Tag Archives: 02-22-2012

Sunset promise

The Islander Promise Day group of some 45 couples and friends walk to the shore to share the final rays of daylight on Valentine’s Day 2012. The event was co-sponsored by Anna Maria Island Café on the Beach. Islander Photos: Jack Elka







The Islander and Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe host vows on the beach on Valentine’s Day, and promises “to love and cherish” were plentiful among the 90-plus participants, including the center couple above, and pictured below, Mary Ann and Stuart McArthur, of Wisconsin, who were betrothed at the event.

Mary Ann and Stuart McArthur, of Wisconsin, were betrothed at the Promise Day event. Pictured above, the couples display affection as the Rev. Jean Ronald Joseph reminds them of their

AME father-daughter dance a hit

Anna Maria Elementary School principal David Marshall doesn’t yet have a viral hit on YouTube or a hit song on iTunes, but he has hit a homerun with his idea to host a father-daughter dance for the young female students at the school.

And don’t worry, a mother-son dance is yet to come.

The Valentine’s Day Father-Daughter Dance Feb. 15 was well attended and it seemed everyone had a great time dancing, enjoying the music and refreshments and celebrating one another’s company.

The dance — at the invitation of teachers, staff and Marshall at AME’s auditorim — was open to a “daughter,” according to AME parent Karen Riley-Love, who attended to take both candid photographs for the school as well as for The Islander, and “the special man in their lives — dad, father, uncle, grandfather.”

Music was provided by AME parent Chris Grumley, a professional at the DJ mic, and corsages and couple photos were offered for sale. The event was free.


Tourism up 6.7 percent in 2011

Tourism to the Bradenton area increased 6.7 percent in 2011 compared with 2010, according to figures released Feb. 13 by Research Data Services Inc. of Tampa.

The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau retains RDS to report monthly, quarterly and annual visitor information to the BACVB. The reports typically are provided six weeks to two months after a reporting period.

Walter Klages of RDS delivered the annual report at the Manatee County Tourist Development Council’s Feb. 13 meeting.

The report stated 492,300 visitors came to the area in 2011, a 6.7 percent climb from the 461,600 reported by RDS in 2010.

For December 2011, RDS reported 31,000 visitors for the month, up 10.6 percent from the 28,400 for December 2010.

The fourth quarter of 2011 also saw an increase in visitors to the area. RDS reported 102,300 visitors to the area in the fourth quarter, a 12.2 jump from the 91,200 reported in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The total economic impact of visitors for 2011 was also up from 2010. RDS said total economic spending impact for 2011 was $511.5 million, compared with $472 million for 2010.

Internet use for reservations also increased, with RDS reporting 58.9 percent of visitors booked online, a 14.1 increase from the 51.6 percent of visitors who booked online reservations in 2010.

The 6.7 percent increase of visitors nearly matched the hike in resort tax collections — the 5 percent collected on all county rentals of six months or less — which increased 7 percent for fiscal year 2010-11 compared with 2009-10 fiscal year. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Island beach renourishment in federal budget

The good news for Anna Maria Island’s planned 2014-15 islandwide beach renourishment project is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has placed the project in its section of the federal budget, said Charlie Hunsicker, director of Manatee County’s natural resources department.

Additionally, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has placed AMI beach renourishment as its “No. 1 project,” Hunsicker said, and the county has secured funding support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s one of the Top 5 Corps projects” in the federal budget for the Corps’ Jacksonville district office, he added.

“I believe the Board of County Commissioners has positioned the project well” with the Corps and DEP.

As with any federal budget, however, it sometimes sees cuts.

“We have to be sure we still have full support in 2014. Partial funding for beach renourishment is like no funding,” Hunsicker said.

He and Coastal Planning and Engineering of Boca Raton, the marine engineering firm retained by the county for beach renourishment and dredging projects, have estimated the project cost to be $20 million-$25 million, with the USACE share at $13 million and $6 million from both the DEP and Manatee County’s beach renourishment fund.

Hunsicker said he and county commissioners have lined up support for full funding, as he believes the federal funds will eventually be challenged.

He’s obtained the backing of U.S. Senators Mark Rubio, R-Fla., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., along with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, to support the budget funding.

“Getting (funding for beach renourishment) put in the budget was accomplishing the impossible,” Hunsicker said, and the budget estimates were on the high side for a reason, which also is part of the bad news.

“Now (Congress) can only subtract” from the amount budgeted, Hunsicker said, and he still plans a 2014 start date for the project.

Hunsicker also spoke Feb. 14 with Longboat Key town officials and residents about the joint Longboat Pass management plan. He presented suggestions from a West Coast Inland Navigation District study of the pass along with those from a Coastal Planning and Engineering study. CP&E is Manatee County’s consultant for marine and dredging projects.

There were several options to make it easier to keep the pass open for safe navigation without dredging it every year.

Those options include realigning the authorized channel, using sand from navigation dredging for beach renourishment, modifying dredging to address shoaling problems along the north end of Longboat Key, managing erosion “hot spots” with renourishment, structures such as groins, and adding more sand along the existing jetty at the south end of Coquina Beach/Anna Maria Island to tighten the structure and/or add to its length.

There also was discussion of building a terminal groin on the Longboat Key side of the pass. Another option discussed was to build a breakwater in the Gulf of Mexico, or build permeable, adjustable groins from north Longboat Key into the Gulf of Mexico.

Hunsicker presented computer models showing that the tidal flow through Longboat Pass moves to the south, where the permeable, adjustable groins would be installed.

The final recommendations of the various studies of the pass resulted in a CP&E report stating a combination of alternatives are needed to achieve the objectives of an inlet management plan.

The best objectives and options are:

• Tighten and extend the terminal groin at the south end of Coquina Beach.

• Build a Longboat Key terminal groin.

• Place two permeable adjustable groins on Longboat Key.

• Maintain the navigation channel in its authorized position with advanced maintenance.

• Share dredged sand.

The group agreed, concluding the meeting with Longboat Key officials planning to present the options to its town commission for approval, while Hunsicker will present the same to the Manatee County Commission for approval at its March 13 meeting.

The cost of the project would be evenly split by Longboat Key and Manatee County, Hunsicker said.

BB store clerk charged with child abuse

According to an arrest report filed by the Bradenton Beach police department, Barbara ann Szabo, 59, 206 archer Way, anna maria, was arrested feb. 11 and booked into the manatee county jail.

Szabo posted a $2,500 bond and was released  the following day. according to the report, a juvenile male was with his mother at the Shell Land store, 301 gulf drive S., Bradenton Beach, where Szabo was working.

the report states the young boy was standing at the counter when Szabo told him to move out of the way, at which time, Szabo is reported to have shoved the boy.

the victim’s mother reported Szabo shoved her son’s “head very hard,” according to the report. the mother told police she asked Szabo why she shoved her  son, and Szabo reportedly said, “it was done out of love.”

police responded to the mother’s complaint and reported they observed several red marks on the boy’s neck that appeared from fingers and part of a hand.

Szabo was taken into custody, after police determined there was enough evidence to substantiate the mother’s allegations.

Mike Quinn, publisher of NewsManatee.org, contributed to this report. 

Softball fun for charity at Birdie Tebbetts Field

Twister’s 8-and-under teammates Cassie Leal, front, Lyndsay Yingling, left, Ashley Lyerla, Alexandra Texidor-Abel, Joceyln Leal and Allie Jacobsen, pose with Marty the Marauder of the Bradenton Marauders before the Feb. 18 Pros vs. Girls softball game at Birdie Tebbetts Field, 62nd Street and Flotilla Drive. The event was a benefit for the Twisters and the Manatee Women’s Resource Center. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell

Jose Bautista, two-time American League homerun champion, originally from the Dominican Republic and now at home in Bradenton, greets fans in the dugout at Birdie Tebbetts Field during the Feb. 18 Pros vs. Girls softball game at Birdie Tebbetts Field, Flotilla Drive, Holmes Beach. Bautista primarily plays right field, but also serves as versatile utility player for the Toronto Blue Jays. The event raised approximately $3,000 for the Twisters and the Women’s Resource Center.

Dog walker reports mangroves cut in Holmes Beach

A woman who walks her dog twice every day noticed a marked difference in scenery on one of her walks last month to the bayfront end of 28th Street, and reported it to Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen at one of her coffee-with-commissioner events in January.

“I saw a yard guy cutting down trees — at least two — and also saw the mangroves had been cut,” said Janet Fitzgerald of 29th Street, who said she has been walking the same route for two years.

Construction trailers from a stormwater project had been parked there, she said, but once removed, she saw the clearing.

And now there’s a view over the cut mangroves on the stretch of vacant land at the end of the street, and an extensive clearing across from the last house on the street, she said.

“It gets me very upset when I hear the chain saws going,” she said. Fitzgerald has lived on the Island since the 1970s, and appreciates mangroves for the shade, wildlife nesting and spawning areas and the coastal protection they provide.

Fitzgerald said she thought the property might have been city owned, and did not know who to report to on the matter.

Holmes Beach Police Department Lt. Dale Stephenson filed a police report Feb. 3, stating he spoke with one neighbor who said, “new owners of 418 28th St. had a crew cut back the area.”

Stephenson said the mangroves were cut across from the last house on the south side of the street, and possibly also on the city’s right of way at the end of the street. He said the state may share jurisdiction of some of the property seaward of the mean high water line.

The police report states that the Manatee County Property Appraiser lists a new owner with a West Virginia address for the property at the bayfront end of the street.

Stephenson has since referred the matter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for investigation.

DEP external affairs manager Ana Gibbs said the agency has not issued a permit for mangrove trimming in the 28th Street area. She also said an inspector has visited the site and determined the affected area consists of 126 linear feet of shoreline, although there is yet no report from the DEP.

Holmes Beach public works superintendent Joe Duennes said the vacant land on the north side of the street are platted lots. A check of Manatee County records indicates the properties are in private ownership.

Duennes said the dead end of the street is either under state or county control. The city’s jurisdiction is within the 50-foot-wide 28th street right of way, he said.

Two areas appear to be trimmed, one near the dead end and across from the last house on the south side of the street, and another in a stretch of vacant bayfront lots on the north side.

The trimmed area, which includes mangroves of approximately 3-4 foot height, is reportedly part of a maintenance agreement provided by a landscape architect, also a neighbor, who has been caring for it for decades.

That neighbor declined comment.

The city public works department reportedly maintains some areas and mows the rights of way on 28th Street.

Peelen pointed out the 28th Street property is near Grassy Point, the city’s 34-acre bayfront preserve. She said the mangroves are important to the Island — they “hold it together.”

“DEP always prefers to provide compliance assistance,” said Gibbs about mangrove trimming. “Our goal is to keep applicants and homeowners in compliance with the rules of the state of Florida. We encourage them to come in for a pre-application meeting with one of our permit processors, which is free of cost. This helps the homeowner know what authorizations may be required for the proposed project.”

In the event of cutting without a permit, Gibbs said, “violations are evaluated on a case by case basis. Some cases involve restoration, however, depending on the circumstances, sometimes administrative costs and penalties are imposed.”

Mayor reports on state of city

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger earlier this month issued his annual report for the city’s fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011.

        “Our residents should be pleased to know that for the first time in the 62-year history of our city, we have had no tax increase in four consecutive years,” he said.

        He also reported:

        ∙ The city is debt free, and maintains a reserve of restricted and non-restricted funds.

        ∙ A new public works building was funded by motor fuel taxes that “we all pay at the pump.”

        ∙ Also paid with funds from the fuel tax revenue, the city resurfaced 10 percent of its roadways.

        ∙ Florida Department of Transportation installed sidewalks on the north and south sides of Manatee Avenue, and on the west side of East Bay Drive.

        ∙ Florida Forest Service provided a $18,350 grant to plant trees at Kingfish Boat Ramp.

        • The city completed its first phase of the stormwater project in the 62nd Street area, and then saved costs by moving directly to Phase 2. The cost of the drainage improvements needed to meet federal mandates was split between the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the city with funding from the stormwater utility fund.

        ∙ Infrastructure improvements were made at the 63rd Street boat ramp and a footbridge connecting the city park to the trail system to the south.

        ∙ A pavilion was constructed in the city field.

        Going forward, Bohnenberger noted projects slated for the current 2011-2012 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will include replacing city-owned docks in two canals and drainage improvements in the area of 39th Street and Gulf Drive.

Roadwatch, Feb. 15-22

The Florida Department of Transportation continues to ban oversize vehicles on the Longboat Pass Bridge/State Road 789 during ongoing construction.

A DOT press release stated the contractor required the travel lanes to be reduced in width from 12 feet to 10 feet, resulting in the ban.

Work crews this week will conduct both day and night operations.

Night activities will require temporary lane closures controlled by a flagging operation. Any lane closures will be between 10 p.m.-6 a.m., and no lane closures will occur between 6 p.m. on Friday through 6 a.m. Monday.

The sidewalk on the west side of the bridge remains closed until early March, but pedestrians are able to use the east sidewalk, the DOT stated.

The draw will open for boaters on demand.

Completion of the project is expected in spring 2012.

For the Cortez area, the DOT plans intermittent westbound lane closures at night on SR 684/Cortez Road from 127th Street West in Cortez to 51st Street West in Bradenton for repair and replacement of drainage inlets and pipes.

All work is scheduled between 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. weekdays, and the project should finish by April 30, the DOT said.

Spreading sands

Work crews from Florida Dock & Dredge spread sand dredged from Bimini Bay, then pumped north to renourish the Tampa Bay shoreline by the Anna Maria City Pier. The pumping operation was to move north, between the pier and the Lake LaVista Inlet, once job wraps up on the south side of the pier. The project is funded by a West Coast Inland Navigation District grant to keep the Bimini Bay pass open for marine navigation, and the city requested the pumped material for the shoreline. A WCIND press release said the project, which began Feb. 9, should be completed in two weeks, and at no cost to the city. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin