Tag Archives: 04-23-2014

Easter sunrise, good news

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The Rev. Stephen King of the Harvey Memorial Community Church delivers the Easter sermon, “Good News,” to the congregation at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

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Worshippers fill the beachfront from the cafe and lifeguard station south of the altar north to the playground at the 50th annual Easter Sunrise Service at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. The event, which is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island, drew its largest-ever congregation. The celebration is a cooperative effort by the six houses of worship on Anna Maria Island — as is the offertory. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy.

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Vocalist Daniel Paul Anzaldo performs “Christ Arose,” inspiring the congregation at the 50th annual Easter Sunrise Service at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. He is accompanied by Drew Thomas. The event, which is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island, drew its largest-ever congregation. The service includes participation by the six houses of worship on Anna Maria Island — which share in this year’s offering of $4,300. Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, kneeling left, a Kiwanis member, is the club’s official photographer for the event. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

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Seagulls join the flock of worshippers as the sun rises at the 50th annual Easter Sunrise Service at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

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On the altar at the 50th annual Easter Sunrise Service are St. Bernard Catholic Church deacon Bill Diaz, Kiwanis Club sunrise chair Robyn Kinkopf, the Revs. Stephen King of Harvey Memorial Community Church and Sung Lee of Roser Memorial Community Church, Kiwanis president Dave Miner, the Revs. Rosemary Backer of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Ed Moss of CrossPointe Fellowship, and vocalist Daniel Paul Anzaldo. The Rev. Dee De Montmollin of Episcopal Church of Annunciation, not pictured, also participated. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

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Easter morning at Roser Memorial Community Church brings music by the Chancel Choir, with the Rev. Sung Lee, center, presiding over the service. A children’s message was followed by an Easter egg hunt. The lilies on the platform are donated by congregants in honor or memory of loved ones. The service concluded with the “Hallelujah Chorus” sung all. Islander Photo: Courtesy Bev Shepperson

 

Easter smiles, Easter bunny

 

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Sheema Gollamudi models her Easter hat, which is topped by her Easter basket, April 19 on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

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Jack Zaccagnino counts his Easter bounty of eggs at the Mar Vista Pub on Longboat Key. Islander Photo: Karen Riley-Love/rileylovephotography.com

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Ed Chiles finishes his bunny look with a face painting by Christina Natali. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

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Joe Rodgers signals the start of the Sandbar Restaurant Easter egg hunt. And the Easter Bunny makes appearances at both the Mar Vista and the Sandbar. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

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Moose makes Easter fun

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The Women of the Moose Chapter 1601 host an Easter party for children April 12 at the lodge, 110 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach. Islander Photos: Martha Kelley

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The party presented by the Women of the Moose Chapter 1601 April 12 at the Bradenton Beach lodge featured a visit from the Easter Bunny, who is welcoming an unnamed child.

 

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An unnamed guest at the Women of the Moose’s Easter party at the lodge plays pin-the-tail on the bunny.

Students to practice bike safety with firefighters

West Manatee Fire Rescue District will ride bikes to school with Anna Maria Elementary School students to promote safety during Bike Safety Month, observed each May.

Students participating in the bike ride will meet at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 7, at WMFR Station 1, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Students and firefighters will ride from the fire station to the school, 4007 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Firefighters also will give a presentation in the AME auditorium on bike safety.

WMFR Firefighter Rodney Kwiatkowski said the event promotes safety for students who regularly ride their bikes to school.

For more information, call AME at 941-708-5525.

Bradenton Beach to crack down on ‘derelict vessels’

In Bradenton Beach, a certain derelict sailboat without a mast doesn’t want to stay put.

The boat is now tied up to the public dock on 12th Street South, but broke away from its anchorage, got tied up to the dock, then broke away again.

There seems to be no way of keeping the vessel in place as the dock lines are rotted.

“I get complaints all the time about this boat,” commissioner Jan Vosburgh said during a work session April 15. “People are saying it’s ruining the dock and fear it could be dangerous if it breaks away again.”

The boat on 12th Street is just one of a number of a rising number of vessels anchored off the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Sarasota Bay that are creating concerns for law enforcement.

Mayor Bill Shearon said the Bradenton Beach Police Department now will work with the U.S. Coast Guard at Station Cortez and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement arm to make sure all the boats anchored offshore are registered with the state.

“Instead of waiting until the thing sinks, or breaks loose and floats into a dock we are trying to be proactive instead of reactive on this,” he said. “That way we reduce the expense of recovering submerged vessels or repairing damages.”

All boats in Florida for 90 days or more require registration from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, according to dmv.org. The only boats exempt are those used strictly as lifeboats or cruisers traveling through who do not plan to stay more than three months.

Boats must be registered with the tax collector’s office within 30 days of purchase and require a sized-based registration fee ranging from $12-$200.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Florid Fish and Wildlife routinely inspect the boats anchored offshore to make sure they are in compliance with environmental laws regarding sewers and greywater, or wastewater generated from washbasins and baths.

However, Police Chief Sam Speciale said most of boaters are good about the environmental regulations, registration often gets overlooked.

“The problem with the boats here, is that many of them have been here for years,” he said. “When one person decides they don’t want to be a liveaboard anymore, they simply give the boat to someone else to live on.”

Speciale says that while original owners usually hand over the title, they often forget to register the vessel to the new owner. The exchange tends to create confusion in the event of a boat breaking loose from it’s holding.

“When the boat is adrift, (the BBPD) is left solving the mystery as to who owns the boat,” he said.

Boats that look dilapidated are considered “at risk” and are tagged by law enforcement authorities, entered into a database and tracked, according to the FWC website myfwc.org. A letter to the owner asks that he or she take action. If no one responds to the letter or tag, the vessel is considered derelict and may be removed by law enforcement at the owner’s expense. However, before this occurs, citizens have the right to claim the vessel as found property. As long as the person goes through the required steps to legally own the vessel, he or she can become the skipper.

Speciale said a vessel considered at risk will now be deemed a derelict vessel and posted, regardless of whether there is someone living aboard.

“What this is going to do is force the people living on the boat to have it registered,” he said. “They will have to claim it as found property and go through the required steps to keep it there.”

Speciale said there has been an influx of livaboards over the past two years as a result of the city of Sarasota operations at its mooring field in Sarasota Bay just outside of Marina Jack, 2 Marina Plaza.

The field allows for 35 vessels at a time and requires a fee of $250 a month or $25 a day for the use of the anchorage and amenities. Features include showers and laundry, Wi-Fi, a pumping vessel, a trash and recycling service and more.

Speciale said that many of the people who used to live on boats near Marina Jack relocated in the anchorage near the Historic Bridge Street Pier because they had access to many of the same amenities minus the price.

He also said the city of Bradenton Beach planned to create and operate its own mooring field 10 years ago, adding space on the pier for a harbormaster office, laundry and showers, however the plan never came to fruition.

“We decided that we would be spending more than we could take in,” he said. “So the effort was abandoned.”

Today the showers and restrooms still exist, but are closed after business hours of the restaurants located on the pier.

The number of boats that call the harbor home has doubled.

“We think focusing on the registration is going to solve a lot of issues,” Speciale said.

 

HB mayor’s boat sinks in canal

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti has his hands full, but not all of his work is at city hall.

His sunken boat is stirring up a stink.

According to code enforcement officer David Forbes, Monti’s boat, docked in the canal behind his home in the 500 block of Key Royale Drive, began to take on water overnight on April 16.

By morning on April 17 the vessel had sunk, generating an incident report with the Holmes Beach Police Department.

A neighbor across the canal, Larry Solberg of 67th Street, reported seeing a public works’ vehicle in the mayor’s driveway and city employees — at least one with a 5-gallon bucket attempting to bail out the boat.

Solberg said the city crew left when he asked why they were working at the mayor’s house.

Forbes said the employees were dropping off a pump that needed replacing.

Forbes didn’t explain why city employees were delivering a pump to the mayor.

“I spoke to both of the public works employees there,” said Forbes. “The chief is aware of the boat, and there was an incident report filed. I’m doing my due diligence.”

The U.S. Coast Guard received a call from a man who identified himself as the mayor, according to Petty Officer Sevn Castillo. The caller sought help to raise a sunken vessel in a canal, he said.

Castillo said the mayor was advised the Coast Guard only sends a rescue team to save lives, not boats, and further, it was apparent the boat did not pose a navigational hazard on the Coast Guard’s regulated waterway.

Castillo said he advised the mayor to report the matter to the Coast Guard’s National Response Center, which compiles information on oil spills, chemical releases or maritime security incidents.

According to command center supervisor Lt. Ben O’Loughlin at the NRC in St. Petersburg, the owner of the boat is responsible for salvaging the boat.

O’Loughlin said the incident was reported April 17. He explained that the appropriate agencies are contacted by NRC, including the local Coast Guard station and either the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or the local fire station, and someone responds to the scene.

The Coast Guard oversees that appropriate actions are being taken by the owner of the vessel. If not, fines are imposed.

O’Loughlin said he believed the owner of the boat was working to resolve the problem.

Solberg reported the presence of fuel in the canal April 18 to HBPD, the Coast Guard and NRC.

Solberg said the mayor has kept two derelict boats on the canal, the one that sank and a sailboat, for several years. He said the boats are eyesores and, at one time, obstructed the canal.

“She’s afloat,” the mayor said April 21, adding it was raised April 19. He indicated there were some challenges, including the tides, rain and a piece of wood stuck in the propeller. He hired a salvage firm to get it up.

HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer was on vacation when the boat sank, but he told The Islander April 20, “We do that kind of thing all the time. We’ve helped others in similar circumstances, and so has public works.”

 

More on the mayor

Also, a letter to the city’s code enforcement office dated April 15 asked Forbes to investigate a work-related trailer with commercial signage in Monti’s home driveway.

The letter writer, who asked to remain anonymous, apparently fearing retribution, said six residents in the neighborhood oppose the weekly presence of the work trailer. The writer claimed the trailer should not be parked there because city code prohibits commercial vehicles and traffic, as well as other signs of a business, in the residential neighborhood.

The business, My Garden Products LLC, is owned by Monti and registered to a residential address in Sarasota. According to the city of Sarasota property appraiser’s website, it is owned by Vaughn DuFour.

Forbes said he is responding to the complaint and following up on the issue. He said because the principal address of the business is in Sarasota, the trailer can stay. Commercial vehicles or trailers associated with a business are only prohibited if the principal business address is in Holmes Beach.

Monti routinely stores a trailer and a work vehicle at public works, alongside Birdie Tebbetts Field, “with permission,” according to public works foreman Gary Blunden — permission granted by the mayor.

Forbes also said he is waiting on proof of a tax certificate in Sarasota to complete his report.

“Make no mistake. I treat everyone the same,” Forbes said.

 

Ethics rules

A call from The Islander to the Florida Commission on Ethics resulted in a reference to the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, adopted by the Legislature. It contains standards of ethics conduct and disclosures applicable to public officers, employees, candidates, lobbyists, and others in state and local government.

No complaint was made regarding the use of city resources by the mayor, and the commission is reactive-only, meaning it reviews only official complaints. However they were able to provide direction to the applicable ethics laws in the instance of a public official using the resources of the city for his or her personal needs.

In particular, Kerrie Stillman of the COE referred to the ethics laws in Part III, Chapter 112 of the Florida Statutes:

(6) MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION. No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others.

Traffic ties up debate at Holmes Beach ‘idea’ forum

‘Fill ’em up with rum and send them to Longboat Key.’ — one of many suggestions offered for traffic relief.

 

A slide show depicting parking garages, bike stands and gondola lifts flashed on the screen. And Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti talked through jeers from the audience.

Regardless of the opinions on parking garages by the beach and gondola lifts to carry beachgoers from the mainland to the island — and there were many opinions shared at city hall April 16 — one common thread stood out: Something must be done about traffic congestion on Anna Maria Island.

“I thought the illustrations were beautiful, but I think we should go back before then. We’re old Florida. I don’t see that in the bike racks and parking lots,” Holmes Beach resident Mary Kuckenbacher said. “I don’t know why we have to go so out of the way for more parking. If you run out, you run out.”

As Kuckenbacher, who was one of the first residents to speak at the forum, finished her comments, members of the galley called out, “We all agree with you.”

Monti said the meeting was meant to open a dialogue on ideas to relieve traffic congestion and overcrowding of the island. To that aim, the meeting was a success.

No one spoke in support of the gondola or parking garage at the meeting. Instead, residents offered their ideas: paid parking, off-island parking with shuttles, improved traffic control in Bradenton and, one resident joked, “Fill ’em up with rum and send them to Longboat Key.”

Holmes Beach commissioners attended the meeting and spoke against the gondola and parking garage.

“Old Florida, that’s why we’re here. We didn’t used to have a bed tax, and now look what happened. Money, money, money. We’re selling our soul for revenue. We’ll lose our churches and our school,” said Commission Chair Judy Titsworth, a third-generation islander.

Discussions shifted to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council and taxes. Monti said Florida entertained 90 million tourists last year, and Gov. Rick Scott is pushing to increase tourism by 5 percent.

“Most all of the money that comes in from tourists goes to the county, then to the TDC,” said Commissioner Marvin Grossman. “We’re the cash cow for the whole county. Fifty percent or more of tourists’ dollars come from us and we’re forced to bear the brunt of it.”

The county imposes a 5 percent tax on rentals of six months or less with the state-sanctioned tourist development tax.

The TDC prepares a budget that is approved by the county commission for support projects, and spending is restricted to tourism development.

“No more advertisement. It’s advertised all over the country. We need to stop advertising and take care of what we have,” said Barbara Parkman, an island resident since 1996.

Monti said he plans to distribute a survey to solicit a larger pool of traffic congestion solutions.

dHome vacation rental bill approved in Senate, now in House

Some island elected officials are crossing their fingers, hoping for news from the Capitol.

They’re awaiting word from Tallahassee on the fate of a bill that would repeal a 2011 statute that they say took away a local government’s right to further regulate vacation rentals beyond what ordinances were in place June 1, 2011.

The review of HB307 is on the floor of the House, and is expected to come to a vote before the end of the legislative session May 2.

According to the Florida Legislative website, HB307 “removes the preemption to the state for the regulation of vacation rentals. Local governments may regulate vacation rentals, provided those regulations do not prohibit vacation rentals or restrict the duration or frequency of vacation rentals.”

Any local ordinances that existed on or before June 1, 2011, are retained according to the website.

A companion bill in the Senate, SB356, has passed. It includes an amendment to the original bill that limits local governments from restricting vacation rentals to more than a minimum seven-day stay.

Kathleen Galea of Sen. Bill Galvano’s office, R-Bradenton, said the House would likely take up the Senate’s version of the bill — although, she added, it is “subject to change.” Galvano voted for SB356.

“I am hopeful that the House will take the Senate position, which includes the compromise language. We need to resolve this issue and move forward,” he said.

The final versions of the bills remove “the preemption preventing local laws, ordinances, or regulations from regulating the use of vacation rentals based solely on their classification, use, or occupancy, etc.,” the website states.

HB307 was approved by three House committees before heading for its second reading.

The furor among municipal officials over the original bill — HB883 — began in 2011 as local governments realized they could not pass new ordinances regulating just the vacation rental industry.

“That bill took away home rule,” said Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn. “It really put us in a bind to deal with vacation rental issues.”

The mayor said she is “cautiously optimistic” HB307 would pass. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen said “I’m very optimistic it will pass. Without the ability to regulate the industry, we can’t even require fire extinguishers at a vacation rental without requiring them for every single-family home. Our primary concern is the safety and welfare of visitors and residents.”

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon also said he favors passage of the bill.

“We need to have home rule returned to the local governments,” he said.

Shearon said his city does not have similar vacation rental issues to Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.

“We’re mostly condominium complexes and resorts, but we do have a few vacation rental homes,” he said.

The bill repealing HB883 was introduced by state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

Peelen and SueLynn went to the Florida League of Cities to enlist its support.

The Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association has lobbied against HB307, saying it would negatively affect tourism, Florida’s No. 1 industry.

 

Boat ramp to close in sections for repairs

The Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach adjacent to the Anna Maria Island Bridge will see limited use as it undergoes repaired beginning April 23.

The Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Departments announced in a press release, repairs should take about six weeks.

The county parks environmental program manager Alan Lai Hipp said crews will replace the understructure and decking of the wood docks at the ramp. The eastern dock section was recently damaged, possibly from an impact by a large vessel or barge, he said.

Other sections of the dock are aged and a decision was made by the parks department to update all of the sections while repairing damages.

The boat ramp will remain open throughout the project. However, at times, one or more of the launch lanes will be closed while work is in progress, said Lai Hipp.

The repair work is intended to keep the docks safe and functional until a major renovation project, which is scheduled for the fall of 2015.

“Boaters and fishermen will have access to the park throughout the repairs,” Lai Hipp said. “We understand how popular the Kingfish ramp is and the importance of keeping it functional while the repair work is conducted. We ask that boaters remember that the ramp will be operating at a reduced capacity and that they should exercise caution when launching or landing their vessels.”

The project cost of $43,862 is funded through Manatee County’s Boating Improvement Fund and the West Coast Inland Navigation District.

Caregiver accused of abusing elderly Holmes Beach man

A home health aide was arrested April 10 after she allegedly tied a 95-year-old patient to his bed and physically and mentally abused him.

Joan Smith Franklin, 68, 100 block of Hammock Road, Anna Maria, faces charges of abusing and neglecting an elderly person after she failed to provide the man with proper care and caused him great pain, according to the probable cause affidavit filed by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Franklin has served as the man’s caretaker for more than two years, according to the PCA. She visited the man regularly at his residence on the 600 block of Key Royale Drive in Holmes Beach.

Franklin told The Islander that she is not guilty and plans to fight the charges.

“I was not aware that you can be arrested based on the false accusations of another person,” she said. “I just hope my case helps to brings attention to others in the same situation.”

The patient was immobile due to multiple hip fractures.

He told deputies that Franklin threatened to “break his bones” if he did not lay still. He also accused her of being “very rough when manipulating his body.”

He told the deputy she would often pull his hair when she wanted him to sit up, the report said.

Franklin also allegedly refused to take the victim to his Feb. 28 doctor’s appointment.

A witness told police she saw Franklin tie the victim to the bed, verbally abuse him and pull his hair, the report stated.

Franklin said she has been a caregiver for more than 50 years. She said she is a longtime resident of Anna Maria Island, where she raised her three grandchildren.

Franklin said she routinely volunteers at the elementary school and for community functions. She said receiving a speeding ticket was the closest she’s ever come to being in trouble with the law.

“When you see this, you think, ‘How can this happen?’” she said. “But it can happen to anyone.”

According to the report, Franklin said she restrained the man, but did so to protect him from getting out of bed and hurting himself.

She told The Islander she could not discuss details of the case.

Franklin was taken to the Manatee County jail and released the next day on a $3,000 bond.

Her arraignment will be at 9 a.m., Friday, April 25, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Bed tax collection, area tourism continue surge

If you’re an island resident who thinks this winter-spring tourist season is one of the busiest ever, there are figures to back you up.

The Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax collection division reports its collections continue at a record pace, with $1.232 million taken in for February, an increase of 10.8 percent from the $1.112 million collected in February 2013.

The resort tax — officially the Manatee County Tourist Development Tax — is the 5 percent collected on rentals of six months or less.

For each of the past three years, tourism to Anna Maria Island and resort tax collections increased proportionately.

Resort tax collections for 2012-13 were $8.99 million, up 10.99 percent from 2011-12 collections. At the same time, tourism to the area climbed 6.5 percent that year, according to surveys provided to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau by Research Data Services Inc. of Tampa.

The $1.23 million collected in February brought the total of resort tax collections to $4.08 million for the first five months of the fiscal year. That’s a 15.6 percent year-to-year rise over the $3.548 million taken in the same period of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

At the Manatee County Tourist Development Council meeting April 21, Walter Klages of RDS was set to present the latest tourism figures developed by his company. The meeting was held after The Islander press deadline.

In his February presentation to the TDC, Klages said tourism was up 6.5 percent from January 2013.

The continuing rise of tourism and resort tax collections was good news for Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman.

“We’ve passed the stage where we have big lulls in tourism. Now, we have spring, summer, fall and winter seasons. We’ve really become known as the place for the old Florida vacation,” she said.

Brockman credited chamber members and advertising by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for keeping “heads in beds” and improving business on Anna Maria Island year-round.

The three island cities and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key collect about 62 percent of the resort tax, with Holmes Beach annually taking in about 25 percent of all resort tax collections in the county.

The resort tax is used to fund the county’s portion of beach renourishment, the BACVB, the Powel Crosley Estate and other tourist-related county projects.

Bradenton Beach will receive up to $1 million in matching funds from the resort tax for a renovation project planned to start in April-May for the Historic Bridge Street Pier.