Monthly Archives: November 2016

HBPD releases photo of home invasion suspects

The Holmes Beach Police Department released a photograph today of the two women suspected of breaking into a home Jan. 25, restraining the occupant and stealing jewelry, cash and a vehicle.

A news release from HBPD described the suspects as female — one shorter, with possible facial piercings on the lower lip, and one taller with longer hair. Both, at the time of the incident, wore knit hats. One wore green, cut-off, cargo pants.

The home invasion was reported at 10:42 a.m. Jan. 25, when HBPD received an emergency call from a person in the 4900 block of Second Avenue.

Police said two women knocked on the door of a home and, when an occupant answered, they pushed open the door and bound and covered the head of the victim.

The suspects took jewelry and cash, as well as a blue 2007 Hyundai Tucson SUV with Florida tag no. G157YB.

HBPD reported that the victim freed herself after the suspects left the home and ran out to a construction crew in the area, asking for help.

The women may have been traveling in a group of four, and HBPD believes they were camping in a tent on the beach.

Anyone with information on the incident or the suspects can call Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 or Holmes Beach Police Department Det. Mike Leonard at 708-5804, ext. 243.

HBPD seeks suspects in home invasion

The Holmes Beach Police Department is searching for two women suspected of breaking into a home earlier today restraining the occupant and stealing jewelry, cash and a car.

A news release from HBPD described the suspects as female — one shorter, with possible facial piercings on the lower lip, and one taller with longer hair. Both, at the time of the incident, wore knit hats. One wore green, cut-off, cargo pants.

The home invasion was reported at 10:42 a.m. Jan. 25,when HBPD received an emergency call from a person in the 4900 block of Second Avenue.

Police said two women knocked on the door of a home and, when an occupant answered, they pushed open the door and bound and covered the head of the victim.

The suspects took jewelry and cash, as well as a blue 2007 Hyundai Tucson SUV with tag no. G157YB.

HBPD reported that the victim freed herself after the suspects left the home and ran out to a construction crew in the area, asking for help.

Anyone with information on the incident or the suspects can call Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 or Holmes Beach Police Department Det. Mike Leonard at 708-5804, ext. 243.

Hooray! It’s a soiree

Rhea Chiles, wife of the late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, accepts an award from the Rev. Kenneth Gill of the Longboat Island Chapel. In celebration of the new Aging in Paradise Resource Center of the Longboat Island Chapel, a fundraiser named “Hooray! It’s a Soiree” was held at the Harbourside dining room at the Longboat Key Club & Resort on Longboat Key, with Chiles of Holmes Beach. Chiles operates an art gallery in Anna Maria. She was honored at the event for her contributions to the Aging in Paradise Resource Center by co-chairs Bob Trisolini and Bob Nosal and Gill before an overflow crowd of celebrants. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy

Wine lesson by Weiss

Susan Timmons, co-owner of Beach Bistro with husband Sean Murphy, introduced the cause, a fundraiser for the All Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Aldo Castaneda Foundation. Michael Weiss, co-author of “Exploring Wine” and “WineWise” and professor and chair of Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America, introduced the subjects of a wine-tasting luncheon at the bistro Jan. 22. Weiss entertained and educated the guests, who gave generously to the two foundations. The couple credits All Children’s and Castaneda with saving daughter Alexandra’s life. The event was part of the Winter Carnival, a two-day food and wine celebration of the Gulf Coast by The Concession and Beach Bistro. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy

Michael Weiss signs one of his books for Joey Lester at the Beach Bistro Winter Carnival wine tasting.

Wined, dined, birthday celebration Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and wife Phyliss enjoy a window seat at the Beach Bistro for the Winter Carnival wine tasting Jan. 22. The mayor accepted a toast in honor of his honor’s birthday.

Experts: AM cell phone problem has solution

New technology may be able to solve problems Anna Maria residents have with their cell phones.

Dropped calls, lack of a signals and roaming charges are a few of the hurdles an Anna Maria cell-phone user faces daily. Many cell phones in the city can’t receive a signal when indoors or near the north end.

Wireless services communications industry expert Ted Kreines said a new device, femtocell, is about the size of a shoebox and enhances a provider’s wireless signal through a broadband Internet connection.

Kreines, who wrote Anna Maria’s master wireless services plan in 2003, said the standard femtocell signal can reach a cell phone 30 feet away.

“It’s designed primarily for rural areas where cell phone service is weak and there are few towers,” said Chuck Hamby, Verizon’s media representative for the Tampa Bay area.

Hamby said the femtocell is plugged into a high-speed Internet cable connection and should not be considered a replacement for a cell tower.

“It’s only going to help around the house within 30 feet of the box. You’ll still have the same cell-phone issues when you get outside,” he said.

Hamby said there are other options similar to a femtocell — at corresponding or higher prices.

Those include a picocell, which has a range of about 60 meters (200 feet) and a microcell, which, Hamby said, is recommended for businesses with multiple cell phones and can re-send a cell phone signal up to about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles).

The two devices also are larger than a shoebox, Hamby said, similar to a box for a laptop computer.

Samsung introduced the femtocell in 2007, and major cellular carriers sell a version of the product. A Verizon femtocell costs about $199 or less, and there is no lease, usage plan or monthly access fees, he said.

“The customer has 14 days to approve the service. Otherwise, bring it back and we’ll refund their money,” Hamby said.

Another problem arises, however, when a customer decides to change wireless providers.

“You’d then need a new femtocell,” Hamby said.

For Anna Maria, at the end of an island with the only cell tower out of range, Hamby thinks the femtocell is the ideal solution for indoor cell-phone usage. But it’s not going to pick up the signal if the cell phone goes outside the maximum distance, usually about 10 meters, he said.

“It’s a good solution for the home, but it’s not the ultimate answer. You need a cell tower. You have to consider the many visitors to the city who bring cell phones,” he noted.

Hamby said Verizon also has picocell and microcell systems for sale that cost a bit more than $199, but expand the coverage area from several feet to a little more than a mile. These systems can handle more than one phone at the same time, and are used in offices and in public facilities, such as an airport terminal.

“If it’s just one person, a femtocell might be the answer. If a city is thinking of an overall solution, it needs professional advice and a cell tower,” Hamby concluded.

At the city commission’s Jan. 13 meeting, Commissioner Gene Aubry lamented of his cell phone problems. He suggested the mayor contact Verizon to see why the company hasn’t brought a cell tower to the city nearly eight years after the wireless services ordinance and master communications plan were adopted.

Kreines said wireless services communications facilities —cell towers — are not built or owned by providers such as Verizon and Sprint. Wireless services towers are constructed by companies such as NextG, and space on the tower is leased to a provider to send and receive a wireless signal to its customers, he said.

With advances in cell tower technology, many towers can appear as part of the scenery, or be built to look like a flagpole, Kreines added.

Selby said he would present the results of his inquiries at the commission’s Jan. 27 meeting.

MLS: Island sales up, prices down in 2010

Sales of Island homes rose 35 percent for the year from Nov. 30, 2009 to Nov. 30, 2010, according to the My Florida Multiple Listing Service.

John van Zandt of Island Real Estate on Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, said the latest MLS information he received via the Manatee Board of Realtors shows “a strong performance in terms of numbers of sales” for the Island.

While that’s good news for the industry, he noted that the information was “raw data” and does not consider price differences on the Island for Gulffront, canalfront or interior Island residences.

The MLS data showed 304 total homes sales on the Island in the 12-month reporting period that ended Nov. 30, 2010, against 225 recorded for the 12 months before Nov. 30, 2009.

For prospective buyers, the news was good. The average per-square-foot price of a single-family home declined 4 percent during the reporting period, falling from $309 in November 2009 to $298 by November 2010.

“It’s good news for buyers, not so good for sellers,” van Zandt said.

His advice to anyone who needs to sell a property now is to become “price competitive. Your property could be worth less tomorrow.”

He also said that now is a good time for buyers to jump into the market, but they should “buy to hold, not to flip, as short-term signs still point to a decrease in value pretty much across the board.”

In round figures, the MLS reported the average price of a single-family Island home for the 12-month period from November 2008 to November 2009 was $529,500, while the average price of the same-category home sold in the 2009-10 reporting period was $505,000.

The average price of Island condominiums also fell during the reporting period. The year’s average Island condo sale price on Nov. 30, 2009, was $333,500, but had dropped to $305,000 for the year ending Nov. 30, 2010.

Multi-family homes gathered considerable interest from investors during 2010, according to the MLS data, with prices inching upward. The average price of a multi-family residence was $372,600 for the 12-month period ending Nov. 30, 2009, but rose to an average of $395,000 from that date to November 30, 2010.

The MLS information is available at van Zandt’s website, www.calltheislanders.com.

Island Real Estate is at 6101 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

City seeking trash bids

Bradenton Beach commissioners are collecting bids as they consider whether to hire out trash collection or maintain a city-staffed service.

The move to seek bids — made Jan. 20 — comes with growing concern about the cost of operating a city solid-waste collection program. Commissioners and Mayor Bob Bartelt are concerned that both sanitation trucks will need to be replaced this year at a cost of more than $400,000.

That expense can be offset by an increase in sanitation fees, an increase in assessments or the outsourcing of solid-waste collection, Bartelt said.

Meeting at city hall, commissioners and Bartelt reviewed a request for proposals drafted by city attorney Ricinda Perry.

The RFP invites businesses to bid on solid-waste and yard-waste services for both residential and commercial customers. Last year, the city commission voted to hire WastePro to collect recycling and is near finalizing a contract with the company.

The city wants to know from bidders their per-resident price for once-a-week solid-waste collection, as well as the cost to collect bundled yard waste per residence and to collect solid waste per business.

Bids, Perry said, will detail customer-service programs and experience; identify references and equipment capabilities; and list any business changes in recent years, such as bankruptcies or mergers or court proceedings.

The city would require the company to handle billing services and provide a monthly tonnage report.

City staff will hold a meeting with prospective bidders to answer questions and to explain how the current service operates.

Commissioner Gay Breuler stressed, “At this proposed meeting, really emphasize that we have indeed a spoiled clientele, and we’d like to keep them spoiled as much as possible.”

Public works director Tom Woodard accepted that task. “I’ve heard from more than a few citizens … their concerns,” he said.

Commissioners said once they receive bids, which are due at noon Feb. 28, they could compare costs with the current city service.

“We’re going to look at it both ways,” said Commissioner Jan Vosburgh.

“Right,” Woodard said. “We’re just trying to find out which is the better way to go financially.”

Perry observed that the RFP contains an “escape clause” if the city opts not to accept any bids.

In other business Jan. 20, commissioners:

• Approved payment of a $7,440 invoice for auditing services from Christopher, Smith, Leonard, Bristow and Stanell.

• Approved payment of a $5,187 invoice from M.T. Causley for building department services in December.

• Approved a special event application for the sixth annual Bass 4 Bucks Redfish Tournament on June 4 at Coquina Beach.

• Approved a special event application for the Bridge Street Beach to Bay Eco Day from noon to 8 p.m. March 27.

• Approved a $3,848 quote from Anthony’s in Bradenton to replace the city hall air-conditioner, which “has finally drawn its last breath,” according to city clerk Nora Idso.

Idso presented the commission with three quotes: from Anthony’s, which offered a 10-year warranty; $3,703 from West Coast Air Conditioning and Heating in Holmes Beach, which offered a five-year warranty; and $3,490 from Air & Energy from Holmes Beach, which offered a five-year warranty.

• Re-appointed former Commissioner William Shearon to the planning and zoning board and the managed anchorage and mooring committee.

• Re-appointed Rick Curd to the managed anchorage and mooring committee.

• Approved requests for Bartelt, Police Lt. John Cosby and public works director Tom Woodard to attend the Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale May 15-20.

• Approved the mayor’s request that the capital improvements committee headed by Cosby be assigned the task of coordinating beautification of the city gateway at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive.

The gateway project had been steered by the advisory ScenicWAVES committee. Bartelt informed committee members earlier in January that he wanted to work on the project with the CIP committee in an effort to accelerate the work pace.

• Applauded two citizens, Ronald Luckerman and David Borin, who helped in the apprehension of a burglary suspect Jan. 5.

Man pleads not guilty to theft

A 62-year-old Holmes Beach man accused of stealing underwear from a neighboring home pleaded not guilty to a burglary charge.

Ernest A. Kendler was arrested after law enforcement officers searched his residence and found pairs of women’s panties identified as belonging to a 23-year-old neighbor who reported them stolen in November, according to a police report.

Kendler pleaded not guilty earlier this month, according to records at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton.

Through Bradenton attorney Mark Lipinski, Kendler also filed a motion asking the court to order the state attorney’s office to produce photographs of any evidence collected. Photographs are needed because the underwear was sent to a lab for analysis.

The warrant that led to the search of Kendler’s property said a woman told the Holmes Beach Police Department she was missing two dozen pairs of panties and that her 21-year-old sister was missing 16 pairs of underwear.

The woman also said that on Nov. 6, 2010, she saw a man going through a dresser drawer in her sister’s bedroom, according to the warrant. The intruder did not face the woman, even as he left, but she said she believes the man to be Kendler.

Lipinski’s motion states that police seized nine items from Kendler’s residence, five of which were returned to him the day the warrant was executed.

WMFR seeks remodeled Holmes Beach station

West Manatee Fire Rescue District commissioners voted Jan. 20 to remodel Station No. 1 on Holmes Beach, now that WMFR has moved into its remodeled $1.5 million headquarters on Third Avenue North in Bradenton.

Six prospective contractors attended a pre-submittal meeting Jan. 19 for the estimated $150,000-$200,000 project, WMFR Chief Andy Price said. RFPs must be returned by Feb. 16.

The project will include correcting deficiencies at Station No. 1 noted in a 2009 report by Totems Architecture Inc., in addition to any new issues discovered by a contractor and architect. The scope of work also includes a redesign of the meeting and staff rooms, Price said.

“But we really don’t have a good estimate. It could be more than $200,000, or less. I’m hoping it’s a lot less,” he said.

Price said he anticipates having a contractor and architect selected by Feb. 16 for the board to review and approve at its Feb. 17 meeting.

In other business, Commissioner Randy Cooper said he attended the quarterly meeting of the Manatee County Fire Chiefs Association and found “plenty of negative interest” in consolidating the county’s independent fire districts.

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, issued a position paper in December favoring the consolidation of nine of the 11 fire districts in Manatee County. Bennett did not include Longboat Key or Bradenton.

Price said he does not oppose consolidation if he knows it will provide the necessary services and save taxpayers money, but has long maintained that the county commission, not the fire districts, should pay for a consolidation feasibility study.

Price also told commissioners that WMFR is preparing an equipment replacement schedule to meet state and federal laws for equipment.

“We have to now look ahead and see what’s coming up for replacement or repair years ahead of time,” he said.

Federal and state laws require that firefighting equipment must be certified, meet certain standards and be replaced when the laws require, not when the equipment is no longer usable.

“It used to be we could buy bunker gear off-the-rack, but no longer. If our gear or equipment does not meet requirements, we can’t use it and a firefighter can’t go out to a fire,” Price said.

“And nothing is getting cheaper. Eventually, everything will be on the replacement schedule.”

Commissioner Scott Ricci commented on the sudden death from an apparent heart attack earlier this month of Bradenton Fire Chief Mark Souders, 46. Ricci wanted to ensure firefighters and staff to follow a rigorous physical fitness regimen and have physical examinations.

They do, replied Price.

“We have an annual physical exam based on age,” he said. Anyone over the age of 50 also takes a stress test.

Commission Chair Larry Tyler said several staff have had to retire in the past on failing the stress test or another portion of the exam.

“People not in firefighting don’t understand the stress firefighters are under,” Price said. “When you go out on call four, five or six times a day, it increases your adrenalin flow and your heart rate jumps way up. It’s a stressful job.”

Price said WMFR is organizing a Health and Wellness Committee to institute physical fitness programs.

The commission’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Third Street administrative center.