GANDY/SUN BAY SOUTH
Forum will let people speak up on Wal-Mart
Neighbors concerned or excited about the proposed Wal-Mart at Gandy Boulevard and Lois Avenue will have an opportunity to vent Thursday.
The Gandy/Sun Bay South Civic Association will sponsor an open forum for anyone with concerns about having a Wal-Mart in the area.
Al Steenson, the association's president, hopes to keep the focus off Wal-Mart's oft-criticized corporate policies and focus on the impact the store will have on the neighborhood.
"I'm not here to battle Wal-Mart," he said, "I'm here to protect the neighborhood. It's not an issue of corporate policy."
Chief among Steenson's concerns is the impact the store, open 24 hours, will have on traffic in the area.
But the Wal-Mart has been working closely with the Florida Department of Transportation to make sure congestion would not get out of hand, said spokeswoman Quenta Vettel.
An attorney and engineer for Wal-Mart will be present at the meeting to answer questions. Officials also hope to have an elevation of the building so neighbors can get their first look at the store.
Officials anticipate the Wal-Mart opening early in 2010.
The forum will be held at 7 p.m. at the Gandy Civic Center at 4207 W Oklahoma Ave.
Charity exceeds goals during holiday season
Despite a flagging economy and increased need, Metropolitan Ministries collected more than 800,000 pounds of food to exceed its donation goals during the holiday season.
Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 the organization on Florida Avenue served more than 24,000 family meals, up 20 percent from 2007.
Chief Operations Officer Tim Marks attributes the successful holiday campaign to more community members giving. Though donors often gave less, more than 12,000 helped as much as they could, he said. One family skipped giving each other Christmas gifts to give to the organization. Another woman whom Marks initially thought was coming to pick up food left $100.
"They rallied to provide the food we needed to meet the need," he said.
Now, Metropolitan Ministries is entering the new year with a surplus. But Marks says it won't last.
"We have enough food to meet the immediate need," Marks said.
The ministry currently feeds about 150 families daily and expects to see the need rise with unemployment.
For information on how you can help, visit www.metromin.org/howyoucanhelp.aspx.
Know of news in your community? Contact Joshua Neiderer at email@example.com or (813) 226 3374.