If there’s an oil spill along Anna Maria Island beaches near where the beach renourishment equipment is, experts and engineers with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock can’t find it.
But Montserrat Zuckerman, a visitor from Massachusetts, said she was walking on the beach near 63rd Avenue in Holmes Beach Dec. 23 when she observed a “sticky substance like tar” on her feet.
Zuckerman said she was near the pumping station for the beach renourishment project and the water being piped from offshore to the beach looked “dirty.”
“I thought the tar could be from the pumping,” she said.
Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public relations director Laurel Reichold said they investigated Zuckerman’s report, but could not substantiate any oily substance on the beach.
Reichold said workers for Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, the company contracted for beach renourishment, could find no evidence of an oil spill in the waters or along the beach.
Hunsicker said, “Visual inspections we have made in the area of construction activity have not turned up anything on a scale or magnitude that could be attributed to the dredging.”
Zuckerman said she returned to the beach Dec. 24, but found no other evidence of oil or tar on the beach. “I just know what it looked like when I first saw it,” she said. “I’m glad to hear nothing serious was found,” she added.
Reichold said Great Lakes was averaging about 1,000 feet of sand per day spread on the beach and was working 24/7 to complete the renourishment within 60 days from its start date of Dec. 21.
Great Lakes is working north from 60th Street, spreading sand to the 79th Street beach access in Holmes Beach, then will work south toward Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.
Reichold said as the project moves south, renourishment equipment and the pumping station also will be moved and beach access locations that were previously blocked by equipment would be restored.
Bulldozers, floodlights and construction workers lined the beach Christmas Eve, turning the white sand in Holmes Beach into a construction site.
Stephanie and Phil Perry and their children, visiting from Toronto, were surprised to find a renourishment project obscuring their view and access to the Gulf of Mexico.
“We didn’t know, and it’s right in front of where we’re staying. We’re just disappointed it happened this week and it’s big. We just picked the wrong time,” Stephanie said.
The Perrys rented a condo in the 6000 block of Holmes Beach. They said they had tried, since arriving, to contact the owners of the condo.
“It’s unfortunate we weren’t informed. We paid a premium for this week,” Phil said.
Floodlights illuminated the beach in front of their condo at night and noise from the construction equipment began at 7 a.m. Dec. 24, the Perrys said.
The dredge company started pumping sand Dec. 21 and the work continues.
The Canadian visitors are familiar with waterfront projects, having vacationed at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for the past six years.
“We’ve never seen it so close, and we were thinking about the sea turtles with the floodlights on at night,” Stephanie said.
However, the project posed no threat to the sea turtles and nesting season, which ended Oct. 31.
The timing for the Perrys’ holiday vacation did not work out so well for them, as the couple and their two small children had to carry their beach gear around the construction to reach the water.
But the timing worked out well for the sea turtles and, if all goes according to plan, Phase 1 of renourishment should be completed before tourist season peaks in February. A second phase will take place at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.
With the Rusty Anchor Bait and Tackle shop in full operation on the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier, more anglers on the pier are welcome.
It’s a welcome sight as well for the city, following more than 18 months of troubles, ranging from storm damage to a closed restaurant and plenty of contentions.
Bait shop operator Rusty Roberts said business has been booming since opening Dec. 14. The bait shop was scheduled to run 24 hours a day, but Roberts temporarily curtailed the hours of operation.
He said he opens at 6:30 a.m. and remains open until around 11 p.m. — or as long as there are fishers on the pier. He plans to open the bait shop for 24-hour service when the Cast and Cage restaurant opens on the pier.
Restaurant operator Roland Pena — the contractual tenant of the city for the pier businesses — said he remains on target to open around Feb. 1. He is waiting on some kitchen equipment to be repaired, “but once the kitchen stuff is ready, it will go fast.”
In the meantime, and as planned, Pena is selling some menu items out of the store next to the bait shop. Smoked chicken and beef is selling well, according to Pena, at $6.50 a plate or a $4 sandwich.
“I said I would keep the cost of our food affordable, and I’m not looking to make a ton of money off of the food outside,” he said. “It’s just there for people wanting to fish and who want something to eat on the go. It’s all part of the pier experience we are trying to create.”
A lot of the interior is complete. Painting and the installation of the flooring are finished. Varnished wood tables are being prepared and the first 55-inch big screen TV has arrived.
“We’re really looking forward to getting it open,” said Pena.
Fun ‘N’ Sun Boat Tours, which is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, leaves the pier on its runs at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., and has become an unexpected partner to other pier businesses.
Tammy Murphy, owner of Fun ‘N’ Sun Boat Tours, said her business picked up dramatically when the bait shop opened.
“I’ve seen more people at the pier in the past week than I’ve seen in a really long time,” she said.
Business is good and so is the fishing, according to Roberts, who said black and red drum, flounder, pompano, Spanish mackerel and more are being reeled up from Sarasota Bay in better than average quantity and in better than average sizes.
Roberts has plenty of fresh bait and 20 poles for rent at any given time. He said at one time, he has had 17 poles rented and plans on having more in stock for when business gets busier after the restaurant opens.
Visitors to the pier are reminded that no license is needed to fish from the pier, as all fishing is covered under the city’s license.
“We are well aware that Bridge Street is the nerve center of Bradenton Beach,” said Pena. “That makes us aware of how important we need to be the overall Bridge Street experience. We are the face of the city and we want everyone to enjoy the Bridge Street and the pier experience.”
Traffic congestion and parking could certainly be considered among the top two items talked about in 2013.
Parking plans and easing traffic have been on all three island city agendas, especially in the latter part of the year, and Holmes Beach officials have discussed how to better inform people about congestion.
Developing an app for people to check the traffic and parking situations on the island before motorists become stuck in an hourlong wait just to get across the bridge during peak season has been part of the focus.
A few months ago, Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino suggested a smartphone app should be developed for people to check traffic and weather before trying to get on — or off — the island.
His suggestion was picked up by a committee devoted to both traffic and parking issues in the city and officials also said they would check into how other cities use apps.
Zaccagnino said he could develop an app without the complications being brought up by other officials, but the commissioner’s involvement was dropped from discussions.
Zaccagnino wasn’t deterred, however. He went about the business of developing a smartphone app on his own, which he launched via Apple’s iTunes store Dec. 21.
The app is free to download for iPhone users. Zaccagnino said he is still continuing work on the app for more uses and its adaption for Androids.
“People coming to the island need information,” said Zaccagnino. “Other cities use similar apps, where visitors can get live traffic and weather feeds, as well as live camera feeds.”
Zaccagnino said live camera feeds is something he is working on, but he ran into an unexpected snag when he inquired about tapping into the cameras on the Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road bridges that carry motorists between Anna Maria Island and the mainland.
“The county has cameras on both bridges, but I found out that they aren’t hooked to anything,” Zaccagnino said. “I was told it would cost the county about $250,000 to get them operational. I’m not sure where they came up with that amount, but I am going to work with the city. I think we could get our own cameras operational for a few hundred dollars.”
Zaccagnino said his development team included two programmers in the United Kingdom and the process took about 12 weeks and will be ongoing, with updates as they become available.
As of right now, app users can get a live traffic feed that shows island roads in the colors of green, yellow and red. Zaccagnino said green lines mean traffic is flowing smoothly, yellow means it’s pretty busy and red indicates heavy congestion.
“I’m working on updating the events calendar so people can see when there will be music and festivals, as well as a directory for local businesses and restaurants,” he said. “The goal is to have this free app available for everybody to use as soon as possible.”
Zaccagnino said the app won’t cost users anything, but he is looking at ways to sell space on the app.
“I’m not looking to make a lot of money out of this,” he said. “That wasn’t the intent and it will be a very small fee for businesses to be included.”
QRHop.com has been working with the Holmes Beach island congestion committee to develop something similar, but Zaccagnino said it appears to be web-based.
“That’s just something I believe is going to be a thing of the past,” he said. “I wanted to stay away from anything web-based.”
While QRHop.com can be accessed from a cellphone with Internet capability, Zaccagnino said apps are easier to access and use, more so than apps that are web-based, but he welcomes anything and everything that might help congestion on the island.
“That is everyone’s goal right now, and I hope this app will play a part in resolving what everyone is working so hard to address right now,” he said.
As 2013 draws to a close, The Islander looks back at a year of highs and lows, celebrations and tragedies, welcomes and farewells.
This week: January through June. Next week: July through December.
• HB mayor to look for permanent police chief: The new year began with Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti announcing a formal search for a permanent police chief after the departure of longtime Chief Jay Romine.
• Pam Leckie, Roser pantry honored with Islander of the Year: The Islander newspaper honored Holmes Beach resident Pam Leckie and the Roser Food Pantry with the Islander of the Year award for their devotion to helping island residents.
• BB mayor offers emotional new year’s wish: Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy, thinking about the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, opened the first city commission meeting of 2013 with a new year’s wish: “That we will all strive in the new year to bring an atmosphere of cooperation, positive thinking and friendliness to our paradise and leave the negativity back in 2012.”
• HB building official resigns: Holmes Beach building official John Fernandez severed contractual ties with the city, leaving no one at city hall to sign permits. In a letter to Mayor Carmel Monti, Fernandez said he’d fulfilled the intent of the short-term position for which he was contracted.
• BB Scenic Waves stalled: The Bradenton Beach Scenic Waves Partnership Committee was scheduled to hold its annual election of officers in March, but nominations at a Jan. 7 meeting at city hall stalled due to a lack of commitment to serve.
• HB enacts R-2 building moratorium: Holmes Beach city commissioners — who had debated, studied and set the foundation for a building moratorium in the Residential-2 district for much of 2012, some even before they took office — made it official Jan. 8. The moratorium was retroactive to Dec. 25, 2012.
• AM mayor calls times ‘critical’ for city: Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn urged people to attend a January meeting when commissioners were to discuss ordinances that would tie parking spaces at family residences with the number of bedrooms and also examine living-area limits for residences. “If we want to maintain our quality of life, we need to take control before we are flooded with multiple bedroom houses that can be rented to two or three families, or 10-20 people, at the same time,” the mayor warned.
• Mote reports slight red tide: Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota issued a red tide report Jan. 18 and said it found only “slight respiratory irritation” among beachgoers tested at Coquina Beach.
• Commission rejects earlier motion to halt vacation rentals: Anna Maria commissioners meeting in a special session Jan. 29 and voted 3-1 to rescind a motion the commission passed Jan. 24 that halted all vacation rentals of less than 30 days in the Residential-1 zone.
• AMITW releases 2 rehabbed sea turtles: Two sea turtles were returned to the water Jan. 23 with helping hands from Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox and volunteer Skip Coyne. “Marsha,” a juvenile female Kemp’s ridley turtle and a young adult loggerhead male named “Stu” were released into the Gulf of Mexico at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin.
• Free park enhancements offered to Anna Maria: Commissioner Gene Aubry was approached by a “constituent” who requested anonymity and wanted to look at one of several plans drawn by Aubry for a park on the city’s six lots on Pine Avenue. Aubry said the constituent then offered to pay for all plants, benches, sidewalks and lighting if the commission approved the plan.
• Girl Scouts to ask Holmes Beach to bring back outdoor concerts: Girl Scout Troop 316 engaged in the political process in Holmes Beach Jan. 22, sharing their concerns about the cancellation of Concerts in the Park. They gave the city petitions signed by more than 100 people seeking to bring back the outdoor festivals at the city field.
• Holmes Beach adopts LAR in duplex zone: With a sliding scale that will allow slightly more living space for future homes on small lots, a living-area-to-lot size ordinance limiting homes to .34 living area was passed into law for the Residential-2 zone in Holmes Beach.
• City hall overflows as AM commission reverses rental limits: Anna Maria commissioners were quick to put their gears in reverse Jan. 29, rescinding their Jan. 24 action to enforce 30-day minimum residential rentals. The 3-1 vote at the emergency meeting called by Commission Chair John Quam allows vacation rental homes to operate as before Jan. 24.
• Center mortgage down, donations decline: Acting Anna Maria Island Community Center executive director Scott Dell told the board of directors that after 2012 revenues and expenses, the center’s $4.5 million mortgage was down to $1.5 million. On the negative side, Dell said donations and revenue fell by $53,000 in 2012.
Anna Maria Elementary School first-grader Juliet Greene finishes strong in the Dolphin Dash 1-mile walk/run. Two races on the streets of Holmes Beach started and finished Jan. 12 at Anna Maria Elementary School.
A male loggerhead sea turtle was cold-stunned in the Atlantic Ocean in New England waters and rehabbed at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox took “Stu” to Dunedin Jan. 23 to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. Islander Photo: Mark Young
• AM halts all building permits: At a Feb. 6 meeting, Anna Maria commissioners voted 3-2 to halt the issuance of all building permits until a moratorium ordinance was enacted.
• BB hangs up on cell tower planner: The strained relationship between Bradenton Beach and the Center for Municipal Solutions came to an end Feb. 8 with notification the city will repeal its cellular communications tower ordinance.
• Shore resignation accepted: In one of the quickest actions of the Feb. 3 Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage meeting in Cortez, the resignation of Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court R.B. “Chips” Shore from the FISH board of directors was unanimously approved.
• County officials aim to relieve tourism stress: Manatee County tourism officials said they were looking to attract more visitors to the county’s east side to ease the strain of tourism on Anna Maria Island, particularly during the winter-spring tourist season.
• Holmes Beach continues private appraisals for remodels: Hoping to encourage one-story home remodels, Holmes Beach commissioners turned away from using values from the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s office and instead let stand the more flexible “market value” definition that includes private appraisals.
• Galvano considers rental statute: Concerns about House Bill 883 — a state law widely criticized for usurping home rule authority with respect to rentals — dominated a Feb. 28 town hall meeting in Holmes Beach featuring state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the status quo is not working,” Galvano said.
Chris LeGore of Holmes Beach has his kayak and gear ready to go as he and other members of Heroes on the Water planned for a February outing with wounded veterans. They planned to tour inshore waters and nature preserves. LeGore is assistant coordinator of the Bradenton/Sarasota chapter of Heroes on the Water. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Carol Cary of Anna Maria watches AME second-grader Evan Christenson read to her poodle, Lucy, in the school’s media center during a reading session in February. The school partners with Therapy Dogs Inc., to help children read with ease.
Amanda Varner, 24, of Sanford, N.C., was charged in February with multiple felonies after a chase ended in Holmes Beach with Varner crashing into the Bradenton Beach police cruiser driven by Officer Eric Hill. Islander Photo: Courtesy Joan McArthur
• Neighbor urges Tidemark site plan revocation: Going into the March continued hearing on the site plan for Tidemark Lodge — now Mainsail AMI LLLP — neighbor Lance Spotts, who has opposed the project since 2001, was pulling a punch. On behalf of Spotts, attorney Stephen W. Thompson wrote to the city, demanding the abandoned project be revoked and the property owner immediately brought into compliance with code requirements.
• Officer injured in vehicle crash: A Bradenton Beach police officer was in fair condition March 4 after a head-on vehicle collision March 2 with a fleeing suspect from North Carolina. Amanda L. Varner, 24, of Sanford, N.C., was charged with multiple felonies.
• Lack of support kills BB gateway project: Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler expressed disappointment after a March 7 capital improvement projects meeting that effectively killed her effort to beautify the city’s gateway at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive. Breuler was authorized via consensus to pursue the landscaping project in September 2012.
• New city position created, appointed by Holmes Beach mayor: Holmes Beach volunteer Mary Buonagura was hired by Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti to a newly created city position as a human resource specialist.
• BB to submit five BP funding projects: No one was sure how much money would be awarded in the 2010 BP Deep Horizon oil spill litigation, but municipalities were lining up last spring to spend it. Bradenton Beach announced plans to submit at least five projects.
• HB man sentenced to 8 years on porn charges: Former Holmes Beach resident Ronald Littlehale pleaded no contest and was sentenced to eight years in the Florida Department of Corrections. Littlehale was charged with numerous counts of unlawful solicitation of minors and transmission of pornography after his November 2011 arrest at his Holmes Beach residence.
• Holmes Beach OKs hens: Commissioners approved March 12 the final reading of the amendment to the city’s ordinance that prohibits farm animals in residential zones. The change allows up to four chickens per household.
• Lakewood Ranch resort tax collections rival AMI’s: Just four months into the fiscal year, the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau saw a 13.1 percent rise in resort tax collections for 2012-13 from unincorporated Manatee County, primarily the Lakewood Ranch area.
• Holmes Beach to review use of city field: Holmes Beach commissioners at their March 21 work session agreed with a suggestion by Mayor Carmel Monti to take a look at how city property is rented. He said he thought the city field might be “overused” by nonprofit organizations.
• Ex-islander sentenced to 15 to life: A Lomita, Calif., chef who killed his wife and boiled her body in his restaurant’s kitchen was sentenced March 22 to spend 15 years to life in prison. David Viens, 49, was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his 39-year-old wife, Dawn. They both had lived on the island and operated a restaurant in Bradenton Beach.
• HB chief locked out: Over the Easter holiday, while Holmes Beach city offices were closed, Mayor Carmel Monti ordered the lock changed on the police chief’s office, essentially barring interim Police Chief Dale Stephenson, a 26-year veteran of the force, from his office. Soon after, the mayor named the new chief — Longboat Key Police Lt. Bill Tokajer.
At the Anna Maria City Pier, spring break doesn’t necessarily signal hoards of college kids, but fishers and diners multiply in numbers and the boards get plenty of use, even on a cold March 12. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
• TripAdvisor names AMI 4th best domestic island: Anna Maria Island was the No. 4 island vacation destination in the United States on TripAdvisor.com’s annual Traveler’s Choice Awards.
• BB pier restaurant behind on lease payments: City officials revealed at a commission meeting that Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant on the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier was about $50,000 behind in rental payments to the city.
• ‘Busiest ever’ tourist season winds down: The first quarter of 2013 was the busiest tourist season islanders had ever seen. The numbers of visitors and accommodation occupancy figures seemed likely to set records.
• Public comment sought for AM park proposal: Anna Maria commissioners asked for more public input on a proposed park, consisting of live oak trees, a grass lawn, 15 parking spaces and restrooms at the corner of Pine Avenue and Bay Boulevard North.
• Holmes Beach commissioners square off over chief: What was supposed to be an informal celebratory swearing in ceremony for new Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer turned hostile at a commission meeting. Commissioners had voted 4-1 to accept the mayor’s recommendation and hire him over HBPD veteran Dale Stephenson. The dissenter was Commissioner David Zaccagnino, who presented past disciplinary issues in Tokajer’s personnel file that included covering for an officer who pointed a gun at his wife’s head, numerous at-fault traffic accidents and hindering a police brutality investigation.
• 5-year-old boy found dead: A weekend search for a boy who went missing April 20 after wandering away from a family gathering and taking a jump into the waters of Longboat Pass at Coquina Beach ended April 22. Lomontea Taylor, 5, was found dead in an apparent drowning.
• Center behind in funding: The Anna Maria Island Community Center board of directors got some bad news at their April 19 meeting about the upcoming May 18 black-tie gala. The center’s biggest fundraiser, less than four weeks away, was behind at least $42,000 in ticket sales.
• Mainsail attorney files petition for relief: Attorney Robert Lincoln, representing the Mainsail Lodge development group, filed a petition of relief with the city of Holmes Beach. The petition recalled prior resolutions and ordinances passed to accommodate the development plan before Mainsail’s purchase of the property. The original development, Tidemark Lodge, went into bankruptcy.
• Parking ‘yes,’ restrooms ‘no’ for Anna Maria park: By a 3-2 vote, Anna Maria commissioners approved a park and parking plan for the vacant land owned by the city at the east end of Pine Avenue, but they rejected providing public restrooms at the park.
• Island retail sales soar during ‘greatest ever’ season: A record number of visitors to Anna Maria Island during the February-April period helped retail sales follow their accommodation cousins to seasonal success. Direct spending by visitors to the island during the period totaled just under $300,000.
• Cortez Bridge hearing draws opinions: “We came here to get opinions, not give them,” said Brian Williams of the Florida Department of Transportation, opening a DOT meeting on the future of the bridge. The DOT took comments and suggestions on what to do with the aging Cortez Bridge from the estimated 200 people who came and went during the three-hour meeting.
Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale talks to lifeguards April 22 while awaiting the arrival of the medical examiner. A 5-year-old boy drowned April 20 after swimming in the waters of Longboat Pass. Islander Reporter: Mark Young
• Carleton case turned over to feds: The HBPD announced that Michael Carleton, formerly of Coast Line Realtors, was under investigation by the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of Justice. Carleton lost his real estate license in March following a three-count complaint related to a $10,000 escrow deposit paid to Carleton in 2012 for a property in Holmes Beach.
• Wedding festival spending grows: 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.
• HB mayor reports weapon stolen: An HBPD report said Mayor Carmel Monti was the victim of a vehicle burglary that resulted in the theft of a .38 caliber handgun from his 2001 Toyota SUV. Monti told police the $700 revolver was between his car seats and covered with a cloth.
• Island official seeks greater share of resort taxes: Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn told county officials she’d like to see more resort tax revenues returned to island cities to help with infrastructure needs to accommodate visitors.
• BB terminates Rotten Ralph’s pier lease: In a May 17 special meeting, Bradenton Beach commissioners unanimously voted to terminate the lease of Historic Bridge Street Pier concessionaire Dave Russell, operator of Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant on the pier for the past five years.
• Swift action promised against HB short-term rentals: Holmes Beach Commission Chair Jean Peelen promised swift action would be taken against Anna Maria Vacations, a company using annamaria.com to advertise rental units for less than seven days in the R-2 and R-1 districts.
• Commissioners agree to revise Anna Maria liquor ordinance: Anna Maria commissioners agreed May 23 to change the city liquor ordinance prohibiting restaurants that opened after 1987 from selling mixed drinks and alcoholic beverages other than beer and wine. Waterfront Restaurant owner Jason Suzor proposed the change.
• AM commission chair resigns: Anna Maria Commission Chair John Quam dealt a shock to fellow commissioners and the large gallery of concerned citizens attending the May 23 city meeting at city hall. Quam resigned, announcing that he was moving from the city.
• AME parents protest budget cuts: Local parent Karen Riley-Love started an online petition and a Facebook page titled Manatee County Schools: Teacher Eliminations Are Not An Option to protest budget cuts in Manatee County schools.
• Active 2013 hurricane season predicted: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an active season, reporting a 70-percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms.
• Holmes Beach unplugs outdoor music: Following a consensus by commissioners, musicians playing outdoors were required to unplug in compliance with a city ordinance, and HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer was directed to enforce the law.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, left, listens to 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
Some Anna Maria Elementary students and their parents and family members gather to protest the Manatee County School District’s teacher cuts in May. Islander Photo: Courtesy Karen Riley-Love
• HBPD to crack down on illegal street parking: After a hectic Memorial Day weekend, HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer said enforcing illegal parking was going to be taken seriously as a safety issue. “This weekend was very bad,” the chief said. “We’ve put up ‘no parking’ signs on the north side of Manatee (Avenue), but people were not just parking on the right of way, they were parking on the sidewalks and in the bike lanes.”
• TS Andrea wipes out sea turtle, shorebird nests: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring confirmed 50 sea turtle nests as of June 7, but lost 15 nests to the storm surge created by Tropical Storm Andrea. The storm also washed out shorebird nests on the island.
• Affaire revenue fails expectation: The Anna Maria Island Community Center’s May 18 gala, An Island Affaire, raised about $160,000, amounting to a $40,000 shortfall from what assistant executive director Scott Dell projected in March to the board.
• AM commission welcomes former P&Z chair to dais: Anna Maria has a new city commissioner. With the withdrawal of Carol Carter’s application for the Anna Maria City Commission to complete the remaining five months of John Quam’s term, only one applicant remained — Doug Copeland.
• HB petition to allow tree house gains momentum: Holmes Beach City Hall, Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran, owners of the now viral tree house at 103 29th St. N., decided that rather than fight city hall, they would legislate to keep the structure. They began circulating a petition among registered voters calling for a vote on a special ordinance to allow them to keep their tree house.
• Mainsail-HB mediation brings progress: Progress appeared to be made in the June 21 mediation efforts between the city of Holmes Beach and the Mainsail Lodging and Development team at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. The two sides met as part of an initial mediation process following a 3-2 vote in March to revoke the Mainsail site plan.
• Hunt for pier restaurateur, lengthy process: Bradenton Beach Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said the request for proposal process to have a new tenant in place at the Historic Bridge Street Pier will be a lengthy one. Commissioners and four potential tenants met at the site of the former Rotten Ralph’s June 20 to conduct a walk-through of the restaurant.
• Island officials call for input on traffic: Nothing was off the table at a June 19 Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting when the topic came to relieving traffic congestion on the island. From tollbooths to the creation of party buses, many ideas were discussed, but elected officials from Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key said they want more ideas from the public.
• Half-cent sales tax fails at the polls: The proposed half-cent sales tax that would have helped pay for indigent health care while possibly relieving property owners’ burden with an estimated 26 percent property tax decrease died in a June 18 referendum.
• State rep says HB 883 won’t be repealed: State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said June 27 at an Anna Maria city meeting that he wasn’t holding out hope that HB 883, restricting some rights by local government to regulate rental units, would be repealed.
• Anna Maria moves forward with park plan: Frustration turned to celebration for some at a June 27 city meeting when commissioners voted to accept a park design for the six vacant lots on Pine Avenue at Bay Boulevard after months of stalled discussion.
• CrossPointe hopes to bring community to unity: The pastor of CrossPointe Fellowship reached out beyond a church committee to community organizations and leaders in search of ideas to bring islanders together for an event to inspire unity in 2013.
Holmes Beach Police Officer Joshua Fleischer stands ready for duty and because of his service, a life was saved in November. For his actions, Fleischer will receive the Congressional Law Enforcement Life Preserver Award. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler and her husband Billy Crider couldn’t celebrated at their June 16 wedding near Palma Sola Bay. The couple were married during a small ceremony with family and friends in attendance. Islander Photo: Mark Young
At Holmes Beach Scentral Park dog park, a section was fenced off for small dogs in late spring. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Bradenton Beach public works employees secure a boat that broke anchor and crashed into the Historic Bridge Street Pier June 6 during the brush by Tropical Storm Andrea in the Gulf of Mexico. No one was aboard the vessel. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Esther Williams, the swimming champion and star of Technicolor musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, died June 6 at the age of 91. Williams starred in a number of films that featured her aquatic skills, including “On an Island with You,” which was filmed in part on Anna Maria Island. The 1948 movie co-starred Ricardo Montalban, as well as Peter Lawford, Cyd Charisse and Jimmy Durante. The film, set in the South Pacific, is about a movie star pursued by a handsome Naval officer.
Next issue: July through December, the year in review.
Also next week, The Islander names the Islander of the Year. Stay tuned.
Ringing in new year, angling for mild temps, great fishing
There is no better way to welcome in the new year than to celebrate the mild winter temperatures Florida offers.
Anna Maria residents as well as visitors to the island are flocking to our local waters to cast out a line. With superb conditions, the fishing is following suit. Whether you’re in a boat or fishing from shore, chances are in your favor for catching a fish dinner for New Years.
Beach fishing remains consistent for migratory species — Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish and pompano. All of these fish will readily take small jigs tipped with shrimp. If artificials aren’t your thing, simply cast out a live shrimp weighted with a split shot to keep your bait on the bottom. Other species you can plan on encountering include black drum, flounder and whiting.
Fishing nearshore structure is still proving prosperous for those in search of mangrove snapper. Fish 10-20 inches are readily taking live shrimp or live shiners. Structure in depths of 10-30 feet are holding fish. In these same areas, expect to see macks, bluefish, jacks and blacktip sharks.
And while welcoming the new year, don’t forget to acquaint yourself with new regulations for 2014. You can find these at tackle shops and online at http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational. There are a few subtle changes, so make sure you do your homework before heading out on the water this year.
Your options have improved in the new year with the opening of the bait shop at the Historic Bradenton Beach Pier. We hear fishing is picking up there.
Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says pier fishers using live shrimp for bait are reeling flounder to the deck. By using a split shot or small egg sinker to get their bait to the bottom, anglers are being rewarded with flounder 12-14 inches. To target these flat fish, Sork suggests casting baits under the pier or around the pilings. While targeting flounder, expect to hook into mangrove snapper, sheepshead and juvenile grouper.
Shark fishing at the pier is proving prosperous for those anglers targeting smaller species, such as bonnethead and Atlantic sharpnose sharks. These shark rarely exceed 4 feet in length, which makes them ideal adversaries on light tackle. To catch either species, you can use a number of baits, including shrimp, squid or cut mullet. To be sure your cut mullet is effective, cut small chunks suitable for a small-mouth shark.
Capt. Warren Girle has been working nearshore structure with good results. Keeper-size mangrove snapper are being caught by his clients on both live shrimp and shiners. Along with snapper, Girle is hooking up catch-and-release gag and red grouper. Other species at the structures include mackerel, jacks, Key West grunts and blacktip sharks.
Moving inshore, Girle is targeting pompano in Sarasota Bay. To tempt these tasty golden nuggets, Girle likes to drift fish, instructing his clients to cast small yellow or chartreuse pompano jigs tipped with shrimp all around the boat. It allows his clients a hook up with pompano, as well as a variety of migratory species, including Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish.
Finally, Girle takes his charters to small rock piles along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key for black drum. By using live shrimp, they’re reeling up drum in the 15- to 30-inch range.
The guys at Island Discount Tackle are reporting good numbers of migratory fish being caught along the beaches. Beach fishers using artificials — pompano jigs or plain old bucktail jigs — are catching pompano, whiting, bluefish, macks, jack crevalle and blue runners. Not only do these fish provide good action on light tackle, but pompano and whiting make excellent table fare.
Those opting to use shrimp to bait up along the beaches are catching the migratory species mentioned, as well as black drum, flounder, sheepshead and a few redfish.
To ensure success, try rigging with a split shot placed about 12 inches above your hook to aid in keeping the shrimp where the fish are feeding — on the bottom.
Reef fishing remains consistent for mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper. Live shrimp or shiners will produce a bite for either species. Sheepshead and Key West grunts are inhabiting nearshore reefs. For these fish, a live shrimp is a tough bait to beat.
103 Seagrape Lane, Anna Maria, a 1,221 sfla / 1,647 sfur 2bed/1bath/1car Gulffront home built in 1951 on a 98×09 lot was sold 12/09/13, Retzlaff to Lisa and Marc Biales LLC for $1,387,000; list $1,479,000.
110 72nd St., Holmes Beach, a 1,890 sfla / 2,364 sfur 5bed/3bath multiplex built in 1957 on a 100×100 lot was sold 12/11/13, Kaufman and Varanko Properties LLC to Poseidon Adventures on Spring Avenue LLC for $850,000.
238 Gladiolus St., Anna Maria, a 2,202 sfla / 2,994 sfur 3bed/2bath pool home built in 1981 on a 102×105 lot was sold 12/09/13, Agnelli to Wynne for $800,000; list $849,000.
617 N. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, a 782 sfla / 1,012 sfur 2bed/2bath home built in 1952 on a 150×100 lot was sold 12/10/13, Young to Brooks for $725,000.
5613 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, a 1,422 sfla / 1,886 sfur 2bed/2bath/1car home built in 1964 on a 100×105 lot was sold 12/09/13, Laubach to Castle for $582,000; list $595,000.
4200 Gulf Drive, Unit 105, Gulf Sands, Holmes Beach, a 1,008 sfla / 1,104 sfur 2bed/2bath condo with shared pool built in 1979 was sold 12/11/13, Bucalo Enterprises LLC to Zeien for $475,000; list $521,000.
627 Dundee Lane, Holmes Beach, a 1,687 sfla / 2,530 sfur 2bed/2bath/2car canalfront home built in 1968 on a 95×115 lot was sold 12/13/13, Boutin to Suncastle Properties LLC for $468,600.
1800 Gulf Drive, Unit 112, La Costa, Bradenton Beach, a 952 sfla / 1,088 sfur condo with shared pool built in 1979 was sold 12/13/13, Schaefer to Semans for $425,000.
1603 Gulf Drive, Unit 30, Tradewinds, Bradenton Beach, a 380 sfla 1bed/1bath condo with shared pool built in 1971 was sold 12/12/13, Brockschmidt to Staaf for $140,000.
Jesse Brisson, broker/associate at Gulf-Bay Realty of Anna Maria, can be reached at 941-778-7244.
The Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island meets most Saturdays at 8 a.m. at the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, for breakfast and a meeting. Information: 941-778-1383. Islander File Photo
Wednesday, Jan. 1
Today is New Year’s Day.
Noon — Clancy’s Shamrock Shiver Charity Plunge to benefit Caring for Children Charities, 12th Street South and the Gulf of Mexico, Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-952-1109.
• Tuesdays, noon, Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island meeting, Bridge Street Bistro, 111 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-794-8044.
• Tuesdays, 12:30 p.m., Anna Maria Duplicate Bridge, the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-3390.
Editor’s note: Events are subject to change when there is a holiday.
Send calendar announcements to email@example.com. Please include the time, date and location of the event, a brief description and a contact via email and phone. The deadline for submissions is the Wednesday a week before publication. High-resolution photographs welcome.
Looking back: The Islander’s best in sports for 2013
Happy new year to all and good riddance to the outgoing one. It was a tough one for me, personally, so I’m looking forward to 2014, but first I have to look back at all of the people and events who filled this page in the past year.
Before I get started, I need to thank the people that keep me informed on the island sports scene, starting with Troy Shonk and now Matt Ray at the Anna Maria Island Community Center. Youth sports and the new popularity of adult competition there makes up the majority of my weekly column.
I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gary Duncan, Helen Pollock and Joy Kaiser of the Key Royale Club for contributing weekly golf news.
Jay Disbrow is another person I need to thank for providing timely, weekly updates of the games and goings on at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits.
Another frequent contributor to my column is runner Mickey Hooke, a longtime Galati Yacht Sales employee and former islander. Hooke appeared in The Islander several times in 2013 — as an overall race winner four times, which is impressive, and more so considering he’s 52 years old.
Hooke won the seventh annual Spring Lake 5K in May, the St. Pete Beach Series 5K in June, the Sunsets at Pier 60 5K in July and the UA 10K Beach Running Championships in Cocoa Beach in October.
He punctuated 2013 with a win in the RRCA Florida 5K Grandmasters State Championship in September. Hooke’s time of 17:28 was 1:27 ahead of his nearest grandmasters-level competitor. He set a grandmasters record for the new course, plus it was a grandmasters record over the event’s two courses in its 10-year history.
Hooke was the 2012 grandmasters record holder at 17:33.
Hooke set his 30th record this calendar year and 19th championship since 2000. He also set a grandmasters record at the 2013 RRCA Florida 10K State Championship in April, placing second overall.
If he wasn’t winning a race, he was near the top. He won races as a master and grandmaster entry. Hooke set record after record in his age group and for his high level of success, he is — yes, again — The Islander’s top sports story for 2013.
2. Islander qualifies for world triathlon
Sandy Meneley takes second place based on her qualification for the national championship run by winning her 65-69 age group in the Aug. 10-11 Olympic Age Group Triathlon in Milwaukee.
The national title enables her to participate on Team USA representing the United States at the World Championship Triathlon next summer in Edmonton, Canada. Meneley also was a member of Team USA a few years ago, earning a fourth-place finish in Beijing.
Meneley, retired from her years as an Illinois high school track coach, began training for triathlons after retiring from teaching. A background in marathons has helped her obtain podium finishes in all triathlon distances, including her fourth-place finish in the past year at the world championship Ironman in Hawaii.
3. There’s Magic in the island waters
The recreational leagues at the Anna Maria Island Community Center provide area youth the opportunity for exposure to a multitude of sports, so it’s great when you see players who got their start here move on to play at a higher level.
For us, U14 Manatee Magic girl’s competitive soccer team has a definite “Island” flavor. Eight of the 15 players on the roster live on Anna Maria Island, while one, Brooke McIntosh, has deep roots here. Her father/coach Brett McIntosh grew up on AMI, and Aunt Beth and Uncle Scott McIntosh reside in Holmes Beach.
The other eight — Lily Meaker, Morgan Burns, Grace Bowers, Emma Monuese, Olivia Glavan, Brooke Capparelli, Danielle Capparelli and Jenna Rogers — all either formerly lived on AMI or now live near the island and got their start playing soccer at the center.
Most of them had prominent roles on a Magic team that placed second in the Largo United Halloween tournament played Oct. 5-6.
Since that tournament, the Magic girls have compiled a 4-1-3 record, which puts them in second place in their division.
For taking their game to another level, the U14 Magic girls rank as third best sports story.
4. Champs crowned for indoor soccer league
From the bleachers, one of the best sports the center offers is the summer indoor soccer league. It provides players a chance to hone their skills in a competitive league, while avoiding the stifling heat of the summer.
The list of awards won by Beach Bistro and Eat Here, thanks to restaurant owner Sean Murphy, got a little longer Aug. 16 as both teams won the championship game in their respective age divisions in the center’s summer league.
Beach Bistro upset regular-season champ LPAC 6-5 in the 8-10 division championship game behind a game-high five goals from Tyler Brewer and single goals from Jeremiah Sculco and Shane Solletti. Bistro also received strong play from Ana Gonzalez, Travis Bates, German Rivera, Javier Rivera and Tuna McCracken in the victory.
Regular-season champion Eat Here won its 11-13 division championship with an exciting 4-3 victory Aug. 16 over Island Dental Spa.
Eat Here was led by Carter Reemelin’s two goals and single goals from Dunn Reemelin and Robbie Fellowes. Fernandes was supported defensively by Conal Cassidy, Reagan Nevin and Gauge Nevin in the victory.
Dylan Joseph led Island Dental Spa with two goals, while Luke Marvin added one in the loss.
5. Pirates punch up scoreboard
Though this isn’t exactly a sports story, it definitely involves sports and it appeared in my column. In April, the Pittsburgh Pirates came to the community center to dedicate a new outdoor scoreboard.
The Pirates Charities awarded a matching grant to the center and Jackson Hayes, a youth baseball player at the center, raised the most money to help match the Pirate funding. He was front and center at the dedication with the Pirates mascot and centerfielder Mel Rojas Jr.
The Pirates also gave the same grant to the Manatee Area Youth Soccer Organization earlier in the year to purchase four sets of soccer goals.
Kudos to the Pirates organization for its generosity in our community.
6. Moss family dominates adult sports
It came across as two sports stories a week apart, but it should be noted that the center flag football league champions, Agnelli Pool & Spa Giants, and center volleyball champions, Southern Greens, couldn’t have fielded teams were it not for the legion of Moss players.
The Moss family members helped third-seeded Agnelli Pool & Spa Giants roll to a 38-22 victory Aug. 22 over Waterfront Restaurant Raiders to win the NFL flag football Super Bowl at the center.
Quarterback Ryan Moss led the way for the Giants on offense and defense. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 253 yards and five touchdown passes. Three of his touchdown passes went to Brent Moss, who finished with five catches for 73 yards.
Ryan Moss made an incredible eight flag pulls to lead the defense, which also received two pulls apiece from Rio and Brent Moss in the victory.
Then a few days later, the Moss family helped Southern Greens outlast Beach Bums 25-16, 17-25, 25-16 to win the Aug. 27 adult volleyball playoffs in the center gym.
7. AMICC Pickleball Club brings home the gold
Twelve members of the Anna Maria Island Community Center Pickleball Club competed in the Florida International Senior Games and State Championships Dec. 13-15 in Estero. The group brought home 10 gold and silver medals.
Bob McClure and Bill Wilson competed in singles and both brought home gold medals, while Clayton Taylor earned a silver medal in men’s singles.
Jim Teasdale teamed up with McClure to win a gold medal in men’s doubles, while Taylor and Wilson brought home silver.
Toni Teasdale and Barb Smith teamed up in women’s doubles and captured a gold medal, while Toni Teasdale and Gib Reffit grabbed silver in mixed doubles.
Pickleball is a combination of ping-pong, tennis and badminton and has been around for more than 20 years.
The club converges at the center gym on Monday through Saturday at varying times and they welcome new players. For more information, call the center at 941-778-1908.
8. Island Pest, Feast take soccer titles
The center’s fall soccer season came to a close with two exciting championship games in November. Island Pest Control captured the 8-10 division title and The Feast took home the 11-13 division trophy, both in close, hard-fought victories over two capable opponents.
No. 1 seed Island Pest Control defeated No. 2 seed Beach Bistro 4-3 in the championship game behind two goals each from Javier Rivera and Julius Petereit.
The Feast and LPAC battled to a 5-5 tie in regulation play, but Feast connected on three of five turns in the penalty-kick shootout to take the 11-13 title.
Michael Latimer scored three goals and Joe Rogers added two goals during regulation play to lead The Feast, while Abbey Achor, Latimer and Joseph Peery scored goals for The Feast in the shootout, securing the dramatic victory.
9. Super Bowls end flag football
NFL flag football has been one of the better additions to the center’s menu of sports offerings, and just like the big league, center Super Bowl games were played March 21-22.
Two of the three Super Bowls were blowouts, also much like in the NFL. The 8-10 division championship game, however, was an exciting back-and-forth affair between Coastal Orthopedic Bears and Tyler’s Ice Cream Vikings that ended with the Bears on top 20-19.
Late in the game, with the Bears trailing 19-13, Jackson Hayes took a handoff and swept around left end. He outran Viking defenders to midfield where he reversed field and outran everyone down the right sideline to complete a 45-yard touchdown run and tie the score at 19-19 with just over two minutes left to play. Gavin Johnston calmly hit Maddie Rogers with the extra-point pass to give the Bears a 20-19 lead.
The Vikings took over on offense with 1:50 left to play.
Facing a third down and short situation, Nathan Costello tried a short pass over the middle, but Hayes jumped the route and knocked down the pass to take over on downs with 1:27 left to play. The Vikings held the Bears in check on first and second downs, but on third down and 14 yards to go, Hayes again got loose up the right side for a 15-yard gain and a first down that allowed the Bears to run out the clock on the 20-19 victory.
Holy Cow Cardinals earned an easy 36-12 victory over Lobstahs Buccaneers in the 11-13 Super Bowl behind a strong performance from quarterback Joey Stewart.
Integrity Sound Falcons earned a 32-13 victory over Walter & Associates Bears to win the 14-17 division Super Bowl.
10. Three champs crowned in basketball
The center’s youth basketball season came to an end in June after being delayed a day due to Tropical Storm Andrea.
Not one top seed captured the championship. Second-seed Heritage Paper Co. in the Premier Division, second-seed Walter & Associates in the 11-13 division and third-seeded Manatee Cancer Center in the 8-10 division all scored upset victories to claim their respective titles.
Heritage Paper defeated No. 1 seed Walter & Associates 50-35 behind 19 points and six rebounds from Austin Miller and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Chris Lehman.
Walter & Associates captured its division with a 45-33 victory over Ross Built behind the inside-outside combination of JP Russo and Dayton Modderman. Russo scored 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while Modderman added 20 points and 20 rebounds to lead Walter.
Manatee Cancer Center, which won only two regular-season games swept into the finals and defeated top-seed Beach Bistro 22-6 in the championship game of the 8-10 division.
Stay in touch in 2014 by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll put you on our team.
3218 E. Bay Drive Holmes Beach FL 34217
Phone: (941) 778-7978
Fax: (941) 778-9392