Yearly Archives: 2016

Bradenton Beach mayor seeks ward 3 interest

Almost like they’re family, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy can’t say enough about his pride in the city and the people he works with in his job as the city’s top administrator.

He looks at the appointment of the next city commissioner in a similar way. Asked what kind of person would make a good commissioner, the mayor said: “Someone genuinely interested in Bradenton Beach.

“Also, you can’t let your personal stuff get in the way,” he added.

Because no candidate came forward to run for the Ward 3 commission seat in the November election when former commissioner Janie Robertson’s third and final term had run out, the Bradenton Beach City Commission is expected to appoint a person to fill the vacancy at its Jan.5 meeting.

At press time Dec. 22, only two candidates had shown interest in the appointment, Richard Gatehouse and John Tillison. Gatehouse sent a letter of interest to city clerk Nora Idso, and Tillison submitted a three-page list of references to city hall.

Shaughnessy, a former six-year Ward 1 city commissioner, was elected mayor in November. No one else ran for the seat. He is now in his fifth week of his two-year term.

“The big thing coming up this year is the budget,” not having enough money to provide city services. “Every city in the U.S. is having that problem,” Shaughnessy said.

He acknowledged that the city’s population is dwindling, and because “we make decisions for the entire city, not just a single ward,” the mayor favors changing the city charter to an “at-large” representation. However, that requires changing the city charter and will require a citywide vote.

One issue facing Bradenton Beach in the near future is the ongoing dune project in partnership with ELRA Inc., owners of the Beachhouse Restaurant. The project will create a line of dunes and landscaping to protect the shoreline across from city hall from erosion.

Another issue is providing services for the community.  Everyone, from the members of commission to city hall, the police, building department and public works, “does 150 percent” and, also important is that everyone continues to “keep communication lines open,” said Shaughnessy.

The mayor said he did not know either Ward 3 candidate, but believed the new commissioner should have good judgment, along with a genuine interest.

“Bradenton Beach is the star of the island,” said Shaughnessy. “There’s more beach area, lots to do, very close between the Gulf and the bay. I love it here.

“You know the city is going to be here long after we’re gone,” he added.

Gatehouse seeks Ward 3 commission seat

Richard Gatehouse, 60, a resident of the 100 block of Third Street North in Bradenton Beach, is seeking appointment to the vacant Ward 3 city commission seat.

Gatehouse is a volunteer member of Bradenton Beach’s mooring field committee and the board of adjustment, and he earns income as the city’s web designer.

“It’s a good community,” Gatehouse said. “I believe every ward needs representation. Seeing my ward has none, I’m willing to be it. My philosophy is to meet every issue head on, and deal with it with common sense.”

A Bradenton Beach resident for 20 years, Gatehouse is a retired merchant marine, and has 25 years experience in the dredging industry, he said.

Gatehouse describes himself as a “renaissance man,” working as a tugboat master, website designer and junk hauler.

He did not see any problems holding the Ward 3 seat while maintaining his paid position as the city’s webmaster, because, he said, he could recuse himself from voting on related city business.

As far as matters he thinks may come before the city commission, he said the mooring field issues may resurface. The matter previously had been tabled by the city, he said, after the state had a conflict with what the city planned to do to protect the seagrasses and waste-water regulations.

“There’re always challenges in the city,” Gatehouse said. “My approach is to protect the citizens.”

With respect to the ongoing dune project, he said, “as far as flood mitigation, we can save a lot of money for homeowners. If it’s done properly, planted with indigenous plants, I think that it’s the way to go.” Gatehouse added.

On the issue of whether the beaches should be opened to dogs, he said, “It would be great to have a section of beach where it would be allowed.” However, he added “strict rules” need to be imposed on dog-waste clean up.

On the budget, he said, “I don’t want to see us starting to cut services.” If it comes to a choice between cutting services or a new capital improvement project, he favors retaining existing services.

“I think what we need to do is balance the benefit with maintaining the quality of life for our year-round residents,” he said.

Gatehouse is a member of the Sarasota and St. Petersburg chapters of Harley Owners Group. Riding motorcycles is his hobby, and the charities he rides for are important to him.

“Mostly I like to do it for the kids,” he said.

Tillison seeks Ward 3 commission seat

“I’m not a politician,” says Johnny “Scooter” Tillison, 71, who hopes to gain the appointment to the vacant Ward 3 seat on the Bradenton Beach City Commission, “but I love this little Island.

“There’s some things that need fixin’, the parking — everyone wants to park on Bridge Street — and rental problems,” said Tillison of the 400 block of Second Street North.

“They need a commissioner with experience,” he said, and he feels qualified to sort through the issues, especially those that are budget-related.

Tillison was a cost accountant in the 1960s for Rockwell Standard Corp. in Oklahoma and Georgia where he analyzed the burden of labor and other expenses of the aeronautics industry.

Originally from Turner Falls, Okla., Tillison also worked with Zales jewelery stores as a store opening coordinator when he moved to Bradenton Beach in the early 1970s. From 1976 to 2009 he lived in California and Nevada, operating a limousine business. In 2009, he returned to Bradenton Beach for retirement.

He couldn’t be happier to be back, he said, because he’s a “water guy” having lived much of his life by the water. He is now retired, but works occasionally at CostaVille restaurant. He said he has time on his hands and wants to give back to the city he loves.

As to issues facing the city commission, he’s concerned with the dune project, because “if you don’t protect it you’re going to lose it.”

“We have spent millions and we need to keep it up. We have to because that is why people come here.”

As a dog lover and pet owner, Tillison said, “I’d say yes, bring on the dogs,” favoring a change in the current laws prohibiting dogs on the beach. He also said he supports city-sponsored transportation between the beach parking areas and shopping district to alleviate the traffic and parking concerns of business owners.

And Tillison favors a charter change to an “at large” form of representation on the city commission.

During the interview, he pointed out his concern with the city’s mooring field, the bay waters south of the pier where people live on sailboats and run dinghies back and forth from the boats to the shore.

Tillison said he also likes helping merchants during festivals and the like. “They just say ‘Scooter, can you help me move this or that,’ and I do it.”

Tillison speaks with pride of his affiliation as a trustee on the board of directors for the Bradenton Beach Moose Lodge. He said the organization has about 1,600 local members who support the area’s economy and serve the community.

“We raise money for the underprivileged,” he said.

Holmes Beach opens city course to golf carts

Golf cart drivers in Holmes Beach will motor with less of a handicap in the wake of an ordinance approved unanimously by commissioners Dec. 13 allowing golf carts on more city streets.

The new law allows golf carts to be driven on any street in the city with a speed limit of less than 35 mph.

The city’s first golf cart ordinance was enacted in 2000 and amended in 2002. The new law, instead of carving out cart-legal streets, allows golf carts on all city streets with the following exceptions:

• State Road 64/Manatee Avenue.

• State Road 789/Gulf Drive.

• Gulf Drive, north of State Road 64.

• Marina Drive from Gulf Drive to Palm Drive.

• Palm Drive.

“I’ve publicly made no bones about it from the very beginning,” said HBPD Chief Jay Romine. “I’m not in favor of it from a public safety point of view.”

Romine maintains golf cart travel on city streets is risky to drivers and passengers.

“We have been lucky” that no golf cart related accidents have occurred in the city, said Romine.

The new ordinance, which included the chief’s input, also requires street-going golf cart drivers possess a valid driver’s license.

In addition, street-driven golf carts must comply with state laws. Such laws regulate the hours of operation between sunrise and sunset and equipment, including windshield, rear-view mirrors, front and rear reflectors, headlights, brakes, brake lights and turn signals.

Commissioner John Monetti said the ordinance had been “one of my concerns,” and that he had been hoping his “neighbors would be able to tool around.”

While most city crossroads pose no barrier for carts, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger told commissioners the carts may not cross at intersections involving state roads unless they are signalized and approved as golf-cart crossings by the Florida Department of Transportation. State law otherwise prohibits golf cart operation on state highways.

“The state will not give us a permit to cross the state highway,” he said of East Bay and Gulf drives, a signalized intersection considered important for the city’s cart traffic. Such a pathway could open up the southwest commercial area of the city to cart motorists from the east.

“We need to create a pathway that dead ends behind Mike Norman’s” real estate office and provides safe passage from the east to west side of the road before the DOT will consider approving a golf-cart crossing, Bohnenberger said.

The mayor said DOT activity in this southwest area of the city has been stalled by a turnover in personnel at the state level. Even though a DOT plan includes a proposed path through Grassy Point, a designated preserve, golf cart use would not be permitted there. Another pathway would be necessary to open up the southwest side to golf carts, he said.

In closing the discussion at the commission meeting, Monetti said, “one day we’re going to be able to cross the road.”

        But no permit application is pending for a golf cart crossing in Holmes Beach, according to Lauren Hatchell of the DOT public information office. She said the city submitted for a permit for a golf-cart crossing at Gulf Drive and State Road 789 in 2009, but that application became “null and void” once the DOT’s signal project, including a pedestrian crossing and crosswalk, was completed.

        “Because of the condition of the roadway” after the project, a new application would need to be submitted, she said.

        “They never submitted one. I don’t know whether they were satisfied with the improvements.”

Don’t forget resort tax this season

With the coming of the winter tourist season, the Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax collection unit has issued a notice reminding property owners renting a property for six months or less of its tax obligations.

The 5 percent resort tax — commonly called the bed tax — applies throughout Manatee County, the notice said.

Additionally, the collections unit has established a Rental Tax-Evaders Hotline that people can call anonymously and report suspected bed tax violations. Anonymous tips also may be made online at www.taxcollector.com, the notice said.

Property owners who collect and remit the resort tax must be registered with the tax collectors office. Registration also can be completed online at www.taxcollector.com.

Resort tax collection methods have improved significantly the past year, said Sue Sinquefield, head of the collections unit, and a number of rental property owners who had not been paying the tax were identified and have paid past due amounts.

For fiscal year 2010-11, the unit collected more than $7 million in resort taxes, a record amount. The total collected was about $650,000 more than the amount received during 2009-10, Sinquefield said.

Approximately 62 percent of all resort tax collections derive from Anna Maria Island and north Longboat Key, according to Sinquefield’s research, including a large portion of the past-due collections received during 2010-11.

Sinquefield credited much of the increase to new investigative methods to find tax avoiders, the addition of more resort tax investigators, better cooperation with the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office, the hotline, and public education and awareness.

Property owners who are caught avoiding payment must also pay a penalty, in addition to any past due amounts, Sinquefield noted.

The resort tax hotline is 941-741-4809. Resort tax questions can also be submitted by e-mail to resorttax@taxcollector.com.

Island road construction on hold

The Florida Department of Transportation announced that all construction activities on Anna Maria Island are suspended for the holiday season.

Construction of the East Bay Drive sidewalk in Holmes Beach will resume Jan. 3, the DOT said in a press release.

Construction on the Longboat Pass Bridge also will be suspended until Jan. 3, but some maintenance activities may occur. This project is ongoing through spring.

For project information, contact Trudy Gerena, DOT public information officer, at 813-299-3579 or visit the website www.mySR789.com

Sandpiper Resort lands in dispute between cities

The Sandpiper Resort in Bradenton Beach is caught between two cities regarding a solution to the 2008 quitclaim of 27th Street east of Gulf Drive along the mobile home park’s northern boundary with Holmes Beach.

And the Bradenton Beach City Commission might be in a quandary, unable to move forward with any solution offered by Holmes Beach because it lacks a quorum for a vote.

After the 2008 quitclaim deed was issued to the Sandpiper Resort Co-Op Inc., no one had expressed a concern or complaint to Sandpiper for restricting access to the mobile home park, 27th Street or Gulf Drive, Sandpiper management said.

Holmes Beach Commissioner John Monetti, who owns property on the Holmes Beach side of 27th Street — an unplatted and unimproved street —  reported to his commission in August that the Sandpiper Resort was building a fence along its boundary. He claimed the fence would restrict public access to the beach and other public facilities and lower property values in that area of Holmes Beach.

Holmes Beach commissioners agreed with Monetti and subsequently voted to proceed with a state process for conflict resolution against Bradenton Beach over the quitclaim issue.

At the initial conflict resolution meeting between the two cities Dec. 7, Holmes Beach presented a potential solution to Bradenton Beach city attorney Ricinda Perry and Bradenton Beach Vice Mayor Ed Straight.

The Holmes Beach proposal calls for Sandpiper Resort — an owner co-operative — to quitclaim back to Bradenton Beach a 30-foot-wide portion of the boundary along the length of 27th Street. That would return some of the street to the public, Petruff said.

Perry said she would present the proposed solution to the commission at its Thursday, Jan. 5, meeting. If the commission approves, it would then request the Sandpiper Resort proceed with the quitclaim.

The Bradenton Beach commission, however, has only four members, and two have recused themselves from voting because they reside at the mobile home park.

In the meantime, Sandpiper Resort Association board president Doug Le Fevre said that although his board will meet Dec. 28, it won’t yet have an official proposal from Bradenton Beach.

“We’re the ones being asked to do something. We need to see the proposal, discuss it and make an official response,” he said.

However, Le Fevre might also have a problem getting a quorum for his board’s Dec. 28 meeting, as several members have not yet arrived at their winter homes in the park.

The board won’t hold its next meeting until Feb. 1.

Le Fevre said he didn’t want to give the newspaper his personal opinion on the quitclaim matter, but would rather the board issue a collective response.

A few Sandpiper residents were willing to express their opinions, but several asked to remain anonymous because, they said, they are friends with Monetti.

Resident Kay Williams, who does not know Monetti, said she just returned from Michigan and was not completely familiar with the issue, although she had been reading The Islander online.

“I just think when you’re here in person, you’re better able to understand and give an opinion,” Williams said.

She indicated the only ones likely to come out ahead are the lawyers, who will be paid regardless of the outcome. The Holmes Beach action appears to be a “waste of taxpayer money,” she said.

One man who said he’s lived at the park for 22 years and he knows Monetti. He said Monetti wants to be able to go fishing at the bayfront end of 27th Street.

“That property belongs to the Sandpiper,” he said. “It’s never been part of 27th Street or a public access.”

Another couple, who also requested anonymity, said they’ve lived in the Sandpiper 28 years and as far as they are aware, there has never been a problem with pedestrian access from Holmes Beach to 27th Street and the beach.

One man, who identified himself only as Meade, said Holmes Beach is making a “mountain out of a mole hill.”

He also said the property at the east end of 27th Street on Sarasota Bay belonged to the Sandpiper before the 2008 quitclaim.

“So the argument that the fence restricts public access to the bay is ridiculous, because that’s not public property by the bay,” Meade said.

While Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy said he was not in a position to give his opinion of the conflict resolution proposal, he did note that no part of 27th Street is within the Holmes Beach city limits.

 

Fireworks signal new year

The BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach will host its 18th annual New Year’s Eve party for patrons of the beachfront restaurant, and the midnight fireworks show will again provide free entertainment to the crowd that assembles on the beach. For more information or reservations at the BeachHouse, call 941-779-2222. Islander File Photo: Lisa Neff

Flashback 2011: The year in review Part 1

The year began with frigid temperatures — for Florida, fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico and frenzy at Anna Maria city hall, where a band of 40 pirates kidnapped the mayor.

The second half of the year, to be reviewed next week, began with steamy temperatures, but also fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico and frenzy at another city hall, where a band of Anna Maria Island Privateers kidnapped Bradenton Beach’s mayor.

 

January

Fair warning: The Anna Maria Island Privateers, energized to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the nonprofit, threatened to kidnap the Island mayors and lay siege to each city. The first city to come under attack was Anna Maria on Jan. 3. The Privateers held Mayor Mike Selby for ransom after finding him hiding under his desk at city hall.

Be it resolved: Island officials ushered in 2011 with a series of resolutions and wishes. Some wished for world peace, others for a cessation of leaf blowing and still others for common-sense judgment and clarity as they tackled municipal business.

Go-ahead for gateway: Then-Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt announced he would drive forward the long-discussed plan to improve the city gateway at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive. “I can get the clout of this office behind this,” he said.

Partnership floated: Manatee County officials discussed with Island officials a proposal for the removal of derelict and abandoned vessels, especially those found offshore of Cortez and Bradenton Beach.

Listen up: Then-Anna Maria City Commissioner Gene Aubry raised concerns about poor mobile phone communication in the city and the possible need for a cell tower. “The world now is all about communication, and we don’t have a cell tower in Anna Maria,” Aubry said.

Parking on Pine: The first of many meetings about parking on Pine Avenue took place early in 2011. City commissioners focused on proposals to prohibit motorists from backing out of parking spaces over a sidewalk on Pine Avenue.

Panty theft arrest: A Holmes Beach man, Ernest Kendler, was arrested for allegedly stealing underwear from two female neighbors. By the end of the year, after much legal wrangling, the state attorney’s office had announced it would not proceed with prosecution.

Hail for holiday: Rain, wind and hail hit Anna Maria Island on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, damaging structures at the Gulf Drive Cafe and flooding some roads.

Trash collecting: Bradenton Beach commissioners agreed to seek bids for trash-hauling services. The city, at the time, had an in-house sanitation department, but officials were concerned about the costs associated with maintaining and replacing equipment.

Station remodel: West Manatee Fire Rescue commissioners voted to remodel Station No. 1 on Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. The projected cost was $150,000-$200,000.

 

February

Cottage to Cortez: An older cottage was relocated from Bradenton Beach, where it was owned by the city but in the way of a parking lot, to the FISH Preserve in Cortez, where it will be used by the historical society for a family-life museum.

Tower talks: The Anna Maria Island Community Center board resumed exploration of the possible placement of a telecommunications tower on the center field. The board agreed that such a facility would provide much-needed revenue but the talks would have to move slowly.

Beach budget: Manatee County officials learned at a state conference of insufficient state and federal funding for future beach renourishment, possibly threatening an Islandwide project.

Service cut: With funding concerns and low ridership, county officials reduced the Longboat Key trolley service from every 30 minutes to every hour.

Final take: Holmes Beach commissioners approved, on a second and final reading, a film ordinance that added a commercial film production wording to the city land-development code.

Animal activism: Animal rights advocates intensified a campaign to make Manatee County a no-kill community. Activist and animal rescuer Lisa Williams, who works for The Islander, called for “powerful, fast change in Manatee County.”

Counting cormorants: Winter birdwatchers conducted a count of shorebirds on — and just off — Anna Maria Island. The tally was 3,013, about half as many as counted in 2010.

Battling bullying: Anna Maria Elementary School students got a lesson about bullying and intimidation with a visit from Manatee County safe schools expert Skip Wilhoit.

High-rise, high cost: Island mayors questioned the Florida Department of Transportation plan to spend about $1.5 million on a project development and environmental study for the Cortez Bridge. The mayors argued that prior studies already indicated that a high-rise bridge at the location was not workable. The DOT said if that’s the case, that’s what the study will show.

Concession consumerism: Manatee County officials reported that new concessionaires at the Manatee Public Beach, operators of the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, were generating higher revenues than P.S. Beach. The county commission reported that United Park Service outperformed P.S. Beach by about $44,000 for a five-month period.

 

March

Telecom consensus: Bradenton Beach commissioners and planning board members reached a consensus on a proposed telecom ordinance that would comply with federal law but prohibit the construction of a cell tower anywhere other than government property.

Pipe lined: Great Lakes Dock began preparing for a major beach renourishment project on Anna Maria Island, positioning 9 miles of pipe in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The first stage of renourishment was to be at severely eroded Coquina Beach.

Pier pride: Area tourism officials informed Bradenton Beach officials that the Historic Bridge Street Pier, an anchor in the city’s commercial district, was tops with tourists. The pier ranked No. 1 with tourists in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Kingfish cosmetics: Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and other officials visited the county-managed Kingfish Boat Ramp, where a series of landscaping and lighting improvements were proposed. Plans showed native trees and flowers adding color to the Manatee Avenue facility. City officials and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch reps would later object to elements of the lighting plan.

Rape report: The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigated a report that an Anna Maria woman was chased from her home to Bayfront Park, where she said she was sexually assaulted and beaten.

Pro hired: Bradenton Beach commissioners approved a contract for WastePro to begin collecting recycling in the city. Later commissioners would contract with Waste Pro for trash collection and eliminate the city’s sanitation department.

Traffic tie-up: The Florida Department of Transportation apologized for severe traffic backups March 7 on the Island, Perico Island and the Palma Sola Causeway because of roadwork.

Suit settled: Island Inc. and Bradenton Beach settled a longstanding lawsuit over development — or prohibited development — of Gulffront property. The settlement required the city to purchase the property in the 1400 block of Gulf Drive for $350,000.

Angling for Angler’s: Anna Maria developers Mike and Lizzie Vann Thrasher announced the planned relocation of the historic Angler’s Lodge from North Bay Boulevard to the Anna Maria Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue. The plan would rescue from demolition the lodge, built circa 1914.

Free ride: Manatee County administrator Ed Hunzeker said the Island trolley could continue to operate as a fare-free service with some grant funding and advertising sales through an Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce program. “Everything is good for the trolley as long as grants keep coming from the state,” he informed county commissioners.

Bird beach: Researchers participating in a national study set up a safe zone on an Anna Maria beach to monitor and protect red knots. The monitoring work lasted several weeks and then resumed in the fall.

Census count: Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau for the biennial 2010 population count showed a decline in Island residents. Anna Maria’s population declined 21.2 percent from 2000 to 2010, Holmes Beach’s 22.8 percent and Bradenton Beach’s 21 percent. Island mayors questioned the findings.

Pension plan postponement: Holmes Beach commissioners postponed a second reading of proposed changes to the police pension plan. One reason for the deferment was Florida Gov. Rick Scott had unveiled a plan to reform the state pension system.

 

April

Staffer suspended: The Anna Maria Island Community Center suspended staffer Andy Jonatzke over allegations that he had inappropriate relations with female teen members. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigated allegations but did not make any arrest or pursue charges. Jonatzke, who ran the center’s teen and athletic programs, later resigned and the center board began crafting policies to deal with staff relations with members.

Living memorial: The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee planted a Southern magnolia in Spring Lake Park in honor of former committee chairman John Molyneux.

Channel conditions: Bradenton Beach commissioners asked county officials to look into concerns about navigation in Sarasota Bay, specifically from First Street South to Longboat Pass.

Parking on Pine: After about 11 months of debate, Anna Maria commissioners voted for a parking plan on Pine Avenue that requires new development to construct sidewalks between parking spots and buildings rather than along the street.

HB beginnings: Holmes Beach celebrated Founder’s Day with a reception, art and history exhibit and festival at city hall and in the city hall field.

Renourishment wrap: The Massive California dredge moved on from the Gulf of Mexico to Port Manatee, signaling to Islanders that a major sand renourishment project was completed. The county-supervised work added sand in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria and cost about $6 million.

Walk this way: Bradenton Beach completed construction of a dune walkover at the access to the Gulf beach on Bridge Street. Additional dune protection improvements were made to the access at Third Street South.

Sunset songs: Singer/songwriter Mike Sales, in partnership with the city of Bradenton Beach, began a series of sunset performances in Katie Pierola Sunset Park. The event steadily increased in popularity through the spring and summer.

’Cane campaign: The American Red Cross in Manatee County launched the AMI Ready Hurricane Awareness Campaign to promote preparedness on the Island. The campaign began as forecasters were predicting an above average storm season.

Crime decline: Island police officials learned that, according to a uniform crime report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the rate of crime dropped locally. There was a 41 percent decrease in Holmes Beach, a 68.5 percent decrease in Bradenton Beach and, for Manatee County, which polices Anna Maria, there was a 4 percent decrease.

Tree time: The Island cities, in partnership with Keep Manatee Beautiful, celebrated National Arbor Day. Three sabal palms were planted in Bradenton Beach. Holmes Beach hosted a ceremony at Kingfish Boat Ramp, where dozens of trees and hundreds of wildflowers were planted. In Anna Maria, three green buttonwoods were planted.

Nest No. 1: The first loggerhead sea turtle nest of the season was documented April 27 just south of 25th Street in Bradenton Beach. The nest was the earliest on record in three decades of data collection for the Island.

 

May

Mating manatees: Holmes Beach police officers guarded manatees on the shore from a crowd of curious people, some of whom wanted to get too close to the protected animals. The incident prompted reminders from state wildlife officials about how to steer clear of manatees.

Dock decision: Holmes Beach commissioners passed the final reading of an amendment to the city’s dock ordinance that included a changed definition for “boat.” A “boat” is 16 feet long, at least, and requires a Florida registration.

Chickee checkup: Holmes Beach officials determined that the palm frond covering had to be removed from three huts that were built without proper permission.

Re-election run: Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, a former commissioner and mayor in Bradenton Beach, announced he would seek re-election to a second term in 2012. As of last week, Chappie did not face any opposition in either the Republican primary or the general election.

Pier party: The 100th anniversary of the Anna Maria City Pier was celebrated May 13-14 with a parade, a memorial dedication, a street festival and fireworks.

Marauders meet Islanders: The Bradenton Marauders minor league team joined in the pier centennial celebration in May. And, later that month, the Marauders welcomed Islanders to McKechnie Field for Island Night.

Paying payroll: The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce borrowed to make payroll because of a delayed payment of more than $40,000 from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The delay was due to a county attorney decision that a formal contract between the chamber and the county was needed.

Resort tax rises: County officials reported a jump in resort tax — or bed tax — revenues, in large part because of increased government efforts to identify which property owners and managers were renting accommodations and required to pay taxes.

Lodge located: The Angler’s Lodge moved in May from North Bay Boulevard to its new home on Pine Avenue, where renovations are under way.

Studying surge: Manatee County revised its storm surge maps following a detailed state study of elevation, geography and development. The maps, officials said, are more accurate, showing expected surge in hurricanes — from Category 1 to Category 5 disasters.

Incoming at AME: David Marshall was named the new principal at Anna Maria Elementary School. He would succeed Tom Levengood, who retired at the end of the school year.

Dear members: Officers at the private Key Royale Club, in a letter to members, detailed the alleged embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars in club funds and an investigation of a single suspect, former employee Holly Connelly.

Seawall work: Bradenton Beach’s mayor warned commissioners that the city would need to dedicate funding in 2012 to the repair of several crumbling bayside seawalls.

Ascending assessment: West Manatee Fire Rescue commissioners voted, reluctantly, for an increase in the annual assessment fee for the district. The board voted for a 3.75 percent increase — less than requested by WMFR Chief Andy Price but more than recommended by one commissioner.

All aboard: Manatee County commissioners endorsed the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce ad campaign for the fare-free Island trolley. The commission approved an agreement for the sale of ads on the trolleys operating 365 days a year from the Anna Maria City Pier to Coquina Beach.

Diluted ban: Manatee County commissioners, in a divided vote, diluted an ordinance that restricts certain fertilizer use in the summer months. The ordinance is slightly stronger than state regulation of fertilizers.

 

June

Governor’s go: Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the state 2012 budget and, while striking more than $615 million, he left intact funding for 12 beach renourishment projects, including money for an Anna Maria Island project.

Not chummy: Some Anna Maria residents, concerned about sharks in nearshore waters, asked city officials and the state to prohibit chumming, especially from the Rod & Reel Pier and Anna Maria City Pier. State officials responded that regulations for shark fishing already were under review.

Making way: Bradenton Beach public works staff removed vinyl banners and banner poles near the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive. City commissioners eliminated the practice of hanging banners at the location, part of an effort to beautify the gateway.

Super promotion: Ava Ehde was promoted from the supervisor of the Island Branch Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, to library services manager for Manatee County.

Transport test: A task force made up of Island and county staff involved in maintaining Island beaches agreed to test Segway tours at Coquina Beach for a trial period. County regulations generally don’t permit Segways in county parks or preserves, but there was an interest in testing use of the personal transports on the beach path.

Boardwalk’s beginning: After a lengthy planning period, construction began on a boardwalk at the Anna Maria City Pier. The Florida Department of Transportation supervised and funded the project, which was largely driven by a volunteer city committee and Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick.

Dollars and donors: Hundreds of donors lined up at St. Bernard Catholic Church to give blood to Florida Blood Services and, through an anonymous foundation, help raise dollars for Island nonprofits.

Reversing registration: Bradenton Beach officials decided to revoke a requirement that boaters in the anchorage field south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier register at city hall. The decision followed objections from some boaters, who said state law prohibited such registrations.

Case dismissed: A Florida appeals case dismissed a complaint from former Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, who wanted to appeal his recall from office. The court said the complaint was moot. Stoltzfus was recalled in September 2010 and his seat filled by election winner Gene Aubry.

No horsing around: The Bradenton City Council moved to ban horses from the Palma Sola Causeway, sparking debate on both sides of the issue. The council later decided not to ban horseback riding and horseback surfing.

 

        Next week: The year in review, part II, and The Islander announces The Islander of the Year Award.