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NEWS BRIEFS (From left) Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Carolyn Mason and Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle present a proclamation on April 16 to the International Rowing Federation (FISA) team visiting the area: Matt Smith, the executive director of FISA; Svetla Otzetova, the events director and a world champion rower; and Andy Couper, the sports marketing specialist. Photo by Norman Schimmel ROWING APPRECIATION DAY PROCLAIMED BY COUNTIES At the opening of a joint meeting of the Sarasota and Manatee county commissions, the respective chairmen — Carolyn Mason and Larry Bustle — proclaimed April 16 Rowing Appreciation Day. destination," with their efforts focused on seeing Benderson Park — off University Parkway — become "the premier aquatic facility in the world." She added to the FISA group, "We want to thank you for coming and gracing our community with your presence … and please don't be strangers," drawing laughter from the packed audience in the Think Tank in the county's Administration Center in Sarasota. The two elected officials addressed a team from the International Federation of Rowing (FISA), which visited the area this week to inspect facilities at Fort Hamer Park near Parrish, Bay Preserve at Osprey and Nathan Benderson Park in conjunction with the coun- While the counties had partnered on many ties' bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Cham- projects in the past, Bustle continued, "This pionships. one tops the scale [in] importance … and you folks hold the secret to that." Reading first from the proclamation, Mason noted the two counties had partnered to make Matt Smith, the executive director of FISA, the region "a worldwide competitive rowing drew more laughter when he responded, "We

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