Tag Archives: 07-16-2014

Law enforcement tackles July 4 challenges

Anna Maria Island on July 4 was a tale of challenges, with each island city having its share of law enforcement issues to varying degrees.

Holmes Beach police appeared to have the busiest time the evening of July 4, as large quantities of illegal fireworks and alcohol were confiscated by officers.

Police Chief Bill Tojaker had all officers on duty that evening and they were kept pretty busy, he said.

“We issued 91 parking tickets, six citations for illegal alcohol, four traffic tickets and responded to 11 complaints of fireworks,” he said. “Officers confiscated a lot of illegal fireworks but, on the whole, the crowd was fairly well-behaved,” Tojaker said.

“There were definitely a lot of people on the island that evening,” he said, and upwards of 20,000 people on the beach would not be a stretch.

Officers had more than just illegal fireworks and alcohol on the beach to deal with, Tojaker observed.

“We also had seven arrests for various charges, one traffic arrest, two for battery, two for larceny, one for an outstanding warrant and one arrest for narcotics. We were busy, but we had no major incidents and no reports of injuries as in past years. The evening went very well.”

Tojaker said he thought the electronic signs posted on Manatee Avenue as people entered the city warning them that illegal fireworks and alcohol on the beach are violations probably reduced the number of incidents.

“The signs definitely helped,” he said.

In Bradenton Beach, Police Chief Sam Speciale said his officers and Manatee County officials cooperated at Coquina Beach to handle traffic and parking.

“July 4 was nothing like Memorial Day at Coquina Beach. We had the bollards and traffic flow re-arranged, and traffic was under control. For the most part, motorists and visitors were very well-behaved.”

Speciale said officers kept motorists at Coquina Beach from “cruising up and down the park.”

Officers helped direct motorists to available parking spaces to ensure no roads were blocked by illegally parked vehicles.

The majority of law enforcement incidents involved illegal alcohol on the beach and confiscation of fireworks, he said.

There was one burglary reported in which two suspects stole a bag on the beach and used a key they found to enter a rental unit, Speciale said.

Those suspects were caught and arrested.

“All in all, a very busy weekend, but we got through it without any major incidents. My hat’s off to the officers and deputies who did all the hard work.”

While Bradenton Beach dealt with parking issues and Holmes Beach confiscated large amounts of fireworks, Anna Maria appeared fairly quiet, according to Sgt. Paul Davis, head of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office-Anna Maria substation.  “It was fantastic cooperation from the public,” Davis said.      “We only had one alcohol violation, but we did issue 73 parking tickets. We only had a handful of fireworks confiscated. I think the notification signs posted as motorists entered the city really helped.”

Davis had all regular Anna Maria patrol deputies on duty, as well as some extra deputies from the mainland. Beach patrols were out in force, he said, and no one caused problems when their illegal fireworks were confiscated or people were told to halt activities.

“People were very polite, I was told. Everyone appeared to have a good time, nobody got injured and we were able to concentrate on duties other than just confiscation of fireworks and alcohol. I commend the public cooperation.”

Davis said one arrest was made at Bayfront Park.

A homeless man who had been living in the bushes was arrested for public exposure, but no other arrests were reported.

“Great weekend for everyone,” Davis concluded.

Anna Maria Island shore left out of federal protected coastline

Federal agencies designated coastal areas in six states as critical marine habitats for loggerhead sea turtles, but bypassed Anna Maria Island.

The National Marine Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services designated habitats in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

Florida territories covered in the designation include a few beaches in the Panhandle near Pensacola and Apalachicola, but skip over the beaches south to Sarasota County. The territory begins again on Longboat Key and follows the Gulf coastline through Fort Myers and Naples.

The majority of Miami-Dade and Broward counties were not included, but stretches along the Atlantic Coast from Palm Beach County to Jacksonville were included.

The critical marine habitats account for 46 percent of the 1,531 miles of loggerhead nesting grounds and 84 percent of documented nests in the six states, the release said.

“Probably the main reason is, from us to the Panhandle, there’s very little nesting and they have to cut it off somewhere,” said Suzi Fox, executive director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring. “Our nesting numbers for 5 miles of beach are critical, but they’re really not that high in density.”

Fox said the designation might affect federal funding for research, beach improvements and renourishment in the areas that fall into the critical habitat. The designation also mostly affects land use.

“Our laws are pretty good. For areas that need more help, it’s better for them,” Fox said. “We don’t have casinos and we don’t go high and sideways with our buildings.”

“Protecting endangered and threatened species, including loggerhead sea turtles, is at the core of NOAA’s mission,” Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for fisheries with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a news release.

“Given the vital role loggerhead sea turtles play in maintaining the health of our oceans, rebuilding their populations is key as we work to ensure healthy and resilient oceans for generations to come.”

The designated habitats include near-shore reproductive areas, winter habitat, breeding habitat, constricted migratory corridors and Sargassum seagrass habitat, which is home to the majority of juvenile turtles.

“It’s really in the interest of the bigger picture of all loggerheads,” Fox said. “It has absolutely nothing to do with local laws and data collection. Nothing is different on the shoreline.”

The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in southeast Florida waters, and is considered an imperiled species. Loggerheads are vulnerable to being hit by boats and snagged in fishing nets. They have been classified as a threatened species since 1978.

The habitat declaration, in addition to nesting beaches, includes more than 300,000 square miles of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest critical habitat area in the United States.


First sea turtle hatchlings emerge on Anna Maria Island

The first sea turtle nest to hatch in the nesting season on the island took place July 12 in the city of Anna Maria.

The nest is in Section 3, which covers the beachfront spanning from Pine Avenue in Anna Maria and 66th Street in Holmes Beach.

The Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring collects data on the number of nests laid, false crawls, number of hatched nests and the number of hatchlings that have made it to the Gulf of Mexico and reports to state agencies the findings.

According to Suzi Fox, AMITW executive director, volunteers will excavate the nest three days after it hatches to determine the number of hatchlings that made it to the Gulf.

Federal guidelines prohibit the nest excavation before a three-day waiting period expires.

Déjà vu: Bradenton Beach pier project bid redo

A little déjà vu visited Bradenton Beach City Hall July 10.

The city commission awarded the contract for renovations to the Historic Bridge Street Pier to Duncan Seawall Dock and Boatlift.

It was a repeat of the decision in May, when Duncan was first awarded the contract, but after competing companies Pac Comm and Tampa Bay Marine protested, the city canceled all bids and rescinded the award.

Pac Comm contested the original award based on its bid at a lower cost, and Tampa Bay Marine said it was not considered in spite of being recommended.

A week later, the city issued another request for proposals for the work. The revised RFP included an electrical component that was not included in the original bid.

“Based on the evaluation results, the highest score is Duncan. They have the best response to lighting design and electrical layout,” said building official Steve Gilbert.

Gilbert and ZNS Engineering, the city’s contracted engineering firm, recommended Duncan.

Three companies responded to the RFP: Pac Comm, Tampa Bay Marine and Duncan. Pac Comm was not represented at the July 10 meeting at city hall.

The companies were scored using a matrix that included cost, work in progress, local resources and references, experience and licensing.

Duncan, in the most recent RFP, was the second lowest bidder, coming in behind Tampa Bay Marine. Tampa Bay Marine’s bid was $80,000 below Duncan’s cost estimate.

“The selection committee ranked Duncan Seawall the highest. They are the most responsive, most qualified and most responsible bidder,” said Duncan’s attorney, Adam Mohammadbhoy of Harllee & Bald, P.A., of Bradenton, during public comment. “Total cost is only one of the 22 criteria and awarding contracts to someone other than the lowest bidder is permissible.”

Mohammadbhoy said Duncan’s proposal would have the lowest impact on the pier restaurant and bait shop, which will remain open during the construction process. Duncan plans to work at night.

Roland Pena, owner of the pier concessions, said Duncan was the only contractor to approach him and address concerns about the anticipated 160-plus days of construction.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh asked Gilbert when work would begin.

“It will start the day before yesterday,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert said the contractor proposed a mid to late July startup. However, a contract still must be negotiated between the city and Duncan, brought before commissioners and signed by Mayor Bill Shearon.

“The anticipated start date is, we’re going to finish the contract as soon as possible,” Gilbert said. “As stated in the RFP, time is of the essence.”

Shearon cited concerns over the delay in construction, which extends the work into tourist season.

“This project is a health, safety and welfare project due to the condition of the pier and due to the delay we’ve already had now,” Shearon said. “Also we’re heading into the height of hurricane season.”

Shearon said city attorney Ricinda Perry, who did not attend the meeting, will furnish a contract as soon as possible.

Renovation plans include expanding the outdoor dining area at the pier restaurant by 9,700 square feet, light gray composite decking, water lines to new fishing stations and 21 new pilings in addition to replacing the 151 that support the pier.

The 21 extra pilings will extend into Sarasota Bay from the floating dock adjacent to the pier. The pilings will form a protective barrier to prevent damage from boats breaking loose from the nearby anchorage.

The pier renovation will be funded through a joint effort by the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and Manatee County government.

The Manatee County Tourist Development Council recommended spending up to $1 million in matching funds for the project from the tourist development tax fund and county commissioners approved the spending plan. It is a 5 percent tax collected on accommodations in the county of six months or less.

BB commissioners dethrone vice mayor

It may not be the mayor’s choice, but Bradenton Beach has a new vice mayor.

Commissioners elected Jack Clarke for the job after it was determined the December vote for the mayor’s nominee, Commissioner Janie Robertson, was made in error.

“I accept the responsibility enthusiastically, and I’m looking forward to it,” Clarke said.

Robert Lincoln, the attorney representing ELRA Inc., the corporate entity for Ed Chiles’ BeacHhouse restaurant, addressed the procedural error at the July 3 city meeting.

Robertson’s appointment had been included in a list of board appointments at a Dec. 5 meeting and the list was approved unanimously.

Lincoln claimed that under the city charter, Robertson’s nomination should under have been listed as a separate agenda item for the commission to consider — and take a vote.

Robertson was dethroned.

She then nominated Commissioner Jan Vosburgh, because, she said, she believed it should be Vosburgh’s turn in “honorary rotation,” as has been traditionally observed by the commission. However, Vosburgh declined the nomination by Robertson.

Vosburgh nominated Clarke. Vosburgh was participating in the meeting via Skype while vacationing in Utah.

Clarke was elected unanimously.

During the meeting, Lincoln alleged Shearon violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws when, early on in this term, he sent an email to commissioners inquiring about their interests in serving as liaisons to community organizations.

Commissioner Ed Straight said previous mayors had evidently made the same procedural errors when appointing the vice mayor and liaisons. He suggested the commission apply the correct procedures in the future.

Early election sign appears in Holmes Beach

One candidate apparently jumped the gun with signs for her election campaign.

As election season ripens, election signs will become part of the landscape. But not yet in Holmes Beach.

The city prohibits campaign signs more than 45 days before an election. Still, a blue sign with the name “Susan Maulucci” appeared the week of July 7in the 2800 block of Gulf Drive.

Code enforcement officer David Forbes said the sign was removed July 9 by the city. No other action is planned.

Maulucci and Art Jackman are on the Aug. 26 ballot for circuit judge for the 12th judicial circuit.


Gearing up for primary

Manatee County residents will head to the polls Aug. 26 to weigh in on the primary race.

On the ballot, island residents will see candidates for school board, 12th judicial circuit judge, governor and lieutenant governor and attorney general.

All Manatee County voters can cast ballots in school board races regardless of their district. In District 2, Rodney Jones faces Charlie Kennedy. In District 4, Frank Brunner faces incumbent Karen Carpenter. In District 5, four candidates square off for one seat, incumbent Julie Aranibar, Mary Stewart Cantrell, James T. Golden and Carlton Les Nichols.

Manatee County voters also will decide the judicial race between Jackman and Maulucci.

Registered Democratic voters will choose between Charlie Crist and Nan H. Rich for the party’s gubernatorial candidate on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Registered Republican voters will choose between Yinka Abosede Adeshina, Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder or incumbent Rick Scott and their respective lieutenant governor choices in the GOP’s gubernatorial primary.

Democrats in Manatee County also will vote on the state attorney general candidate between George Sheldon and Perry E. Thurston.

Abandoned beach gear threatens nesting sea turtles

Beachgoers left more than footprints behind on the beaches over the July 4 weekend.

Holmes Beach code enforcement canvassed the beaches July 5 after sunset, confiscating beach accessories that can be dangerous to nesting sea turtles.

Leaving accessories on the beach overnight violates city code. Furniture and other items pose hazards to nesting sea turtles.

According to code enforcement officer David Forbes, 31 beach chairs, five umbrellas, three buckets of toys and six canopy frames were confiscated.

In addition, Forbes said code enforcement stacked lounge chairs belonging to beachside resorts, and in some cases dragged them closer to the dunes.

Confiscated items are stored at public works for 90 days before they are thrown out.

Forbes said code enforcement canvassed the beaches until 1 a.m. the night of July 5 collecting items left on the beach.

Forbes said in spite of the large holiday haul on the beach, code enforcement infractions regarding sea turtle ordinances have improved dramatically this season.

Forbes and public works employee Bob Mclaughlin also walked the beach July 7 to educate beachgoers about the ordinance restricting items left on beaches.

State appeals court upholds statewide net ban

Commercial net fishers in Florida can stop holding their breath.

Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals three-judge panel in Tallahassee sided July 7 with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, affirming the commission’s authority to enforce the state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1994.

The appellate court ruling reversed a decision by Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford that was issued in October 2013, allowing Florida fishers to use gill nets of certain wider mesh sizes.

Fulford’s ruling in the case of Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association v. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission called the rule a “legal absurdity,” and sided with the commercial fishers.

The FWC was quick to file a stop order on Fulford’s ruling and filed an appeal in the 1st DCA. The appellate court heard arguments from FWC lawyers and Wakulla Commercial Fisherman’s Association lawyers in May.

“The trial court’s ruling, however well-intentioned it might have been, was erroneous,” 1st DCA judges wrote in their opinion.

The constitutional amendment restricts overall net sizes and mesh sizes of nets for commercial fishers. Fishers have contested the rule, bringing it in and out of courts, for 20 years.

The FWC contends the rule is intended to preserve fish populations by preventing over-fishing, and the Wakulla Commercial Fisherman’s Association contends that the rules do not achieve those intentions.

Fishers argue limiting the mesh size of the nets means it is more difficult for fishers to net legal-sized fish and juvenile fish are caught instead, producing a bycatch that the net-ban intended to eliminate.

However, this court’s ruling has not dampened the efforts of organizations opposing the rule.

“We’ve come this far, we’re not going to give up,” said Mark Coarsey, president of the Manatee chapter of Fishing for Freedom.

The FFF is a statewide organization of commercial fishers supporting the Wakulla Commercial Fisherman’s Association’s mission. Annual membership fees and T-shirt sales go toward court costs and attorney fees. FFF also holds net-fishing demonstrations and educates the public on the commercial fishing industry as well as the impact the net ban has had on the industry and the lives of fishers.

“We’re going to take it back to court. We just don’t know which way. We just want to make sure we do it the right way,” Coarsey said.


FISH supports local fisher group

The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage lent its support July 7 for a local fisher’s political action group, Fishing for Freedom.

FISH board member Jane von Hahmann suggested the group support FFF with a cash donation.

“I think we need to make a bigger statement as an organization,” von Hahmann said.

FISH board members decided to join the FFF’s Manatee chapter with a $500 membership contribution.

“I kind of staggered a little bit. For them to come out and give $500,” said Mark Coarsey, FFF-Manatee president.

Coarsey said individual membership in the local FFF group costs $5 per year.

The local FFF holds meetings at Fishermen’s Hall, owned by FISH, in exchange for lawn maintenance. At the July 7 meeting, Coarsey said his group is willing to do more in appreciation — repairs to windows, stairs and restrooms at the hall.

“We want to make it known we’re not just a bunch of fisherman sitting around,” Coarsey said. “We’ve been trying to make a difference.”

Mark M. Alonso

Mark M. Alonso, 87, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and formerly of Anna Maria, died July 12. He was born July 28, 1926, in Bilbao, Spain.

Mr. Alonso was a furniture designer in New York City before moving his family to Grand Rapids, where he operated his own business, Mark’s Asphalt Paving.

He was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He entered the service after jumping ship from a British freighter docked in Philadelphia during WWII and volunteering for the draft.

He married Miren Sesumaga on July 28, 1953, in Santurce, Spain. They celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary last year.

He almost always wore a patriotic headband. He was an eclectic artist, well known for riding the city streets and in parades on a three-wheel bike, ringing his bell — a call to come out and chat. His art work included likenesses of Florida birds made from “parts” he found while walking the beach — branches, coconuts, shells and the like.

He also frequently visited friends while paddling a kayak or canoe in Anna Maria’s canals.

He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the city commission in Anna Maria in 2008.

No service had been planned at press time for The Islander.

Mr. Alonso is survived by wife, Miren, of Grand Rapids; daughter Virginia of Sarasota, sons and daughters Billy, Mark, Susi, John and Pam of Grand Rapids; grandchildren Vincent and Austin Harriger; Madeline, Abigail and Olivia Alonso; Cortnee Alonso and Katie Magnuson; Benjamin, Anthony and Elisia Alonso; Miren and Gillian Lazzarini; Calista Alonso; and great-grandchildren Keegan, Isabelle, Lilly, Dillon, Ethan, Sophia and Eva.

INCLUDED BELOW: Mr. Alonso’s Greatest Generation story by reporter/columnist Rick Catlin.


Greatest Generation: A Basque’s fight for America

What would you do to fight for America?

Would you leave your hometown without your parents as an 11-year-old refugee to a country where you didn’t speak the language?

Would you leave the relatively safe confines of a refugee camp as a teenager for a life on the streets of a strange city?

Would you sign on as a crew member of a merchant ship, just for the chance to get to America, and would you jump ship with no papers and no money once you got there?

Would you volunteer to be drafted into the U.S. Army, just for the chance to fight for a country when you weren’t even a citizen?

Would you do all that just for freedom?

Anna Maria resident Mark Alonso has had a remarkable journey from his native Basque town of Guernica, Spain, to Anna Maria.

Along the way, Alonso fought the Nazis and fascism in the Spanish Civil War, the Japanese in World War II and the North Koreans in the Korean War.

That Mark Alonso even got to America and became a U.S. citizen is itself a remarkable journey.

It began when he was 11 years old and the German Luftwaffe (air force) bombed the Basque town of Guernica in April 1937 in support of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

The town was not a military stronghold, said Alonso, its population was merely bombed as a show of force.

More than 7,000 civilians were killed in the raid. Alonso was one of the survivors.

Some 5,000 women and children were evacuated by British charity groups to refugee camps in England before Franco’s forces took the town.

When the civil war ended in 1938, some of the children were allowed to return to Guernica. Mark’s older brother went back and was to send for Mark and his other brother, but Mark never heard anything.

By the time the war in Europe broke out in September 1939, Mark had tired of camp life.

He went to London, survived by begging for food and performing odd jobs, all without official papers.

Alonso learned he couldn’t join the British army, but could work on a fishing trawler and, after a year, he could get papers to join the British merchant marine.

But a curious thing started to happen in late 1942.

“I started seeing all these American soldiers, the ‘Yanks,’ in these crisp uniforms in London. The other soldiers looked like they were beaten but the Yanks were real confident. I thought, ‘This is the army for me.’”

He started hanging around American soldiers and learned how to speak American English. The soldiers supplied Alonso with food and clothes and, more importantly, stories about America.

“Boy, I really learned a lot from those guys. I was fascinated by this country that had so much freedom. I really wanted to join their army, so my whole plan was to get on a ship to America.”

Eventually, he joined the British merchant marine and served on a number of convoys through war zones.

Luckily for Mark, the German subs always targeted the tankers in the convoys.

“I always said if I was assigned to a tanker, I wouldn’t do it,” laughed Mark.

Finally, in 1944, he became a deck hand on a cargo ship headed for America.

“In Philadelphia, the captain wouldn’t give us our papers, but I jumped ship anyway. I had $5 in my pocket and didn’t know anybody, but I’d met all these guys from Brooklyn so I hitchhiked there.”

Then once he got to the Big Apple, his dream was almost destroyed when the army turned him down when he tried to volunteer. “No birth certificate,” they told him.

“But the guy said if I went across the street to the draft board, they would take me because they took anybody. I said ‘Is it the same army?’ and he said ‘yes,’ so I went.”

The draft board office was full of guys trying to get out of the army for medical reasons.

“I think I was the only guy in there who actually wanted to get in the army. They were going to have me wait a few months, but when I told the guy I didn’t have any place to go, they took me that day.”

By nightfall, he was at Fort Dix, N.J. as a private in the U.S. Army.

At the age of 18, Mark had realized his dream of becoming an American soldier.

The war in Europe was winding down and Alonso was sent to the Pacific to train for the invasion of Japan, but the Japanese surrendered shortly thereafter in September 1945. He was sent to Kyushu, Japan, with the occupation army, but saw no action.

Mark was discharged from the Army in 1946, but remained in the reserves. When the Korean War broke out, he was called to active duty and sent to Korea where he fought with 24th Infantry Division.

“We saw plenty of action then,” said Mark. “I can’t tell you how many of my buddies didn’t make it.”

He came back from Korea to New York in 1953, but the city didn’t seem the same. He decided then to “go home” to Guernica and see all the children he had been with in the refugee camps in Britain.

By now, Mark was an American citizen, an event he calls “one of the proudest moments of my life.

“Only if you have been denied your freedom can you appreciate what freedom and this country means,” he said. “Yet, we have so many people who abuse this freedom and take it for granted.”

As an American citizen, Mark was able to return to his native Guernica without fear of political persecution.

When he arrived “home,” he was reunited with many of the children, now adults, who had been evacuated with him to England.

He ran into a pretty young lady named “Miren,” whom he remembered as a little girl at the camp.

“We were both grown and single, and things just started to click,” he said.

Within a week, Mark asked her, “When can we go to the church” to get married. That was as good a proposal as Miren would get, she said, but that was enough.

A few weeks later, Mark and Miren returned to the United States.

They eventually settled in Michigan where Mark operated a paving business. They have six children, all of whom still live in Grand Rapids.

“So we’re the ones who flew the coop to Florida,” said Mark with a laugh.

The couple have lived in Anna Maria for the past 15 years.

While they enjoy the good life on Anna Maria Island, Mark said he sometimes feels a little guilty about all the kids from Guernica who didn’t make it back, all the seamen who died at sea, and all the buddies from the 24th Division who didn’t come home.

“I’m no hero. Things just worked out for me the way I planned. It’s been an amazing story. Sometimes, I just pinch myself because I live in the greatest country in the world.”

        “The Greatest Generation” column is for Island, Longboat Key, Perico Island and Cortez veterans, man or woman, who served in the armed forces of any allied country during World War II. We’d like to hear from you. Please call Rick Catlin at 941-778-7978.


Theft victim chases suspect nearly 3 miles

Two people who allegedly stole from several people on the beach were behind bars after being chased and held by one of their alleged victims until Bradenton Beach Police arrived.

Mitchell Sylvester, 18, and Tiffany Maltbie, 19, both of Auburndale, Florida, face charges of burglary to an occupied dwelling, petit theft and three counts of grand theft.

According to the BBPD, Sylvester and Maltbie walked along the beach and picked though unattended belongings in their path on the afternoon of July 5.

They came across a beach bag lying in the sand as well as keys to a nearby rental unit in the bag.

They gained access to the rental by using the keys .

While they were ransacking the rental, the victims returned to find Sylvester and Malbie in the act, the report stated.

Sylvestor and Maltbie were found in possession of several items, including $137.

Sylvester took off running, the report stated, and the victim gave chase.

After running nearly 3 miles, Sylvester came to a halt at the 1800 block of Gulf Drive North, where police arrested him.

Sylvester and Maltbie allegedly took several other items during their beach walk, including a purse, $500, credit cards and prescription drugs.

The credit cards were found on Sylvester at the time of his arrest and other items were recovered from garbage cans in the area of the theft.

Sylvester and Maltbie both admitted to committing the thefts, claiming they had taken several items including two iPhones and five other cellphones, the report stated.

The cellphones were returned to the owners.

Sylvester and Maltbie were arrested and taken to Manatee County jail.

Sylvester was additionally charged with grand theft of a vehicle theft based on his alleged participation in anther crime on the same day.

Sylvester and Maltbie are each being held on $12,500 bond. Their arraignment will be at 9 a.m., Friday, July 25, and the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Island road work for July 16-22

The Florida Department of Transportation maintenance project for the Cortez Bridge continues. Crews this week will work on the bridge surface and repair the eastbound sidewalk.

Nighttime lane closures of the eastbound lane and a flagging operation will occur occasionally from 9 p.m.-6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights.

The project is not expected to finish before late January.

Work also is continuing on a DOT project on Manatee Avenue West/State Road 64 from the Perico Bay Club to Palma Sola Boulevard. Crews are resurfacing, installing new sidewalks and completing drainage improvements.

Any lane closures will be accompanied by a flagging operation, the DOT said. The project is expected to be completed in late summer.

The DOT also reported Florida Power and Light continues to replace power poles on Gulf Drive/State Road 789 from the Cortez Road intersection to 28th Street in Holmes Beach.

Motorists should expect lane closures from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. through July 25.

FP&L crews also are replacing power poles along Cortez Road/State Road 684 from 103rd Street West to 119th Street West through July 25.

Motorists are advised speed limits may be reduced and to drive with caution in work areas.