Tag Archives: 06-04-2014

Public meeting June 4 called to ‘Save the Center’

The Anna Maria Island Community Center may be forced to close in a few weeks for lack of funds. It is almost down to its last dollar, executive director Dawn Stiles said.

Stiles scheduled a “Save the Center” town meeting for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, to discuss the situation.

“We are definitely in a financial crisis,” Stiles said.

With about $60,000 remaining in its operating account, Stiles said the center might have enough funds to remain open another 30 days.

She asked “everyone to come to the meeting and let’s come together to save the center. We need to decide if we want to keep the center open — or not.”

With few revenue-producing programs planned during the summer, Stiles said the situation is critical.

“If we are to remain open, we need immediate funding,” she said.

An effort to refinance the center’s $4.5 million loan was unsuccessful, she said.

“We pay $8,666 a month to the bank. We’re not behind, but they have declined to rework the loan to a lower interest rate.”

Stiles said further details of the center’s financial situation would be brought up at the June 4 meeting. The board of directors and staff will attend, she said.

“There’s just no money left,” Stiles said.

“Even eliminating a few positions would not make a dent, and we’re already operating with minimal staff.”

In 2001, the then-board of directors agreed to remodel the center for an estimated $2.5 million. That project eventually resulted in an entirely new building, including a new gym, classrooms and offices.

But the Florida economy was hit by a recession around 2005, and building costs skyrocketed, according to contractors that worked on the project. The final cost was $4.5 million and the project took three years to complete.

The monthly mortgage payment “does put a dent” in the center’s financial position, Stiles said.

She said that she researched past audits and found the center was “in the black” before the building mortgage. She learned the center has operated “in the red,” she said, for eight years.

The meeting is to come up with reasonable and immediate solutions to continue operating the center, she said.

“Please — everyone — come,” Stiles said.

Bid protest holds up Bridge Street pier project

The city of Bradenton Beach may have to start from square one on the contracting of the Historic Bridge Street Pier renovation.

Progress on the reconstruction — scheduled to begin this month — was halted pending an investigation of two complaints filed by companies that competed for the contract, but lost to a higher bidder.

The investigation will focus on the validity of the complaints and analyze whether the city should withdraw its request for proposal and reject all bids, according to city attorney Ricinda Perry.

Pac Comm Inc. of Miami and Tampa Bay Marine Inc. of Gibsonton are both formally contesting the commission’s decision to award the contract to Sarasota-based Duncan Seawall Dock and Boat Lift LLC, the second highest bidder of the five companies that competed for the contract.

Walter Sowa, the attorney representing Pac Comm, filed the first protest following the May 22 commission meeting, where Duncan was officially awarded the contract, according to Perry.

Chris Theriot, general manager of Tampa Bay Marine, filed the second protest May 30, stating his company should be awarded the contract by default because the two lower-priced contractors failed to follow protocol. His claim is that they should be disqualified.

Mayor Bill Shearon said the results of the investigation will be brought to the commission at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 5, preceding the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“The city attorney is conducting the investigation, so we have all the facts and all the figures to present to the commission for a decision,” Shearon said.

During the special meeting, representatives from all three companies will have the opportunity to rebut and present evidence.

The commission can then decide to hold an informal hearing, issue a written decision or present the bid protest to a hearing officer for a final determination.

Perry said Duncan Seawall was selected above the others based upon evidence and testimony presented at the May 22 meeting, and the professional opinion of the city’s contracted engineering firm, ZNS Engineering.

City building official Steve Gilbert and pier team member Karen Wilson of ZNS recommended Duncan Seawall and Tampa Bay Marine to the commission based on a bid evaluation matrix and a series of interviews they conducted prior to the May 22 meeting.

The commission voted 3-2 — with Commissioners Jan Vosburgh and Janie Robertson opposed — to award the contract to Duncan.

Although Pac Comm had the lowest bid, shortest time duration and qualified for a local preference, Gilbert said he had concerns with the company’s projected duration of 100 days and workforce of eight employees when the other companies were predicting 140-175 days of construction and 18-35 workers.

Despite Gilbert’s concerns, the commission allowed John Huit, senior project manager of Pac Comm, to defend his proposal.

Tampa Bay Marine lost consideration because it was not represented at the May 22 meeting.

Two other companies were dismissed because they did not respond to interview requests.

Shearon said he hopes to have the issue resolved by June 5.

He said construction should commence in early July. The restaurant and bait shop will remain open throughout the process, but the rest of the pier will be off limits.

Paid parking: Sticky issue, old concept

Anna Maria Commission Chair Chuck Webb told his colleagues at their May 27 work session on paid parking that discussion of the issue “has been going on for months and we’re not getting anywhere.”

But the idea for some form of paid parking in the city has been around for years, if not decades. An article in the June 4, 2004, issue of The Islander notes the commission failed to agree on a paid parking plan.

Today’s commissioners have agreed with the concept, with details to be hashed out later. However, the details often cause division.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he favored first working up an islandwide system for paid parking, but Commissioner Carol Carter said Anna Maria should press forward.

“We need to take the lead. Otherwise, we’ll talk forever,” she said.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said, “This past weekend, I was at the pier at 9 a.m. and people were unloading beach gear at the city pier lot and it looked like they were staying all day. As long as we have free parking and that beach is there, it’s an attraction and people will come,” he said.

If the pier lot and nearby spaces are full, many people park wherever they want, even if it’s illegal, Copeland said.

Webb asked for commission consensus for city staff to prepare a draft ordinance for fees and permits to park.

“We can add the details as we discuss the ordinance,” he said.

Woodland wanted to keep it simple.

He also said he’s received complaints from residents who say deputies are not doing enough to enforce the existing parking regulations.

Mayor SueLynn disagreed. She said issuing parking tickets is not the primary job of deputies and there aren’t enough deputies to patrol every city street in search of parking violations.

She told Woodland that deputies issued 99 parking tickets May 4-18.

“So, please, don’t say deputies are not doing their job,” SueLynn said.

Woodland said he was happy with law enforcement. He was only repeating some of the complaints he’s heard.

Webb agreed with SueLynn that deputies should not be the primary law enforcement that issues parking tickets if paid parking is instituted. He suggested additional staff to ticket for parking violations.

Woodland disagreed with any suggestion for increasing the cost of a parking ticket or adding staff. He said a $35 ticket is sufficient.

“If you think we can do this without more staff, you’re mistaken,” Webb said.

“Right now, let’s just get the overview. Details can be added later,” he said. City attorney Jim Dye should review the paid parking ordinances at other Florida beach resort cities and report those findings to the commission. Webb said it’s his understanding most Florida beach resorts have some form of paid parking.

Commission consensus was that some type of permit parking is needed. Residents would be exempt from paying for the permit.

Proof of residency can come from the address on a driver’s license, a utility bill, a signed lease for more than six months, a voter registration card or a homestead deed, commissioners agreed.

A discussion on towing and fees ensued, but Woodland said, “That’s still getting too complicated.”

Woodland also said that issuing permits would be an administrative nightmare, especially on weekends, when no one is at city hall.

Webb said the discussion was getting hung up on too many details, and some matters, such as the cost of a permit, could be done by resolution.

“The consensus is that we have a framework for staff to give us a draft ordinance,” in consultation with Dye and his findings, Webb said.

Some residents at the meeting agreed paid parking should be pursued, but several who spoke opposed having deputies as the primary source for issuing tickets.

Resident Marsha Lindsay defended the MCSO deputies, saying they always come when she calls about parking on Oak Avenue.

She wondered if the Manatee County Tourist Development Council “would pay for meter maids.”

“We’re providing all this money for them. If they are going to push island tourism, they can pay for meter maids,” she said.

“But there is no easy fix here. I think we are holding the wrong people responsible,” she said. The over-advertisement of Anna Maria Island for visitors has worked too well, she said.

Lindsay, a longtime city resident, said parking has “never been resolved” in the 40 years she’s been in the city. “But I do agree with your efforts. Keep trying. It’s better than doing nothing.”

Woodland said he thought it was too early to prepare an ordinance, but Webb and the other commissioners said there has already been too much talk.

“Action is needed,” Yetter said.

SueLynn said she would talk with Dye and city planner Alan Garrett and try to have a rough outline of an ordinance ready for the commission meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 12.

“I hope we have something in place by July 4,” the mayor said.

Mayor’s ‘spouse’ stirs up Bradenton Beach commission race

By Merab-Michal Favorite

Islander Reporter

If you ask Tjet Martin why she’s running for elected office, you get a quick response: “I want to stir things up a bit.”

The 52-year-old Chicago-area native did just that when she picked up a candidate registration packet from the Bradenton Beach city clerk’s office May 30.

Martin, who resides in Ward 4, plans to run for the commission seat held by incumbent Commissioner Jan Vosburgh.

However, Martin is no ordinary candidate. She and her longtime life-partner, sometimes referred to as her “spousal equivalent,” Bill Shearon, own, operate and reside at Linger Longer, 302 Gulf Drive, a vacation rental property on the Gulf of Mexico.

Did we mention Shearon also happens be the mayor of Bradenton Beach?

“Everyone has been asking, ‘What about Sunshine?’” Martin said, referring to Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws, which  prohibit officials from discussing matters that may come before them for a vote. “The truth is, we have better things to talk about.”

Because the mayor serves as part of the commission and votes on matters, if Martin is elected, it would be illegal for them to discuss city topics with each other and other members of the commission in any setting other than a public forum.

Scott Farrington, assistant supervisor of elections for Manatee County, said there is nothing in the election laws that would prevent Martin from running for the commission seat.

“We can only speak for the election laws,” he said. “Obviously there are ethical concerns in this situation, but there is nothing we can do to prevent her from registering.”

Martin said residents should not be concerned that the mayor would play favorites if she wins the commission seat.

“Anyone who knows us knows that we are very different people with very different viewpoints,” she said. “We both feel strongly about our own opinions and they differ greatly.”

Martin may yet have another conflict of interest.

She and former planning and zoning board member Jo Ann Meilner are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the city in 2012. The suit challenges the city’s approval of an agreement with ELRA Inc., allowing construction of a parking lot on a vacant parcel south of the BeacHhouse Restaurant.

The lawsuit originally was filed with Shearon as a complainant, and he also was a P&Z board member when the ELRA agreement was approved. He withdrew from the lawsuit after winning the mayor’s seat in the November 2013 municipal election.

Martin said if she wins, she also would withdraw from the lawsuit and recuse herself from any related agenda items.

“If I don’t win, I’m not going to withdraw,” she said. “ELRA is a bully, and I don’t tolerate bullies.”

Martin said she hopes her decision to run will prompt others to step up for public service.

“This city needs a healthy election,” she said. “Someone needs to run against the incumbent commissioners. They shouldn’t just win by default.

The Ward 2 commission seat term also is up in November. Incumbent Commissioner Ed Straight has indicated he will seek re-election to a third term, but so far has no challenger.

Both Straight and Vosburgh ran unopposed in 2012.

Martin accused the current commission of trying to micromanage the city. She said given the opportunity, she would trust city employees to do their jobs.

She also would like to see the city budget back in the black, after a recent audit determined the city spent more than it had taken in.

Martin has called Bradenton Beach home for the past 11 years.

She was one of eight children raised by factory workers in North Chicago.

She said she realized she was good at building things early on.

Her mechanical talents earned her a job manufacturing machinery in an Illinois factory, a career she says she greatly enjoyed. However, it was cut short by a work-related injury.

Martin was a server at a German restaurant when she met Shearon.

“He was a regular and basically swept me off my feet,” she said.

The couple became “snowbird cruisers,” living on a boat in Illinois during the summer and sailing to Longboat Key for the winter months.

Eventually, they took root in Bradenton Beach and have lived there since.

Martin currently serves on the Bradenton Beach Scenic Waves Committee.

Residents have until June 20 to register to run for office.

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.

Applicants are required to have established residency within the city for 90 days and be registered to vote in the ward for which they qualify.

The candidate must pay a qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought — $96 for mayor, $48 for commission seat — and obtain 10 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

 

Possible candidates pop up in Anna Maria

By Rick Catlin

Islander Reporter

      The November elections in Anna Maria for two commission seats and that of the mayor may not be won by default.

Two residents, Dan Murphy and Tom Berenson, recently picked up election packets at city hall. However, city clerk Diane Percycoe emphasized that anyone can pick up a packet, even for someone else.

As of noon Friday, May 30, only incumbent Commissioner Nancy Yetter had announced she would seek re-election. Yetter has qualified for the Nov. 4 election, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website.

Incumbent Commissioner Chuck Webb continues to say he is a “definite maybe” to seek another term, while Mayor SueLynn said she will announce her decision before June 9.

The city’s qualifying period to be on the ballot is noon June 9 to noon June 20. Election packets are available at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, or at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, 600 301 Blvd., No. 108, Bradenton.

A candidate must be a registered voter and verify two years of residency in the city.

Anna Maria candidates election fees and qualifying papers must be submitted to the SOE office, not city hall, Percycoe said.

The qualifying fee to run for mayor is $96, while to seek a commission seat the fee is $48. Forms to waive the qualifying fee as a financial hardship also are available at the SOE office.

Anna Maria commissioners are paid $4,800 annually, while the mayor receives $9,600 in annual compensation for the job.

 

Zaccagnino to resign commission post-election

By Jennifer Glenfield

Islander Reporter

      Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino put his cards on the table.

He announced he would run for mayor in the middle of his two-year term as commissioner, but held his cards on a replacement. It was his choice whether his replacement would be named by election or appointment by the remaining commissioners.

He formally submitted his resignation letter to the city clerk at Holmes Beach City Hall May 29, stating his resignation would be effective following the organizational meeting after the November election.

Zaccagnino’s post-election resignation means his vacant seat on the commission will be filled by appointment of two newly elected commissioners and two incumbents, commissioners Jean Peelen and Pat Morton.

In addition to the mayoral post, the terms of Commission Chair Judy Titsworth and Commissioner Marvin Grossman are up in November.

Grossman has announced he will run for re-election.

Titsworth said she’s unsure whether she will run for mayor or commissioner, and is waiting to make her announcement to see if someone qualifies to oppose Zaccagnino in the mayoral race. Incumbent Mayor Carmel Monti has said he will not seek re-election.

Keeping another hand of cards in play, Zaccagnino picked up two candidate packets at city hall. One packet, he said, was for himself, and the other for someone interested in running for office but not ready to announce his or her candidacy.

However, he did say the person is someone voters know.

“There are a couple people interested,” said Zaccagnino, adding, “People ask me for advice before they run for office.”

Candidate packets are available at city hall and must be submitted to the city clerk during the qualifying period, which opens at noon June 16 and closes at noon June 20.

Prospective candidates must fill out a statement of candidacy, declaring the position for which they are running, collect signatures from at least 15 registered voters in the city of Holmes Beach and open a campaign account with an assigned treasurer.

Prospective candidates also must complete a candidate’s oath of office and verify two years of residency.

Candidates also must pay a qualifying fee which is equal to 10 percent of the income of the office sought. Running for mayor comes with a $120 qualifying fee, and commissioners $64.

FHP holiday seat-belt checkpoint labeled ‘chaotic’

Maybe a Good Samaritan will send the Florida Highway Patrol the Dale Carnegie book, “How to

Win Friends and Influence People.”

The FHP didn’t win many friends May 24 at the start of the Memorial Day holiday.

An FHP traffic stop in the west-bound lane of the Palma Sola Causeway, also known as Manatee Avenue/State Road 64, the morning of May 24, backed up traffic into downtown Bradenton.

FHP officers were checking for seat-belt usage by vehicle drivers and passengers, FHP spokesman Lt. Doug Bueno said.

Bueno said it wasn’t a checkpoint, but an “inspection for use of life-saving seatbelts.” Florida law requires drivers, front-seat passengers and anyone under age 18 to wear a seat belt.

About 10 FHP vehicles and an estimated 20 FHP officers and FHP auxiliary were on hand.

Vehicles were stopped for an inspection that also included checking for auto registration, insurance papers and a valid driver’s license, Bueno said.

According to Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn and others, traffic backed up into downtown Bradenton because of the FHP roadblock.

She said the operation was a fiasco, and was not happy that local law enforcement and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office were not notified.

“We were getting calls from people asking us what’s going on and we didn’t know anything,” she said. “We heard the backup was chaotic.”

Some who were driving to the island that morning – the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend – said the ensuing backup of traffic caused by the FHP resulted in a trip of two hours or more that typically would be about 10-20 minutes.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer, whose city bore the brunt of telephone complaints about the backup, said it “would have been nice if the FHP had called me in advance so I could have gotten the word out to residents of what to expect that Saturday. But I never heard anything about it. Everyone was shocked. Thanks, FHP.”

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale was adamant that he had no advance warning, but should have.

“No we were not told of any roadblocks on Manatee Avenue on Saturday. I found out from people asking if it was a bad wreck or possibly a DUI checkpoint. Great timing,” Speciale said.

Sgt. Paul Davis of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria sub-station also said he had no early notice of the FHP operation.

“The day would have gone smoother if we had been given advance notice,” he said.

SueLynn was more vocal than Davis.

She said the FHP picked that day, knowing there would be a lot of traffic because of the holiday, and FHP didn’t appear to care about the backup it caused.

“The FHP didn’t get the complaints, we did,” the mayor said. Some complained so much about wasting time sitting in a car headed to the beach, they said they would never come here again, she said.

Bueno said the FHP sometimes issues notices about planned operations in an area to its local troop commanders 10 days in advance. The troop commanders then notify local law enforcement of operations in their areas.

“Nobody called me,” Tokajer said. “It would have been nice had they done so.”

Davis also did not get a call from the Manatee County FHP, but said the FHP and MCSO often cooperate on an inter-agency basis. He did not want to say anything to jeopardize that cooperation and declined further comment. He agreed that traffic headed to the island on Manatee Avenue that morning was “a bit chaotic.”

SueLynn said she would write to the local and district FHP commanders asking for an explanation of why island law enforcement agencies were not notified.

“I heard traffic was backed up in Bradenton past 34th Street and further into the downtown area. I’m not real happy right now,” she said.

Bueno said he did not know why a notice from local FHP commanders to Manatee County law enforcement officials did not happen, but noted the inspection operated only from 8 a.m.-11 a.m.

When the FHP on-site commander saw the backup on Manatee Avenue, he halted the operation, Bueno said.

He also said he would attempt to find out why no local notice was given.

Fifteen tickets were written for seat-belt violations out of 31 tickets issued, Bueno said. Other tickets were for excessive window tinting, failure to have valid insurance or driver’s license, or out-of-date license tag. Twenty-one warnings also were issued, Bueno said.

“Last week was buckle-up week statewide, so FHP troops were conducting checks of vehicles to ensure compliance with the seat belt law,” Bueno said.

He had no explanation why the causeway site was chosen for the operation, but SueLynn said a better description for a “site” might have been “choke point” because it certainly choked off traffic trying to reach the island.

She said it was frustrating not having answers when people called her about the backup. “And we’re supposed to work together,” she said.

“We had nothing to do with this and knew nothing in advance,” she said, with emphasis.

Bueno said he did not know if the FHP planned a similar operation for the July 4 holiday. Local law enforcement agencies don’t receive advance notice of every FHP operation, he said.

Previous check points and inspections on the causeway also were without prior notice to the media.

For more holiday traffic and parking woes, see page 8.

 

Mainsail submits temporary parking plan

Better late than never.

As the Holmes Beach city commission readies to review the final site plan for Mainsail Lodge on June 24, a plan for temporary parking passed through their hands May 29.

The issue of inadequate parking for charter boats operating from the Mainsail marina was brought forward by Commission Chair Judy Titsworth. According to Titsworth, patrons of the charter and tour boats based at the marina have been parking in surrounding business’ lots.

Titsworth resides on Sunrise Lane on the south side of the project.

City clerk Stacey Johnston said in addition to the already operating boats, some boats may be operating without clearance from the city, and at least five applications are pending to rent slips at the marina.

The commission tasked Tom O’Brien, superintendent of public works, with contacting Mainsail Lodge planners and setting a deadline to establish a temporary parking plan before any construction begins.

Titsworth also cited safety concerns with parking in the grass, which is surrounded by 2- to 3-foot tall rebar markers for utilities and foundation pilings.

“The concerns were directing people around construction. The changes here are to add precautions for public safety,” said O’Brien. “The parking will be relocated or reconfigured as construction progresses.”

Titsworth had concerns for the city’s obligation to public safety related to the temporary parking plan.

O’Brien said the city’s obligation is to “observe and advise” of safety hazards, and it was the responsibility of the property owners and what their liability insurance dictates to ensure safety.

The parking plan distributed to commissioners included a rope fence between the parking spaces and the marina.

The plan has 25 parking spaces to accommodate 75 boat passengers, based on seating available on the boats operating at the marina. The city’s required ratio is one parking space for three boat seats.

Johnston cautioned commissioners that the temporary plan was based on the permitted charter boats and does not account for the boats operating without clearance or the pending applications for other charter operators.

“Tom and staff need to work together to make sure they don’t rent more slips, or more seats are added. More than 75 seats, and they’re going to be in trouble,” said city attorney Patricia Petruff.

The commission also asked O’Brien about facilities for patrons during operation hours. He replied that the “sales office,” now being used as a marina office, is open until the last charter returns for the day.

According to Petruff, under the settlement agreement that was signed March 17 by the city and Mainsail, the developers have 90 days from that date to submit their final site plan, landing on June 15.

The commissioners will review the site plan at their 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, meeting at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

HB commission cleared of alleged ‘shade meeting’ violation

Holmes Beach commissioners met in the “shade” to discuss a tree house lawsuit, but no Sunshine violation was found.

Holmes Beach commissioners held a meeting behind closed doors in August 2013 with city attorneys Jim Dye and Patricia Petruff regarding litigation over the tree house on the beachfront of Angelinos Sea Lodge, 2818 Ave. E, Holmes Beach.

The meeting, closed to the public, was called a shade meeting, a play on the state’s broad public record laws, known as the Sunshine Law.

Attorney David Levin, on behalf of the owners of the tree house, alleged the shade meeting violated the Sunshine Law.

The Bradenton Police Department investigated the case after Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer recused himself from the investigation.

The case was handled by investigator Nicol L. Scholer at the direction of Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.

BPD began investigating the alleged violation in October 2013, and Tokajer presented the city commission with the report May 27.

The city was cleared by Scholer of any wrongdoing, and the report was submitted to the state attorney’s office the same day.

Levin contacted the state attorney’s office in September 2013 following the shade meeting, which was called by Petruff to discuss litigation strategy related to the tree house, which has since been found to be in violation of city codes and state laws.

Shade meetings can be considered an allowable exemption to the Sunshine Law if the meeting is a litigation strategy session between the attorney and client. The meetings are limited to guidance of the legal team in cost and settlement strategy.

Minutes are required for the shade meeting and they become public record once the case is closed.

The city is still waiting on the conclusion of cases seeking to declare owners Lynn Tran’s and Richard Hazen’s petition to retain their beachfront tree house, despite numerous violations.

The couple’s appeal of the code enforcement board’s ruling and an appeal of the city’s final administrative order to remove the structure or rectify its non-compliant status also are pending action in the courts.

The most recent development in the case was a circuit court order to stop daily fines of $100 imposed by the city until the legal proceedings are concluded.

Island roadwatch

Florida Power & Light will be working 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday, June 6, from the Gulf Drive/Cortez Road intersection in Bradenton Beach to 28th Street North in Holmes Beach.

The Florida Department of Transportation said motorists should expect northbound lane closures on Gulf Drive while FP&L completes power pole replacements.

The Florida Department of Transportation is conducting an ongoing road repair project weekdays on West Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 from the Perico Bay Club west to 75th Street, Bradenton.

Some areas of the road are being repaved, and sidewalks, signage and road marking improvements.

Any road resurfacing will be at night, 9 p.m.-5 a.m., and accompanied by a flagging operation to keep one lane open for vehicular traffic, a DOT press release said.

The project is scheduled to finish in late June.

A maintenance/repair project of the Cortez Bridge is continuing, with the majority of work taking place weeknights.

Any lane closures are 9 p.m.-5 a.m. during the week, and raising the drawbridge is planned 2 a.m.-3 a.m. A flagging operation will be in place in the event of a lane closure, a DOT press release said.

The bridge project is expected to finish in late January.

Calendar – 06-04-2014

Wednesday, June 4

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

8:24 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Thursday, June 5

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

8:25 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Friday, June 6

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

6:30 p.m. — Theatre Odyssey performing “Wine, Bites, and A Bottle of Vodka,” Anna Maria Olive Oil Outpost, 401 Pine Ave., Anna Maria. Fee applies. Information: 941-896-3132

8:25 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Saturday, June 7

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. — Island Blood Drive, Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

7 p.m. — Dimensions in Blue of the U.S. Air Force’s Band of the West performs a concert at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

8:25 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Sunday, June 8

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. — Island Blood Drive, Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

8:26 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Monday, June 9

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

6 p.m. — Community Connections soiree presented by Anna Maria Island Preservation Trust and Bob and Carol Carter, Key Royale Club, 700 Key Royale Drive. Reservations by June 6. Information: 941-778-5120.

8:26 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Tuesday, June 10

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

8:27 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Wednesday, June 11

6:31 a.m. — Official sunrise time.

2 p.m. — Alzheimer’s Association program, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

2 p.m. — Teen driving simulator program with AAA, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

8:27 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Off Island

June 6

11 a.m. — Senior Adventures holds an anniversary party, community dock, south end of 123rd Street, Cortez. Information: 941-962-8835.

 

Coming up

• June 14, 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game, Bradenton.

• June 15 is Father’s Day.

• June 21 is the first day of summer.

 

Save the date

• July 4, Fourth of July parade, Anna Maria Island.

• Sept. 1 is Labor Day.

 

Posting in the calendar

        Send calendar announcements to calendar@islander.org. Please include the time, date and location of the event, a brief description and a contact via email and phone. The deadline for submissions is the Wednesday a week before publication. High-resolution photographs welcome.

Fishing – 06-04-2014

Anna Maria anglers celebrate returning silver kings

 

As the temperature rises and we move into the typical summertime fishing pattern, tarpon become the main focus of anglers on the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island. With this being said, it is a good time to learn more about one of Florida’s premier game fish.

Tarpon, sabalo or silver king — whatever you choose to call them — have been swimming the world’s oceans since prehistoric times. They are considered one of Florida’s top game fish due to their strength, stamina and incredible fighting ability.

There are two varieties of tarpon. Megalops atlanticus, the species caught in our waters, and Megalops cyprinoides, an Indo-Pacific species. Megalops atlanticus can be found throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and is known to inhabit waters of the Western Atlantic coast, ranging from Virginia to Brazil. On the eastern side of the Atlantic, these fish also are caught around the middle to the southern tip of Africa.

Megalops cyprinoides is found throughout the waters of Southeast Asia, Japan and Australia and along the eastern African coast.

Neither is worthy of the dinner table, but oh what a catch.

Tarpon inhabit fresh and saltwater, particularly around the mouths of rivers and marshes. They utilize their swim bladder to rise to the surface and take gulps of air — giving them the ability to survive in hypoxic water — water with relatively low oxygen content.

This is particularly beneficial in the larval stage — picture a 1-inch transparent ribbon-like body with small fang-like teeth — as they inhabit salt marches, tidal pools, creeks and rivers and feed on zooplankton. The water quality is not tolerable for most other fish, which in turn aids in the survival of juvenile tarpon.

As these fish grow toward adulthood, they move to the Gulf of Mexico and other waters in search of prey, feeding both day and night. Also, because their teeth are minute, they usually swallow their prey whole.

Tarpon can grow to a length of 5-8 feet. Most have a greenish to bluish back, with bright silver sides made up of large, almost vertical scales. Often, when these fish breech the surface to take air, you see a bright silver flash as the scales reflect the sun. The average weight of a full-grown tarpon is 100-120 pounds, although fish up to 280 pounds have been reported.

I’m seeing tarpon hookups with battles lasting as long as 90 minutes. As clients fight their tarpon, a rodeo ensues among the numerous boats in the surrounding area hooking up at the same time. The excitement rises as lines crisscross and the 100-pounder jumps within feet of the boat.

Tarpon fishing is something every angler should experience.

Aside from the tarpon bite, inshore fishing is producing good numbers of spotted seatrout. The morning incoming tides are a good time to start targeting bigger trout on the shallow flats that flow into channels and deeper potholes. A live pinfish placed under a popping cork is a good method to target the bigger fish.

Redfish are patrolling the shallow flats during the incoming tides. Try throwing a live shiner and wait for the explosion of a redfish as it blasts your bait.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is targeting tarpon in the passes and on the beach. Gross likes to use a 5/0 or 6/0 circle hook tied to 60-pound fluorocarbon leader attached to 50-pound braided line. Gross’s preferred baits are crab and threadfin herring. Tarpon up in the 80- to 100-pound class have been the norm for hookups by Gross’ clients.

Gross also has been targeting spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. This has been productive for Gross, who also is hunting the flats of Sarasota Bay with live white bait for redfish.

Capt. Warren Girle also is targeting silver kings off the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Both live shiners and crabs are putting them on the hook. Girle was putting his clients on fish ranging 80-100 pounds this past week.

Between tarpon rodeos, he’s on backwater trips in Sarasota Bay, catching spotted seatrout and redfish. For the trout, Girle is fishing potholes on deeper grass flats using shiners. Girle reports good numbers of trout throughout the bay, while reds are scattered.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria says anglers using speck rigs have been hooking into Spanish mackerel, while those with live bait — shrimp fished on the bottom under the pier deck — are reporting catches of mangrove snapper and flounder.

Jonny Keyes at Island Discount Tackle says the spotted seatrout bite on the deeper flats of the surrounding waters of Anna Maria Island is the best bite going this week. Limits of trout are being reported daily by the anglers who frequent the tackle shop.

Live bait shrimp and shiners, is working well, but you can use artificials with good results, Keyes says. Redfish are scattered throughout the flats, but keeper fish are coming from the shallow grass.

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