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Center board talks cell tower, finances, ‘Affaire’

By Thomas Aposporos II, Islander Reporter

The Anna Maria Island Community Center board agreed at its Jan. 16 meeting it is ready to move forward on a cell tower for the center. Board members voted to execute a contract, with a so-far-undisclosed developer, and hope to gain city approval this week.

Board treasurer Randy Langley, who told the Anna Maria City Commission in December that the Center was interested in pursuing a tower, said at the board meeting that he knows of two other locations that would like to have a tower.

“The only way to get the ball rolling is to roll it. If we just let the matter sit, someone else will submit an application for a tower and we will lose our opportunity,” Langley said.

Langley sees the tower as a benefit to the center and the community, and not only due to improved cell reception. He said the money derived from a tower should go to the center.

“Revenue gained from the tower can go toward paying off the center’s mortgage,” Langley said. Money for the center helps meet the center purpose to serve the community.

The board requested the contract be reviewed by the center attorney and its cell tower committee when the city suggested the cell tower could be located on center property. Board members want to be ensured of a way out of the tower contract, if needed.

In other board business, Langley reviewed the center’s financial situation, presenting the board with a breakdown of expense vs. revenue.

The center is continuing to pay $15,000 toward the mortgage each month, more than $6,000 above the principal payment. The board hopes to continue making payments at that level, and more if possible.

“We’ve introduced a number of new sports programs, all of which are affordable and offer good introductions to the center for new members, but they are, by and large, not major fundraisers,” said executive director Pierrette Kelly.

“We’ve had a big increase in the sports department … $3,800, which is not major revenue production,” said board chair Greg Ross.

One drawback in sports is that not all programs are taught by staff, but rather by outside contractors.

According to a report by staff member Scott Dell, however, the center’s programs, including sports, are well utilized by the community.

Dell reported there are nearly 300 members, including 5-year-olds to adults in the flag football program. Also, the West Edge After-school program includes just under 200 kids, from elementary to teens. The Lester Family Fun Day, held at the beginning of December, drew an estimated crowd of 300 adults and children.

“The center is obviously having a very positive effect on many families and individuals in the area, which is why I say that any funds generated to help pay off debt and support programs is really money which benefits the entire community,” said Langley following Dell’s report.

There are many plans and prospects to generate funding in 2012, said Kelly.

“We’ve had an above average number of small donations, but it seems that many organizations are afraid of making big commitments. Even so, we had a good turn in from United Way and Manatee County during the first six months of the fiscal year, and hopes are high that some big ones will come in March,” said Kelly.

Some upcoming income-generating events include, “Sinatra Sings,” Jan. 28, offering an evening of Vegas-Style entertainment.

On March 17, the center will host its 19th annual Tour of Homes, during which a number of unique Island properties will be open to ticket holders.

“Right now, we have only three homes for the tour. Our goal is to get at least six,” Kelly said.

The largest prospect is the March 31 Affaire to Remember event, an evening of dining, dancing, entertainment and auctions.

This year’s event will include a sit-down dinner.

“It will be a bit more formal than prior years. We’re pushing for black tie if possible,” event chair Trudy Moon said.

Unique auction items are currently being sought for the auction.

“We’re looking for personal trips, to a home ideally. A good ski-trip destination would be outstanding,” Moon said.

The theme of this year’s Affaire is “Once in a Blue Moon,” alluding to a surprise. So far, few know the secret and her intention is to keep it that way, Moon said.

“We’ve had a full house the last few years, but this year we don’t think anyone will be leaving early. Nothing like this has ever been done on the west coast of Florida. It’s a big secret,” Moon said.

“This event has huge potential for monetary gains. The auction has raised nearly $4 million over the years. The Affaire and the Tour of Homes are vital,” Kelly said.

Board members also discussed the completing a child protection policy, with the only unresolved issue still being the age when a child can be released from center custody without parental consent. The board arrived at a general agreement that “elementary-school age” should be the cut-off point for consent, rather than a specific age.

The issue of age will again be addressed by board member Scott Rudacille and the policy will likely be approved at the board meeting Feb. 27.

Members were uniformly pleased with changes in language made to the policy since the board’s previous review.

“I gave my stamp of approval to the policy before changes were made, but now we have something even better. There’s less room for confusion over wording. It’s more succinct and clear,” said board member David Teitelbaum.

The board also discussed the possible implementation of a three-strikes policy for trouble-making kids, which would result in a parent conference on the third strike.

“We need to reach out and try to help these kids, that’s what the Center is here to do. A policy like that wouldn’t be about banning anyone from the establishment, but about trying to help troubled kids,” Dell said.

The Rev. Ed Moss of Crosspointe Fellowship in Anna Maria attended the meeting to promote the film “Courageous,” which deals with issues of how to be a good husband and father.

The film will be screened in the Center’s gym at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, followed by a four-part discussion series on how the movie’s themes can be applied in life. Specifics on the discussion series will be announced at a later date.

Moss also volunteered church assistance to monitor future center sporting events, if needed.

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