Tag Archives: 04-02-2014

Public invited to crow supper



The Anna Maria public was invited to observe a special “Crow Supper” April 1 under the limbs of the flourishing live oak trees on city property opposite the city pier.

According to event planner Mike Miller, the supper was to be served to all those who “griped about the dead live oaks that were improperly planted and watered.”

Miller, an Anna Maria resident and native plant enthusiast, provided assistance when the trees were planted.

Miller also planned to give a lecture on the difference between the “dead” and the “deciduous.”

He said he also would talk about “the process of acclimatization of trees grown on semi-salt tolerant sweet water to a bay-front location frequently subject to salt-laden storm winds.”

Miller invited “all the faithful people who never doubted the trees would survive to join in when Rex Hagen and the Pine Avenue Restoration LLC Choir sing their rendition of an age-old song, ‘We Told You So.’”

Mayor Sue Lynn will close the festivities with a reading of her favorite poem, “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

April Fool’s Day.

Bradenton Beach accepting bids for city pier renovation

Contractors: Sharpen your pencils.

The city of Bradenton Beach is accepting bids from contractors for renovation of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

Contractors have until 2 p.m. Monday, April 21, to submit sealed bids to city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., where all bids will be opened at a public meeting in the commission chambers.

At that time, sealed letters will be opened and the proposed bid amount will be read aloud. Late proposals or modifications will not be accepted.

A pre-bid meeting was held March 18 at city hall, where Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert said a large crowd representing a dozen companies expressed interest in the project.

“We are going to award the bid based on what we have provided as far as the specifications,” Gilbert said during a pier meeting with city officials that took place in commission chambers March 19. “Once we’ve awarded the bid, if the winning bidder wants to do some changes and the city is amenable to it, that’s when we will discuss any variations.”

The plans call for the new pier to have a light gray composite decking, waterlines to new fishing stations and 21 extra support pilings. The entire project will encompass 9,700 square feet.

The extra pilings will be added to protect the pier near and around a floating dock. The pilings will form a protective barrier to prevent damage that has resulted in the past from boats breaking loose from a nearby anchorage area in Sarasota Bay.

“We had several people mention that they could get the same quality decking material for cheaper, but right now we are concerned with the bid itself, we can talk about the specs later,” Gilbert said.

In addition, city commissioners approved at their March 20 commission meeting an additional request for proposals for the electrical portion of the renovation with the same April 21 due date.

According to the RFP, the electrical contractor is responsible for installing all lighting equipment on the fishing pier, including poles, pole bases, arms and fixtures and installing LED lamps and luminaries on the poles, canopies and pavilions.

If all goes according to plan, the reconstruction of the pier will begin in June.

The project has been delayed 10 months from the original completion target date of August 2013.

While the lapse resulted in a $1 million matching-fund partnership with Manatee County, easing the financial worries of Bradenton Beach, officials have been on edge to get the project started.

City officials say they will need a week to rate the bids, but will have recommendation in a matter of days after the bid opening an following the May meeting for the commission’s final approval.

The next meeting on the pier will be at noon Wednesday, April 2, at city hall.

ELRA opposes city’s motions to dismiss, substitute parties

Owners of the BeachHouse Restaurant have opposed a motion to list Bradenton Beach as the defendant in a lawsuit filed against the mayor, saying the mayor bears all the responsibility of alleged wrongdoing.

Robert Lincoln, the attorney representing BeachHouse corporate owner ELRA Inc. and its owner, Ed Chiles, has opposed a motion from the city to substitute parties and to dismiss portions of the lawsuit filed in February against Mayor Bill Shearon.

Charles F. Johnson, of Blalock Walters, representing Shearon on behalf of the city, filed a motion to substitute parties March 3, arguing the real party interest is the city, not Shearon, and the lawsuit should reflect that.

However, Lincoln responded that the city isn’t the problem and substituting parties would not make sense. Lincoln did not return phone calls from The Islander.

ELRA’s lawsuit challenges a pattern of past behavior and statements made by Shearon. It alleges he overstepped his authority and has a conflict of interest in another ongoing lawsuit, Meilner-Martin v. ELRA-Bradenton Beach, to terminate a development agreement between the city and ELRA for a parking lot on the beach.

Johnson alleges the city charter provides for a weak-mayor system of government and claims that Shearon has tried to remold the position to reflect his position.

According to Paul Ferber, part-time city resident and former political science professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, the biggest difference between the two systems is that in a strong-mayor system, the mayor has the authority to hire and fire the department heads.

“Only the full commission has the power to do this in Bradenton Beach and, thus, what we clearly have here is the weak-mayor system,” Ferber said in an email.

However, the ELRA suit alleges Shearon was acting as a “strong mayor” when he threatened department heads if they failed to provide evidence to sway the commission to deny the development agreement.

Shearon has denied those allegations.

“I was elected by the people to run the city in the best way I can,” he said. “They seem to have a problem with how I’m running the city and thoughts about how I should be running the city, yet, neither one of them live here. Maybe they should move here and run for mayor.”

If Shearon where part of a strong-mayor government, he would have more executive authority over the city and would not be able to vote on the commission, according to Ferber.

At the March 20 commission meeting, Vice Mayor Janie Robertson motioned to reaffirm the mayor as the administrator of Bradenton Beach as described by the city charter and employee handbook.

However, her motion died for lack of a second. Robertson asked if the city would adopt an organizational chart in the future, and Shearon said that was his intent.

The lawsuit also alleges that Shearon has a conflict of interest in the Meilner-Martin lawsuit, which originally listed Shearon, fellow planning and zoning board member Jo Ann Meilner, and Shearon’s partner Tjet Martin as plaintiffs.

Shearon withdrew from the lawsuit after winning the November municipal election, but ELRA claims Shearon still has a conflict because his significant other, Tjet Martin, remains a plaintiff.

Shearon said that while he and Martin are a couple and run a business together, they are not legally married and do not share bank accounts.

“She is funding the lawsuit on her own,” Shearon said. “I pulled out of that lawsuit before I was sworn in and have not spent a dime of my money on that case, therefore, there is no conflict of interest.”

The ELRA v. mayor lawsuit also alleges the mayor violated Florida’s Sunshine Laws through email communications. It also alleges he spoke with Meilner privately on city business in 2012 when they both served on the P&Z board.

Meilner denied any wrongdoing, saying their conversations were not about agenda items, merely a friendly exchange between colleagues about routine items.

“They are reaching here,” she said. “They must be desperate if they are throwing around these accusations. Bill and I never discussed city issues outside city chambers.

Shearon said that while he has no animosity toward ELRA, there has been a perceived difference of opinion concerning the lawsuit.

“What’s really disappointing to me is that they could have come and talked to me about this disagreement but, unfortunately, there has been a lack of communication on Mr. Chiles’ part,” Shearon said.

“With all the problems facing the city, (the lawsuit) is a waste of my time and taxpayer money,” he said.

Jeep crashes at brink of bridge

A Jeep hung precariously over the edge of the State Road 64/Manatee Avenue bridge in a light rain March 24 after the driver lost control and skidded part way through the railing, overhanging the bay some 40-feet below.

The Jeep went over the sidewalk divider and knocked out a section of railing on the bridge. The unidentified driver told the Holmes Beach Police Department that she lost control when her vehicle reached the grating near the center of the bascule and skidded across the bridge.

No other vehicles were involved.

HBPD responded to the scene about 1:45 p.m. and allowed one lane on the bridge to pass intermittently. According to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer, officers contacted a tow company and the Florida Highway Patrol.

While HBPD managed intermittent one-lane traffic, the accident fell into the jurisdiction of the FHP.

Tokajer said traffic was backed up on Manatee Avenue for about 90 minutes.

HBPD coordinated with the Bradenton Police Department to temporarily reroute traffic from Manatee Avenue at 75th Street in Bradenton.

The Florida Department of Transportation was called to verify the safety of the bridge, which fully reopened by 3 p.m.

A temporary barricade was provided March 24 and the sidewalk was closed. Workers from Pro Forma Enterprises of Sarasota were on the bridge March 26 to repair the railing but March 27 brought more weather and a halt to the repair, the crew foreman said.

“I only need a couple of buckets of concrete, but the rain and wind forced us to halt today,” the foreman said March 27.

“It’s not a big job if the weather will cooperate,” he said, adding there was no serious damage to the bridge.

Repairs to the bridge were completed March 28.

On the water

The powerhouse sibling fishing duo of 7-year-old Sam Hatcher  and brother Nathaniel, 5, had an exciting day on the water recently.

Under the expert tutelage of Native Fishing charters Capt. Noel Shaw, the boys, along with their dad and granddad, hooked into an abundance of fish — snook, sea trout, blue runner, jacks, mackerel and a very large stingray.

Show took the family to locations that he has fished since he was a boy.

The highlight of the trip came shortly after Nathaniel reached into the bait tank and pulled out a massive shiner.

It was obviously too large to use for bait, but Nathaniel insisted that he be allowed to use it on his hook.

After Shaw offered a few good natured and well-reasoned suggestions that the shiner might be too big and Nathaniel would have a higher likelihood of catching a fish with a smaller one,  Shaw put the shiner on the hook.

Nathaniel casted into the glassy smooth water over the sandbar where the team had been catching snook after snook.

Moments later, the 5-year-old boy let out a “whoop” that was probably heard in Miami.

It was game on!

Sam’s spirited shouts to keep the rod tip up combined with a feverish flurry of reeling in lines and grasping for the net. Shaw was as excited as the rest of crew.

After a fierce and protracted confrontation between 5-year-old and fish, the outcome was decided as was the menu for dinner:  a 28-inch snook was laid to rest in the bed of ice in the cooler.

For a grandfather, father and sons, this day — with the peaceful beauty of the sun, the warm breeze on the water, the excitement of our constantly bending rods, and Shaw’ s kind and easygoing way with the boys — this won’t be a day we’ll soon forget.


        Editor’s note: Submitted to The Islander by father Peter Hatcher. Share your fishing story at news@islander.org.

Holmes Beach dips into nature preserve funding

Holmes Beach public works is getting a new toy.

During a March 25 commission meeting, city commissioners unanimously approved an unbudgeted purchase of a backhoe, a Bobcat Skid-Steer Loader.

The new equipment comes with a price tag of $37,812.95. The city will take $20,000 from the funds set aside for Grassy Point Preserve and supplement the remainder from the stormwater utility fund.

“The major portion of the city’s stormwater management plan is an open swale drainage system … it was determined several months ago that a small backhoe is an essential piece of equipment to maintain our drainage swale system throughout the city,” superintendent of public works Tom O’Brien said in a statement to the commission.

According to Commission Chair Judy Titsworth, the work was previously done manually with shovels, and was ineffective.

Commissioner Pat Morton moved to approve the purchase, and Commissioner Jean Peelen seconded the motion, albeit with a condition. Peelen asked the mayor to take a second look at the budget to try and find another source for the backhoe without dipping into the Grassy Point fund.

According to Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti, $40,000 was set aside in this year’s budget for the preserve. However, none of the money has been used for projects in the preserve and he recommended using it for the Bobcat purchase.

In last year’s budget, $180,000 was set aside for the preserve and all of it was allocated to other projects.

“Is there anything in the Grassy Point funds we need that money for?,” asked Peelen.

Monti said there were no “meaningful plans” for the preserve, and mentioned the park board’s project to erect a bat house.

The 34-acre nature preserve between East Bay Drive opposite Walgreens and Grassy Point Bayou on the bayfront was purchased by the city in parcels starting in 2000.

In 2012, the city purchased shell for a 1,000-foot path and, with a $3,000 grant from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, added a shell parking lot, three picnic tables, six shade trees, native plants and a mulch-lined path.

The Florida Department of Transportation also kicked in more than $500,000 for a crosswalk into the preserve.

Plans discussed by officials in 2012 also included adding a boardwalk and lookout tower.

“I’d like to talk about it at some point. Do we really want Grassy Point to be fixed up? If we do, we need to talk about it,” said Commissioner Marvin Grossman.

Human resource specialist Mary Buonagura said she plans to apply for grant money next year from applicable organizations to supplement the funds to be set aside in next year’s budget.

“If we keep stealing from that fund, we’re never going to build that boardwalk,” said Commissioner David Zaccagnino. “There are plans and we’re just waiting for matching grants, waiting to apply for grants, and that’s not going to cut it. We need to keep building that money, so we can have it.”

Monti said the funds set aside for the preserve in this year’s budget were allocated to purposes other than maintaining or improving the preserve. He also added a plan was needed for the preserve in order to allocate any funds.

Zaccagnino said he had shared a plan for the preserve with Grossman, Morton and the mayor.

And Grossman said he felt the plan, including the raised boardwalk through the wetland area, was substantial enough to move forward.

According to Monti, the boardwalk would cost $300,000, which is well over the $180,000 budgeted last year, and the $40,000 set aside in this year’s budget.

“I think we do need this Bobcat and, in the grand scheme of things, $20,000 isn’t a big dent in our budget. Maybe this will bring attention back to Grassy Point,” said Zaccagnino.

In other business, Hugh Holmes Sr. decided to deed 5 feet of his property leading to the beach on 81st street to the city.

According to Titsworth, the 5 feet, which includes a beach access, would relieve Holmes of any liability for people using the access.

Titsworth, the daughter of Holmes Sr., also reported some residents of the street voiced concerns about the access being used by the public. Titsworth said there is no public parking on the street, and no sign leading to the access and she did not see it as a problem.

The commissioners also held a vote to amend an ordinance deleting redundant land-use definitions. The motion passed 5-0 with no comment.

Holmes Beach planners to hold re-zoning hearing

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission will hold a public hearing 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, to consider a rezoning issue.

The property in question at 214 54th St. is on the corner of 54th Street and Holmes Boulevard. It is currently zoned medium-density residential.

The applicant, Lizzie Lus Island Retreat, LLC is requesting the lot be re-zoned commercial with a mixed-use overlay.

The property’s existing use is classified in city planner Bill Brisson’s staff report as a single-family home with a former home-occupation license for a CPA office in the residence.

Benjamin and Keren ten Haaf are the owners of Lizzie Lus Island Retreat. Monica Simpson is the agent filing on behalf of the ten Haafs.

The ten Haafs want to redevelop the existing building, creating a two-story building of two business offices on the ground level and two elevated residential units on the second level.

The city’s consulting firm, LaRue Planning and Management, submitted a staff report March 27 with a recommendation to the commission. The city planners wrote in the report that re-zoning is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.

The main reasoning behind the recommendation is the incompatibility with surrounding areas. The property sits between a commercial area to the south and east and residential to the north and west.

The report stated the issue of compatibility is not only in question because of the proximity to the residential area, but the classification of mixed-use overlay allows for more development in the future than what is presently requested by the applicant.

The applicant plans two resort housing units, but the requested zoning would allow the property owners to build four or five resort housing units on the upper floor if each had only one bedroom.

The report also said it could “have dramatic impacts upon the surrounding residential properties to the north and west.”

Simpson filed for a continuance, which will be heard April 2, when another hearing on the issue will be set.

The planning commission hearing will be held at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Woman arrested for child neglect

A Tennessee woman was arrested March 24 after she allegedly left her two daughters alone in an apartment while she went to the store to buy cigarettes.

Amanda Mathews Fuller, 41, faces two counts of child neglect after leaving the girls, ages 13 and 8, home alone for more than an hour, according to the report.

Fuller and the girls were staying in an apartment in the 100 block of Ninth Street in Bradenton Beach, but were in the process of being evicted because of noise complaints from neighbors, the report said.

Bradenton Beach Police officers had responded to the address several times prior to Fuller’s arrest because of grievances about late-night drinking and partying.

On March 24, the property manager went to the apartment to evict Fuller. Fuller asked her if she could have a few minutes to gather her things. While the property manager waited outside, Fuller fled out the back door, leaving the girls behind.

The property manager called the police, who stayed with the girls for more than an hour.

The officer and her daughters made several attempts to contact Fuller, who did not answer her phone and apparently had disabled the GPS locator. The report said the suspect called once to ask if the girls were OK, but hung up immediately after.

The BBPD officer contacted the girls’ father in Tennessee to take custody of them.

When Fuller returned, she had a carton of cigarettes and told the officer she had gone to the store. When asked why she went out the back door, she said it was because the people at the rental office “scared her.”

Fuller was arrested and taken to the Manatee County jail. The girls were given into the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families until their father could pick them up.

Fuller posted a $2,000 bond and was released the next day. Her arraignment was set for 9 a.m. Friday, April 4, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Milkshake argument prompts arrest

An Anna Maria man was arrested March 22 after he allegedly battered a woman over a milkshake.

Monte Veon, 71, 200 block of Gladiolus Street, faces a battery charge after he pushed a woman who tried to prevent him from taking items from the refrigerator.

Veon was allegedly in the kitchen of his home around 11 p.m. when he decided to make himself a treat before turning in for bed.

According to the report, he placed the ingredients on the counter and was attempting to reach inside the refrigerator for milk when the victim tried to stop him.

Veon allegedly pushed her out of the way to gain access to the fridge. While Veon drank his milkshake, she called the sheriff.

He was arrested and taken to the Manatee County jail. He was released the next day on a $500 bond.

Veon’s arraignment will be held at 8:30 a.m., April 24 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton.

Sports – 04-02-2014

MLB: Local teams have eyes on World Series


With opening day for the 2014 Major League Baseball season upon us, it got me thinking about Lou Fiorentino, a long-time Anna Maria Island Little League coach and baseball afficiando. He died in February 1998 at the young age of 54.

Fiorentino was passionate about his Boston Red Sox team and baseball in general, and often proclaimed in November that “there’s only 124 days until opening day.”

He rarely missed a game, MLB or LL.

Ah. Opening day.

That’s the day that hope springs eternal, particulary for our two local spring-training teams, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rays obviously play in their regular season in St. Petersburg, while the Pirates have called Bradenton their spring home since 1968.

Improbable two seasons ago, there is a good chance these two teams with local ties could meet in the World Series in October.

On website lists both the Pirates and Rays with 25-1 odds of winning the World Series with win totals of 88.5 for the Rays and 85.5 for the Pirates.

Pittsburgh, which lost the 2013 National League division series in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals, is returning most of its team from last year’s surprise run, including National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez and potential ace pitcher Gerrit Cole. He made two starts as a rookie against the Cards in the NL division series.

The Pirates are legitimate contenders to win the NL Central Division title along with the Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.

The Tampa Bay Rays also are contenders, but they’re in the American League East, arguably the toughest division in baseball. They’ll be battling the defending World Series champs, Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Rays in the 2013 American League championship series along with the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and last year’s favorite, the Toronto Blue Jays, for a chance at post-season glory.

The Rays are primed by keeping the team intact. They return a gold-glove calibur infielder, third-baseman Evan Longoria, shortstop Yunel Escobar, second-baseman Ben Zobrist and first-baseman James Loney.

In the outfield, they have 2013 rookie-of-the- year Wil Myers for a whole season, in addition to left-fielder David DeJesus, who came over in a late-season trade for the whole season. They also upgraded the catcher position by trading for Ryan Hannigan.

The main reason for any success that the Rays may have is their pitching staff. Everyone thought ace pitcher David Price would be traded, but he returns to lead a rotation which is among the best in baseball. He will be followed on the mound by Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer and, for the time being, rookie pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who takes the place of the injured Jeremy Hellickson.

The bullpen has undergone a makeover that includes bringing in former closers Heath Bell, Juan Carlos Oviedo and Grant Balfour to an already talented group that includes Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Cesar Ramos and Brandon Gomes.

The season is a long grind and good health and a little bit of luck will certainly be needed for either of our teams to make a World Series run, but the possibility is there.

See you at the ballpark.


Horseshoe news

Two teams emerged from pool play during March 29 action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits. The team of Bob Lee and Dom Livedoti earned a tight 22-17 victory over the team of John Crawford and Bill Wright to earn bragging rights for the day.

March 26 action saw eight teams earn 2-1 bragging rights, resulting in an eight-way tie for first place.

Play gets underway at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection. There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.


Last week to sign up for AMICC spring sports

The center is holding open registration for the spring lineup of adult and youth sports programs.

Adults can play soccer, kickball and basketball, and youths will be playing baseball and basketball.

Registration for adults is $75 for center members and includes a jersey; non-members pay $110. Registration for youths is $75 for center members and includes a jersey. Non-members pay $105.

The center’s annual membership fees include use of the fitness center, and membership secures value program pricing for a year.

Captains, coaches and sponsors also are needed.

• Adult soccer tryout: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3. Teams will be chosen immediately after. Games will be played Thursday evenings at the center.  The tryout date for adult kickball is April 8, at 7:30 p.m.; teams will be chosen immediately afterwards. Games will be played Wednesday evenings at the center.

• Adult basketball tryout: 7:30 p.m. April 9. Games will be played Tuesday evenings.

• Youth baseball tryout: 6 p.m. Friday, April 4, for 5-7 year olds; 7 p.m. for 8-11 year olds. Team selection will follow. Games will be played Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.

• Youth basketball tryouts: Monday, April 7. 5-7 year olds at 6 p.m.; 8-10 year olds at 6:30 p.m.; 8 p.m. for 14-17 year olds. On Tuesday April 8, 11-13 year olds try out at 6 p.m. Team selection will follow tryouts. Games will be played Monday thru Saturday.

Register at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, or online at www.islandcommunitycenter.com.

For more information, call athletic director Matt Ray at 941-778-1908, ext. 9205, or email matt@myamicc.com.