Holmes Beach shares memories, honors partners

The city of Holmes Beach honored three community partners — and past city officials shared memories of days gone by — at the 62nd anniversary celebration of the city’s incorporation April 13.

        “I guess I’m the founder of Founder’s Day,” Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said in welcoming approximately 50 people to the reception and ceremony.

         The mayor announced this year’s community partner awards: Otis Rothenberger, Jeb Stewart and Gary Taylor, all of Bradenton.

        “These three people have made significant contributions to the city even though they don’t live in the city,” Bohnenberger said.

        Rothenberger, a former Islander, was chosen for his contributions to youth activities on the Island, the mayor said. Stewart was honored for beautification and maintenance projects, and Taylor and his company were honored for their recent donation of 145 palm trees.

        Also during the ceremony, Paulette Webb, former city clerk in 1971, shared her memories dating to 1953 — including her mom, then-city clerk, making her deputy clerk Snook Adams, the first police chief, giving her a valuable police identification card, and the politics of the time, including her resignation — due to a $1,200 pay cut and coffee duties.

        Former Commissioner Jeff Asbury, now of Ellenton, also recounted stories of the past. He served the city as an official 1975-78 and throughout his 31 years on the Island. He told tales of affordable taxes, insurance – less than $300 —and low property prices. He mentioned how the peacock population swelled, the popularity of Pete Reynard’s Restaurant, and how developers wanted to make Holmes Beach like St. Pete Beach.

        He shared memories of the worst storm in 1972 when “the city lost 28 houses, mostly because they built too close to the water.”

        Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine, who’s been with the city 19 years, also told stories passed to him by his father, who built the Key Royale Bridge and much of the city’s infrastructure. He described the first police station — a former sewage pumping station, evidence room and shooting range, and how one telephone line at the station was so commonly mistaken for the number to Pete Reynard’s that police officers sometimes took restaurant reservations.

        The event began with a meet and greet in the lobby with books of historical newspaper clippings. Music was provided by the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus & Orchestra. There was a posting of the colors by the American Legion Post 24, and entertainer Mike Sales sang the national anthem. The reception was sponsored by The Islander.

        The ceremony kicked off the 2012 Island CityFest, a Holmes Beach Founder’s Day Celebration, April 13-14.

        Proceeds from the CitiFest go to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce youth scholarship fund.

        The event included a classic car show, arts and craft vendors, food and beverage sales, and a lineup of bands and music throughout the two-day event.

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