Tag Archives: 05-14-2014

Students pedal, firefighters help

A gang of bikers stormed the streets May 7 — Anna Maria Elementary student bikers led by West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters and HBPD-AME school resource Officer Brian Copeman.

The bike ride to AME was a safety campaign led by the WMFR and All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg to bring awareness to Bike Safety Week.

Copeman, who led the ride, said some 50 students participated, and many more parents and family members were along for the ride.

AME principal Dave Marshall took the ride.

Copeman said the ride hasn’t been done in a few years because of a low turnout for the event.

“I think we’ve had such a good turnout this year, we’ll probably do it again next year,” he said.

WMFR conducted bike safety classes at the school May 5-6.

The day of the ride, WMFR firefighters outfitted students with safety vests, reflective backpacks and other gear. Some students with poorly fitting helmets were outfitted with new ones. Fliers about bike safety also were provided to participants.

According to Justin Kwiatkowski of All Children’s Hospital, a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation helped fund the program.

Kwiatkowski was assisted by his brother, firefighter Rodney Kwiatkowski, the newly named safety inspector for WMFR.

Trio of Anna Maria officials says ‘maybe’

The three Anna Maria elected officials whose terms expire in November have one thing in common when it comes to running for office again.

Mayor SueLynn and Commissioners Chuck Webb and Nancy Yetter said they were definitely a “maybe” when asked if they plan to seek re-election.

SueLynn said she would make her decision “quickly and before the qualifying period begins.” Webb and Yetter also said they still are considering a run.

Webb said he was “definitely a maybe” to seek a fifth term on the commission.

If SueLynn runs, it would be her first election since being appointed mayor in 2012. She also was mayor from 2002-06.

In 2012, she was elected to a commission seat. Because no one ran for mayor that year to replace Mayor Mike Selby, who declined to seek a second term, the commission followed city charter procedures to determine a mayor.

In the absence of a mayor, the charter puts the commission chair in the mayor’s seat. SueLynn, was elected chair at the commission’s 2012 organizational meeting, and thus rose to mayor.

Incumbents and others considering a run for office don’t have long to decide.

The Anna Maria qualifying period from noon June 9 to noon June 20 is just under six months from the November election.

Potential candidates must first pick up a qualifying packet, either from city clerk Diane Percycoe at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, or at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office, 600 301 Blvd., No. 108, Bradenton.

A form naming a treasurer and a campaign bank fund must first be filed with Percycoe or the SOE. Candidates then have 10 days to complete a statement of candidacy form.

After filing the required forms, Anna Maria candidates must obtain the signatures of 10 registered voters in the city, and pay a filing fee of $48 to run for a commission seat or $96 to seek the mayor’s office.

A candidate may have the filing fee waived if he or she files an “undue burden oath” with Percycoe.

Other Anna Maria requirements are to be a U.S. citizen and a city resident for at least two years prior to qualifying.

Paying the candidate fee and filing the 10 signatures to be on the Nov. 4 ballot is done before an election qualifying officer, at the SOE office.

Anna Maria elections are nonpartisan. Commissioners are paid $4,800 annually, while the mayor earns $9,600 per annum.

Commissioners have agreed to study a proposal from Commissioner Dale Woodland to increase the mayor’s salary.

For a salary increase to apply to the mayor elected in November, commission approval is needed prior to the election.

Bradenton Beach officials tentative

Two Bradenton Beach commission seats are up for election Nov. 4.

Will there be a challenger for the seats currently held by Ed Straight in Ward 2 and Jan Vosburgh in Ward 4, and will they run again?

Vosburgh said she has “tentatively” decided to run for a third and final term. Bradenton Beach officials are limited to serving three consecutive terms in office.

Straight has not decided whether he will run again.

Anyone who can prove Bradenton Beach residency for nine months and is a registered voter in the city ward for which they qualify can sign up to run for office June 16-June 20.

Both Vosburgh and Straight ran unopposed in 2012.

Vosburgh began her political career when she was drafted by the commission to fill the seat held by Bob Bartelt, who took over as mayor in August 2010.

After a few months at the dais, she decided to run for Ward 4 commissioner and won the majority vote.

Straight won his seat in 2010 after three decades in public service as Manatee County Emergency Medical Technician chief, 911 emergency response center chief and as a reserve deputy sheriff.

Candidate packets are available at the city clerk’s office at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., or at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton.

It is $48 to register to run for commission.

Those wishing to seek office must collect 10 signatures of residents from Bradenton Beach, appoint a campaign treasurer and register a bank campaign account with the supervisor’s office before any contributions can be accepted.

The election is nonpartisan, and commissioners earn $4,800 per year.

HB sees grab for mayor’s seat

A political game of musical chairs in Holmes Beach may result in a race for the seat vacated by the mayor.

The race for popularity and votes could pit the all-time highest city vote-getter against a descendant of the city’s namesake.

Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino formally announced May 7 at an Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Eat Here in Holmes Beach that he will run for mayor in November.

“Several people have asked me, so I decided to step up,” Zaccagnino said. “I think right now it’s important to get the administration working properly,” adding he believes the commission is presently on a “good path.”

Zaccagnino has been a Holmes Beach commissioner for nine years, winning five elections, mostly by wide margins. He is a financial planner at Ameriprise Financial in Sarasota.

Mayor Carmel Monti is not seeking re-election in November.

“I think we really achieved a great deal, myself, the new people and the commission,” Monti said.

The mayor said two main reasons contribute to his decision against a second term: His business has suffered as a result of time spent on his duties as mayor, and he has been met with overwhelming disrespect.

“The issue is more a lack of respectfulness and fair play. That saddens me. It’s the downfall of our political system,” said Monti.

According to Sharon Steif, chief deputy at the supervisor of elections office, Zaccagnino must submit a letter to city clerk Stacey Johnston resigning his commission seat 10 days before the start of the election qualifying period, which, for Holmes Beach, will be June 6.

The qualifying period is June 16-20.

Steif said Zaccagnino will continue to serve as commissioner until the November election.

Because he must resign his seat on the commission to run for mayor, the remainder of Zaccagnino’s term, through November 2015, will be filled with the election of a third commissioner on the Nov. 4 ballot, along with the seats held by Commission Chair Judy Titsworth and Commissioner Marvin Grossman.

Titsworth said she plans to run for office in November, but is undecided on a run for mayor. She is a descendent of the city’s namesake, John Holmes Sr.

Grossman declined to comment, adding he will make an announcement in a few weeks.

Holmes Beach commissioners are paid $6,000 per year, while the mayor earns $12,000. The election is nonpartisan. All offices are for a two-year term and there are no term limits in Holmes Beach.

Shorebirds hatch, island sea turtle nests on Mother’s Day

The first sea turtle to lay it eggs on Anna Maria Island appropriately arrived on Mother’s Day.

Suzi Fox, executive director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, said the first loggerhead nest was found early May 11.

A large area around the tracks and the nest between 24th and 25 streets in Bradenton Beach was marked off and will serve as a training site for AMITW volunteers.

Fox demonstrated the marking procedure for volunteers May 12.

Fox also received a false crawl report May 11 from the beach at Silver Surf in the 1300 block of Gulf Drive North. The false crawl is logged when a sea turtle comes to shore but does not nest.

Fox and AMITW coordinator Glenn Wiseman found another snowy plover nest May 2 near 79th Street in Holmes Beach.

The nest was roped off the same day.

Meanwhile, Manasota Key marked off its first sea turtle nest and saw several false crawls May 2.

Also, walkers with Mote Marine Laboratories found the first sea turtle nests of the season on Longboat and Casey keys. Mote monitors 35 miles of beaches during the nesting season, including all of Longboat Key and working south on the barrier islands.

Mote reported loggerhead nesting activity.

Mote officials also are not concerned over the slow-arriving sea turtles.

“We’re not too surprised that the turtles here got a slower start this year — nesting is influenced by water temperature, and the waters along our coasts have been cool,” said Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote’s sea turtle conservation and research program.

The Mote Marine Sea Turtle Patrol and AMITW patrol in the morning for signs of new nests and hatching activity May 1-Oct. 1.

Bradenton Beach cell tower construction, funding set to begin

Dropped phone calls and poor reception could become a thing of the past in Bradenton Beach.

At a May 1 meeting, Commissioner Ed Straight said construction of the Bradenton Beach cell tower near the city’s public works facility, 400 Church Ave., would begin in early June.

As soon as Florida Tower Partners LLC of Bradenton breaks ground, the city will receive its first payment of $320,000.

“That’s wonderful,” Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said on hearing of the pending funds.

The proposed tower will be 150 feet high on a 60-by-70-foot foundation

The structure will begin at the southeast corner of the public works building and stretch east toward the marina and south into the city parking lot, although only one parking space is expected to be eliminated.

FTP representative Kevin Barile said the construction would take six-10 weeks.

“Normally we have these things up in five to seven weeks, but this is a little different because it’s in a flood zone and we have to construct an elevated deck and platform,” he said.

Barile said FTP has received the required clearance from the Federal Communications Commission.

Straight said Verizon and AT&T are the two primary providers, but there will be room for eight other cell companies on the tower.

Each provider must pay the city $2,500 a month for the use of its tower.

Commissioners unanimously approved the land lease to construct the cell tower Jan. 23.

The contract took 12 years to come to fruition.

“It’s great to finally break ground on a project like this because you spend so much of your time jumping through all the hoops before it can happen,” Barile said. “I’m happy to see it’s actually happening.”

The proposal met opposition from residents near the site who argued that property values would decrease and cited safety concerns from a tower collapse, as well as radiation health concerns.

Barile said the tower would be designed with a collapse point, a 30-foot clearance zone for a fall. He said all of the equipment would be stored inside the tower, so nothing will fly off the structure in winds in excess of 115 mph.

Barile also said that the radiation is minimal and would not cause negative effects for residents.

FTP also is planning a tower at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, according to Barile.

He said construction on that project is predicted to get underway in November or December.

MCSO searches Anna Maria homesite

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies with cadaver search dogs inspected a property May 8 at the south end of Bay Boulevard, Anna Maria, but lacked orders for a full scale search or dig.

The residential property, adjacent to Galati Marine, is owned by Jack R. Fiske and also operates as a private marina.

According to one MCSO deputy stationed in Anna Maria, the search deputies marked several locations on the property that warrant further inspection. The deputy did not know if any digging or additional searches were ordered, but added the search team is expected to return to the property.

Sgt. Paul Davis, head of the MCSO’s Anna Maria substation, was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

No further details of the Fiske property search were available, but the speculation among some residents was that deputies may have been searching for the body of Sabine Musil-Buehler. Musil-Buehler, co-owner of Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach, went missing from her apartment in Anna Maria on Nov. 4, 2008.

Her former boyfriend, William Cumber, in jail on unrelated charges, has been charged with her murder, although her body has not been found.

Cumber was arrested in October 2012 at the Port Charlotte Correctional Facility while serving time for probation violation on an earlier conviction. He is being held without bail pending his trial.

In 2010, the MCSO extensively searched the beachfront area between Willow and Park avenues in Anna Maria, and used a backhoe to search the beach for Musil-Buehler’s body, but without success.

A homeowner clearing invasive plants on the beach found some personal possessions of Musil-Buehler, prompting the MCSO search.

Holmes Beach rezone applicant files new plan, hearing May 21

A new application concerning a contentious rezoning issue at 214 54th St., Holmes Beach, was filed with the building department May 6.

The application, requesting a small plan amendment and rezoning for the property, will be reviewed during a public hearing May 21.

The applicants, Ben and Keren ten Haaf, filed a continuance for the original application days before the April 2 planning commission meeting.

A miscommunication in the building department followed the request for a continuance, resulting in the planning commission members arriving unprepared to city chambers, which had filled with concerned citizens who expected to hear the matter and give input.

Residents in the surrounding neighborhood were sent registered letters by the applicant, as required, alerting them of the public hearing, but building department clerk Robyn Kinkopf had been told not to distribute materials to the commission members due to the continuance.

The new application asks to rezone the area from the present medium-density residential R-2 zone to a low-density commercial C-1 zone. Both the original and new application ask to extend the commercial zone’s mixed-overlay boundary line to the property.

The low-density commercial zone request allows for office space.

The original application was for a rezone to high-density commercial C-3. Monica Simpson, an agent for the applicants and Ross Built Construction Co. of Holmes Beach, the project contractor and planner, said at the April 2 meeting that the applicant asked for C-3 zoning because it conformed with the abutting commercial zoning.

The property, which sits on the corner of Holmes Boulevard and 54th Street, has C-3 zoning to the south and east, and residential zoning to the west and north.

It faces Holmes Boulevard and the Island Shopping Center, and it is across 54th Street from Island Lumber. The single-family home on the property is adjacent to two residential properties, both duplexes.

The owners of the property recently circulated a letter noting changes to their plans to neighbors, many of whom voiced strong disapproval to the zoning change at the April 2 hearing.

“We believe our revitalization plan for this property will create a more natural transition from commercial to the residential neighborhood … please, consider our proposal as we are not aiming to create animosity in the neighborhood, but doing what we believe is a positive improvement for both residents and businesses,” ten Haaf wrote.

Applications for rezoning and small plan amendments require a public hearing. In this case, there will be two public hearings at the same meeting, one for the rezone and one for the comprehensive plan amendment.

A staff review by the city planner is prepared based on the application and the planning commission makes a suggestion. The application and the planner’s and commission’s recommendations go to the city commission for a final decision.

The April 2 planning commission hearing was continued to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Holmes Beach mayor’s boat removed

A troublesome boat in a small residential canal sunk one too many times.

A derelict vessel owned by Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti has been moved following the issuance of a written notice of violation from Holmes Beach code enforcement.

The boat in question sank twice since mid-April and the incidents were reported to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said the vessel was found to violate city ordinance May 7, and a written notice was given to Monti ordering the vessel removed within 72 hours.

Sea Tow removed the vessel May 9.

According to Tokajer, absorbent pads were used to contain contaminants leaking from the vessel into the waterway.

Monti also keeps a sailboat at his dock. The boat has no motor and, according to neighbors, has not been moved from the dock since it was observed being towed there in 2010.

Tokajer said the sailboat does not meet the description of a derelict vessel and is not in violation of any city ordinance.

Barge readies for sandy pass dredge


The crew of the dredging barge Maya Caelyn, operated by Caveche Dredging and Earthworks of Pompano Beach, prepares for the startup of beach renourishment on Longboat Key this week. The barge and accompanying equipment are docked on the east side of State Road 789 in Bradenton Beach alongside the Longboat Pass Bridge. The company will be dredging sand from Longboat Pass to improve navigation. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin