Tag Archives: 08-01-2012
Family and friends of Holly Connelly, convicted of embezzeling in May, and Key Royale Club members gather outside courtroom 6A at the Manatee County Judicial Center, Bradenton, before the July 27 sentencing hearing for the ex-Key Royale bookkeeper. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
Ex-Key Royale Club bookkeeper Holly Connelly was sentenced July 27 to three years in state prison and 25 years of probation by 12th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Krug for scheming to defraud more than $50,000 from her former employer.
She faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on the first-degree felony.
She pleaded guilty to the charges May 11, and her sentencing was deferred to last week’s hearing, with more than 70 people attending.
During the sentencing, Krug ordered the parties to confer on a “restitution number.” If there is no agreement, he said, a hearing will be held within 60 days to determine Connelly’s restitution.
Choking back tears during her testimony as well as during testimony given by friends and family members, Connelly later showed little emotion when Krug meted out the punishment.
Her prison sentence included credit for time served.
Connelly was arrested in June 2011, and spent approximately 10 weeks in the Manatee County jail, after Holmes Beach police investigated reports from the Key Royale Club about irregularities in the club’s finances.
HBPD learned Connelly had been writing checks to herself, and depositing them into her own account between June 2008 and April 2011. An affidavit filed with the court by former HBPD Detective Michael Leonard states $387,181 was embezzled from KRC by Connelly.
Reports vary regarding how much was stolen, and Krug estimated Connelly was responsible for between $387,000 and $487,000 in improper transactions.
Key Royale Club president Craig Humphreys and treasurer Tim Friesen testified to an additional $99,100 in unauthorized debit transactions by Connelly.
“The number shocks this court,” Krug said during sentencing. “Frankly it’s not only the number, but also the time over which the criminality was committed.”
For a three-year period when Connelly wrote some 370 checks, embezzling $10,000 a month, “there had to be a thought process,” Krug said.
“Some leniency,” he said, went into his decision, due to testimony that husband Phillip Connelly had abused Connelly and their children.
Phillip Connelly was implicated in the embezzlement when, during the investigation, he was observed in one of seven bank video tapes making an ATM withdrawal, according to a KRC member.
“I think the sentence is fair,” said Terry Schaefer, member and past president of the Key Royale Club, Holmes Beach, after the sentencing.
Also after the hearing, John Gallo, a witness who testified at the request of Connelly’s attorney, said the sentence was fair.
The Gallo family was caretaker for Connelly’s daughters after her incarceration, and the court also allowed Connelly to reside with the Gallos in Holmes Beach.
“Our role is to just help make those kids productive, useful members of society,” Gallo testified at the hearing. “If we lose those kids, we all lose.”
He also described Connelly as a good student and housemate, and “a very caring and doting mother.”
The three Connelly children are now said to be living with their father.
Ten witnesses and Connelly testified on her behalf, pointing out her good character, work ethic and desire to provide for her children.
In a soft voice, Connelly apologized for the financial chaos she created, saying she was “even more sorry” for the emotional toll her actions caused, and “deeply sorry” for those whose credibility she’d damaged.
KRC members said Connelly initially denied her involvement in the scheme.
“One question that keeps coming up from all our members is, ‘What happened to the money?” Friesen said.
Humphreys sought to dispel an issue previously raised at a status conference July 24 about members who were alleged to want to write letters on behalf of Connelly, but feared loss of their club membership.
Humphreys said, “this is the furthest thing from the truth.
“We want to attract new members,” he said. The club has 575 members, adding he hadn’t heard from one person with that issue.
Connelly was given broad powers, trusted and groomed for the position that included deposit and debit capabilities, and along with the theft, she falsified bank balances in financial statements, according to Schaefer.
According to club members, the embezzlement nearly resulted in bankruptcy for the club, and the need to raise dues.
“Many of us tried to help her in many ways,” Schaefer said. “We’ve always been a very caring club, and would have made every effort to help her had she asked.”
A graph prepared by Anna Maria city treasurer Diane Percycoe shows Anna Maria receives just 11 percent of the total taxes paid by a city property owner with a super-homestead exemption.
With only two of five commissioners at the Anna Maria commission’s July 24 budget work session, Commissioners Dale Woodland and John Quam were left with little to do.
“Everything we talk about tonight we’ll have to discuss again at our budget meeting July 30,” Quam said.
At the commission’s budget meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, July 30, commissioners plan to set the tentative millage and rollback rates. These rates must be established and submitted before Aug. 1.
Quam and Woodland did get some good news.
Mayor Mike Selby said on July 24 that after discussions with Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, the proposed $698,000 contract for 2012-13 law enforcement services has been reduced.
“Sheriff Steube really went the extra mile for us. The contract is only increasing $26,000, not the proposed $59,000,” Selby said.
While a $33,000 reduction might not sound like much, it’s pretty good for a city with proposed budget expenses of $2.259 million, Selby said.
However, the mayor added, Steube said the MCSO and city should begin working on next year’s contract as soon after the 2012-13 budget is adopted.
City treasurer Diane Percycoe’s proposed budget calls for a millage rate of 2.0 mills, a 2.4 percent decrease from the 2.05 millage rate in the 2011-12 budget. The rollback rate — the millage rate needed to generate the same amount of revenue in the 2012-13 budget as the current fiscal year — is 2.0214.
Percycoe’s proposed 2.0 millage rate is a 2.44 percent decrease from the current 2.05 rate, and a decline of 1.07 percent from the rollback rate.
One mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. At a 2.0 millage rate, an Anna Maria homeowner with a home appraised at $400,000 would pay ad valorem taxes to the city of $800.
Bradenton Beach commissioners July 25 set a tentative millage increase, from 2.1359 to 2.3329, to overcome a $145,479 budget deficit.
A millage is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value on a home. The city tax increase would amount to about $85 a year for a home valued at $450,000.
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse offered three possibilities to overcome the 2012-13 budget deficit, which was initially thought to be $117,000, later thought to be $104,000, and revealed at the July 25 city commission meeting to be $145,479.
Gatehouse’s proposals included a larger tax increase with no money taken from the city’s approximately $1 million reserve fund to overcome the deficit. A second option was a smaller tax raise and to take $50,000 out of the reserve funds.
After some debate, commissioners settled on the third option presented by Gatehouse, which is to split the difference on the tax hike and pay the shortfall from the reserve fund.
The tentative millage rate can be lowered by commissioners before voting on the final budget in September, but it cannot be raised.
“This is just a tentative discussion on setting the millage and the key word is tentative,” said Mayor John Shaughnessy.
City clerk Nora Idso added that Bradenton Beach receives about 10 percent of a homeowner’s overall property taxes.
“Some people misunderstand when we talk about Bradenton Beach taxes,” said Idso, who noted that most of what people see on their tax bill is for the county and other entities.
“That’s who gets the majority of the taxes,” she said.
Shaughnessy said the city could not control the most of people’s rising taxes.
“We aren’t to blame for what’s going on with the taxes here,” he said.
Gatehouse said where the money is going is fairly obvious with a drive around the county.
“Ninety percent of taxpayers’ property tax goes to various county agencies,” he said. “I noticed in the last month as I drive around the county the number of facilities that are either new or are being refurbished. That’s our tax dollars at work in the county. That part of the bill has been going up, while ours has remained stable or gone down over the years.”
Gatehouse said he doesn’t like the idea of raising taxes, but the city doesn’t have much choice when “we are having trouble finding a can of paint to paint the police department. We need to take care of the city.”
Commissioner Gay Breuler said she supports the 50-50 proposal submitted by Gatehouse.
“If you break it down, it’s about $7 a month,” she said. “That’s not a lot to pay to start addressing our infrastructure.”
Shaughnessy said he wants to protect the taxpayers, “but my main purpose is to take care of the city. By taking care of the city, I’m taking care of the taxpayers. I can’t let the city run down. If things work out better next year, then we can always reduce these taxes again.”
Gatehouse said the 50-50 proposal was the fairest option.
“We could probably cover the whole shortfall with reserves, but my problem with that is when the next emergency comes up, we don’t have the funds to cover it,” he said. “At the other end of the scale, I don’t want to put the whole tax burden on the city.”
Gatehouse said the city wouldn’t be in this position had a previous commission not spent $350,000 to purchase “useless” property on Gulf Drive.
The property purchase was the result of a settlement for a lawsuit in which the city sought to halt beachfront development on land designated preservation.
“When the public points fingers, I want to remind them why we are in this position,” he said. “We are in a deep hole and we are trying to dig our way out and do it responsibly.”
Vice Mayor Ed Straight said he believes the public wants the city to address infrastructure and continue providing quality services.
Idso said she doesn’t like to take money out of the city’s reserves, but sees the necessity to “go along with it for one year. Am I comfortable taking money out of the reserves every year? Absolutely not.”
Idso said the citizens of Bradenton Beach do not deserve to bear the full burden, so she would be comfortable using reserve funds to help offset the deficit.
“The citizens didn’t get us into this mess,” she said.
Breuler motioned to approve the millage rate increase with a stipulation that $75,000 would be released from the reserve fund to help offset the budget deficit.
Vosburgh seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.
The city will schedule two public hearings on the budget before voting to finalize it in September.
The 2012-13 budget calls for $2.421 million in expenses with an estimated more than $2.275 million in revenue, accounting for the more than $145,000 deficit.
The proposed millage increase will create an additional $75,000 in property tax revenue, with commissioners agreeing to take $75,000 from reserves to eliminate the deficit and balance the budget.
In Holmes Beach, city services and the related costs are expected to remain the same under a proposed 2012-13 budget presented July 24 to city commissioners.
A $7.86 million proposed budget — lowered $805,255 from the current $8.67 million budget — was presented by treasurer Rick Ashley and the commission unanimously approved a maximum millage rate of 1.75, also on Ashley’s recommendation.
According to Ashley, the millage rate is slightly lower than this year’s 1.7553 rollback rate — the rate needed to generate the same amount of ad valorem tax revenue as in the 2011-12 budget.
“I feel confident we can continue the same city services,” said Ashley.
Reductions in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 include not having to budget for both an assistant city treasurer and Ashley’s salary, causing a drop of $61,217 in regular salaries in the general government budget.
Ashley is retiring at the end of August.
“The one major reason the net amount decreased is what’s being budgeted for stormwater,” said Ashley.
A $900,000 reduction is the result of a completed stormwater project between 59th to 64th streets, and also in neighborhoods between 72nd and 77th streets, which also was funded in part by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Commissioner Jean Peelen asked whether funds will be available to help the frequently flooded area near 31st Street.
“My understanding is there is preliminary work to go ahead with that,” Ashley said. He also said the 2012-13 budget was prepared without any left over stormwater funds.
“It’s possible, but not certain” funds will remain after this year’s stormwater project closes out, said Bohnenberger. If not, he said, funds will be available in the new budget.
The new budget includes $227,905 from the city’s annual utility assessment, which is restricted to stormwater improvements.
No additional employees are budgeted, but a 2 percent cost-of-living increase will be given to employees. Ashley said.
Peelen said, “I don’t see where the raises are, except for the huge increase in public works.”
Ashley said the raise is calculated into the salary line items. He also said “for the first time in many, many years, public works asked for a new truck.”
Commissioner John Monetti said he’s glad to see the 2 percent increase because he considers the level of staff “a bargain.”
Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens said when she was first elected to the board, the city had a 2.75 millage rate, and thanked Ashley for his one-on-one budget explanations. She also agreed the staff deserved the raise.
Peelen said, “Government employees have had as hard a time as has everyone else. I don’t think anyone else has raised their salaries in this area at all.
“I think it’s more than a generous figure. I value the employees, but I’m just saying it’s hard times for everybody,” she added.
Ashley plans to adjust the 2012-13 budget for a carryover of $513,000 in reimbursement funds for this year’s stormwater project, still to come from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Another budget adjustment will be a $10,000-$12,000 increase in the emergency reserve funds, “so the reserves going out at the end of the year will be a little bit more than they are going in,” he said.
Assistant city treasurer Lori Hill made the calculations for the new budget, said Ashley. Hill was confirmed by the commission June 12 to take over the treasurer’s position.
Ashley invited anyone with questions on the budget to contact him or Hill.
Commissioners set public hearings on the budget for 6 p.m. Sept. 11 and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25.
After the public hearings, the millage rate will be added to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s millage notices in November.
The West Manatee Fire Rescue District aims to hold the line in its 2012-13 budget, while covering jumps in both health care and workers compensation rates.
The district commissioners viewed a proposed budget at their July meeting that “didn’t change a lot,” said WMFR Chief Andy Price.
The budget is expected to be approved at the Aug. 16 WMFR board meeting.
The total operating budget is $5,527,457, up $114,361 or 2.1 percent from the 2011-12 budget. The total capital reserve is $4,593,849, up $731,155, or 18 percent.
Income breaks down to $5,391,207 in assessments, $6,000 in inspection fees and miscellaneous and $99,500 in reimbursements. The budget includes $30,750 in interest income, a 14 percent reduction from the current budget, according to Price.
“We’re going to be having nice additions to the training station” behind Station 2 on Cortez Road, he said.
On the expense side, the 2012-13 budget includes $152,750 in workers compensation and $490,500 in health insurance costs, compared to $111,538 and $460,600 respectively in this year’s budget.
For employees, the budget includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and some salary adjustments to ensure competitiveness among other fire service agencies, but no benefit changes, according to Price.
The 2012-13 budget proposes a 4.9 percent increase, or $607,132, in retirement benefits, compared to $578,374 this year.
To fund the 2012-13 budget, West Manatee Fire District commissioners increased the district’s assessment roughly $4 per household at a May 17 public hearing.
The hike represents a 2.5 percent increase, below this year’s 3.16 percent assessment cap as determined by Florida’s personal income growth factor.
Commissioners are expected to approve the budget at the next public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, at the WMFR administrative office, 6417 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.
WMFR pension switches strategy
The West Manatee Fire Rescue District Pension Board looked at disappointing returns at its July 26 meeting, and likely will make changes in investments at the board’s next meeting.
“We’re dropping a huge, huge negative,” said member Dan Tackett of the district’s pension fund investment performance report for the second quarter.
Jack Evatt, Bogdahn Group consultant and district investment monitor, recognized the negative, especially in the international equity markets even though the economy is healthier than a year ago.
Evatt and board members discussed the upheaval in Western Europe’s markets and future earnings. On the domestic side, Evatt expected stagnation in the markets, with businesses putting off hiring until after the elections.
Evatt also previewed recommendations for the October meeting.
He said he will likely recommend different fund managers and spreading out the district’s current investments into mutual funds to compliment the conservative strategy of the district.
“If you’re dropping a negative this year, and there’s a number very close to zero the year after that,” the district won’t get to its benchmark “unless we see something miraculous,” he said.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox rewards “stat guy” Pete Gross with a new hat during the July 28 AMITW volunteer awards banquet at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Islander Photos: Mark Young
There was laughter, smiles and a few tears as Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring celebrated July 28 its 22nd annual volunteer awards banquet and 30 years in existence.
“Think about something you’ve done for 30 consecutive years,” said AMITW executive director Suzi Fox. “I know what it means to me and all of you sitting in this room to belong to a program that’s been going for 30 years.”
Fox said this year’s group of volunteers has had to work physically harder than any other group.
“We have had 665 crawls onto our shores,” she said. “There were 336 that nested and 329 that took a break, pulled a flipper over their brow and said not tonight as they crawled back into the sea. This group has had to do three times the amount of stuff we do on an average year.”
The previous record nesting season was set in 1999 with 248 nests, while the 11-year average for nesting on AMI is 155 nests.
Each year since 2000, AMITW has selected one volunteer to receive the Sadie Award, named after a loggerhead sea turtle that tried to nest 12 years ago, but was injured when she fell off of a seawall.
AMITW teamed up with MOTE and provided 24-hour care for Sadie. While Sadie and its winners will not be forgotten, Fox said she is retiring the award because all of this year’s volunteers deserve the award.
Instead, Fox said the $100 award will be put toward an educational kiosk, “because there is not a single kiosk in Manatee County.”
Fox continued the awards banquet by recognizing her fellow AMITW board members, educational directors, coordinators and rookie walkers.
“This is the most new volunteers we have had in any year,” said Fox. “Our new people have made my world rock. I looked at things through their new eyes.”
Fox said this year’s awards theme of “record-breaking season” was an easy decision to make despite the arrival of Tropical Storm Debby in late June.
Initial estimates in lost nests were around 90 nests lost or destroyed, but Fox said July 28 that the number of lost nests has been lowered to around 60.
“And there still may be more nests out there that we don’t even know about, because there was about four or five days when we couldn’t monitor the beaches,” she said.
Fox said more nests were laid after Debby than before the storm arrived.
“When nature comes in, we are sorry about that, but we carry on with things,” she said. “We know we can’t save them all, but we know we did save 25 nests that were reburied at Coquina Beach.”
Nature is one thing, Fox said. The goal of AMITW remains to educate the public on the dangers of beach lighting during nesting season that disorients hatchlings back toward Gulf Drive instead of following moonlight back to the Gulf of Mexico.
Fox said potential development on the island is another issue, and laws she helped put together for sea turtle habitat protection in 1997 are in danger.
“Our board does not get involved with politics,” said Fox. “But I want to tell you guys this is an important election and you need to get out and vote. Our goal with AMITW is to protect nesting habitat. I won’t tell you who to vote for. I’ll just ask that you study a candidate’s environmental position on development before you vote.”
Fox closed out the awards banquet by giving everyone a blue marble. The significance, she said, is threefold.
“I want to share the blue marble with all to explain this is what we look like millions of miles away,” she said. “When you hold it to your head think of someone in your life who makes a difference and then hold it to your heart and think of all of the good things about that person.”
Finally, Fox said, if the blue marble represents your world, “then find that person and share it with them.”
Nesting season is winding down slowly, Fox said, and thus far only one nest has hatched, so the already busy group of volunteers have much work ahead.
By the numbers as of July 27:
False Crawls: 329
Hatchlings to the sea: 55
Anna Maria city attorney Jim Dye, right, and cell tower consultant Rusty Monroe discuss the latest — and final — changes to the city’s new cell tower ordinance. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Anna Maria has a new cell tower ordinance, replacing the one passed in 2003.
The 2012 ordinance passed 4-0 at the commission’s July 26 meeting after more than seven months of preparation by city attorney Jim Dye, Mayor Mike Selby and consultant Rusty Monroe of the Center for Municipal Solutions — and a number of public hearings on the ordinance.
Commission Chair Chuck Webb was absent from the meeting.
A major difference from the old ordinance to the new is that new technology in the cell tower and cell phone industry has occurred since 2003.
Monroe said a key factor for the applicant is to provide propagation studies that show the need for a specific tower height.
“They have to show what height is needed for the tower to work best,” Monroe said.
Monroe and his staff will review all applications.
Their first review shouldn’t be long in coming.
The Anna Maria Island Community Center has an application from a cell tower builder to install a tower at the center.
Questions about the height of the proposed tower, the cell phone carriers that would use the tower, the fall space for the tower, anticipated revenue and how it would be shared, and what the tower would look like should all be answered when Monroe and the CMS review the center’s application.
Monroe took time to thank Dye and Mayor Mike Selby for their assistance. He said in all the time he’s worked on these ordinances, he’s never had such cooperation as he received from Anna Maria.
That brought a round of applause from the gallery.
In other business, commissioners held the first reading of an ordinance that would clarify language in a number of city ordinances, provide understandable definitions, and amend the required lot coverage and setbacks, among other modifications.
The ordinance review committee of Garrett, planning and zoning board chair Tom Turner, building official Bob Welch and others spent months reviewing city ordinances.
Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick suggested the ordinance require a certain amount of green space for new construction, while Garrett suggested commissioners might want to consider further limiting lot coverage. He also suggested commissioners look at the use of a sand-shell filter mix for driveways.
Although the mix does track dirt into a house, Garrett said it drains water much better than a concrete driveway.
Selby announced his appointments for five members of the charter review committee, and renewed an apology for omitting Tom Aposporos, who chaired the 2003 and 2008 charter review committees.
Selby said he thought Aposporos lived on Longboat Key. He is the executive director of the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce and resides in Anna Maria.
“I’ve already spoken to Tom and apologized, and he’s agreed to come to the meetings as a consultant,” he said.
Commissioner SueLynn said she would prefer a committee with Aposporos as a member and voted against the motion to approve Lou Ann Collins, Tom Breiter, Howard Payne, Larry Mercadante and Jim Bennington as committee members.
The motion to approve Selby’s recommended members passed 3-1.
Commissioners will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
“We have our 501c3 status,” said Laura McGeary into the phone July 26 with excitement her voice.
“We’re already in contact with someone who does grant writing,” she added.
The beleaguered president of the Anna Maria Island Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach, announced the Internal Revenue Service reinstatement, adding that the good news will soon be on the league’s website and letters will be going out to its 200 members.
In May, the 22-year-old art league closed its gallery and canceled its summer programs, unable to meet expenses. Many of its board members resigned and blamed McGeary for the financial problems.
According to McGeary, the league’s problems were largely due to the loss of its nonprofit status, making it difficult to attract large corporate donors, as well as the general downturn in the economy, rising costs and too few volunteers to staff the league’s two annual festivals.
The league learned it had lost its 501c3 eligibility in June 2011 after it learned three past years tax returns had not been filed, she said.
After the May closure, McGeary maintained the league was not closed, but “on vacation,” and began joining with others in the artist community to rekindle a schedule of summer events.
In July, Chris Galanopoulos held haircut fundraisers. There also were printmaking classes with Tammy Barrons, floor-cloth workshops with instructor Deena Atkinson and a photography camp with James Corwin Johnson. The league also is planning free photography lectures and a boot camp workshop in August.
The league has a history on Anna Maria Island of showcasing local talent, offering art classes, camps and workshops, Winterfest and Springfest art and craft shows, and a scholarship program of art classes for deserving students.
In a press release, McGeary said, “The Anna Maria Island Art League is pleased to announce we have our tax exempt status and contributions to us are deductible, according to IRS guidelines, and we also are qualified to receive tax deductible bequests and gifts.”
For more information or to make a donation, call the league at 941-778-2099 or email McGeary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New class, summer hours announced
The Anna Maria Art League has a new collage class and summer hours.
Classy Collage will be offered 7-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at a “Girls Night In” at the gallery, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach. The cost is $35. Materials are included.
The league will be open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays throughout the summer weeks.
Information available at the office includes class registration, workshops, playshops, volunteer and membership opportunities. Details on the league’s annual festivals, Winterfest and Springfest, also are available.
For more information, call 941-778-2099 during office hours, leave a message or email email@example.com.
An employee of Deck Docktors prepares the broken piling on the Historic Bridge Street Pier for repair, while city workers begin repairs to the railings. The city reopened the pier July 27, one month after it closed due to damage caused when Tropical Storm Debby sent boats anchored nearby into the structure. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Fishing lines are being cast for the first time since June 25 when Tropical Storm Debby shut down the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
One month to the day, after a half-dozen boats broke loose from their moorings and smashed into the pier, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale announced repairs were completed. The pier reopened July 27.
In early July, Bradenton Beach commissioners opted to keep the pier closed after they learned repairs could cost as much as $10,000. With a pier reconstruction project planned for 2012-13, commissioners said it wasn’t appropriate to spend $10,000 to repair what would soon be replaced.
Speciale said July 19 that a company, Deck Docktors, offered to repair the piling for $2,500. With the reconstruction project an estimated nine months away, commissioners approved work at the lower cost.
Speciale and Mayor John Shaughnessy noted that operators of Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant, located on the pier, were concerned over lost business due to the pier’s closure. With a lower than expected repair cost, Shaughnessy said it was worth the payment to get the pier reopened to the public.
That was good news to Rotten Ralph’s manager Ken Davis.
“We are definitely looking forward to the pier reopening,” said Davis prior to the pier reopening July 27, who noted business had dropped significantly since the closure although the restaurant had remained opened.
“We’ve lost a lot of the walk-in traffic that we would normally get when people are out fishing,” he said. “It’s not a lot of our business, but there always are a few people who come in and get something to eat or want something cold to drink.”
The restaurant was losing about $1,000 a day and Davis said the bait shop, which shares revenue with the restaurant, also felt the impact.
“I don’t have exact numbers, but I’m comfortable in saying that we’ve lost about two-thirds of our bait shop business,” he said. “We’ve made the best out of what we have, so I hope the pier reopening will get us back on track.”
Dustin Allen, 31, of 405 75th St., Holmes Beach, surrendered to authorities July 20 following a warrant issued by the Holmes Beach Police Department.
Allen was wanted in connection with a Holmes Beach burglary after merchandise from the burglary was allegedly pawned by Allen.
He has been charged with felony grand theft. According to a press release issued by HBPD, further charges are pending in relation to the pawn transaction in Manatee County.
Allen was booked into the Manatee County jail on $5,000 bond. He posted bond and was scheduled for arraignment Aug. 17.