Saturday, September 27, 2008 Lee Wetherington Companies Donates 16.31 Acres of Land to Oscar Scherer State Park

SARASOTA, FL - Lee Wetherington, founder and president of Lee Wetherington Companies, donated 16.31 acres of land to Oscar Scherer State Park, 1843 South Tamiami Trail, Osprey, on Saturday, September 27, 2008, in a celebratory ceremony hosted by the State of Florida, Sarasota County Commission, Department of Environmental Protection's Oscar Scherer State Park, and The Friends of Oscar Scherer, Inc.

The land, deeded officially to the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida, provides an addition to the existing boundaries of Oscar Scherer, the largest state park in Florida. Based on an estimated value of $50,000 per acre, the approximate value of the donation exceeds $800,000.

The date for the presentation was selected to coincide with National Public Lands Day, during which hundreds of volunteers donate their labor to the environmental needs of the park, according to John Roche, park manager.

Roche presided over the ceremony, Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton introduced Lee Wetherington and also presented a proclamation from the County.

The exact acreage donated, 16.3116 acres, is essentially a strip of land approximately 230 feet wide wrapping around the south and east boundaries of Willowbend. Other than incorporating a 1.5 acre wetland, the property has much the same characteristics of the adjoining park property. It adds more habitat to the boundaries of the Park and allows the Park to manage this property more efficiently.

Wetherington presented and oversized "deed" to state officials in attendance, including Valinda Subic, Bureau Chief, District 4, Park Operations. The assembled officials then cut a strand of barbed wire, granting public access to the newly deeded land. Following the donation ceremony, guests joined volunteers for National Public Lands Day for a cookout prepared by the Fleinds of Oscar Scherer and Friends of the Legacy Trail.

Lee Wetherington became interested in Oscar Scherer State Park in 2002, when his company began to develop the neighboring community of Willowbend. With a solid commitment to the environment, he designed Willowbend in keeping with recommendations from Oscar Scherer State Park, Florida Yards & Neighborhoods, and Florida Native Plant Nursery. Since that time, Willowbend and Lee Wetherington Companies have been recognized for their practice of sound environmental principles.,

In support of Oscar Scherer State Park, Lee Wetherington Companies has underwritten the Park's annual fundraiser, the Scrub Jay 5K Race, since 2003, with Wetherington and his employees joining in the event. Company contributions to the park have exceeded $70,000 to date, not including the current $800,000 land donation.

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