Tag Archives: 06-26-2013

Mainsail-HB round 1 mediation brings progress

Progress appeared to be made in the June 21 mediation efforts between the city of Holmes Beach and the Mainsail Lodging and Development team at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

The two sides met as part of an initial mediation process following a 3-2 vote in March to revoke the Mainsail site plan to build a lodge, restaurant and resort units in the city’s downtown area near Gulf and Marina drives.

The site plan revocation was followed by a seldom-used legal filing that mandates mediation.

The site has a long history dating back to 2001, but Mainsail has been the property owner for three years. Purchased twice out of foreclosure after another company’s effort to develop the property, Mainsail’s efforts gained momentum at the beginning of the year.

In order to present a design that maintains the original site plan and its entitlements, Mainsail attempted to use the previous company’s footprint and installed footers and foundations, but made significant changes — which prompted rejection by Commissioners Judy Titsworth, Marvin Grossman and Pat Morton.

The project was supported by Commission Chair Jean Peelen, Commissioner David Zaccagnino and Mayor Carmel Monti, although Monti does not have a vote under the city charter.

Monti, Titsworth and city attorney Patricia Petruff represented the city at the mediation.

Representing Mainsail were attorney Robert Lincoln, president Joe Collier, vice president Brian Check and investor Ed Chiles.

Special magistrate Steven Seibert presided over the proceedings.

“I’m hoping for a civil conversation today,” said Seibert. “Negotiation is what this process is. It’s taking a break from all the legal adversarial process.”

Seibert said it wouldn’t be easy and that both sides would have to understand that a compromise would mean losing something in the process.

“It will take courage,” he said. “My personal feeling is that litigation never gets you more than a good negotiation will.”

Several issues appeared to be impassable at the onset of the mediation. At the heart of the discussion was the use by the development of a private road, Sunrise Lane, abutting the east side of the project, for emergency vehicles, setbacks and density.

Lincoln also maintained the commissioners violated city procedures by voting to revoke the site plan and that commissioners never had the authority to do so.

“Mainsail came in and obtained permits that required a valid site plan and received those permits in 2010,” said Lincoln. “Mainsail had every reason to believe it could finish construction based on the approved site plans. The city’s actions by revoking are unfair because it destroys all those rights.”

Petruff said there were many stipulations attached to the site plan approval and one of many sticking points for the city was that adequate parking would be guaranteed.

Mainsail has contended it has a lease with Wells Fargo bank for offsite parking, but Petruff said no such lease has been presented to the city.

Collier said the lease was part of the acquisition when the property and associated development rights were purchased.

He said Mainsail has a valid lease, but he eventually revealed that the lease was not being paid because he didn’t want to pay for what he couldn’t use.

Collier then said negotiations are ongoing between Mainsail and Wells Fargo to purchase either a portion of the bank’s parking lot or the bank property, but insisted those were only discussions.

However, Collier said the offsite parking would no longer be an issue because one of his concessions was to remove three units from the design, eliminating the need for offsite parking.

Concessions from Mainsail did not come readily, and clearly emotions over the revoked site plan were still running high.

Collier reiterated that Mainsail came to the table and invested funds in good faith based on city promises that the two entities would work together.

“It goes to good faith discussions, and in meetings with city staff, we clearly were under the impression we were in workshop mode,” said Collier. “We responded to things city staff asked us to look at on the site plan.”

Collier said he was reassured by city staff that there were workable solutions.

“We went off on our merry way and spent money,” he said. “We weren’t drawing a hard line with the city. We changed the design then went to the next city meeting to show the changes.”

Collier said it appeared to him that the majority of commissioners had already made up their minds.

“In fairness, I felt ambushed,” he said. “I felt mugged. We didn’t lawyer up for that meeting because I was told we were rolling up our sleeves to work, and the next thing I know the site plan was revoked.”

Chiles said there was a lot of give and take in meetings with city staff and was equally shocked when the commission moved to revoke the plan, especially because the comparison report between the old and new site plans was not presented by city staff, as requested.

“That was shocking to me,” he said. “You had your attorney saying very strongly, ‘You don’t want to go there.’ You had your mayor and the commission chair, who is an attorney, saying ‘You don’t want to go there,’ and they fired the missile anyway.”

Titsworth, who lives adjacent to the proposed project on Sunrise Lane and voted to revoke the site plan, said she had all the information she needed to make an informed decision. She said if the city approved a site plan laden with code violations, the city would have been sued by its citizens.

“I don’t feel like we are unduly burdening anyone,” she said. “We aren’t taking their rights away. They can still have a resort, but it needs to be brought into code compliance. We need to find a balance and make everyone happy. I care about the neighborhood, the developer and this city. I’m the least political person in the world. All I care about is Holmes Beach.”

At times, it appeared a resolution between the two entities would be difficult to reach, but progress was made with Mainsail offering concessions to redesign at least one building to accommodate fire access.

Public comment at the mediation was minimal, but residents Lance Spotts and Islander publisher Bonner Joy, both neighbors of the project, said they were not against the project, but felt it could be done with less impact.

Concern from the city over building on a spit of land that juts from the property into the basin was brought up. Monti said the city would like to maintain the vista of the waterway from Marina Drive, and Collier said one of those two buildings could be reduced in height.

There was a lengthy discussion on which building should be reduced, but an agreement was reached to rework the design of the project.

In exchange for the concession, the city agreed to back away from a June 13 work session consensus to enforce a special exception that limits the number of charter boats docked in Mainsail’s marina.

The special exception limits charter operations to three boat slips, but the city currently has seven permits on file. The city noted there is insufficient parking for the existing boat operators and their customers.

Titsworth, Petruff and Monti all agreed that it was a concession they could temporarily allow and they would bring the matter back before the commission.

The Mainsail team agreed to work on the design and to renew efforts with the city, but Collier wanted a consensus from the city that it was willing to go forward.

Lincoln and Petruff said they will work toward creating a draft to see “what a settlement would look like.”

Mediation is expected to continue June 24-25, while a request for consensus on marina-charter boat operations is expected at the next city commission meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

2 fireworks shows planned for Anna Maria Island

The Sandbar and BeachHouse restaurants again will host fireworks to celebrate the July 4 holiday.

The BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, will hold its 20th annual Fireworks Extravaganza July 3.

The restaurant will host a VIP party that includes seating for the fireworks, musical entertainment, a buffet and cocktails.

Thousands of people also gather on the beach to the north and south of the restaurant to watch the fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico, which begins after nightfall.

For more details about the BeachHouse event, call 941-779-2222.

The July 4 celebration takes place at the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. The restaurant also will host a VIP party with a buffet, cocktails, party favors and music, as well as seating for the fireworks show.

For more information about the Sandbar event, call the restaurant at 941-778-8709.

Both fireworks shows are weather permitting.

BB commissioner weds, says no to another term

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler made a brief announcement at a June 16 department head meeting that she will not seek another term in November.

The commissioner was married June 16 and said, “My priorities are different now, and I won’t always be able to be in Bradenton Beach.”

City clerk Nora Idso said she was sorry to lose an experienced commissioner. Breuler was first elected to serve Ward 1 in November 2009.

“On behalf of everyone, we are sorry to see you go, but understand your decision,” she said.

There is, however, plenty of city business to take care of before a November election, and commissioners and department heads went to work on their issues.

Idso said she wanted to compliment public works director Tom Woodard and his crew for the part they played in completing the Eighth Street South dock.

The dock was completed around June 18, after two years of closure. Lacking city funding after the city condemned the dock with a promise to rebuild it, residents in the area pooled their money to pay for the project.

It took almost a year for the permitting process to be completed.

Woodard said he would soon present a landscaping plan for city hall using about $500 from his department’s budget.

Commissioners have discussed using $2,600 of Scenic Waves Partnership Committee funding for the city hall project, and renewed that discussion.

“That $2,600 has been sitting there for five years,” Idso said. “It has to be spent this year.”

Scenic Waves designated the funding for a gateway project, but Idso said no official consensus was given to a city project.

Police Chief Sam Speciale announced Officer Eric Hill is back to work, albeit administrative duties only. He continues to recover from his vehicle being struck by a fleeing suspect in March while responding as a backup to the Holmes Beach Police Department.

Hill is currently working at a desk until he can return to patrols.

Initially, Speciale said, doctors said his injuries would end his career, but further tests indicated Hill could recover with rehabilitation. He has been back at work for a couple of weeks.

In other matters, Vice Mayor Ed Straight asked if the city has ordinances to require protest demonstrators to get a permit. Straight said his concern was traffic-related.

Speciale said no such ordinance exists, but that the city does have traffic laws on the books that prohibit such activities from infringing on traffic flow.

“We would typically deal with it that way, if it was causing a traffic problem,” he said.

In other matters, building official Steve Gilbert said the final revisions to the land development code are almost done and would be presented to the planning and zoning board soon.

Following the P&Z review, the revisions will be presented at two public hearings at city commission meetings before adoption.

Gilbert said the city continues to increase revenue from last year with building permit fees and, “Three more new houses are sitting on my desk and five more are coming in soon.”

Hunt for BB pier restaurateur to be ‘lengthy process’

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said the request for proposal process to have a new tenant in place at the Historic Bridge Street Pier restaurant will be a lengthy one.

Commissioners and four potential tenants met at the site of the former Rotten Ralph’s restaurant June 20 to conduct a walk-through of the establishment.

Commissioner Gay Breuler said the scheduled work session was kept basic and informational with no need to make a decision anytime soon.

Gatehouse agreed, telling a fifth interested party at a later city commission meeting, who expressed interest in the pier restaurant, “We will have several work sessions in deciding what we want to put on the RFP. Everyone will have plenty of time to get involved in the process. Today was just the first step of what will be a lengthy process.”

Deputy city clerk Tammy Johnson said she has received several calls from other prospective tenants.

The city scheduled a work session to begin discussion on the details of the RFP at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 27, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Former tenant Dave Russell closed the doors of Rotten Ralph’s in May after five years in operation on the pier.

Russell’s business suffered after Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012 and he began to fall behind in his $9,000-a-month rent.

Business began to improve later that summer, but a city provision that prevented Russell from making partial payments, left him unable to pay what became a mounting financial problem.

The issue came to a head in April, when an audit of the city’s 2012-13 fiscal year budget revealed the spiraling debt. It took weeks for the city to determine the amount, first estimating the debt to be $65,000.

With the addition of legal fees, late fees and maintenance requirements as part of the lease agreement, the debt was later determined to be $250,000.

Russell and the city attempted to negotiate in order to keep Rotten Ralph’s open for business, but could not settle on the terms.

In early May, city commissioners voted to terminate the lease with Russell and begin eviction procedures. More unsuccessful negotiations followed and the city ultimately settled on Russell paying $15,000 and vacating the premises.

The city is now in the process of seeking a new tenant and, thus far, interested parties appear plentiful.

The terms of the lease, drafted and approved under a prior administration, proved to be a stumbling block for Russell, according to both sides of the dispute.

The city has pledged to create new terms for the future tenant to ensure a similar situation does not occur.

Island officials call for public input on traffic

Nothing was off the table at a June 19 Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall when the topic came to relieving traffic congestion on the island.

From toll booths to the creation of party buses, many ideas were discussed, but elected officials from Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key said they want more ideas from the public.

CBIEO officials ended the discussion with one determined decision: to create a public focus group.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti will spearhead the creation of the group, and citizens from the island-key cities and of all expertise levels are encouraged to sign up by contacting Monti. Call 941-708-5800, ext. 227, or email mayor@holmsebeachfl.org.

CBIEO meetings often are focused on islandwide issues, but seldom does the group come together to take action, according to second-term Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen, who suggested citizen input be part of the discussion.

“In the past, this has not been an effective group, but we have an opportunity to be more effective,” she said. “Things tend to get talked about here and they die here.”

Peelen said if the island cities and Longboat Key are going to accomplish something, then citizens from all four communities should be involved in the process.

Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown said his city often uses citizen input when addressing complicated issues.

“We have a lot of retired residents and all of them retired from a variety of industries,” he said. “The level of expertise we receive from citizens has been amazing.”

Possible solutions to easing traffic on the island are plentiful, but coming up with solutions that won’t create more problems is challenging.

“We really have to address this together, as we should do everything,” said Brown. “I don’t know if we have a solution.”

LBK Commissioner Jack Duncan said there is always a lot of talk about traffic, but little is addressed on the impaired movement of emergency vehicles.

“And that is a critical issue,” said Duncan. “When an ambulance is sitting in bridge traffic or congestion for a multitude of issues, it is a serious matter.”

Monti said the free trolley system is a potential cause for traffic congestion and suggested Manatee County consider employing smaller trolleys. He said smaller trolleys could pull off the road to collect and discharge passengers, allowing other vehicles to continue.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said the smaller trolleys break down more than the larger ones.

“That’s why they went to the bigger ones,” she said.

Monti also revisited the idea of pursuing a toll booth on the bridges to the island.

Monti said Sanibel Island is charging $12 at its toll booth and also charges $2 an hour for public parking at the beaches.

“I don’t know if we want to go that far,” he said. “I don’t know if a toll booth would minimize traffic.”

New Anna Maria Commissioner Doug Copeland said the discussion to keep traffic off the island would not be fruitful as long as the Manatee County Tourist Development Council continues “to spend a fortune to attract visitors.”

Copeland said it was like “beating our heads against the wall. We are saying we want all these people to come, but saying we don’t want you to come.”

He also suggested a toll booth on the island bridges “would create more problems than it would solve.

“If everyone has to stop and pay a toll, it’s going to create a roadblock on those roads that is far worse than the cars coming on the island now,” he said.

Whitmore said a toll booth has been discussed for years.

“The money goes to the state, not the county or cities,” she said.

Monti said he isn’t thinking of a toll booth to generate revenue, but rather an option to alleviate traffic.

A park-and-ride transit system also was discussed, but Whitmore said it was another idea that has been tossed around for years. She said agreements with property owners on 75th Street and Manatee Avenue were never solidified.

There is a free “beach bus” that runs on Manatee Avenue on the weekends.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Marvin Grossman said if a park-and-ride system was created, it may still be difficult to get people to ride the buses.

“You would need to make it fun for people to leave their cars and get on a bus,” he said. “Maybe you could serve beer and wine and have music.”

Water-taxi services are in development, but officials agreed that it would take a package of ideas to make an impact on traffic.

Peelen said before solutions could be considered, officials need to target the problem.

“You have the in-season type of traffic that is unbearable and there is nothing we can do about that,” she said. “Then we have the weekend and holiday traffic and, thirdly, you have our residents. I’m not sure whether we need to address that or not.”

Monti said nothing was off the table.

“Like everything in marketing, you throw it out there and see what people will buy,” he said. “By offering the option, you find out soon enough whether it will work.”

From grocery delivery service to providing free bicycles, officials left few stones unturned in their options to keep as many vehicles off the road as possible.

Duncan said, “There won’t be a single answer to all of these things. I feel very strongly this has to be a package of things, but do we have the infrastructure to handle some of these ideas? You start looking at these solutions and then you realize you have more problems.”

Peelen said there are some actions the island cities could take now.

“We have limited options as far as what we can physically do by ourselves,” she said. “What we haven’t done is for all four cities to create a campaign to take the trolley. Leave the car, ride your bike. It should be an islandwide campaign to encourage people to leave their cars.”

Monti said the mayors of the four cities are expected to hold their first joint meeting in the first week of July and signs encouraging public transit will be at the top of the discussion list.

“We would like an addition of signage that says something like ‘Why are you sitting in traffic when you could be taking the trolley for free?’ But we have to have the infrastructure in place and the availability of people getting out of their cars at a park-and-ride site. I don’t see any downside to expanding the trolley and water-taxi systems,” he said.

Crosspointe hopes to bring community to unity

The pastor of Crosspointe Fellowship reached out beyond a church committee to community organizations and leaders in search of ideas to bring islanders together for an event to inspire unity.

Unity was the theme, but nothing was off the table at two meetings hosted by the Rev. Ed Moss at the church fellowship hall at 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Moss reviewed the origin of the Nov. 16 unity event and the ground rules, but there were none. “Share your ideas and suggestions for the event,” he said, and we’ll work on organizational details after the brainstorming sessions.

Moss said the church will bear the costs for the event — that everything will be free. He wants islanders to “leave their wallets at home” and focus on being “one family.”

His basis is to build on patriotic and Thanksgiving themes to inspire community unity, as the event falls between Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.

“What can we orchestrate which will inspire and produce growth in friendships, mutual respect, reconciliation and community spirit, and have a blast at the same time?” he asked.

The church plans to provide barbecue pork and chicken, hot dogs and all the “fixins,” but a suggestion was made to include a mullet fry. November traditionally begins the fall mullet run and another suggestion was made to include Cortez in the island community.

Discussion at the June 13 and June 20 meetings focused on how the event can honor veterans and active military service members.

There were suggestions for children’s art, a “thank you” wall of messages, a chili cookoff, speeches and plays, music and games.

Moss had an idea for a community Jeopardy game with the three cities vying for bragging rights and questions based on island history.

There were suggestions for an aerial photo with people at the event forming the letters “AMI,” a mystery game in which some people would have clues “for the asking,” and plans to incorporate patriotic lessons at Anna Maria Elementary School.

And there was much more. Brainstormers at the June 13 meeting were asked if there were any other groups or organizations that could be included in the planning stages.

Representatives attending included Mary Ann Brockman of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, Dawn Stiles of the Anna Maria Island Community Center, principal Dave Marshall of AME, Holmes Beach Commissioner Pat Morton, Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, Dave Alvarez of the American Legion and many more — 17 participants at week one’s session and nine the second week.

The result was a long list of ideas for Moss and his committee to sift through and incorporate into a time frame — no time for the event was set — and more meetings ahead to fuse a plan for unity.

 

SIDEBAR

Crosspointe Fellowship wants to reach out now to island veterans and active military service men and women and their families to ensure they are welcomed to the Nov. 16 patriotic and Thanksgiving event.

The Rev. Ed Moss hopes to collect names and emails or phone numbers, and welcomes phone calls for more information or to provide military contacts at the church office at 941-778-0719.

Half-cent sales tax fails at the polls

The proposed half-cent sales tax that would have helped pay for indigent health care while possibly relieving property owners’ burden with an estimated 26 percent property tax decrease died in a June 18 referendum.

According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office, voter turnout was 15 percent.

About 39,000 registered voters cast their ballots. According to the supervisor’s website, 15,280 voters supported the sales tax increase while 23,710 voted no.

Holmes Beach Commission Chair Jean Peelen was a vocal proponent of the tax, as were many island officials. Peelen said June 19 she was disappointed in the outcome and surprised at the low voter turnout.

“I don’t think the message got out very well to voters,” she said. “And I was surprised at the level of opposition.”

Peelen said she received automated phone calls about the referendum. “I had about 12 calls and all but one were in opposition,” she said.

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, who voted to put the issue on a referendum, said the people have spoken.

“Our job was to present a possible solution and send it to the voters and that’s what we did,” he said. “Now we have to put this behind us and look for another solution to pay for indigent health care.”

Voters did support the second referendum item that will give authority to county commissioners to provide 10 years of property tax exemption to qualified incoming businesses and existing businesses wanting to expand.

The business tax exemption passed with 52.53 percent of the vote among 20,396 voters. More than 18,400 voters voted no.

In order for a business to qualify for the incentive it must meet continuing criteria, including providing jobs, investments and wages above average for the area.

If the business fails the qualifications in a 10-year period, commissioners can revoke the incentive.

HB tree house owners face added violations

Two days after Holmes Beach commissioners approved a petition for Richard Hazen and Lyn Tran to pursue public support for a special ordinance to keep a tree house at 103 29th Street on June 11, the city amended its April notice of violation to include more complaints.

The tree house was constructed in 2011 in an Australian pine tree. Tran said she approached then-building official Bob Shaffer and received verbal permission to build the structure.

Holmes Beach code enforcement became involved after a complaint was made and determined the structure violated setbacks and other city rules. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection then noted the tree house was built seaward of the coastal construction line.

The matter was scheduled to go before the code enforcement board June 20, but the hearing was postponed to allow the petition process to move forward.

If Hazen and Tran can garner 10 percent of Holmes Beach registered voters, the commission will be required to vote on a special ordinance to allow the tree house. If the vote fails, the issue would be put to voters in a referendum.

However, the June 13 letter from the city to Hazen and Tran outlines further violations.

A survey of the property conducted April 27, after the original notice of violation, reports that the tree house “and other parts of the property are partially located on the 29th Street public right of way” and, in the platted alley located in block 38 of the Ilexhurst subdivision.

The letter states there is no record of either location having been vacated.

“As a consequence, please be advised that the property … is in violation” of four land development codes. The June 13 notice gives the owners five days to respond.

Building official Tom O’Brien said June 21 that the owners of Angelinos Sea Lodge responded in the given time, however, he said “the code enforcement process will continue and there will likely be another code enforcement hearing scheduled in the future.”

BB man arrested for burglarizing relative’s home

A 28-year-old Bradenton Beach resident was arrested by Holmes Beach Police Department officers June 17 for allegedly burglarizing a relative’s Holmes Beach home June 11.

According to the probable cause affidavit, John Wallace was arrested for felony grand theft and felony burglary. He is accused of entering the relative’s home without permission and stealing two boat motors valued at $800 and clothing valued at $1,100.

Police say Wallace took the relative’s house key from another relative and entered the residence twice to steal. He then sold the property at clothing stores and two pawn shops.

According to the report, Wallace admitted to taking the items during an interview with police.

He was arrested without incident and booked into the Manatee County jail on $9,000 bond. According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office jail website, Wallace remained in custody as of Islander press time.

He is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, July 5, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Local mom takes TIFF across state lines

What began with tragic loss has resulted in salvation and triumph for Christine Olson.

Olson is a long-time employee at the Rod & Reel Pier, where she has served many meals over the years. She often gives patrons a purple bracelet that both honors the memory of her daughter, Tiffiany, and serves as a reminder for people to register with the organization she founded, To Inform Families First.

“It’s amazing how one small idea has turned into a service that has helped countless Florida families be informed and notified in an emergency, but my work is not done yet,” Olson says.

TIFF is a driver’s license registration program that allows Florida drivers to enter family contacts for access by law enforcement.

On June 11 and June 12, the founder of TIFF’s Initiative, traveled to Atlanta as a guest of the state of Florida to speak at the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administration Region II conference about the importance of having an emergency contact program available in more U.S. states.

The idea originated in 2005 after Olson’s 22-year-old daughter Tiffiany was in a car crash in Palmetto. Tiffiany and her boyfriend were traveling north on U.S. Highway 19 when their motorcycle was struck by a car. Tiffiany was killed on impact. It was 7:01 p.m. when the crash occurred and it took more than six hours and many phone calls for Tiffiany’s family to learn what had occurred.

Olson knew then that something had to change about how families are notified when a loved one is in a crash, and she started looking for ways to make that happen.

Her quest led her to then-state Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, now a state senator, and he led Olson to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, where they learned a secure database that allows law enforcement to access driver’s license information could be expanded to include family contact information.

The partnership grew to include the DMV and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and now any police officer can swipe a driver’s license on his or her car computer and view contact information — if it’s been registered by the driver.

In order for contact information to be available, drivers first register online at www.toinformfamiliesfirst.com or at a local DMV office. More than 7 million residents in Florida are registered.

Olson is now spreading the word to other states, advocating similar programs to prevent families from the painful hours in an emergency involving a loved one.

Government officials and DMV employees from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico attended the conference and heard Olson’s story.

She hopes they follow in her footsteps.

She welcomes help reaching out and registering more people in Florida and other states and she’s available as a speaker for groups. Call Olson at 941-795-1869 or email her at christinesjourney@yahoo.com.