History abounds at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez. The museum has several family-friendly activities and programs, as well as a centennial celebration planned for November. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Nov. 10 is an important day in Cortez as the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., celebrates the 100th birthday of the Cortez schoolhouse, the museum’s home.
According to FMM director Karen Riley-Love, the museum is planning a family-friendly extravaganza to celebrate.
The schoolhouse has witnessed almost as much community history as the items in the museum.
Riley-Love said the schoolhouse still means a lot to the community as an educational institution, the host site of community square dances, children’s plays and performances, and as a shelter during the 1921 hurricane.
The museum is seeking volunteers for the celebration, according to FMM curator Amara Cocilovo. Food and arts and crafts vendors, as well performers for narratives of schoolhouse history are being sought. Cocilovo can be reached at 941-708-6120.
FMM soon will be introducing new programs, such as a boat-building program, which is at the very heart of Cortez’s maritime history.
Riley-Love, in a press release, said families and community members will have the opportunity to build boats and learn boat-related skills in the historic Pillsbury Boat Shop.
The program will include building a “Puddle Duck” sailboat, “Skin on Frame” kayak, paddles and oars; converting a canoe into a sailboat and more.
Riley-Love said the driving force behind the program is to inspire confidence, build skills, get people on the water and make boating more accessible to families and community members.
FMM also is partnering with Manatee Village Historical Park, Palmetto Historical Park and the Manatee County Agricultural Museum to celebrate the opening of the Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton.
And FMM now features a butterfly garden and has begun offering Geraldson Community Farm shares. The farm is part of the community-supported agriculture program that promotes farmers.
The museum also continues to encourage new volunteers for its growing Friends of the Museum program, and donations of time, tools or items of historical significance are always welcome.
For more information on FMM and the centennial celebration, contact Riley-Love at 941-708-6121.
The Islander is the official media sponsor of the centennial celebration.
Former Holmes Beach building inspector Bob Shaffer was disciplined for “exaggerated leniency to marginal and over-the-line practices by some contractors,” according to an April 20 memorandum in Shaffer’s personnel file.
Public works superintendent Joe Duennes terminated Shaffer Sept. 18, with Mayor Rich Bohnenberger’s concurrence.
The April memo from Shaffer to Duennes was co-signed by Bohnenberger.
Duennes declined to comment on Shaffer’s departure, saying he expects some legal action may follow.
The April memo documents Duennes’ placement of Shaffer on a three-month probation. It also ordered Shaffer off the job for two days without pay because of what the memo labeled “contractor mismanagement issues.”
The memo gave examples, including ongoing forgiveness of late or improperly ordered inspections, failure to require proper permit cards at construction sites, and failure to issue stop work orders for improper construction at 5806 Holmes Blvd. and 120 50th St.
“In the next three months, we will discuss on a regular basis your ability to stand firm when contractor irregularities occur,” the memo states.
It concludes, “I will provide you with a written opinion each month on your progress or lack thereof, which could lead to termination.”
Although, no written opinions were found Sept. 27 in Shaffer’s personnel file.
After the April 20 memo, the next document in Shaffer’s file is the termination letter, dated Sept. 19, that cites the city’s policy designed to correct improper behavior, improve services and maximize productivity.
It is unclear, however, whether he was asked to resign prior to taking a planned two-week vacation Sept. 14.
Shaffer reportedly told several city hall workers he was leaving his position before he left for vacation, and he removed his personal items from his office.
He has not returned three calls for comment.
Duennes said Sept. 18 that Shaffer’s vacation was planned, and that he had told Duennes he was considering resigning.
Bohnenberger had no comment Sept. 25 on Shaffer’s departure, except that it was a termination and he understood Shaffer had referred the matter to an attorney.
City attorney Patricia Petruff said she has had no contact from any one representing Shaffer.
Shaffer’s departure comes at a time of increased building department scrutiny, public records requests and criticism about builders being allowed to ignore regulations and build in setbacks, a lack of inspections and erroneous lot calculations.
In addition to the April 20 memo, Shaffer’s personnel file contains documents indicating a 90-day probation for failure to complete work in November 2006, and an April 2006 memo warning Shaffer not to discuss unapproved design modifications and not to become involved with code enforcement cases.
Shaffer was hired as a building inspector by Duennes and then-Mayor Carol Whitmore in August 2002. Shaffer’s initial hourly pay was $14.83. It increased over the years to $26.96 in October 2011. In July 2011, Duennes upgraded Shaffer’s duties to include plans examiner and requested a $2.29 hourly pay raise for Shaffer.
Former public works superintendent John Fernandez, recently retired building official for the town of Longboat Key, began assisting the city as a building department consultant in July, and has been filling in for Shaffer, doing inspections and plan reviews.
Fernandez is working about 37 hours a month as an independent contractor for Holmes Beach.
According to Bohnenberger, the open inspector position is being advertised.
City Commissioner John Monetti’s code enforcement focus group suggested the city look at an outside engineering firm to review plans and inspections. The focus group was one of several commissioner-led groups aimed at solving the city’s problems with construction sites and increased residential renters.
At that time, Petruff opposed the move, defending the capability of Duennes and the building department. She also pointed out the city had recently enacted a policy change where Shaffer was doing initial inspections, Duennes the second and both doing a third.
Since April, criticism and a call for expertise in the building department has increased.
Bohnenberger recently acknowledged the possibility of calling in building department assistance from Bradenton Beach.
Building department clerk Susan Lonzo said last week she expects there will be delays in inspections and plan reviews, as long as Duennes is the only available building official.
Holmes Beach is considering revoking the 2001 site plan for a marina, lodging and restaurant complex on a commercial parcel at 5325 Marina Drive, based on a consensus of commissioners at their Sept. 26 meeting. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Holmes Beach city commissioners agreed to start a process that could lead to the revocation of the site plan for a marina, condominium, lodging and restaurant complex at 5325 Marina Drive.
Mayor Rich Bohnenberger asked the commission Sept. 26 to begin the Tidemark Lodge revocation and also to enact an ordinance to create a sunset provision for future development site plans.
“This project no longer has an active building permit,” said Bohnenberger. “It has virtually become an abandoned construction site.”
City attorney Patricia Petruff said due process requires there first be a public hearing and notice to the developer to allow them to explain why the city should not revoke the site plan.
After a hearing, she added, the commission could choose to revoke the site plan, give the developer a date certain for completion or allow the plan to remain in force with no expiration.
The project, approved in June 2001, includes plans for a marina, 120-seat restaurant and bar in a building with nine lodge units, and 20 buildings with 31 townhomes. The plan was amended in September 2002 to reflect a building layout change.
Tidemark filed bankruptcy in 2004, and the property changed hands. The property is now owned by Mainsail AMI Marina LLLP of Tampa and George Glaser of Bradenton, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office.
In 2009, Mainsail representatives met with Holmes Beach public works superintendent Joe Duennes and proposed reducing the project to 37 residential units, concealing stairs and elevators, and elevating the lodge building.
Meanwhile, a sister company, Mainsail AMI Beach Inn completed a motel at 101 66th St., Holmes Beach. In August 2011, a Mainsail spokesperson told The Islander it needed one more season of sales at the Beach Inn before proceeding with the lodge build-out.
Last week, Mainsail Lodging & Development president Joe Collier said the company purchased the 2-3 acre Tidemark property out of foreclosure with the site plan entitlements, and were assured they’d remain.
The marina portion of the project has already been built-out.
“We’ve spent a few hundred of thousands of dollars in the bulk heads, dock pilings, caps and other construction and drainage improvements,” he added.
And, he said, unfortunately, some site work was done before the project stalled because of the economy. He said the company recently cut weeds, mowed the grass and bulldozed part of the property.
According to the city code enforcement department, a notice of violation was sent to the company in March due to overgrown weeds.
As to the city’s move to revoke the site plan, Collier said, “I don’t think they can do it. We’re actually getting ready to start, get mobilized and start construction.”
He estimated one-year construction with contractor SunCoast Builders of Clearwater, and Steve Smith of Cooper, Johnson, Smith Architects of Tampa.
Other investors in the Mainsail project include Ed Chiles. Michael Coleman, Ted LaRoche and Louis and Mary Alice Collins.
“I’m surprised they’d do something like that,” Collier said. “I’m surprised someone didn’t reach out to the landowners first.”
The city has leased docks in the basin to Mainsail for the past several years and $11,500 in revenue is expected, according to the 2012-13 budget. According to Mainsail’s website, it has 50 boat slips available for lease on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Petruff told the commissioners the revocation process would not impact the dock lease.
Commissioner David Zaccagnino polled commissioners and announced there was a consensus to proceed. He also directed Petruff to draft an ordinance enacting site-plan expiration dates.
Currently, there is no expiration date for site plans under Holmes Beach codes.
Petruff said, “The codes that I’m familiar with have something that says a preliminary site plan is valid for three years unless you get your a final site plan approved within that time frame.
A final site plan is usually valid for two or three years, she said, adding that most codes have some sort of staged deadlines for building completion.
Petruff said extensions are possible under certain circumstances. The county, state and Southwest Florida Water Management District have allowed extensions due to the economic downturn, she said.
The open-ended site plans have been criticized by commission candidate Judy Holmes Titsworth and others. When Titsworth announced her candidacy in June, she called for an end to such plans as the one for the failed Tidemark Lodge development.
“About eight months ago, I told the mayor my concerns,” said Titsworth when she announced her platform. “The mayor said they’d look into it.”
Diana Shoemaker as Louise confronts Mark Shoemaker as the Sherlock Holmes character in “Postmortem.” The first play of the Island Players’ 64th season opens Thursday, Oct. 4, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 14. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays at the playhouse, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. For more information or tickets, call the box office at 941-778-5755 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and one hour before performances. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
A Minnesota woman faces a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after police say she threatened to attack a man with a knife Sept. 21 — the woman’s 45th birthday.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Samantha Basset was engaged in a verbal argument with the man while staying in the 1300 block of Gulf Drive North in Bradenton Beach.
The man told police at some point during the argument, the woman picked up a knife. She allegedly threatened to harm herself, but the victim said she then turned the knife on him and threatened to stab him.
The man wrestled away the knife and the woman left the residence. Bradenton Beach Police Department officers responded and located the woman in the 2500 block of Gulf Drive North.
According to the report, Basset admitted she argued with the man, but denied threatening him with a knife. She also told police she had no intention of harming herself.
She was arrested and booked into the Manatee County jail on $1,500 bond and was later released. Basset was scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at the Manatee County Judicial Center 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
Islander news partner NewsManatee.org publisher Mike Quinn contributed to this report.
The Florida Department of Transportation has authorized Florida Power & Light to replace wires on existing utility poles on the Longboat Pass Bridge/State Road 789 from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Oct. 9 and 10.
A flagging operation will be in place to conduct north and southbound lane closures.
Motorists and pedestrians are advised to expect possible delays and use caution in the area.
This shell-adorned turtle sandcastle, patterned after nature of sand and shell, rests on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico in Holmes Beach, seemingly making its way to the water as nesting turtles and their hatchlings often do on Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
West Manatee Fire Rescue Commissioners Randy Cooper and Scott Ricci show their district Breast Cancer Awareness Month shirts at the Sept. 20 commission meeting. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
West Manatee Fire Rescue District commissioners at their Sept. 20 meeting gave the go-ahead to Fire Chief Andy Price to negotiate a lease and likely purchase of property behind Station 2 in Cortez.
As part of remodeling plans to accommodate a full-time force at the volunteer station at 10350 Cortez Road, Price told commissioners he’s working on a lease with Manatee Fruit Company, the owners of the 80-by-400-foot parcel.
In the Sept. 5 draft lease, there is an option for future impact fees to be credited against an unstated purchase price.
Additional terms include rent of $1 for 10 years, an option to terminate or if there’s no termination, automatic five-year renewals. The proposed lease also limits the property for fire district and public service purposes, including Manatee County Emergency Medical Services.
“It sounds like a good deal,” said Commission Chair Randy Cooper. “And they’ve been very cooperative.”
Price agreed, saying Manatee Fruit has been “very gracious.”
The parcel is needed for stormwater retention and relocation of parking so the build-out can take place near the front of the station, Price said after the meeting.
The plan is to update, repair and provide firefighter living quarters at the station.
In May, commissioners chose Ross Built Construction Co. of Holmes Beach and Manuel Synalovski Associates of Fort Lauderdale as the design-build team for the $900,000 project at Station 2, originally built in 1987.
The district currently leases a similarly sized property owned by Manatee Fruit Company for its training facility behind the station. Price said the proposed acquisition would “square off the property.”
In other matters:
• There were no appeals at a public hearing of the 2012 fire assessment rate. At a May 17 hearing, commissioners increased the district assessment about $4 more than the 2011-12 rate to meet rising operational costs and expected increases in health insurance costs. The new fiscal year began Oct. 1.
• Cooper announced WMFR is looking to host another Citizens Academy to allow the public to observe and learn side-by-side with firefighters in training. More details are expected in October.
• Commissioners heard the first reading of an ordinance, amending the district’s Firefighters Retirement Plan to reflect mortality table updates for accruals and to allow for a maximum of 300 hours in retirement calculations.
• A unanimous vote also set aside a 2000 Ford Expedition as surplus equipment. Pursuant to state law, the vehicle will be offered to other public agencies and, if there are no interested departments, it will be sold at auction.
WMFR wears pink for October benefit
West Manatee Fire Rescue is in the pink for October.
Commissioners, staff and firefighters will be wearing pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The firefighters will wear pink T-shirts daily.
Staff will wear a pink polo shirt once a week.
And fire commissioners will wear their pink shirts at the Oct. 18 district meeting.
225 17th St. N., Unit 3, Bradenton Beach Club, Bradenton Beach, a 1,656 sfla / 2,098 sfur 3bed/2½bath/2car condo with shared pools built in 2005 was sold 09/05/12, Debasco LLC to Badowski for $370,000; list $399,000.
407 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, a vacant 52×145 lot zoned ROR was sold 09/07/12, Brown to Island Girl Properties LLC for $329,000; list $399,000.
1 Palm Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, a vacant 89×100 lot was sold 09/10/12, Davis to Jude for $261,700; list $289,000.
501 Gulf Drive N., Unit 108, Bridgeport, Bradenton Beach, a 1,128 sfla / 1,198 sfur 2bed/2bath condo with shared pool built in 1982 was sold 09/13/12, Wilkin to Damico for $225,000; list $249,000.
1801 Gulf Drive N., Unit 208, Runaway Bay, Bradenton Beach, a 691 sfla / 771 sfur 1bed/1bath condo with shared pool built in 1978 was sold 09/11/12, Atkins to Budasoff for $143,500.
Jesse Brisson, broker/associate at Gulf-Bay Realty of Anna Maria, can be reached at 941-778-7244.