A 39-year-old Bradenton man was arrested May 12 in connection to a burglary spree at the Mainsail boat docks, where police say multiple fishing boats were burglarized.
According to a Holmes Beach Police Department press release, officers responded to the docks in reference to stolen nets, coolers and anchors.
Police determined that a suspect entered the first boat via the water.
Sgt. Mike Pilato investigated the burglary and was contacted later the same day by one of the victims, who said he learned his stolen property was seen at Gilligan’s Island in the Intercoastal Waterway.
Pilato responded and observed Roger Alan Darling in an unregistered boat, allegedly with all of the stolen property from the Mainsail burglaries visible on the boat and the shore at a makeshift campsite.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Darling was asked about the stolen property and allegedly said he was aware the property was stolen, but he was not the one who took the items.
Pilato took Darling into custody and the victims of the theft were contacted to identify their property.
HBPD Police Chief Bill Tokajer said officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Longboat Key Police Department and Manatee County Marine Rescue assisted.
Darling was arrested for felony theft and booked into the Manatee County jail for possession of stolen property. He was held on $1,500 bond, which he posted May 13 and was released.
Darling is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, May 31, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
Holmes Beach police allege that a 54-year-old Holmes Beach man stole more than $5,000 while working as a cashier for Jessie’s Island BP, 5424 Marina Drive.
James Driscoll is alleged to have stolen the money over a three-month period dating back to Feb. 1.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Driscoll rang up customers for their merchandise, but hit the “no sale” button at the end of the transaction.
Police say this allowed the transaction to be canceled, but still opened the cash register. The report states Driscoll would charge the customers, cancel the transaction and keep the money.
An internal audit of the business revealed a total loss of $5,684 had been taken Feb. 1-May 1.
Driscoll allegedly told police he owed $5,000 to a bookie to settle a gambling debt. According to the report, the storeowner gave Driscoll three days to pay the money back.
However, Driscoll did not show up or return calls to the owner and Driscoll was arrested at his home May 15 for felony grand theft.
He was booked into the Manatee County jail and held on $1,500 bond. According to the jail website, Driscoll posted bond later that day and was released.
Driscoll is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, June 7, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
A 29-year-old Holmes Beach man was arrested May 8 after being charged with felony possession of heroin.
Holmes Beach police arrested Kristopher Smith of 309 57th St., Holmes Beach.
According to the arrest report, police indicated probable cause in searching Smith’s vehicle in the 5600 block of Flotilla Drive at about 2:15 a.m.
During the search, police found a pink plastic bag containing a brown, powdery substance on the handle of the driver’s side door.
The substance field-tested positive for heroin.
During the search, police also discovered two syringes and charged Smith with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was booked into the Manatee County jail and held on $2,000 bond. According to the jail website, Smith posted bond May 9 and was released.
His arraignment information was not available as of Islander press time.
West Manatee Fire Rescue District property owners will pay about $5-$6 more on their 2013-14 tax bills for fire service from the WMFR.
The district board voted 4-1 to raise the annual assessment 1.91 percent, the maximum increase allowed by state law. Commissioner Scott Ricci voted against the measure, stating the increase should only be to cover expenses and not include a staff pay raise.
Commissioner Randy Cooper originally opposed the increase, siding with Ricci, but voted for the measure in the roll call vote.
In other business, WMFR Chief Andy Price presented the maximum estimate to remodel Station No. 2 on Cortez Road. The estimate from Ross Built LLC was $1.5 million, which was more than expected. The board approved the estimate with the understanding the cost could not be higher. Price said he hoped it would end up being less.
Ross Built LLC of Holmes Beach is the approved contractor. The company also was the contractor for the remodel of Station No. 1, Station No. 3 and the WMFR headquarters building on Third Avenue West in Bradenton.
The next meeting of the district board will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the WMFR administration building, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.
Heather Gioscio won the grand prize of a $6,400 wedding on Anna Maria Island at the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort and promptly donated it to her sister, Laura Clements of Childstown, Ind. Clements is getting married in October 2014 and plans to bring more than 100 people to the beach wedding. Islander Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Proctor
They came from as far as Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Canada.
And many more future brides and grooms came from Tampa and Orlando for the sixth annual Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Wedding Festival held May 5.
May 4 was the first registration day and 47 people took advantage of the chamber’s Saturday office opening, said chamber vice president Deb Wing.
“After signing up, many of them headed toward the Food and Wine on Pine in Anna Maria,” she said.
“We thought it was a perfect tie-in for our Sunday event and many attendees came for the weekend. We definitely put some heads in beds. And the future brides really did some spending.”
“We had 250 people attend and last year we had 300, but this year’s attendees were not just looking, they were buying their total wedding from the vendors,” Wing said.
Many of those at the festival came in groups of 10-14 people, Wing said, and a vendor was able to present products and services to them all at same time. At previous festivals, a lot of brides and couples would come just for a look, but often found long lines at a vendor site.
Not so this year, Wing said.
Attendees in their private vehicles, the island trolley, walking or taking a golf cart worked well to keep people flowing smoothly from one site to another, she said.
“Everybody kept moving from one venue to another in large groups and we had no backed up lines waiting to get to the vendor.
Wing did not have final figures, but estimated about 40 couples booked their wedding at the festival.
One vendor called Wing to thank her and the chamber for a great job and wanted on the vendor list for the 2014 festival.
“I probably have had 20 vendors call me last week asking about space for next year’s festival, Wing said, adding that one vendor said it was the “best ever” and he’d been a vendor at every festival.
The grand finale was at the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort in Bradenton Beach, with owner David Teitelbaum as host.
“That also was wonderful,” Wing said. “David did an amazing job of putting finale party together,” and more than $20,000 worth of wedding-related prizes were won by many of the couples.
The grand-prize winner was Laura Clements of Childstown, Ind. The Clements party flew from Ohio for the weekend, never dreaming that fortune would smile on them.
Wing said it was Clements’ sister, Heather Gioscio, who is the maid-of-honor for the planned October 2014 wedding, whose name was drawn for the grand prize. She promptly gave the $6,400 wedding package to her sister.
Clements said she and her future husband will be returning with a party of more than 100 people for their beach wedding.
“That’s what I call putting heads in beds,” Wing said.
What the heck is holding up the turtle girls from nesting?
To answer this we pulled out some dusty old files, going back to 1980. The past year’s first nest arrived on May 5. In 2011, we had a surprise with the first nest found April 27. But back in 1988, the girls were running late, and the first nest didn’t appear here until June 8.
We’ve learned over the years that with sea turtles, it’s all about water temperature.
From the time in April when the lady turtles are winking at the guy turtles to when the egg bearing females climb from their home in the water to our sandy shore, everything has to do with temperature.
The nesting female looks for a nesting spot by checking the warmth of that sand. It must be perfect — to her liking — to coddle her eggs and ensure the proper development of the hatchlings.
The females are just off shore, where they’re waiting for the Gulf of Mexico waters to reach 80 degrees or higher. And the sandy beach on Anna Maria Island must be warm enough to incubate their clutch of eggs for 50-70 days.
We start monitoring AMI’s nesting beaches every year on April 1 — running north and south on the beach by ATV. This fulfills the federal permit conditions for AMI’s beach renourishment projects.
Our staff — the world’s best volunteers — start patrolling the beach on foot May 1.
In years past, I have driven the ATV wearing full foul-weather gear, short-sleeve T-shirts, sweatshirts and sometimes a raincoat. Last year, my first day was spent in short sleeves, this year it was a sweatshirt…. Some days hood up, some day’s hood down.
I recently received a memo from Allen Foley, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission coordinator of sick and injured sea turtles. His staff has been rescuing a high number of young, lethargic green turtles. He believes the early warming trend a month ago, followed by a sharp cold snap a week ago, brought on a shock to our coastal sea turtle population.
Our nesters go by water temperature, and I go by my own unscientific test.
When I get up at 5 a.m., the first thing I do is open the back door in Bradenton Beach and let my pack of dogs out to do their duty. When my bare tootsies touch the patio tile, it’s either “brrrrr” or “ahhhh.”
Mother’s Day morning was still a little “brrrrr.” And still no nest on the beach.
But Monday? The tootsies felt a bit warmer, but, more interestingly, the sand around the new nest felt warmer than the air.
Happy turtle days and a great summer to you all.
— Suzi Fox, executive director, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring
A 30-day extension to resolve an outstanding debt to the city of Bradenton Beach by Rotten Ralph’s concessionaire Dave Russell to keep the restaurant open was not successful.
Commissioners granted the extension April 4 after earlier revealing that Russell had failed to pay rent since June 2012 following Tropical Storm Debby’s damage to the Historic Bridge Street Pier where the restaurant is a tenant, and adjacent floating dock.
Russell said the pier and long-term dock closure led to the restaurant falling behind on its $9,000 a month rent.
He said business picked back up in the ensuing months and he could afford the rent, but that the city refused to accept partial payment and the debt continued to mount.
Russell said he should have been putting each month’s rent into an escrow account, “but that was my mistake.”
Over the course of several weeks, the exact amount of money owed to the city has jumped from $54,000 to $256,000. Commissioners voted April 4 to terminate the lease with Russell and close the restaurant, but voted April 18 to delay the eviction for 30 days in hopes to negotiate a settlement with Russell.
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse has been the lone supporter on the commission of keeping the restaurant open.
On May 2, Russell presented four options to the city. He would pay the city $5,000 and turn over some of his restaurant equipment and end his lease; pay the city $15,000 and end the lease; pay $65,000 and renegotiate the lease; or simply walk away.
After much debate, commissioners voted May 2 to accept the $15,000 offer with a condition that Russell also pay his Waste Pro debt of $14,000.
Russell disputes that $14,000 bill, however, saying Waste Pro is paid a yearly fee and since his restaurant is closing this month, he does not owe the rest of the year’s bill.
In an email from city attorney Ricinda Perry dated May 5 to Russell’s attorney, William Kaklis, the agreement to accept the $15,000 and end the lease amicably and expeditiously with Russell was tentatively agreed upon.
Perry wrote that payment should be received by May 18 and the restaurant vacated by May 20.
Russell confirmed May 8 that his time on the pier was ending, and he would likely vacate the premises before the deadline.
“I’m not real happy, especially with some of the things that have been said through this process,” said Russell. “The mayor said he didn’t feel I was negotiating in good faith, and I don’t think that’s the case.”
Russell said he feels he made the city a fair offer and that the various amounts of money that was said to be owed left him confused.
“They can’t figure it out from week to week,” he said. “I don’t even know where they are coming up with those numbers.”
Russell said what the city has not shared with the public is that he also was being asked to pay 40 percent of the pier repairs and upcoming renovation project.
“So I’m paying $9,000 a month, paying the city maintenance fees and I’m supposed to pay 40 percent of the pier repairs?” he asked. “There was a comment made that people will be lining up to be the next pier concessionaire. I don’t see that happening. It would surprise me.”
Russell said the negotiations fell apart at the point of having to pay for 40 percent of pier repairs, while the pier is owned by the city, in addition to his monthly rent and maintenance fees.
The restaurant employs about 20 people. Russell said he has no immediate business plans pending, but won’t say “never.”
“My only focus right now is to end this situation with the city,” he said. “I can’t really think beyond that at this point.”
Perry’s email to Kaklis indicated the agreement between the city and Russell would be on the next city commission agenda.
However, the city has scheduled a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, May 17, at 107 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, left, took time to listen to issues of concern with Ed Natkie, right, of the Mount Vernon community near Cortez and others following a town hall meeting May 11 at Holmes Beach City Hall. Janet and Bill Mixon, center, of Anna Maria wait to greet the congressman. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, whose district is Manatee and Sarasota counties, hosted what he calls a town hall “listening meeting” May 11 at Holmes Beach City Hall.
Buchanan listened and answered a number of questions from the 60-some people in attendance.
The primary concern of those at the meeting appeared to be health care and how Obamacare would affect their health insurance or Medicare and Medicaid.
Other concerns discussed were immigration, the growing federal deficit, gun control and foreign aid to countries that are not U.S. allies.
Buchanan said he is opposed to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, but agreed something has to be done to accommodate the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the country.
He also was adamant that defense spending should not be cut. He would halt the $2 billion annual aid package to Egypt and some other foreign countries and use that money to solve the sequester issue in Congress, which is only about $800 million, he said.
Buchanan’s main concern is the growing national debt, which was $7 trillion when he entered Congress in 2006. In the past five years, the debt has grown to $16 trillion, and the national budget is short $1 trillion.
At the present rate of federal borrowing, the national debt will exceed the government’s annual income around 2025, according to a chart Buchanan presented.
Buchanan drew a round of applause from the audience for his stance that no offshore drilling be permitted along the Florida coastline, but he favors the pipeline from Canada to Texas.
He said while the long-term impact of Obamacare is unknown, he does know the entire medical and pharmaceutical industries need reform.
Buchanan said he regularly sends constituents emails and letters to get their views on topics of interest and he values the opinions of voters.
He is co-chair of the Florida delegation to Congress that includes both Democrats and Republicans and, Buchanan said, they have compromised on many issues for the benefit of Florida.
Buchanan said it’s his wish the entire Congress would be so comprising.
According to a Holmes Beach Police Department report, Mayor Carmel Monti is the victim of a vehicle burglary that resulted in the theft of a .38 caliber handgun from his 2001 Toyota SUV.
The theft was reported April 22.
Monti told police the $700 revolver was between his car seats and covered with a cloth.
He later said it was in a compartment.
According to the HBPD report, the mayor “did not notice the gun was taken.” He said it could have been stolen anytime between Feb. 1 and when he discovered it missing.
A 26-year-old Sarasota man was arrested May 6 for felony domestic battery by strangulation, felony tampering with a witness and misdemeanor criminal mischief.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Zavian Benson was with his girlfriend in the 300 block of 10th Avenue in Bradenton Beach when a man called the woman’s phone.
Police say Benson accused the woman of cheating on him and placed his forearm against her throat, cutting off her air supply.
When he let go, the woman said she was going to call police, at which time Benson allegedly punched her phone, causing it to break. The phone was valued at $300.
Police were called and officers observed red marks and scratches to the woman’s neck. Benson was taken into custody, booked into the Manatee County jail and held on $8,000 bond.
He is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, May 31, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.