands Circle should be treated equally. "We've had a tsunami of complaints about parking tickets," said Eric Seace with the St. Armands Circle Association. "If you move to another spot, you still get a ticket." The "uniform policy" works not according to how long a motorist parks in one space, but how long the car is in "the zone." "You cannot park for more than three hours at St. Armands," said Seace. "It's a three-hour zone, not a spot. Even if you move your car, you get a ticket." (Full story here) A CONTINUING CONCERN Sarasota County Public Schools officials expect about 50% of the students this year will qualify for free and reduced-price meals — Scott Proffitt As of Oct. 10, the Sarasota County Schools was serving 15,497 free meals and 3,009 reduced-price lunches to students every day. The number reflects 47% of all lunches the district serves, Lisa Wood, resource manager in the Food and Nutrition Services Department, told The Sarasota News Leader this week. However, that number is changing daily, Wood said. "One hundred to 200 applications a day are still coming in," Wood told the News Leader. With that number increasing rapidly, department staff is hustling to process all the applications, she added. This school year, Wood expects to see the district hit the 50% mark for the total number of students receiving free or re- duced-price meals. That is about the same percentage district staff recorded last year, she said. In spite of the trend, which has grown since the Great Recession hit, applying for this sort of assistance can be a delicate subject for families, Wood said. (Full story here) POSSIBLE POLICY EXPANSION Sarasota County may follow City of Sarasota's lead on domestic partner registry — Cooper Levey-Baker Could Sarasota County adopt a domestic partner registry identical to the one recently approved by the city? Perhaps, according to County Commissioner Carolyn Mason, who says she plans to formally introduce the idea after the November elections. would grant unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, rights such as hospital visitation. Former City Commissioner Ken Shelin has been instrumental in moving that policy forward, and he is working behind the scenes now to convince the county to follow in the city's footsteps. The City Commission voted unanimously last Monday, Oct. 1, to approve the registry, which Shelin tells The Sarasota News Leader he reached out to Mason first. "I had gone to her some time ago about the possibility of doing this and she was sympathetic," he says. Mason had indicated in an Oct. 4 email to a constituent that she would bring up the issue this week, but she decided to hold off till the commission's makeup is clear — i.e., after the elections. (Full story here) AT A GLANCE

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