John Gardner, chief pilot of Manatee County’s mosquito control helicopters, landed on the athletic field behind Anna Maria Elementary School May 20 for a second-grade science lesson. Students learned how to identify mosquito larvae, about the capabilities of the helicopter and how the county works to control mosquito populations. Islander Photo: Diana Bogan
Juice up and roll up a sleeve.
The annual Island Blood Drive is set for Saturday, June 4, and Sunday, June 5, at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach. Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
Donors can schedule appointments at www.fbsdonor.org, but walk-ins are welcome — even the norm.
The annual event serves two purposes — collecting blood for the Florida Blood Services, the largest donor testing service in the country, and generating income for local charities. The five beneficiaries are the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria Island Privateers, Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island, Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation and West Manatee Fire Rescue Auxiliary.
The charitable funding comes from an anonymous family foundation, which pledges to contribute $100 for each good unit of blood donated and $200 for each good unit drawn through the Alyx system, which doubles the number of red blood cells collected.
The blood donors designate their favorite charity or charities from the five, all of which rely on the blood drive as an important source of income. The 2010 drive generated nearly $40,000 for the nonprofits, including $16,615 for Wildlife Inc., $7,933 for the center, $7,482 for the fire auxiliary, $6,715 for the privateers, $1,750 for the rotary club.
The first 250 donors receive an Island Blood Drive T-shirt.
WANTED: Substitute blood donor. First-time donors encouraged to step up, sit back and give.
Dave McKeever thought about placing such an ad in a newspaper because for the first time in years he is ineligible to donate in the Island Blood Drive scheduled to take place June 4-5 at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach.
“I had never missed one,” McKeever said of donating in the Island drive, which in addition to stocking Florida Blood Services supplies raises money for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria Island Privateers, Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation, Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island and West Manatee Fire Rescue Auxiliary.
But McKeever is nearing the completion of an intense round of chemotherapy as he battles cancer. He had thought he suffered something less serious, diverticulitis, until doctors discovered a tumor on his abdomen.
“It was quite large and pressing on a lot of organs,” McKeever said. “When I first found I had cancer, I thought, I can’t donate to the Island Blood Drive anymore.”
He confirmed his ineligibility with his medical caretakers. “It kind of hurts after all these years, but they told me, ‘Your blood donor days are over.’”
Until he participated in the drive, McKeever had never donated blood.
Along with his wife, he first decided to donate the June after his father died of cancer. “I thought of it as a tribute,” McKeever said.
He also believed in the dual causes — the medical and charitable aid.
“This is certainly a way to support your community,” he said. “A simple way to do that.”
The five nonprofits collect money from the Island drive through an anonymous family foundation, which pledges $100 for each unit of good blood collected.
Blood donors select the nonprofit or nonprofits they want to support.
McKeever is a self-described wildlife enthusiast who has volunteered to care for injured animals for Wildlife Inc., which has a shelter in Bradenton Beach.
“My personal cause is Wildlife Inc.,” McKeever said.
But as he encourages a substitute to donate June 4-5 because he cannot, McKeever said, “I would never ever tell anyone who to make a donation to.… I’m just looking for somebody to take my place because I can’t do it. You know, it’s so simple but so rewarding.”
The Florida Department of Transportation is advising people living near the boardwalk construction site near the Anna Maria City Pier that the contractor will be driving poles into the ground between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Tuesday, May 31, through Friday, June 3.
The DOT said this activity “might create noise from time to time” and said residents in the area should not be alarmed. There will be no nighttime construction.
Motorists in the area of the boardwalk project are advised to exercise caution when driving on North and South Bay boulevards near the construction and to expect temporary intermittent lane closures with a flagging operation during the course of construction.
Access to the pier will be maintained during construction, but pedestrians can expect to use alternate paths to enter the pier during construction.
The project is expected to finish by October, the DOT said.
The DOT also was scheduled to conduct nighttime maintenance on the Cortez Bridge from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly this week until 5 a.m. Friday, June 3.
Motorists should expect intermittent east and westbound lane closures with a flagging operation during the maintenance hours.
Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt says a city seawall on the bay side of Sixth Street South must be rebuilt in the next year.
The capital improvement project could mean that the city commission will consider raising the city’s millage rate, which has not increased since 2002. The city’s fiscal position won’t be clear until later this month or early July.
Bartelt, meeting with commissioners and city staff May 25, stressed the urgency of the situation at Sixth Street South. The seawall is close to a lift station, the mayor said, “and we know what it’s lifting.”
Public works director Tom Woodard observed that the existing seawall is “only one cinderblock in width.”
That prompted Bartelt to add, “I don’t think it was ever constructed to hold.”
The meeting last week was held to discuss capital improvement projects necessary in fiscal year 2011-12, which begins Oct. 1. For this year, the commission budgeted a minimal amount for capital improvements and spent an unexpected $350,000 for a Gulffront parcel that settled a longstanding lawsuit.
“That was a good chunk of change,” said city clerk Nora Idso.
Before the meeting, Idso presented the elected officials with a memo outlining the city’s financial position and expectations for the next year.
The mayor summed up the situation — the city’s basic expenses are going up, but revenues continue to drop with falling property values.
“The numbers are what they are,” Idso said.
Quickly the focus turned to the seawall and then taxes.
A report prepared last October by LTA Engineers of Bradenton identified a number of problems with city-owned seawalls on the bayside.
LTA’s survey found that some seawalls need repair and others need replacement. The priority, however, was at Sixth Street South. The survey said there is no cap on the seawall, which is in poor condition. A drainage sheet flows down Sixth Street South to grass and then over the top of the structure into the bay.
Woodard said the replacement cost was estimated at $25,000.
“Last year we put very, very little money into capital improvements,” Bartelt said. “This year we are saying we need to have some increase in capital improvement just to mitigate the high dangers that we have.”
Commissioner Janie Robertson said protecting the city’s perimeter, which includes the seawall work, must be a priority in the next year.
“It’s the most important thing we can do,” she said.
And, she added, “I have no qualms about raising millage” if necessary.
But Commissioner Jan Vosburgh does. “I would be absolutely against raising the millage rate,” she said. “I don’t think we should burden our citizens more.… Never increase taxes in a down economy.”
Robertson and Bartelt, as well as Commissioner Gay Breuler, emphasized that raising the rate would be a last resort.
“If there is a way that we can come up with a budget that doesn’t raise taxes, that would always be the first goal of all of us,” Breuler said.
Commissioner Ed Straight added, “Raising the millage rate doesn’t necessarily mean more money out of people’s pockets. My taxes have dropped considerably” because of declines in taxable value.
The city commission will begin taking a closer look at budgeting for 2011-12 in July. A new budget must be adopted in September.
Manatee County commissioners approved an agreement for the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce to again sell ads on the Island Trolley to generate revenue for the fare-free service.
The trolley operates the north-south length of Anna Maria Island 365 days a year. There is no charge to passengers, but in recent years, with diminished grant funding and declines in tax receipts, local governments have struggled with budgeting for the service.
A couple of years ago, the county and Island chamber crafted a partnership to promote and finance the trolley in part with advertising.
Island businesses bought into the campaign, but the county suspended the advertising while it pursued replacement vehicles for the mechanically troubled trolleys.
With replacement vehicles due this year, the campaign is being reactivated, according deputy county administrator Karen Windon.
The agreement approved by commissioners during a regular meeting May 24 stated that the chamber will pay the county $15,000 in ad revenues each quarter to total $60,000 a year.
Any sales revenue above the $60,000 will be kept by the chamber, according to a memo from Windon to commissioners.
The new trolleys also will be equipped with donation boxes to help generate revenue for the service.
Under the agreement, the county “will not review or pre-approve advertising content, but will rely on the judgment of the chamber to ensure content is of a type and nature suitable for the trolley service,” Windon said.
The county agreement is for two years, with an option to renew.
Florida Power & Light Co. will have tree-trimming crews on Anna Maria Island during the summer months, cutting and trimming tree branches and vegetation that might interfere with power lines.
A press release from FPL’s vegetation management division said the company is “committed to protecting and maintaining our environment while providing safe and reliable electric service.”
Tree limbs and branches near power lines that are not trimmed can cause “safety hazards and power outages,” by touching power lines or falling on them during windy weather, FPL said.
FPL asked area property owners to assist them in their efforts by “providing access to trees near power lines behind your property.”
If access to a property is necessary, FPL said it would contact the owner personally, or leave a note on the door before performing any work.
Additionally, FPL strongly advised property owners against attempting to trim trees or vegetation on or near power lines.
An FPL spokesperson said property owners would be advised several days in advance of any tree-trimming operation in their area and a schedule for Anna Maria Island trimming locations and times would be released in the near future.
For more information, call FPL at 866-274-9098.
Since developer Robert Byrne abandoned his property at 518 Key Royale Drive in Holmes Beach some three to four years ago, it has become an eyesore and an encumbrance to city staff and commissioners who hope to find a solution to an inherited problem.
The property is in foreclosure, and Byrne no longer lives locally. Because the property hasn’t been maintained, it has become the city’s problem. Code enforcement has fined the property $250 daily and the city lien has reached $218,000 and continues to grow.
Scott Davis appealed at a May 24 commission meeting for the city to lower the fine by $200,000 in exchange for sprucing up the property. Cap Financial CV1 LLC was willing to shoulder that burden, he said. Holmes construction has already been recruited to clean up the property.
Davis asked if Holmes Beach would allow Cap to only pay $18,000. In exchange, Cap was prepared to make an immediate improvement to the property, including a new irrigation system, front door and garage door, so the property could be sold.
When Davis was asked by Commissioner John Monetti if he was an employee of Cap Financial, he said he was not. Davis said he is a private contractor. His business is Real Estate Capital Solutions LLC, he said.
Davis also said Cap Financial is not the owner, although he Cap would buy the property at auction.
“I guess the owner is the bankruptcy court or Robert Byrne,” Davis said. “It is going to sell for $1.6 million or $1.7 million. I don’t see anyone joining us on the courthouse steps.”
Commissioner David Zaccagnino, talking to Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens, said he remembered a similar case before the city 18 months ago.
“You said then,” Zaccagnino said, “let the buyer beware.”
Davis agreed to get the deed to the property before returning to another workshop and asking for a reduction on the lien.
Haas-Martens told Davis the city would not settle for $18,000. She said the city did not usually reduce fines or penalties.
City attorney Patricia Petruff advised Davis it would depend on how much money they would spend getting the property back in shape, and if Cap would actually be awarded the property.
“It would depend on whether you spend $40,000 or $200,000,” Petruff said.
Zaccagnino told Davis it would be tough to make a deal because Cap Financial did not own the property.
“Get the deed,” Zaccagnino said to Davis, “and we will strike a bargain on that day.”
Cap Financial CV1 LLC has a judgment against Byrne for more than $1.5 million for the property, which was to go to auction June 1, 2011. The bidding was to begin at 11 a.m.
A routine traffic stop in Holmes Beach May 18 resulted in the arrest of a 33-year-old woman on a drug paraphernalia charge.
The incident occurred at about 7 p.m., when a patrol officer identified a red Chevy SUV with an expired tag in the 3500 block of East Bay Drive.
The officer approached the driver after she parked behind the Citgo service station in the 3000 block of Gulf Drive. “She began telling stories about her registration that didn’t make sense,” an HBPD report stated.
The driver also could not provide proof of motor vehicle insurance, which is required under state law, and had her license suspended in July 2010, according to police.
After writing a citation, the officer asked the woman to step out of her vehicle, and then, “due to her having some sort of beach shorts on” gave her an opportunity to put on a pair of jeans.
When the driver reached into the vehicle, she reached for her cell phone and began talking to a passenger. The officer asked her to leave the cell phone, and that’s when he “looked down and noticed a needle and syringe on the driver’s side floor board.”
With the driver in custody in the patrol car, police searched the vehicle and found a plastic box containing burnt Brillo pad pieces, a purse containing some pills, a suitcase containing a cigarette pack holding additional pills and “what looked to be a crack pipe.”
The driver faces a traffic citation and two misdemeanor charges — driving on a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia.
She was released from the Manatee County jail on $240 bond.
A friend stopped by Elaine and Gary Deffenbaugh’s home May 25 to find a fish on the dining room table, but not a fish being served for dinner.
The Deffenbaughs, who lives in the 200 block of Gladiolus in Anna Maria, told the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office that while they were out of town they asked a friend to check on their home.
The friend stopped over on May 25 and found a fish on the table, along with a broken skylight above the table.
An MCSO report said it was unclear how the fish fell through the skylight into the dining room.
There was speculation that perhaps a bird dropped the fish.