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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Garner heads FISH, Shore joins board

Allen Garner promises "with luck, more of the same" for his term as president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage in Cortez.

Garner succeeds Blue Fulford, who is now president emeritus. Officers and board members were elected at the annual meeting of the organization, which has become the focal point of action in Cortez.

The main focus at the moment is seeking proposals from contractors to finish restoration work on the old Cortez school building, Garner said, and getting exotic growth off 23 acres of uplands in the FISH Preserve.

Newly elected to the board of directors is Chips Shore, Manatee County's clerk of the circuit court, whose office includes all things to do with historic preservation. A major project of FISH is restoration of the 1912-built schoolhouse and its conversion to a community center and base of the new Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Museum, and Shore has been a strong supporter of the project.

Fulford, retired commercial fisherman and long a force in his trade as well as in Cortez, will remain a director. He had been president of FISH since he helped found it in 1993. He has guided it through triumph and controversy as it grew into the nerve center of much of the civic activity of the historic fishing village.

Garner is a longtime activist there, descendant of a long line of fishermen and a strong advocate of anything that will benefit Cortez and relentless foe of things Cortez deems harmful to its interests - condominiums particularly. He lives in West Bradenton but still headquarters in Cortez, where his landscape engineering company has offices in the Star Fish Co. building - a business he formerly owned.

Elected with him were Richard Culbreath, vice president; Karen Bell, longtime treasurer; Jeri Culbreath, corresponding secretary; and Debbie Hoffman, recording secretary.

New directors along with Shore are Mark Ibasfalean, Marianne Norman-Ellis and Tim Caniff. They join incumbents Patty Banyas, the Culbreaths, Maxine Myford, Capt. Zach Zacharias, Linda Molto, Garner, Bell, and Judy Breuggeman, who is finishing the term of her late husband Ernie Whitney. Fulford will continue on the board.

The meeting cheered the final payment on the FISH Preserve, 95 acres that FISH bought from the Shewe estate to provide a permanent buffer against condo development.

The organization decided to begin negotiations to purchase two vacant lots within the Preserve's boundaries on Cortez Road.