Tag Archives: 11-14-2012

Islander ceremony honors veterans

An estimated 125 people gathered in the parking lot alongside the Island Veterans Memorial plaque outside Holmes Beach City Hall Nov. 9 for The Islander’s seventh annual Veterans Salute.

The event, with help from the city for setup and cleanup, honors veterans of Allied countries, in particular those profiled in the newspaper’s Greatest Generation and Forgotten Generation columns about World War II and Korea respectively.

Islander publisher Bonner Joy served as master of ceremonies, while the Rev. Ron Joseph gave the invocation. The AMI Beach Cafe brought coffee for guests, while The Islander provided pastries and doughnuts.

It was an emotional day for many at the ceremony, including Vicki Gipson Grogan, the granddaughter of the late WWII veteran Ralph Bassett, a speaker at past ceremonies.

Last year, Grogan gave a tribute to her grandfather at the ceremony only days after he died.

This year, her tribute had a happier note.

She brought her cousin, U.S. Army Spc. Nick Grogan, to make a few remarks. Grogan had just returned home to Michigan from a deployment to Afghanistan.

He told the assembly it was his duty to go and he never regretted the decision.

He thanked all for their support and, in exchange, received a standing ovation.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger gave a short talk on how he was too young for WWII service but that his family pitched in and did something for the war effort. The mayor later served in the U.S. Air Force.

This reporter also made a few remarks, thanking the WWII and Korean War veterans for sharing their stories with him and The Islander’s readers.

He noted that when the columns began in 2002, the paper published one each week. After a few years, the columns became biweekly, then monthly. The columns diminished as members of the fraternity of WWII and Korean War veterans became fewer.

One day, the column will eventually come when the stories turn to America’s Unknown Generation — Vietnam.

But there are yet a few WWII and Korean War stories to be told.

Karen Abel, granddaughter of Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Robert Lynch, talked at the ceremony about the 7,000-mile journey she plans this summer to the Aleutian Islands with her mother and daughter Alexandra, who accompanied her at the ceremony. They plan to visit the air bases where Canadian and American airmen flew together to bomb the Japanese on Kiska and Attu islands. They’ll also visit the gravesites of some of the fallen airmen.

She calls it her tribute to the men who were willing to give their lives to protect freedom and stop the Japanese from advancing further in the Aleutian chain.

Singer Mike Sales led in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America,” while Bohnenberger gave the Pledge of Allegiance.

The American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard made the presentation of the colors and fired their rifles in a 21-gun salute to fallen veterans.

The playing of the bugle call of taps ended the ceremony, with very few dry eyes left in the audience.


Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, a veteran, gives a speech at the Nov. 9 Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes Beach City Hall. It was The Islander’s seventh annual Veterans Day ceremony.


Vicki Gipson Grogan of Bradenton and her cousin, U.S. Army Spc. Nick Grogan of Michigan, attend The Islander Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes Beach City Hall. Grogan recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan. Islander Photos: Mark Young


Karen Abel and her daughter Alexandra tell the story of Karen’s grandfather, who fought in the Aleutian Islands WWII campaign, at the Nov. 9 Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes Beach City Hall.

U.S. Army Spc. Nick Grogan recently returned home from Afghanistan to Michigan and a new wife, having been married just a month before his third deployment to the Middle East.


Capt. Drew Thomas of the Bradenton American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard speaks at the Nov. 9 Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes Beach City Hall. Thomas described to guests what the Honor Guard and the flag represent at military funerals.

The American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard at the Nov. 9 Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes Beach City Hall.

Tom Miller of the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard plays taps to close the Nov. 9 Veterans Day ceremony at Holmes Beach City Hall.


Drew Thomas and Warren Weil fold the American flag as part of the closing ceremony of the Nov. 9 Veterans Day activities at Holmes Beach City Hall.


The Palma Sola VFW Post 10141 Color Guard opens the inaugural Bradenton Beach Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 at the Bridge Street Market. The annual event is sponsored by the Bridge Street Merchants. Islander Photo: Mark Young


Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy, right, gives a stirring and emotional Veterans Day speech at the city’s inaugural celebration. Bridge Street Merchants member Adam Jenkins, left, organized the event, and presented Shaughnessy and the Palma Sola VFW Post 10141 commemorative plaques for their participation in the annual event. Islander Photo: Mark Young

Soldier welcomed from Afghanistan tour

Today I am hear to speak about my cousin SPC Nicholas Gipson.

Last year I asked everyone to pray for the safe return of Nick from Afghanistan. I wanted to speak about Nick today because he has a inspiring story one of courage and commitment. Going back to the beginning, Nick was born to be a soldier. The family joke is that Nick never learned how to walk as a toddler but he learned to march.

As early as 4 years old Nick would march around in army outfits. So of course our family wasn’t surprised when Nick graduated from high school and joined the Army. Nick’s father, David Gipson, who raised Nick as a single dad was so proud of him, we all were. One year after graduating high school Nick was deployed to Iraq. He spent one year there and when he returned his Dad was worried. Nick was spelling well and seemed different.

War does that, he left a boy and came back a man. His innocence gone. But not soon after his return form Iraq we were relieved as Nick met the love of his life Amanda. Amanda boosted Nick’s spirits and he enrolled in college. In May of last year, Nick married Amanda in all dressed in his military uniformed.

Nick’s Dad was delighted. But all that celebration was about to come to an end. One month after Nick married Amanda he would be faced with the fact that he would have to leave his wife of one month as he received orders to deploy to Afghanistan. The same time he received those orders to deploy to Afghanistan he received the worse news of his life. His Dad at age 49 died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Nick was devastated. I was worried so much about Nick. He had to leave his wife of one month, settle his dad’s estate, lay his dad to rest and deploy to Afghanistan. So as a protective cousin I started making calls and pulling favors to postpone Nick’s deployment.

The phone calls paid off and a commander said for me to talk to Nick and he was not ready that would postpone his deployment. The commander stated, “we can’t have that kid out their in a battle zone without a clear head, we can’t afford to loose another good soldier”. I called Nick and told him had a choice to postpone his deployment but his response was “Thank you Vicki, I appreciate it but I have decided I should go for my wife, my family and my country. It is my duty”. So Nick was off to Afghanistan. It was a rough year for our family sending care packages and basically holding our breath for his safe return. I had the chance to talk to Nick via Skype once in Afghanistan. I asked him if he needed anything if he was okay. You know there is something so amazing about a soldier.

No matter what their situation, how horrible it is, how lonely they are and being without things of luxury they never complain, never ask for anything and always make it sound that everything is just fine. They just don’t want to worry anyone. Well after a year of worry I finally got the news I had been waiting for. On September 6th, Nick had departed Afghanistan, I was so relieved and the most amazing part, Nick left Afghanistan on his Dad’s 50th birthday. I truly believe his Dad was watching out for him the whole time. Welcome home SPC Nicholas Gipson, we love you and we thank you.

Vicki Gipson-Grogan

Anna Maria Island beaches receiving clean awards

The Concession Clean Beaches Coalition has certified Anna Maria Island beaches — from Bradenton Beach to Anna Maria — as “Blue Wave” beaches.

A ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Coquina Beach near the concession stand.

Coalition founder Walter McLeod will deliver five “Blue Wave” flags the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau that will be flown at the five beaches.

The beaches include Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach, Cortez Beach, as well as shoreline spots in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria Beach.

The beaches were inspected and certified by the coalition in May, a Manatee County government press release said.

Now in its 13th year, the “Blue Wave” program was the first national environmental certification for beaches, the release said.

The program’s benchmark for its designation is for well-maintained beaches and eco-friendly tourism.

The ceremony is open to the public.

Following the awards, attendees are invited to help with a cleanup of Coquina Beach hosted by Keep Manatee Beautiful.

Community center board names new director

The Anna Maria Island Community Center board of directors has named Dawn Stiles of Portland, Maine, as the center’s new executive director.

Stiles officially joined the staff Nov. 12, but only for orientation and only for a week. She will then spend time between work here and in Maine, completing her employment obligation with Spurlink Services, a company providing behavioral health services to more than 5,500 people in Maine.

Center president Greg Ross said it was a long and difficult task to select a replacement for Pierrette Kelly, who served the center 22 years through the end of October as executive director.

“We are pleased to have Dawn join the leadership team at the community center. I’m excited,” Ross said. He added that Stiles will begin her employment by working with interim director Scott Dell, Kelly and center staff for a week. He expects her to officially start full-time “no later than April 1, 2013.”

Stiles already has a foot in the door on Anna Maria Island.

Board member David Teitelbaum, who assisted in the search to fill the position, said Stiles owns a condo in Bradenton Beach. “She missed the first round of applicants,” he said, which had failed to find a replacement for Kelly. But she shared with him early on in their talks that she had been traveling from Tampa to Maine and reading The Islander on the airplane when she saw the center was looking for a new director — and quickly applied.

“She really stood out,” Teitelbaum said. “We are lucky to get her.”

Stiles will attend weekly staff meetings by teleconference call or in person until she has completed her obligations in Maine.

“The passion of my core is for the community,” Stiles said. “I am very anxious and excited to assume the role of executive director of the community center and to get to know my neighbors and members of the Anna Maria Island community,” she said.

Stiles has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine, as well as a master’s degree from UM in social work, and also holds a clinical social workers license.

Anna Maria election Nov. 15

While the nation and Island cities held elections Nov. 6, Anna Maria’s elections won’t be until the city commission’s organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

The delay is because no one qualified to run for mayor.

The city charter says a new commission meets as soon as possible following the November elections and is sworn into office. The commission then elects a commission chair, who also is the vice mayor.

In Anna Maria’s case, there is no mayor, so the commission chair-vice mayor assumes the role of mayor, according to the charter.

That then leaves a vacancy on the commission that commissioners must fill.

Three people have filled out applications for the vacancy: Former Commissioners Gene Aubry and Tom Aposporos and planning and zoning board member Carl Pearman.

The vacant seat must be filled by a majority vote of the four remaining commissioners.

Once a fifth commissioner is appointed and sworn, the now-five member commission elects a new commission chair and vice chair.

Incumbent Commissioner Chuck Webb and Commissioner-elect Nancy Yetter have both said they have other duties that prevent them from becoming mayor.

Commissioners John Quam and Dale Woodland also have said they do not want to serve as mayor.

That leaves Commissioner SueLynn, who was mayor from 2002-06. She said she would accept elect as commission chair, and thus become the mayor, because there’s no one else left.

“And I have the experience. I’d love to remain a commissioner, but I will accept the position if elected,” she said.

Heavy turnout of Island voters

Voter turnout on Anna Maria Island was particularly heavy. especially in Holmes Beach where voting was up 68.6 percent from 2011, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website.

In the 2011 Holmes Beach election 2,649 votes were cast for city commissioners, while the figure jumped to 4,465 in 2012. Voters were able to cast a ballot for two of the four candidates.

First-time commission candidates Judy Titsworth and Marvin Grossman won seats with 1,628 and 1,1143 respectively. Incumbents Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti tallied 832 and 862 votes respectively.

Carmel Monti upset incumbent Mayor Rich Bohnenberger 1,318 to 1,103.

Countywide, 85,616 votes went to the Romney/Ryan Republican ticket while the Obama/Bieden Democrat candidates had 66,476.

There were no commission or mayor candidates in either Anna Maria or Holmes Beach.

Volunteer poll workers at both Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and St. Bernard Catholic Church polling stations in Holmes Beach said lines were long early in the morning.

“This was the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen,” said a poll worker at Gloria Dei of her 12th election.

The same sentiments were echoed by volunteers at St. Bernard Catholic Church, where poll workers were greeted by a line of people at 7 a.m., a poll volunteer reported.

“Never seen anything like this,” he said.

In Anna Maria, with no city elections on the ballot, the turnout was slow and steady all day for voters to cast ballots in county, state and federal offices.

A lot of people voted absentee or did early voting, one worker at the Roser Memorial Community Church polling station suggested.

“It’s been steady all day, but we never had a big rush,” she said.

Voters said they had no problems casting a ballot.

“Everything went smooth,” one voter said.

But voters were reluctant to reveal their choices. Of 24 voters surveyed, only three responded. One person said he voted democrat, another said he voted republican, while a third said he couldn’t remember.

The remainder of those polled said they would keep their votes a secret.


100 years celebrated

Katie Burgess, 7, a student at Anna Maria Elementary School enjoys her visit to the Cortez Rural Graded School centennial celebration. The event featured art, craft and food vendors, music and plenty of activities for kids. She experiments with a Native American pump drill, used for drilling holes and starting fires, at the Around the Bend Nature Tours booth. Islander Photo: Mark Young

New commission meets Nov. 20

The first regular meeting of the Holmes Beach City Commission to include new office holders from the Nov. 6 election — with a work session immediately following —  will be held at 7 p.m., Nov. 20, in city hall chambers, 5801 Marina Drive.

        City clerk Stacey Johnston announced the meeting change last week. The previously scheduled Nov. 27 meeting has been canceled.

        According to city officials, the change was made to accommodate Commissioner Jean Peelen, who is unable to attend the later November date.

        Commissioners-elect Judy Holmes Titsworth and Marvin Grossman, along with Mayor-elect Carmel Monti, will be sworn in a day prior, at 9 a.m., Nov. 19, at an organizational meeting. The new commissioners with sitting commissioners, David Zaccagnino, Peelen and Pat Morton, are expected to choose the commission’s chair and vice chair. The chairperson also serves as deputy mayor.

        The new commissioners on the dais will replace 14-year incumbent Commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti, a six-year incumbent.

         Monti will take Mayor Rich Bohnenberger’s seat after eight years as mayor and eight years as commissioner.

        According to the city charter, the mayor is the city administrator and has the right to attend all commission meetings and take part in discussions, but does not vote.

Holmes Beach clears a path in 27th Street suit

The first major ruling in Holmes Beach’s lawsuit against Bradenton Beach and Sandpiper Resort Co-op over 27th Street gave something to both sides.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Diana Moreland entered an order Nov. 1 allowing the suit to continue — but also agreed with Bradenton Beach’s motion that questioned whether Holmes Beach has a sufficient stake in the controversy, or legal standing, bring the suit.

“The judge is requiring that Holmes Beach clarify its authority to make a claim for property outside its boundary,” said Bradenton Beach attorney Chuck Johnson of Blalock Walters P.A of Bradenton, who filed the motion to dismiss the lawsuit in July.

In the ruling, Holmes Beach was given 10 days to amend the complaint allegations about its right to bring suit on behalf of its citizens who utilize the right of way, and the city, which uses it for municipal drainage purposes.

With respect to the part of Bradenton Beach motion that the court denied, Johnson said, “The judge determined, while confusing, the minimum requirements to go forward with the action for declaratory judgment have been met.”

Holmes Beach filed the lawsuit in May asking the court to declare public that part of the street east of Gulf Drive ending at Sarasota Bay.

The street is the divider between city of Holmes Beach and the Sandpiper Resort, a mobile home cooperative in Bradenton Beach.

The lawsuit also seeks a court order requiring the Sandpiper to remove gates and private property signs from a Sandpiper fence, and to remove part of the fence for access to adjoining properties in Holmes Beach.

The ruling came six days after Sandpiper attorney Charles Webb filed a counterclaim to stop the city of Holmes Beach from using public funds for a private purpose.

Webb also filed a second motion to dismiss, alleging the city of Holmes Beach failed to properly exercise its appeal rights following a Dec. 4, 2008, quasi-judicial decision by the city of Bradenton Beach.

Fishing – 11-14-2012

Spanish mackerel action remains hot for pier anglers


Despite chilly morning weather and some windy days in the past week, Spanish mackerel were still swarming bait schools around both the Rod & Reel and the Anna Maria City Pier.

For non-stop rod-bending action, try fishing the piers early in the morning during strong moving tides. During stronger tides, the bait schools congregate all around the piers, which, in turn, keeps the mackerel captive during feeding. Small white speck rigs, Gotcha plugs and the Clark spoon rigged with a popping cork are producing catches in the 1- to 3-pound range. While targeting mackerel, expect to catch blue runners, jack crevalle and ladyfish.

Fishing the grass flats of Anna Maria Sound is resulting in good numbers of spotted seatrout. Try using DOE Cal jigs and targeting sandy potholes while drifting the grass flats. Once you’ve located some fish, drop anchor and work the area thoroughly. Most trout catches are resulting in undersized fish, although limits of keepers are attainable with a little persistence and some luck.

Redfish and catch-and-release snook are frequenting the same areas this week. Try fishing mangrove shorelines with lush grass flats surrounding them. Live shiners are the bait of choice. Slot-size fish are being caught in good numbers, although most of the catch-and-release snook are in the 20- to 24-inch range.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business charters is targeting trout and redfish on the grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Gross is switching from white bait to artificials to add a little variety to the day. Using top-water plugs, he’s producing over-slot size trout in the early morning. Then, as the sun gets higher in the sky, he’s switching to DOA Cal jigs and Cotee jigs to keep the bite going. Gross is either anchoring in area where there are concentrations of fish, or drifting the flats and casting into sandy potholes. For the DOA Cal jigs, Gross is using a 1/4-ounce jighead with a soft plastic in the nuclear chicken color. For the Cotee jigs, Gross is using a dark green soft plastic.

The popular DOA shrimp is also working for Gross. He is using shrimp in either the glow or measles shades. Also, he suggests fishing these shrimp in one of two ways, either tied directly to some 20-pound fluorocarbon or rigging the shrimp behind a Cajun Thunder popping cork. Slot-size fish and under are the norm when using these methods.

While fishing with shiners, Gross is catching good numbers of redfish and catch-and-release snook. Reds up to 26 inches are being caught in sandy potholes adjacent to mangrove islands during the incoming tide. As for the catch-and-release snook, Gross is releasing fish up to 32 inches in the same areas.

Jonny Keyes at Island Discount tackler is hearing good numbers of spotted seatrout making a showing in Anna Maria Sound. “You can fish the deeper grass flats behind the tackle shop and get good action on trout right now,” says Keyes.

Keyes suggests drifting the flats and casting soft plastics or suspending lures into sandy potholes to find the bite.

Spanish mackerel action is still steady along the beaches and piers at the north end of Anna Maria Island. Fishers using white jigs, Gotcha plugs or Clark spoons trailed behind a popping cork are catching fish in the 1- to 3-pound range. Along with mackerel, Keyes says to expect some ladyfish, blue runners, jack crevalle and bluefish on the hook.

Moving onto the shallow grass flats adjacent to mangrove shorelines, Keyes is hearing of good action on redfish and catch-and-release snook. For either species, flats fishers are using live shiners to get the bite.

Finally those interested in catching shark can still target blacktips and Atlantic sharpnose sharks. The clock is ticking as the water temps drop. As it gets cooler, a lot of the sharks will move south or to deeper water, making now the time to catch a few for the year. For bait, try using mullet, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish or jack crevalle.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says Spanish mackerel are dominating the bite there. Pier fishers using white speck rigs or Gotcha plugs are catching macks up to 3 pounds. Malfese suggests fishing strong moving tides to find concentrations of fish around the pier. Malfese says artificials rather than live shiners are producing more catches.

While targeting mackerel with artificials, pier fishers also are catching bluefish and ladyfish. Remember, always use pliers to remove hooks from bluefish. They have very sharp teeth and strong jaws that can easily latch onto one of your fingers and inflict a painful bite.

Pier fishers using live shrimp for bait are managing to catch redfish, sheepshead and even some Atlantic croakers. Try soaking your shrimp under the pier around the pilings in get into this action.

Finally, casting live shrimp out from the pier is resulting in bonnethead sharks on the end of the line. These sharks provide excellent catch-and-release action on light tackle.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier also is seeing good numbers of Spanish mackerel being caught. “As long as the bait is here, so are the mackerel,” says Sork.

Pier fishers using a Clark spoon trailed behind a popping cork are getting the best results, although small white jigs or Gotcha plugs are producing, too.

Bait fishers at the pier are catching decent numbers of flounder as well as the usual suspects — pinfish, small grouper and lizardfish.

With water temps on the decline, it’s also wise to start targeting sheepshead. Live shrimp, fiddler crabs or sand fleas dropped around most water structures will entice the tasty striped fish to your hook.

Send fishing reports to fish@islander.org.