News Briefs: First Municipal Electric Car Charging Service in Miami-Dade County

MIAMI BEACH

The City of Miami Beach, through its partnership with CarCharging Group, Inc., launches the first municipal car-charging service in Miami-Dade County at the 13 Street and Collins Avenue Garage. CarCharging Group, Inc. is a nationwide provider of convenient electric vehicle (EV) charging services.

The EV stations are accessible at up to four parking spaces and users pay $0.49 per hour (parking fees are not included) for EV Level II charging services. Level II provides rapid charging (approximately 4 to 6 hours). Qualified ILEV (Inherently Low Emission Vehicles) may receive a 50 percent discount on monthly parking fees in Miami Beach.

“Alternative transportation programs are part of Miami Beach’s sustainable initiatives,” said City of Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower. “Offering CarCharging EV services to our residents and visitors demonstrates this commitment, and we are excited to expand our alternative fuel programs.”

“We are proud to partner with the City of Miami Beach to provide EV charging services for the City’s residents and visitors,” said Michael D. Farkas, CEO of CarCharging. “Miami Beach is not only one of the most popular areas in South Florida, but the headquarters of CarCharging, and we are pleased to expand the City’s support of low emission vehicles.”

CarCharging’s services utilize EV charging stations manufactured by ChargePoint®, known as Level II, which provide 240 volts with 32 amps of power to quickly refuel an electric vehicle’s battery. EV drivers can easily request a CarCharging account online, and attach a small RFID card to their keychain to initiate use and payment at any intelligent CarCharging station. The CarCharging RFID card also allows drivers to use charging locations on the ChargePoint® Network, the largest national online network connecting EV drivers to EV charging stations. CarCharging stations also accept direct payment via credit card.

Users can pinpoint EV charging station locations using the CarCharging map at http://www.CarCharging.com/. The ChargePoint® mobile application for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones also provides real-time charging station location information with turn-by-turn directions. Drivers will soon be able to reserve a time slot, guaranteeing access to EV charging stations to recharge their electric vehicle.

The 13 Street parking garage is located in the heart of the Art Deco District, one block west of Ocean Drive, and is available to the public 24 hours/day, every day of the week.

For more information about CarCharging, please visit www.CarCharging.com or contact Suzanne Tamargo at 305.521.0200, extension 214 or Suzanne@carcharging.com. For more on Miami Beach Parking, visit Here

Free Monthly Lecture: Growing Your Own Herbs and Veggies at The Miami Beach Garden

Even if you live in an urban environment like Miami, it is possible to start a farm! This talk on Saturday, October 6th, 10 a.m. to noon by Dylan Terry and Chris French of Ready-to-Grow Gardens will showcase some of the best edible plants to grow in South Florida, and advice on how to grow them.

The practice of growing food sustainably in cities and homes provides great health benefits for those that eat it, as well as the environment. By and large, our society’s landscapes favor ornament over functional value and don’t offer much to provide food for people and wildlife.  The more it costs to transport food long distances with rising fuel cost, the greater the need will be for people to grow food closer to where they live.

Dylan and Chris will explain the nuances of producing a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Topics covered will include garden design, soil improvement, plant selection (high maintenance vs. low maintenance), organic fertilization and organic pest control. Common and rare edible plants will be sold at the event.

Dylan Terry is the creator of Ready-to-Grow Gardens, a company that specializes in edible garden design, installation, and maintenance for South Florida.  He is an advocate of growing food all year long in South Florida and is dedicated to being on-call to helping others do so.  Garden sites include homes, schools, businesses, retirement communities and community gardens.

Chris French is a South Florida native and lifelong water enthusiast. He has been an ecological design consultant for five years, helping others to create landscapes that harvest rain, improve soil, and grow food.

Embrace Life Workshop at The Miami Beach Garden

This program Thursday, October 11th,  7 to 10 p.m. is designed for men and woman of all ages and walks of life who wish to live life to the fullest and live in complete gratitude even in the most stressful periods of time. Wear comfortable clothing for experimental movement. The workshop is lead by Dr. Miriam Steinberg, a resident of Miami Beach and practitioner of Jungian psychotherapy and movement therapy. She has developed a method to embrace life, by guiding each individual through physical movement to help express the soul residing inside their body. For more information, call Dr. Steinberg at (305) 793-8213. The cost of the workshop is $25. Cash or check only please.

Digital Photography Workshops at The Miami Beach Garden

The Miami Beach Garden is offering three workshops Sundays, October 14th, 21st, and November 4th, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to introduce newcomers to digital photography, and teach seasoned artists some new tricks. Topics include everything from composition of a good photo to manipulating the not-so-good ones on the computer.

Students will be guided by Marsha Bradley, a commercial photographer, gardener, and orchid collector. Bradley has been photographing and teaching for 20 years, and has even written a manual that explains the technical side of photography and gives insight into creative vision. The manual is included in the workshop fees. Students should bring a digital camera with an empty memory card, and a brown-bag lunch.

Fees for the workshop are $40 ($50 for non-members) for one class, $70/$90 for two classes, or $90/$120 if you register for all three. To register, call the garden at (305) 673-7256 ext. 201. Deadline for registration is one week before each workshop date. Oct. 14 Basic outdoor digital photos, Oct. 21 Botanical subjects up close and personal, Nov. 04 Portraiture in the Garden

SURFSIDE
Bike With the Chief of Police

The Surfside Police Department is offering residents the opportunity to Bike with the Chief of Police. Participants will ride around the residential neighborhood with Chief Allen and the Neighborhood Resource Team. The ride will be Wednesday October 17, 2012 at 5:30pm. The ride will begin at Town Hall. For further information please contact Dina Goldstein or Sergeant Jay Matelis at (305)861-4862.

SUNNY ISLES
Sunny Isles Beach has a new Sister City

By Susan Simpson

It is official!  Sunny Isles Beach has a new Sister City.  Sunny Isles Beach Mayor Norman Edelcup and Mayor Mauro Passalaqua of Taormina, Sicily in Italy signed agreements written both in English and Italian that bonds these two cities as Sister Cities.  The Sunny Isles Beach Commission attended the formal signing ceremony in the host city of Taormina as well as the Taormina Council and President Eugenio Raneri, their business community and their tourism committee.

“We already have so much in common; coastal communities with breathtaking sunrises, luxury resorts with an emphasis on quality service, culturally rich programs for both residents and visitors alike and a place where visitors can feel at home in a community” says Elena Baronoff, the International Ambassador of Sunny Isles Beach who is responsible for bringing these two cities together and making this union possible.  She was delighted that after all of her planning, the ‘wedding day’ was finally here and like a proud mother, she was glowing!

Before the official signing, a string quartet played both the United States National Anthem as well as that of Italy.  The Sunny Isles Beach delegation was very moved by their performance.  A preamble from the Taormina President Reneri supported the twinning and approved the documents to be signed.  With his approval to move forward on behalf of Taormina, both Mayor Passalaqua of Taormina and Mayor Edelcup of Sunny Isles Beach expressed their desire to twin with each other.  The emphasis for both was focused on the youth and cultural exchanges.  As Mayor Edelcup stated, “we look forward to exploring economic and educational opportunities with Taormina.  We look to future generations to learn and share and cultivate this relationship.”  He went on to say that “there are so many ways we can both benefit from this union.  We will share in tourism and cultural events, concerts and performances, economics and education.”

During the Ceremony, both Elena Baronoff and Dino Papale, the two responsible for this “marriage” as they like to refer to it, had an opportunity to express what a labor of love it has been getting to this day.  In Italian, Dino shared his visit to Sunny Isles Beach with the council, confirming that this is a good union.  Elena, in English with Commissioner Isaac Aelion translating for her, told everyone about the similarities in our communities and why she chose to pursue Taormina as a Sister for Sunny Isles Beach.  Everyone agreed, the Taormina Council voted unanimously, and the agreements were signed.

Following the ceremony, the Sunny Isles Beach delegation and the Italian delegation shared ideas for future growth over dinner wherein language was not a barrier.  Everyone understands the significance of this union and now there is much work to be done.

If you would like more information about our Sister City Taormina, Italy, please visit our website at www.sibfl.net

Community Shuttle Buses Offer Expanded Services

By Sylvia Flores

The City of Sunny Isles Beach offers residents and visitors easy, clean and comfortable travel around town. This FREE service is operating seven days a week, on various routes, to offer riders convenient travel to complete all their errands, including buying groceries, attending doctor appointments, going shopping, to the movies, and more! Our daily routes, include transportation to residences and businesses throughout the City, as well as to the Aventura and Intracoastal Malls. At Aventura Mall, riders can transfer buses to continue travel throughout the City of Aventura. Riders can also do the same to travel throughout the City of North Miami Beach, by making a transfer at Intracoastal Mall.

Recently, in an effort to respond to the needs of the community, the City has expanded this service to include travel to Hallandale, Surfside, and South Beach.  Connections to Hallandale are available through the Blue Line, which runs Monday thru Saturday. Connections to Surfside are available 3 days a week, Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays, on a limited schedule. This same route will allow you to travel on to South Beach for the afternoon, for shopping, eating, or whatever you enjoy for the day. A brief summary of route availability is:

Aventura Mall (and connections to City of Aventura bus)
Green Line (available every day) and Orange Line (Available Monday thru Friday)
Hallandale Fire Station (and connections to City of Hallandale bus)
Blue Line, Available Monday thru Saturday
Intracoastal Mall (and connections to City of North Miami Beach bus)
Green Line (available every day) and Orange Line (available Monday thru Friday)
Surfside (and connections to South Beach, Lincoln Road)
SoBe Line, Mon/Wed/Fri, Drop off (9:55am) and Pick Up (3:30pm) at Surfside Publix

Residents also have the opportunity to utilize free shuttle service to and from Mount Sinai Medical Center (on Alton Road, in Miami Beach), three days a week. Transportation is available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, for 8am or 11am pickup and 12pm or 3pm return. However, a reservation must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and the rider must be picked up at a residence within the City of Sunny Isles Beach.

To make reservations for Mount Sinai transportation, or for any questions about our Shuttle Service (stop locations, times, availability, etc.), please contact the Cultural & Community Services Department at 305.792.1706.

Legacy of Remembrance

By Bari Auerbach

Members of the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission recently attended a meeting focusing on “A Legacy of Remembrance” and the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center’s mission to build South Florida’s first Holocaust Museum.

The Aventura Marketing Council luncheon at Christine Lee’s at Gulfstream Park hosted by attorney Russel Lazega of Florida Insurance Advocates featured guest speaker Howard Finkelstein, Broward Public Defender.
Lazega, Finkelstein, Sunny Isles Beach Mayor Norman S. Edelcup, Sen. Gwen Margolis and many other business and community leaders serve on the Board of Directors of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center – dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the authentic memory of the Holocaust through documentation, commemoration and education.

The Center is currently spearheading initiatives to build a Holocaust Museum preserving and conveying the story of the Holocaust through survivor eyewitness testimonies and interactive displays enabling visitors to understand how hatred, prejudice and bigotry can lead to genocide.

“South Florida has the world’s third largest population of Holocaust Survivors, behind only Israel and New York,” Center leaders explain. “We have conducted over 2,500 interviews with South Florida’s witnesses to the Holocaust. These oral histories provide the core of the Center’s collections, which have grown to become the world’s largest self-produced, standardized Oral History Library Collection and serves as an invaluable international resource.
“The Museum we envision will feature the eyewitness testimonies of our South Florida Survivor community, and special attention will be given to the story of what happened as the infamous ship, the S.S. St. Louis, sailed past the shores of Miami Beach.

“For the sake of those who are no longer with us and for those yet to come, the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center is instituting a Legacy program. We are challenging ourselves to raise $6,000,000 in memory of the 6,000,000 to build the Holocaust Museum and ensure the memory of the Holocaust will never be erased from history. Commitments will be permanently and prominently inscribed on the Naming Wall of the Museum as a testament to your family and the authentic memory of the Holocaust.”

During the event at Christine Lee’s, Lazega shared the heroic Holocaust story of his own grandmother.”She helped her husband escape from a French labor camp, sneaking him out under-guard in the dead of night in pouring rain. After he joined the French resistance, she walked three small children over the Pyrenees Mountains in the freezing winter to escape to France.”

Finkelstein, the renowned Broward Public Defender and legal analyst whose Help Me Howard segments are featured on WSVN Channel 7 News, recounted the time he was invited to speak at a Holocaust Education and Documentation Center event uniting students with Holocaust survivors.

“I walked into a room with kids from every high school across the country and at each table was a Holocaust survivor. I watched and what I saw was absolute magic. Suddenly, these 15 and 16 year old kids didn’t look across the table and see ‘some old guy or old woman’ sitting there – they saw themselves at the age of 15 huddled in the woods shivering. They saw themselves as their mothers and fathers were ripped from their arms and executed. In that instant, they understood the moral imperative and obligation that every child of God has to every other child of God to make sure that genocide never happens again and the world ‘never forgets’.”

“Survivors are a very special breed. They are like no other people you’ve known. What they experienced is unique and outrageous in its horror. As I was walking out of that [student awareness event] a colleague said to me, ‘Howard, I didn’t know about this.’ I asked, ‘You didn’t know about this program or the Holocaust Education and Documentation Center?’ She responded, ‘No, I didn’t know about the Holocaust.’ This is a woman educated in our public schools who has been working in government for 25 years. It was in that instant I realized that  any way I could help [create awareness] I would.

“We must build a living museum so those who gave their lives will live on forever. If we don’t preserve the memory and remember the lessons, the promise ‘all men are created equal’ will be vanquished. Do something impactful and important for those who came before – so those who come after can live in the glory of the promise that America offers to all of God’s children.”

“Discussing the crucial importance of preserving “equality and justice for all,” Finkelstein noted, “[Due to current economic conditions], the promise of the right to counsel and equal justice is seriously at risk of disappearing. As we have to tighten our belts, we must ask ourselves, ‘Is  justice something we are willing to do on the cheap – or does justice have an overarching importance because it defines who we are as a people?’  If there isn’t equal and fair justice than the promise of America is hollow.”

“As we get closer to this thing called ‘justice’ we can all be proud to stand anywhere in the world and say, ‘I’m  an American and I believe that all of God’s children are equal; and justice is not for sale.’ Those who toil in law enforcement and the justice system deserve admiration and respect. Never doubt that we have so much to be proud of – but never doubt that the job isn’t  even close to being done.”
‘Sunny Isles Beach Remembers’

According to Rositta Ehrlich Kenigsberg, President of the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, when Sunny Isles Beach held its first historic “Survivors of the Holocaust” program conceived by Mayor Edelcup in 2004, Sunny Isles Beach became the only city since World War II to locate every one of 300 survivors residing in a city to be honored in this manner.

Kenigsberg, whose own father was a Holocaust survivor, attended the dedication ceremony where she noted, “I commend and laud the City of Sunny Isles Beach for this wonderful and special gesture in recognition of this group who despite of their tragic and painful past have not become embittered or filled with hate…They chose life not death; remembrance not vengeance; hope not despair; goodness not evil. And love, not hate. May we all live in the light of these virtues and always REMEMBER.”

For more information about the Holocaust Education and Documentation Center, phone: 954-929-5690 or visit hdec.org.

AVENTURA
Halloween Harvest

The City of Aventura will hold its annual Halloween Harvest event on Sunday, October 28, 2012 from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm at the Community Recreation Center. Children and families are encouraged to come in costume and participate in the Wonderland fun maze, bounce houses, carnival games, trick or treat trail, arts & crafts and costume parade. ??The Community Recreation Center is located at 3375 NE 188 Street. Parking is located at the Harbour Centre on the corner of 29 Avenue and NE 188 Street. A complimentary shuttle service will be provided. ?For more information, contact the Community Recreation Center at 305-466-3883 or visit the website here.

Aventura STAR

Calling all Talent! Get ready to shine at the Aventura STAR Talent Competition! Open auditions will be available for the brightest magicians, gymnasts, musicians, dancers, singers, etc! Open auditions will be held at the Community Recreation Center, located at 3375 NE 188 Street, on the following dates and times:
• Saturday, October 13, 2012     12:00 – 2:00 pm?• Tuesday, October 16, 2012      5:30 – 7:30 pm?• Saturday, October 20, 2012     12:00 – 2:00 pm
The Aventura STAR finals will be held on Sunday, November 11, 2012 during the 17th Annual Founders Day Celebration at Founders Park. For more information on the Aventura STAR Talent Competition, please call 305-466-3883 or visit the City’s website at cityofaventura.com.

Calling All Veterans

Calling all veterans and military personnel from every generation!  The City of Aventura is inviting YOU to participate in this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony, which will be held on Sunday, November 11, 2012, 10 AM at the Aventura Government Center, located at 19200 West Country Club Drive.

Interested veterans, veterans groups and those who are currently serving in the US Armed Forces should contact Kimberly Merchant at 305-466-8008, or call the Community Services Department at 305-466-8930.

MIAMI
Doctors Sentenced in $205 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Miami-area residents Dr. Mark Willner and Dr. Alberto Ayala, former medical directors at the mental health care company American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), were each sentenced today to 10 years in prison for participating in a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office.

Willner, 56, and Ayala, 68, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in the Southern District of Florida. Judge Seitz ordered Willner to pay more than $57 million in restitution and Ayala to pay more than $87 million in restitution, both jointly and severally with their co-defendants. Willner and Ayala were also both sentenced to three years of supervised release following their prison terms.

On June 1, 2012, after a seven-week trial, a federal jury in the Southern District of Florida found Willner and Ayala each guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that the defendants and their co-conspirators caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through ATC, a Florida corporation headquartered in Miami that operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. The defendants and their co-conspirators also used a related company, American Sleep Institute (ASI), to submit fraudulent Medicare claims.

Evidence at trial revealed that ATC secured patients by paying kickbacks to assisted living facility owners and halfway house owners who would then steer patients to ATC. These patients attended ATC, where they were ineligible for the treatment ATC billed to Medicare and where they did not receive the treatment that was billed to Medicare. After Medicare paid the claims, some of the co-conspirators then laundered the Medicare money in order to create cash to pay the patient kickbacks.

The defendants were charged in an indictment returned on February 8, 2011. ATC, the management company associated with ATC, and 20 individuals, including the ATC owners, have all previously pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial.

Evidence at trial revealed that doctors at ATC, including Willner and Ayala, signed patient files without reading them or seeing the patients. Evidence further revealed that ATC then billed Medicare for more than $100 million in PHP treatment for these patients under the names of Willner and Ayala. Included in these false and fraudulent submissions to Medicare were claims for patients in neuro-vegetative states, along with patients who were in the late stages of diseases causing permanent cognitive memory loss and patients who had substance abuse issues and were living in halfway houses. These patients were ineligible for PHP treatment, and because they were forced by their assisted living facility owners and halfway house owners to attend ATC, they were not receiving treatment for the diseases they actually had.

Willner and Ayala have been in federal custody since their convictions.

Balans & Thea Pizzeria and Cafe Now Open at University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park

Stylish eateries become the latest additions to one of South Florida’s newest urban neighborhoods

With Miami gaining ground as an international culinary capital, the newest dining destinations in the city’s urban core are now open for business at the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park (UMLSTP). Thea Pizzeria and Cafe and Balans became the park’s newest restaurants, occupying prime street-level space along Northwest 7th Avenue. The park is a privately-owned mixed-use development combining office, lab, technology and retail uses that are fostering innovation and collaboration among research teams, entrepreneurs and companies from around the world.

Thea and Balans are within walking distance of the Miami Health District, home to tens of thousands of visitors and employees daily, and some of the city’s most vibrant and populous neighborhoods, including Downtown/Brickell, Miami Beach, Wynwood, Midtown, the Design District, and Little Havana.

“Retailers are taking note of the residential and commercial growth underway within the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park and in surrounding neighborhoods,” said Bill Hunter, Leasing Manager for the UMLSTP. “Thea Pizzeria and Cafe and Balans are both the product of visionary restaurateurs who have invested in their concepts and are committed to helping create a thriving mixed-use community at the UMLSTP.”

Thea and Balans join the UPS Store, Liberty Dry Cleaners, and Subway Café as the UMLSTP’s first retailers. Additional tenants include the Miami Innovation Center co-working space, Advanced Pharma CR, Community Blood Centers of Florida, the UM Tissue Bank, Spanish technology firm Ándago, Binder Biomedical, Danish research firm Glycom, BioFlorida, the Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida, and the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.

Locally owned Thea Pizzeria and Cafe serves thin crust pizzas, crisped to perfection and topped with gourmet combinations such as gorgonzola, truffle, and arugula or bacon, egg and prosciutto. In addition to pizzas, elegantly composed salads, pastas, sandwiches and entrees are served at wallet friendly prices within a glamorous slick black interior adorned with a dazzling 30-foot floral mosaic. Charcuterie and cheese can be followed by either a thin, crispy pizza with bresaola and arugula, a perfectly composed salad Nicoise, or grilled salmon on white beans with capers. End the meal with espresso granita, frozen shards of sweetened espresso topped with whipped cream, or a salted caramel gelato.

“Thea Pizzeria and Cafe offers gourmet pizzas, salads and sandwiches in an elegant setting with prices that make it accessible to all. It’s pizza chic,” says restaurant owner Thea Goldman.

In addition, Thea Pizzeria and Cafe makes delicious Italian coffee and serves French pastries every morning starting at 8:30 am. The restaurant is currently open from 8:30 am- 4:30pm Monday through Friday and 11:30 am- 4:30pm on Saturdays, with plans to expand to dinner in the coming months. Thea Pizzeria and Cafe is also available for private parties in the evenings.

Nearby Balans Restaurant serves international comfort food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menu items range from entrée salads and pasta dishes, to seafood specialties and steaks. Area residents and employees can get off to a fast start in the morning by ordering from a selection of rave reviewed crepes, pancakes and French toast, egg and eggs benedicts, and fresh fruit smoothies. At lunch and dinner, guests can choose from an assortment of salads, appetizers, sandwiches and main courses such as jambalaya, blackened mahi mahi, and baby back ribs.

Balans, founded by Prady Balan in 1997, has restaurants in London and Miami, with the UMLSTP location marking the company’s fourth South Florida opening. The UMLSTP location, which offers a full bar and both indoor and outdoor seating, is open from 7:30am-10pm Monday through Saturday and Sundays from 8am-6pm. They also offer happy hour every day from 3 pm- 7pm and on Sundays until 6 pm. In addition, Balans offers pre-ordered lunch platters for local delivery and can cater for lunches and dinners in their private meeting room.

“The University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park is breathing new life into one of Miami’s best located and most diverse communities,” says Bill Diggs, CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce and a UMLSTP tenant. “These new retailers and restaurants will serve both residents from the immediate neighborhood, as well as visitors from surrounding areas. The businesses will also provide much needed jobs, serving as another economic catalyst for urban Miami.”

Getting to Thea and Balans is easy. The UMLSTP’s first building is located at 1951 NW 7th Avenue, situated at the intersection of I-95 and the 836 Expressway, minutes from downtown Miami, Brickell, Wynwood and Midtown. On-site parking is free for restaurant patrons, free valet parking is available from 11am-3pm, and the City of Miami’s free trolley stops right outside the restaurants.

Culture Shock Miami $5 Student Tickets for Arts and Cultural Events Now on Sale

More than 90 arts organizations offer great seats to 13-22-year-olds

Culture Shock Miami (also known as CultureShockMiami.com) announces the start of its 8th season offering $5 student tickets to performances provided by more than 90 organizations, including top music, theatre, dance, and performing arts presenters in Miami-Dade County.  In addition to performing arts, students can get two-for-$5 or free admission passes to many South Florida museums, landmarks, and cultural destinations.

Tickets through Culture Shock Miami, which are often for the best available seats, may be purchase free of any taxes, fees, or surcharges. A student must use the first ticket purchased, but the second ticket can be used by a person of any age.

Throughout the season, new blocks of tickets from shows all over Miami-Dade will be added to the Culture Shock Miami website. Ticket buyers are encouraged to check regularly to see what becomes available.

Culture Shock Miami, a program of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, provides an affordable and attractive way to encourage high school and college students ages 13-22 to buy tickets to the rich variety of cultural events. The program is designed to introduce this next generation of audience members to live arts and cultural experiences at the age when they are beginning to make their own decisions about entertainment options. Based on research that shows most people begin their appreciation for the arts at a young age, Culture Shock Miami is founded on the premise that when kids make the arts a regular entertainment choice, they are more likely to become the full-price ticket buyers and subscribers of the future.

Michael Spring, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, says, “Culture Shock Miami demonstrates our deep commitment to making sure that the arts are easily available and affordable for young people in our community. We know that experiencing the arts is not only an important part of a teenager’s and young adult’s education but also a gateway to an entirely new world of creativity and wonder. By removing the obstacle of cost, we are able to make attending the performing and visual arts an opportunity available to high school and college students of all backgrounds and means. We believe that a love of arts will stay with them right through adulthood.”

Culture Shock Miami’s Program Partners include South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, TicketWeb.com, the Miami-Dade County Public School System and area colleges and universities.

Season Highlighted by Top Quality Theater, Dance, and Music and the Visual Arts

Two well-known and very popular theater productions, Asolo Repertory Theatre’s Macbeth at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay on Friday, October 12 at 8:00 PM and the Tony®-Award winning musical, Godspell, presented by Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables from Wednesday October 10 through Sunday, November 4.

Get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday with two inspiring performances by the magnificent musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra, celebrating their Miami residency at the Arsht Center on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17.  Led by the orchestra’s dynamic music director, Franz Welser-Möst, experience Gustav Mahler’s soaring Symphony No. 3 with heavenly voices from three of Florida’s own stunning choruses.

Then in December, the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet performs its inspired production of The Nutcracker, the holiday favorite the world-over. The performance is on Saturday, December 1 at 8:00 PM at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

Art Basel Miami Beach, the international festival for the visual arts, returns to Miami Beach for its 11th season.  All Miami turns its eyes toward the cornucopia of paintings, sculpture, and installations from over 250 international galleries that will be found at the Miami Beach Convention Center between December 6 through 9.

In April, Culture Shock Miami and South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center join forces as co-presenters for two thrilling dance programs from around the world. Step Afrika!, a program featuring the powerful dance form popularized by African-American fraternities and sororities, will be held on Saturday, April 6 at 8:00 PM.  Then, on Saturday, April 20 at 8:00 PM, India Jazz Suites, which originally premiered in San Francisco, contrasts movement and choreography from India and the United States.

As a unique feature of enhanced Culture Shock Miami partnerships, ticket buyers have the opportunity to attend special workshops and enrichment programs to increase their enjoyment and appreciation of these performances. Both Step Afrika! and India Jazz Suites are planning dance workshops designed specifically for high school and college students, where the performers will guide their young participants in learning their particular art forms.  These special events will be announced on the Culture Shock Miami website later in the season.

Throughout the year, many Miami-Dade museums and cultural sites make two-for-$5 admission passes available to Culture Shock Miami visitors.  They include The Wolfsonian, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami Science Museum, Miami Children’s Museum, Miami Art Museum, Artcenter South Florida, HistoryMiami, Zoo Miami, Bass Museum of Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art. Tickets are on sale now through cultureshockmiami or at TicketWeb.

Toscana Divino Debuts Miami’s First Italian Wine & Fashion Florence Week

Showtime for the tastes, style and culture of Tuscany Oct. 8-12

Toscana Divino announces its inaugural Wine & Fashion Florence Week, an annual line up of dining, fashion and cultural experiences straight from Italy. At the peak of grape harvesting season in Chianti Rufina, Toscana Divino celebrates its wines, famous for being elegant, well balanced and full-bodied.

Wine & Dine:
The tribute to Tuscany also shows off Italy’s latest and tastiest creations on the heels of fashion industry’s most famous week in Milan. The immersion experience features Executive Chef Julian Baker and Michelin Star Chef Marco Stabile L’accademia della Cucina Italiana menu designed exclusively for Toscana Divino’s Wine & Fashion Florence Week. Each day presents traditional, organic dishes and wine pairings from the region’s top labels.

Tuscany’s top sommeliers and winemakers will spend the week in Miami, sharing their passions for pairings. Every evening will kick off with the Italian-inspired “Aperitivo Italiano” social hour, offering complimentary bites and cocktails.

Fashion & Art:
In a country that’s all about good taste and craftsmanship passed from generation to generation, Wine & Fashion Florence Week brings rich “Made in Italy” traditions to informal fashion shows, with Florentine designers stitching exotic bags on premise, along with master tailors from Scuola di Pelletteria di Firenze, Florence’s top innovative luxury leather producer.

Italy’s thriving artist community also comes to Miami. Maestro Alessandro Reggioli, famed for Contemporary Tuscan-inspired masterpieces, exhibits Tuesday and Thursday during Wine & Fashion Week, where he’ll create original pieces inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s themes, “The Flight” and “The Heart.”

“This is a new beginning of what is going to be a great Miami tradition,” says Tommaso Morelato, owner of Toscana Divino.

“Toscana Divino, a Beacon Council project, is a unique concept, comprised of the public and private sector of Tuscany and the region’s small and medium sized producers of the Fashion-Lifestyle industry,” said Frank R. Nero, President & CEO of The Beacon Council. “The Beacon Council is delighted to see Toscana Divino’s efforts from its Miami-based location, the first of its kind from Tuscany, and its investment in our community.”

Schedule:
Oct. 8-12: daily from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aperitivo Italiano social hours and Chef’s Tasting Dinner
Oct. 8,9,10,12: Informal fashion shows and creations of handcrafted handbags with master tailors from Scuola di Pelletteria di Firenze
Oct. 9 & 11: Art creations by Maestro Alessandro Reggioli

Who: Michelin Star Marco Stabile; famed Tuscan winemakers Fattoria Lavacchio, Castello del Trebbio, Altomena and Selvapiana; artist,Maestro Alessandro Reggioli and style makers from Scuola di Pelletteria di Firenze. Toscana Divino 900 South Miami Avenue  Miami. (305) 371-2767. For table reservations.  For more info

 Miami-Dade County Goes Pink in October to Raise Awareness of Breast Cancer

Kickoff event on October 2nd Opened Mobile Mammogram Unit with a ribbon cutting ceremony

Miami-Dade County Government is going pink in October. The County is hosting and supported a number of events to raise awareness of breast cancer, including a day-long kickoff on Tuesday, October 2., with a ribbon cutting ceremony for Jackson Memorial Hospital’s new Mobile Mammogram Unit. Among the participants are Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Chairman Joe A. Martinez and Members of the Board of County Commissioners, 2012 American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Chair and Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Alina T. Hudak; and Jackson Health System President and CEO Carlos Migoya.

“All of us have been touched by the dreadful impact of breast cancer, whether to a family member, friend or colleague. That’s why we are committed to raising awareness of this disease; and supporting programs which will help save lives and give hope and care to those who really need it,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.

Among the County’s events and occasions were:

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Bazaar where a variety of pink items were sold.

Miami-Dade Animal Services Department hosted a pet adoption event.

Miami-Dade County and Jackson Health System have partnered to bring Jackson Memorial Hospital’s new, state-of-the-art Mobile Mammogram Unit to County employees every Thursday in October, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1 Street, outside of the west entrance by the Downtown Medical Center, in Miami. For more information, contact Yamilet Lopez at 305-585-6720 or ylopez2@jhsmiami.org

Miami-Dade County is sponsoring the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk to fight breast cancer and provide hope to all people facing the disease. The 2012 5K Walk Chair is Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Alina T. Hudak and 35 County teams comprised of hundreds of employees are participating in the fundraising event. The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk is taking place on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40 Street, in Miami. For more information or to sign up for the walk, call 305-779-2860 or here

A Miami-Dade Police Department vehicle, Public Works and Waste Management garbage truck, and Transit Metrobus have been painted pink.

Miami-Dade County’s website wallpaper, will be pink throughout the month of October.

The Stephen P. Clark Center Lobby will be pink throughout the month of October.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools to Hold 2012 Student and Adult Career Pathways Expo

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), in partnership with Miami Dade College (MDC), will hold the 2012 Student and Adult Career Pathways EXPO, on Saturday.

Parents and students in grades K-12, as well as post secondary adult students, are encouraged to attend this free event to learn more about Career Education programs and services provided by M-DCPS and MDC, including a wide array of associate and baccalaureate degree offerings.

The EXPO allows participants to learn about career academy programs such as Architecture and Construction; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Hospitality and Tourism; Agriscience Education; Public Service and Criminal Justice; Entertainment and Design Technologies; Health/Medical Sciences, and so much more. The EXPO is an opportunity to help students choose a career path for the future. Saturday, October 13, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at MDC’s North Campus, Science Complex, 11380 N.W. 27th Avenue, Miami, FL 33167.

For more information, call 305-693-3030.

Travelodge Brings National Teddy Bear Swap to Zoo Miami

Thousands of stuffed animals expected to be donated to local charities

Local children are getting a free day of fun at Zoo Miami on Saturday, October 6, 2012, along with new teddy bears and more thanks to “Travelodge’s The Great Sleepy Bear Swap.”

The special one-day event invites children and their families to bring a gently-used stuffed animal to the zoo to donate to charity in exchange for one free kid’s admission and a brand new Sleepy Bear teddy bear.

While free admission is limited to the first 100 children who bring a donation, everyone at the zoo is able to participate in fun-filled activities including face painting and drawing contests along with giveaways such as bear tattoos, National Geographic activity books and Sleepy Bear masks. A keeper from the zoo will also be on hand to educate children about bears and the role they play in the wild.

“For over 75 years, the Travelodge hotel brand has been delivering memorable experiences and giving back to the communities where our hotels are located,” said Mark Young, Travelodge brand senior vice president. “With Travelodge’s The Great Sleepy Bear Swap, we’re continuing both of these great traditions while giving everyone in the Miami area a chance to come out and say hi to Sleepy Bear, our beloved mascot.”

Stuffed animals gathered from the events will be donated to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (S.A.F.E.), a national organization that cleans and redistributes the toys to children in need. For every stuffed animal donated at the event, the Travelodge hotel brand will match it with a donation of three brand new Sleepy Bear teddy bears to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, up to 1,500 bears. Starlight is the signature charity of Travelodge and parent company Wyndham Hotel Group.

“For many children, the gift of a stuffed animal is a simple gesture that can help brighten their day, especially when you’re talking about children facing severe illness and other hardships,” said Young. “Starlight and S.A.F.E. are both organizations that do great work with children across the country and we’re delighted to be able to support them through these events.”

Young also announced that the Travelodge brand would make a $10,000 donation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in support of black bear conservation.

This is the fourth of five events to be hosted by Travelodge at zoo’s across America, with the last event scheduled to take place in San Francisco, Calif. on October 16, 2012. Previous locations included The Philadelphia Zoo in Philadelphia, Penn.; The Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas and the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles. Additional details, including dates and times for all upcoming events, here

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