The Geyers, Pat and Ed, with their five daughters — “the girls” — and other family.
You may know her as mayor or commissioner, or maybe Mom, but for many years, hundreds, if not thousands of Islanders grew to love her as Miss Duffy.
Patricia A. Geyer, proprietress of Duffy’s Tavern, died May 1, 2010, at age 79, but she will long be fondly remembered by many folks.
She was remembered at Holmes Beach City Hall Oct. 5, when the Holmes Beach City Commission officially named and dedicated the city hall chambers in her honor.
She served 18 years on the city commission and was elected mayor from 1990-94. During her public service, she demonstrated her courage and conviction, and her willingness to always listen to the people.
And listen she did. She had an ear — and respect — for all opinions that came across the bar at Duffy’s Tavern, the quaint and quirky hamburger joint she ran hands on for more than 35 years.
“Now cheeseburgers really are being served in paradise,” said one Duffy’s customer after Geyer’s death. The gang at the Holmes Beach institution known for “the coldest beer this side of heaven,” great burgers and even greater small-town hospitality mourned her passing.
“She was a longtime, good friend and an asset to the community,” said Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger. “She had a kind heart and was a very generous woman. She gave years of her life to the city of Holmes Beach.”
She was a great advocate for public safety, always looking for ways to improve the Holmes Beach Police Department.
Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine remembered Pat Geyer as a woman of few words. “She didn’t have a lot to say,” the chief said. “But when she did speak, you listened. She was one of the sweetest ladies you’ll ever meet.”
In the early 1950s, Pat and husband Ed Geyer, who died in 2009, were living in Cincinnati. They had friends there who vacationed on Anna Maria Island and returned to spread the word about their sub-tropical discovery.
The Geyers, too, journeyed to Anna Maria Island — first in 1954 to build a house in Sunrise Park. By the early 1960s, they had settled in Holmes Beach, where they raised “the girls,” as Pat and Ed called their daughters — Patti, Pam, Peggi, Polli and Penni.
“When we moved here, in the summer time, there was hardly anyone on the Island,” Pat Geyer told The Islander in 2006. “The kids could play a baseball game in the middle of Gulf Drive.”
The Geyers began operating Duffy’s Tavern on Gulf Drive across from the Manatee Public Beach in 1971.
But in 2001-02, the lease ran out across from the beach, and they moved the Duffy’s operation — funky signs, old license plates, photographs, seasoned grill and all — to the corner of Marina Drive and 59th Street, across from city hall.
It was tough for the tavern to be closed more than a year, but a makeover in an old service garage allowed a perfect view for Miss Duffy of her political achievements out the front window, and no more landlords for Duffy’s Tavern. They owned their place in Holmes Beach.
And they earned their place in history. In the 1980s, Miss Duffy was included in a USA Today article touting the 10 best burgers in the United States. There could be no doubts about the Duffy burgers, and the bragging rights brought much acclaim to the tavern. In fact, all those who made Duffy’s a stop in their weekly routine, took pride in the fame.
It was quite an honor for Duffy’s Tavern, and the first such national acclaim we can recall for any business on Anna Maria Island.
It was a time when women in business weren’t necessarily the norm, but like so many things, Anna Maria Island didn’t follow trends. Pat Geyer had a lot of firsts, including being the first female member of the Anna Maria Island Privateers, which this year celebrates 40 years, and the first female volunteer firefighter on AMI.
But it wasn’t just Miss Duffy who did the Island proud. She had loads of help from husband Ed, who kept a pot of bean soup at the ready and calls at home regarding politics at bay. And they raised five girls, who all put in their time at the grill, at the bar, or whatever was needed by Mom.
Pat Geyer was known for her quiet good humor, as well as for her fierce loyalty to family, work, causes, politics and principle, and she managed to pass that along to her girls.
And they — and now their families — all contribute to community events, fundraisers and the family business.
Miss Duffy earned many accolades, but surely none pleased her more than the simple appreciation for her family, her political service and her food.
“Great burger, Pat,” we’d say.
“Yep,’ she’d say, with a nod of appreciation.
Pat Geyer gave her family and Anna Maria Island a great gift — and they carry on her traditions.
It was a great life, and it hasn’t ended.
For that reason, and for many great memories, the Geyers are our choice for Islander of the Year 2010.
Anna Maria Island Privateers find Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby hiding under the desk in his city hall office Jan. 3. The mayor was taken hostage until the city and its citizens met a series of demands — cash, a key to the city and a proclamation giving the krewe free reign during its 40th anniversary year. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff
The Anna Maria Island Privateers burnish their weapons as Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby stands handcuffed to the Skullywag.
Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby presents Roger “Hoodat” Murphree with a key to the city as Tim “Hammer” Thompson, chair of the Privateers’ 40th anniversary committee, looks on.
The Islander takes pride in recognizing members of the Anna Maria Island community for their unselfish contributions and genuine concern for making this slice of paradise an even better place to live.
Since the newspaper started up in 1992, a reincarnation of a former publication that sadly sold to a national media group and eventually failed, The Islander has sought to make its path by partnering with community organizations and making its goals one and the same, by reporting the news of record, and by telling the tales of people who live and work on AMI.
At the end of the first and second year of publishing, we hadn’t yet found a way to say thank you to the people we thought worked tirelessly for a better Island. But in 1993 we found a worthy champion and launched an Islander of the year award to publish recognition for deserving people who bettered our world, much like the effort of Time magazine, although in our own small way.
Katie Pierola, 1995 Islander of the Year
She was the third recipient of The Islander’s annual award, which was presented posthumously to the late Ernie Cagnina in 1993 and to Ray Simches in 1994. Both served as mayors in Anna Maria.
Pierola had served six years as mayor of Bradenton Beach, her last term just ended, and she proved to be a bull dog in getting grants and bringing about positive change while in office. The city underwent a renaissance under her command.
She embodied the definition of a public servant in her caring, tireless efforts to improve both her city and Anna Maria Island.
Pierola played an instrumental role in the beach renourishment program and the prevention of a proposed Cortez megabridge.
Willis Howard “Snooks” Adams, 1996 Islander of the Year
Adams was born April 24, 1917, in Cortez, but spent much of his life on Anna Maria Island as a police chief who used common sense as his guide.
He was a friend to Island children, having started in 1954 an end-of-school party just for kids with hot dogs, sodas and games at the beach, celebrated now as Snooks Adams Kid’s Day. The Anna Maria Island Privateers are now host to the party annually for hundreds of children at Bayfront Park at the beginning of summer.
In 1952, Bradenton Beach incorporated and Adams became first assistant chief, then chief of police.
He is credited with helping set up the first Veterans of Foreign Wars post just after World War II and was commander three times during the 1950s.
In 1956, Adams went to work for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “My job was to take care of the Island,” he said.
From 1962-78, Adams was chief of police in Holmes Beach.
Charles and Jo Ann Lester, 1997 Islanders of the Year
Charles Lester and Jo Ann Lester fell in love with Anna Maria Island and along with it, the Anna Maria Island Community Center. They put their money where their hearts are, both here and in the small towns in Wisconsin where they also reside half the year.
For this, and for the foresight to establish a permanent endowment fund for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, for their altruistic, unselfish willingness to put themselves at the foreground of a major fundraising campaign, we honored them as 1997 Islanders of the year.
Jim Kronus, 1998 Islander of the Year
Jim Kronus, retiring in January 1999 after 25 years as Anna Maria Island Elementary School principal, was the 1998 Islander of the Year.
He was later honored with his name on the school auditorium. Twenty-five years worth of admiring students, their parents, family and former and current staff honored him at that event.
Suzi Fox, 1999 Islander of the Year
As a volunteer, with little compensation and no funding to support the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, The Islander recognized Suzi Fox for her efforts in organizing a group of volunteers to protect sea turtles.
She took over a few years earlier the state permit for protecting nesting mother sea turtles, mostly loggerheads on Anna Maria Island, and protecting the hatchlings.
Beach renourishment brought funding and necessary monitoring of protected sea turtles to AMITW, and Fox continues as the group’s executive director, overseeing teams of volunteers and coordinators who track and monitor turtle activities on the beach and bay shores.
Nancy Ambrose, 2000 Islander of the year
She was a relative newcomer to Anna Maria Island, having moved here three years earlier from Atlanta, when she earned the honor.
Ambrose brought with her a passion for butterflies and butterfly gardening, but discovered things were different here.
She then found others who shared her butterfly interests and the Manasota Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association was quickly formed.
Mostly they met to share information, but they also had goals. One was to start a public butterfly garden, which Ambrose spearheaded in Holmes Beach.
Ambrose’s impact on Anna Maria Island can be seen — and visited and enjoyed — between Holmes Beach City Hall and the Island Branch Library.
It’s there you can see the results of her hundreds of volunteer hours — blooming and fluttering — although presently it is undergoing a makeover.
It’s a peaceful refuge that adds to the ambience of Anna Maria Island. And, that’s no small feat. While over the years we’ve heard numerous cries for “change,” seldom is it so benign — and so welcome.
So, for Ambrose, who also faced the greater challenge of breast cancer that year, we say thank you for making Anna Maria Island a more lovely, gracious and colorful place to live.
Carolyne Norwood, 2001 Islander of the Year
One of the greatest challenges facing Floridians is the development of a sense of community, a sense of place.
With hundreds of people moving to our area daily from everywhere on the planet, the history of our region is often lost in the avalanche of new faces, new homes, new businesses, new things to do and see.
Where we have been, what we have done, who helped shape and form the place we now call home is often forgotten.
History is important — if only so it does not have to be relived.
The keeper of the Island’s history is Carolyne Norwood. She set out on a quest to preserve our history and we think she’s been a champion at it, so much so that we selected her the Islander of the Year for 2001.
Anna Maria Island Historical Society, its museum and the preserved old jail, Belle Haven Cottage all are thanks to the vision of Carolyne Norwood.
Billie Martini, 2002 Islander of the Year
Billie Martini is just our cup of tea. She exemplifies the charm and character of Anna Maria Island, the place that we’ve all come to love.
Martini came to the Island in 1944 and resided in Bradenton Beach for 16 years. After college, she married and, with her husband, opened the first motor court on the Island.
She has had various jobs, including clerk in charge of the city’s post office, bookkeeper of the Island water company, and billing clerk and teacher’s aide at Anna Maria Elementary School. She is retired and president of Save Anna Maria Inc.
Bunny Garst, who led the crusade with members of SAM against the 1990’s Anna Maria “megabridge” plan, said Martini was “in it from the beginning. She went to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection — it’s really how we got them on our side.”
She was elected to the Holmes Beach City Commission in 1993 for a two-year term. At that time, she said she would be a voice for the people on the commission.
She sought numerous recreational opportunities for city and Island residents, including an offer to fund a community pool, a fountain at Holmes Beach City Hall and, at one time, offered a park plan for the Holmes Beach city property that included trees and shaded areas with park benches for relaxation along Flotilla Drive, a playground, and a public swimming pool.
Although those pursuits did not see reality — don’t count them out, she’ll tell you — her finest achievement may be the realization of the Grassy Point Preserve. Located on the bayfront on Anna Maria Sound in the 3600 block of East Bay Drive (opposite Walgreens), the undeveloped area was eyed first by Martini for preservation.
It is a pristine mangrove area with a small canal that can handle canoes from the bay, said Martini at the time. The project became her “baby.”
Martini enlisted help from the Manatee County Trails Committee and the city — and anyone who would listen to her pleas to preserve the property.
Another achievement to her credit is the play pavilion at the Anna Maria Elementary School. Martini envisioned the sheltered play area and donated the funding to make that a reality as well.
Martini was recognized in 1997 with a “Pride in Community” award from the Holmes Beach Civic Association.
Thanks, Billie Martini. Thanks for your love of Anna Maria Island. It wouldn’t be the same without you.
Ilona and Jeff Kenrick, 2003 Islanders of the Year
Ilona and Jeff Kenrick were The Islander newspaper’s Islanders of the year for 2003.
The Holmes Beach couple then were facilitators for an anonymous foundation, based in the city, whose international aide amounted to about $1 million a year. The foundation’s mission statement called for it to “make contributions for religious, educational, charitable and scientific purposes.”
The Kenricks carried out that mission and created a local event that combined much needed donations for a local blood bank with a reward for successful blood donors, a cash payout to the blood donor’s choice of four Island charities.
It was a win-win for everyone and we thank them for their positive impact here and beyond.
Jeff Croley, 2004 Islander of the Year
Jeff Croley of Holmes Beach symbolized all the good qualities we could ask for in a volunteer — and he symbolized for Anna Maria Island all the good folks who quietly went about doing anything and everything they could to aid those in need after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
Croley then worked a condo maintenance/management job on Longboat Key and took vacation days to drive with a cooler, cold drinks and a chain saw to the hurricane devastated areas in East Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties looking for folks who needed aid.
He came upon The Islander office early the first morning of his good Samaritan journey looking for a big cooler and some ice … and we were pleased to oblige.
It was rewarding for us to know Jeff, a truly selfless human being.
Anna Maria Island Privateers, 2005 Islanders of the year
If there is a symbol for Anna Maria Island, it is the sword-wielding, cannon-firing, ship-riding crew of the Anna Maria Island Privateers.
For all the good they do year after year, but this year stood out for their extra efforts on behalf of one unfortunate little boy.
It only took a phone call to bring the Privateers and their ship to greet a young boy with a failing heart on a “wish” trip to Anna Maria Island. And it wasn’t just a greeting for little Tyler and his siblings and parents. They were treated to an Island tour aboard ship, escorted to dinner, and made honorary Privateers — and “Captain” Tyler was invited to return and again take over the ship.
It was a selfless and remarkable gesture that symbolized hope for Tyler and filled his little heart with love for our Island paradise. They helped give him so many reasons to return — and hope.
The Privateers also came to the rescue with Hurricane Katrina relief, collecting needed items and transporting them to Tampa.
Next, the Privateers agreed to manage a memorial scholarship fund for an Island teen who was tragically killed in a car crash. The fund for Bridget Miller is a great addition to the many youth scholarships the Privateers award every year in July.
Their annual Snooks Adams Kids Day event at the end of the school year; monthly “thieves markets” in season; the Islandwide Blood Drive; the Fourth of July parade and picnic; the Christmas parade and Santa visits; and the many, many “captures” and visits to almost every event where their presence is requested throughout the year.
They did all this and more —despite the sudden illness and death of their president, Greg “Shiprek” Davidson.
Dick Cline, who also died in 2005, aided him. Cline’s battle with cancer didn’t stop him from working tirelessly behind the scenes.
In spite of their losses, the Privateers continued to do great things.
The stated mission of the Anna Maria Island Privateers is “Pirates for children and community.”
They fulfill their mission and more, and we are all better for it.
They were our 2005 choice for Islanders of the year — this year and every year.
Pete Lannon, 2006 Islander of the Year
If there was one person who touched the fabric of life that brings out the best in the Anna Maria Island community in 2006, it was Pete Lannon.
He was more than a Holmes Beach community resource officer, he was a mentor for our children, a confidant for those in need and a friendly face that even Island visitors looked for as they passed Anna Maria Elementary School, where Lannon was a fixture as the school’s crossing guard for more than five years.
He was on leave in the fall, fighting a battle with cancer that he later lost.
And he is still missed by many, but the anti-drug program he taught at the school and his ideals live on. His character traits are heralded at the entry to Lannon Way at the school.
Christine Olson, 2007 Islander of the Year
Christine Olson’s 22-year-old daughter Tiffiany was riding a motorcycle with her boyfriend, Dustin Wilder, on Dec. 7, 2005, when the worst happened. A crash. Tiffiany’s injuries were immediately fatal. Dustin was rushed by helicopter to the hospital and died hours later — before his family could be reached.
She began to seek a way to connect people in emergency situations with the loved ones and family members who “need to know.”
A crusade to allow emergency contact information to be available to law enforcement began with Olson.
The quest led her to us in search of Islanders to sign a petition to enact some sort of “notice” for families and, subsequently, to state Rep. Bill Galvano (R-68).
There were many tearful exchanges along the way. But Galvano led Olson to an almost immediate solution at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Neither a law nor the Legislature’s or a governor’s decree was needed to make Olson’s goal a reality.
The DHSMV already possessed the means to resolve the problem of finding loved ones in dire emergencies — they just needed the urging of Olson and Galvano.
The contact information would be included in the existing Driver And Vehicle Information Database, a secure system that Florida law enforcement agencies use to access information from their patrol-car computers simply by “swiping” a driver’s license.
The opportunity to register was added to the DHSMV Web site in October 2006 and … just like that, Tiffiany’s Initiative became reality.
There are now well more than a million registered Florida emergency contact participants. “Everyone has embraced it,” Galvano said. “It’s impacted almost a million people and it’s all thanks to Olson. She turned tragedy into a positive for the entire United States.”
We thank Olson for making a difference in the lives of many, and for taking her quest to other states and the federal government. For information or to register, visit her Web site: www.toinformfamiliesfirst.org.
FISH, 2008 Islander of the Year
Last year we named the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage to our list of honorees. With three cheers to the organization that runs the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, and dedicates the proceeds to preserving Cortez, including preservation of the Burton store, the old schoolhouse, and the 90-plus acres that create the Preserve and buffers the village from encroaching development, we add another nod for this year’s purchase of the church property across from the aging former firehouse, where parking and facilities will be greatly enhanced.
Ed and Rhea Chiles, 2009 Islanders of the Year
It was an idea of great joy to Rhea Chiles, and as it formed, evolved, mired and progressed, the idea became big.
It meant something big for Anna Maria Island to be host to the first lady of Florida, to have her return here to live after a time in the governor’s mansion, after the death of Lawton Chiles very near the end of his last term.
Of course, AMI embraced Rhea.
But little did we know she had such a big idea for us, one that would bring us culture, education, arts and artists, and a sense of place in tune with nature and the beauty around us.
It came to be the Studio at Gulf and Pine, but it is a mirror of Rhea Chiles, a woman generous of her great intellectual gifts.
But take her gift and combine it with the generosity and vision of son Ed Chiles, who has developed his trio of restaurants into landmarks on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, and we have a legacy for the future.
Ed knows the value of investing in the community, of giving back to the organizations that help support youth sports, the elementary school and other worthwhile causes. Few, if any, who ask for help are turned away.
While some have doubted his vision for Pine Avenue, we see a change for the better. The new Pine Avenue vision overflows with a passion for old Florida, but with the wink of an eye, brings us into focus for the future.
Rhea and Ed Chiles.
Formidable. Enlightening. Generous. Passionate.
And they’re our Islanders of the year 2009.
Ray and Marion Sherman of the Perico Bay Club were shocked when they opened a recent letter from Universal Casualty, their homeowner’s insurance company, that said their insurance had been canceled because they failed to respond to a renewal notice sent several months ago.
Ray Sherman learned from a company representative that in the renewal notice, the premium for his homeowner’s insurance went up considerably because the nearest fire station was more than 5 miles from his property.
When he tried to explain to a Universal representative that there was a fire station at 66th Street and Manatee Avenue, about 2.5 miles from his home, his pleas went nowhere, he said.
The closest fire station to the Sherman house is indeed at 66th Street and Manatee Avenue, part of the West Manatee Fire Rescue District.
But Perico Bay was annexed into Bradenton about 10 years ago. The Sherman’s fire district of record is Bradenton, and the nearest Bradenton fire station is on 59th Street, about 6 miles away.
Because of this distance, the Shermans got bumped from the company’s Category 6 insurance rate to Category 10, the highest rating and the highest premium, Sherman said.
He said other carriers quoted him insurance as high as $1,500 a year. He was able to get a quote from Citizens, the Florida state-run insurance “carrier of last resort” for people who can’t get reasonably priced homeowners, wind or flood insurance elsewhere, according to the company website.
“And the (Citizens’) rate was still almost double what we paid to Universal,” Sherman said.
Sherman recently learned from an Islander report that WMFR is a first responder to fires and emergencies on Perico. He contacted WMFR to learn if he could keep his present insurance company and rate. WMFR Chief Andy Price directed Sherman to the Bradenton Fire Department.
Rebecca Pillsbury, BFD program administrator for insurance, has handled cases similar to the Shermans’ situation.
She said she can write a letter to the insurance carrier stating that Bradenton has an agreement with WMFR called “automatic aid” and “closest unit response.”
When a call comes to 911 from Perico Island, WMFR, with the closest station, is notified of the emergency at the same time as Bradenton and dispatches a fire truck and/or emergency vehicle.
“I explain in the letter to the insurance company about the automatic aid and first response, how it works, and that WMFR is the ‘closest unit response’ to Perico,” Pillsbury said. Her letter often solves the problem, but there’s no guarantee, she said.
Homeowners also can use Pillsbury’s letter to seek coverage from other companies.
Sherman, who said he would ask Pillsbury to write to Universal, hopes the letter works to reinstate his policy and keep his premiums from dramatically increasing.
If not, the Shermans might have to wait to get lower premiums because a fire station is within five miles of their home.
Bradenton Fire Chief Mark Souders said there are no plans at present to build a fire station at Harbour Isle condominiums, the former Arvida project on Perico Island.
As part of its site-plan approval from Bradenton, Arvida donated an acre to the city and pledged financial support for construction of a fire station at that location.
A fire station is still on the site-plan map of owner Minto Communities of Florida, Souders said, but the city has no plans to consider a fire station until Harbour Isle is nearly finished.
“We show (a fire station) on Perico as a long-range goal and that Arvida was going to build it,” he said. As Harbour Isle nears completion, the city will contact the owners about building the station.
Souders said the city has no money to build or maintain a station.
“Those are issues we will discuss with the owners when the time is right,” he said.
Meanwhile, Harbour Isle condominium owners can contact the BFD for an “automatic aid, first response” letter, Pillsbury said.
Harbour Isle opened its Perico Island sales office the week before Christmas.
A crowd gathers on the shore in Bradenton Beach for the fireworks show that blasted in the 2011. The celebrating began Dec. 31 with parties at many Island clubs and restaurants, including the BeachHouse, sponsor of the fireworks. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff
Fireworks explode over the beach near the BeachHouse restaurant with the arrival of 2011.
Revelers celebrate the approaching new year on the dance floor Dec. 31 at the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach. The restaurant hosted a VIP party, followed by a public fireworks display on the beach.
Fireworks are shot into the from the beach just south of the BeachHouse Restaurant after the countdown to 2011.
Holmes Beach Commissioner Pat Geyer dresses up as Miss Claus for Christmas 2007 and delivers Miss Duffy’s burgers to city staff.
After the events of 2010 pertaining to public records and e-mails, Anna Maria officials may want to mark Jan. 10 at 5 p.m. in calendars as a meeting not to be missed.
That’s when city attorney Jim Dye will hold Anna Maria’s annual court-ordered Sunshine Law seminar.
In addition to Mayor Mike Selby and Commissioner Gene Aubry, new members of the planning and zoning board, code enforcement board, capital improvements advisory committee and other committees must attend.
The city holds the seminar every year at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, following the swearing in of the new commissioners and mayor.
Dye said it’s not a bad idea for officials who attended prior Sunshine programs to attend the Jan. 10 course to refresh their knowledge of the law and learn of new court opinions.
Anna Maria, this past year, became involved in a political and legal dispute over public records and Sunshine. In March 2010, a public records request to ex-Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus resulted in the release of more than 1,200 of personal e-mails that discussed city business with private individuals. Stoltzfus sought a legal opinion on how he might avoid releasing his personal e-mails, but eventually had to release his e-mail communications related to city business.
Essentially, Dye said, Florida’s open government laws are divided into two parts: public meetings and public records.
A public meeting is any meeting between “two or more people who can take action” on an issue, Dye said. “Take action” means there could be an official vote by the same two people at the same time on an issue then or at a later date that has a binding effect. These meetings must be noticed to the public.
Public notice means the city must display an announcement of the meeting in a public location at least 24 hours before the meeting. The meeting notice must contain a date, time, location and subject.
There are misconceptions about the law. For example, a city commissioner can discuss an issue with a planning and zoning board member without a public notice, Dye said. Those two people do not sit at the same voting table, are not on the same body and are permitted to discuss issues without public notice, he said.
Joint commission-P&Z board work sessions do not count as sitting at the same voting table because no binding vote is taken at work sessions.
Also, Anna Maria’s mayor does not have a vote on the commission, so commissioners can discuss issues individually with the mayor without a public notice. However, two commissioners cannot meet with the mayor at the same time regarding city business.
As many in Anna Maria learned last year, e-mails are relatively new to the public records laws.
Dye said the Florida Supreme Court ruled that e-mails to and from public officials about government business are official documents that need to be available to the public. It makes no difference whether the sender or receiver is a private individual, as long as one party involved in the transmission of the e-mail about official business is subject to the open government law.
The exception is the “one-way” e-mail, where no reply is requested, Dye noted. “As long as there is no dialogue and no response,” these e-mails do not violate the Sunshine Law, he said.
Under a 2000 court order, Anna Maria holds a Sunshine Law seminar every year. The order resulted from a 1999 settlement following the city’s denial of public access to official records.
Andrew and son Andrew Procter of Holmes Beach caught his 10-pound gag grouper while fishing their favorite spot offshore before gag grouper season closed in federal waters Dec. 31. Islander Photo: Steve Ward
Cold-water fishing productive
Fishers around Anna Maria Island last week managed to produce good numbers of fish despite cold-water temperatures.
Due to rough seas, most boaters remained in the backwater bays and canals. Redfish, black drum and sheepshead topped the species list for the week, with a few reports of flounder, bluefish, gag grouper and spotted sea trout coming on the hook.
The closed season on spotted sea trout ended Jan 1. One of Florida’s favorite backwater game fish, spotted sea trout makes great table fare. Cold-water tactics for these yellow-mouthed bruisers include both live and artificial baits. Live shrimp fished on deeper grass flats under a popping cork is a tried-and-true
method to produce good numbers of trout. Artificial baits in cold water include soft plastics on a jig head, as well as small crank baits.
If you’re going to harvest spotted sea trout, remember there is a slot limit of 15-20 inches. You’re allowed to keep four fish and one out of the four can be more than 20 inches.
Until next week, tight lines and stay warm.
Jeff Medley at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge South Fishing Pier reported catches of keeper gag grouper in the 28-inch range last week. “People using fresh-cut pinfish are catching the gags,” he said.
The sheepshead bite is starting to turn on. Sand fleas have been a good bait, but fresh-cut peeled shrimp have been the producer. The pilings and rock structure of pier are where the sheepies are hanging out.
Fishers also are catching spotted sea trout on cut pieces of shrimp. “A small split shot and a No. 2 hook thrown up current, and letting it drift back toward the pier has been the ticket,” Medley said. “Using this same technique at night has been producing good numbers of bluefish.”
He added there have been a lot of stingrays caught as by-catch.
Capt. Wayne Genthner of Wolfmouth Charters said fishing in north Sarasota Bay was prosperous. Due to rough seas, Genthner fished all backwater trips . “I think I know every sheepshead in the bay after this week,” Genthner said.
He’s caught his limits of sheepshead on live shrimp. “Don’t forget,” Genthner added, “the water is super clear, so you have to use a light fluorocarbon leader and a small hook. Fourteen-pound fluorocarbon and a No. 2 hook, to be exact.”
Genthner also reported catching plenty of redfish in the north bay waters. He suggested waiting until afternoon to target the reds to give the water a chance to warm up. Genthner said he likes to find water temps in the mid-50s to find a good redfish bite. “Anything lower than that and you may find the reds don’t want to eat.”
In closing, Genthner said he too is anxiously looking forward to trout season. To target trout in cold water, Genthner suggested fishing the deeper grass flats and potholes.
Capt. Warren Girle reported that although water temps have dropped into the lower 50s, he’s been productive in north Sarasota Bay. “Deep-water canals with black muddy bottoms are where the fish are,” Girle said. Girle is fishing docks and canals and catching some black drum in the 8-pound range. Live shrimp is working well for the black drum, as well as for sheepshead and flounder. Girle also caught good numbers of redfish on shrimp, as well as soft plastics.
Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle said he’s anticipating a good spotted sea trout season. “From the looks of the tides next week, I think I’ll do some early morning wading,” Keyes said. He suggested targeting ditches, oyster bars and deep shorelines to find this yellow-mouthed game fish. Keyes’ favorite baits for trout fishing in cold water are DOA shrimp and soft plastics on a jig head.
Moving offshore, Keyes said, “The bite is still going strong.” Reports of nearshore gag grouper have been a daily occurrence. Farther out, fishers are catching red grouper, mangrove snapper and banded rudderfish. Frozen sardines, threadfins and squid have been the bait of choice.
Tom Cassetty at the Rod & Reel Pier said fishers willing to brave the cold earlier last week caught good numbers of sheepshead. Live shrimp and oyster crabs have been the bait of choice for these tasty, striped porgies. He suggested an oyster crab on a stout No. 2 hook and a split shot for terminal tackle and drifting it under the pier. Other catches on the pier included some flounder, black drum and bonnethead sharks.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the inshore fishing around Anna Maria was exceptional the past few days. Howard reported, “Redfish have been very cooperative, chewing on a big chunk of live shrimp rigged with a split shot and fished tight to deep-water docks.”
Howard’s recent charters reeled up the gamut in sizes of redfish, from rat-size (less than 18 inches) to slot-sized (18 to 27 inches) to whoppers (27-plus inches). “This winter has so far proven to be a banner year on this hard-fighting and tasty game fish. Let’s hope the FWC increases the creel to two fish per person so you can have a nice meal for your family.”
Sheephead also have turned on around Anna Maria Island and the inshore reefs of the Gulf of Mexico, according to Howard. He said live shrimp have been his bait of choice, in addition to boiled sand fleas to change up the presentation. “The key to catching these bait stealers is to use rigs that are as light as possible and ultra sensitive.”
Howard said he expects speckled sea trout to be very cooperative this time of year. He suggested fishers head to the deeper grass flats and “utilize artificial baits to zero in on the school’s locations.”
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