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Participants in the most recent City Bicycle Ride on Feb. 20 (Darlene Culpepper at far right).

City of Venice Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Darlene Culpepper has been named the 2018 Bicycle Professional of the Year by the Florida Bicycle Association.

“Your hard work and dedication to bicycling is to be commended and celebrated,” Florida Bicycle Association Executive Director Becky Alfonso wrote in a letter to Culpepper notifying her of the award.

Culpepper, who has been with the City Engineering Department since July 2016, leads a monthly 6-mile bicycle ride around the island of Venice, open to the public. The next ride is at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 13; those interested can just bring their bike and a helmet to Venice City Hall. Venice is a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community.

“The purpose of the award is to bring attention to the efforts and achievements of groups, organizations and individuals that help shape our vision for all Florida bicyclists to be safe, respected and encouraged to bicycle for transportation and recreation. So when I received my letter, I was completely surprised and excited,” Culpepper said. “It is a good feeling when you are recognized for doing what you love.”

City Engineer Kathleen Weeden said the city is lucky to have an expert like Darlene on staff.

“She brings a very positive approach and is dedicated to improving bicycle and pedestrian safety by educating riders and improving facilities in the City,” Weeden said.

Culpepper will be presented with her award during the March 26 City Council meeting, as March is Florida Bicycle Month.

Culpepper and her husband Wes have owned and operated Bicycles International in Venice since December 2014.

OneBlood driveOneBlook is holding a blood drive on Wed., March 27, outside Venice City Hall, 401 W. Venice Ave., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All donors will receive a OneBlood hat, a Culver’s Pint for a Pint coupon for a free custard, and a wellness checkup which includes blood pressure, temperature, iron count, pulse and cholesterol screening. Bring identification.

For more information, or to make an appointment, visit www.oneblood.org and use sponsor code #9354.

Special Olympics fishing tourney setThe 17th Annual Venice Sharks Tooth Fishing Tournament for Special Olympics athletes will take place on Thurs., April 11, at Marine Max, sponsored by the Venice Police Department. Forty special athletes will join boat captains for a day of fun and fishing. The event kicks off the annual Shark’s Tooth Festival, which begins on April 13 and benefits the Special Olympics.

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