Tag Archives: 12-11-2013

Welcome to Christmas, Islander-Style!

The Anna Maria Island Privateers, along with their Christmas sleigh, Santa Claus and their float/boat Skullway, join the fun hosted Dec. 6 by The Islander and The Feast Restaurant at the Island Shopping Center in Holmes Beach. Nearly all the shops, including the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, where a tree-lighting took place at dusk, held open house events. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy.  Click here for more images

Welcome to Christmas, Privateer-Style!

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The Anna Maria Island Privateers head up their Dec. 7 annual Christmas Parade aboard Skullywag. The parade began at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria, passing along Pine Avenue, and wound south to a party hosted by the Privateers at Coquina Beach. Islander Photos: Jennifer Glenfield

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The Barefoot Tiki Bar of Holmes Beach celebrates the holidays in the Anna Maria Privateer’s Christmas Parade Dec. 7.

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Some members of The Hitcrew, a roller derby team from Manatee County, ride in a large green truck in the Dec. 7 parade while other derby players follow on skates.

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The Privateers Christmas parade winds up at Coquina Beach where scores of children, including young pirate Julianne, visiting with Santa aboard the Skullywag.

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The Privateers Christmas parade winds up at Coquina Beach where scores of children, including young pirate Julianne, visiting with Santa aboard the Skullywag.

 

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Guests of the Privateers gather at Coquina Beach Dec. 7 for photo ops with Privateers at the Skullywag and Santa sleigh.

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Following the Privateers Christmas parade at the Coquina Beach Dec. 7 party, pirate volunteers serve lunch — free for kids and for a small fee for adults.

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Bradenton Beach city officials and friends ride aboard the city’s marine patrol boat.

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The Hernando DeSoto Conquistadors celebrate the holiday on their ship/float in the Privateers Christmas Parade.

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The Hernando DeSoto Conquistadors celebrate the holiday on their ship/float in the Privateers Christmas Parade.

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Holmes Beach city officials and friends ride aboard the city’s marine patrol boat.

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The Anna Maria Island Privateers arrive in Holmes Beach in their Christmas Parade.

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Santa Claus announces the Christmas season’s arrival as he waves to his adoring crowd in the Privateers annual Christmas Parade Dec. 7

Welcome to Christmas, Islander-Style!

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The Anna Maria Island Privateers, along with their Christmas sleigh, Santa Claus and their float/boat Skullway, join the fun hosted Dec. 6 by The Islander and The Feast Restaurant at the Island Shopping Center in Holmes Beach. Nearly all the shops, including the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, where a tree-lighting took place at dusk, held open house events. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy

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A very delighted Julie Ann Jordan, 6, of Bradenton, rushed to meet Santa and lept into his arms with squeals of joy as he prepared to board his sleigh in the parking lot at The Feast Restaurant in Holmes Beach.

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Mom Shawna Nance holds baby Lyla, 7 months, and Carter, 3, as Carter whispers to Santa his Christmas wish list. Carter was a little shy about sitting with Santa, but he surely wanted his wishes known.

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Children young and old at The Islander and The Feast Restaurant-sponsored party in the Island Shopping Center Dec. 6 enjoyed snow flurries — with many thanks to snow-machine owner Mark Kimball.

 

Loads of holiday jollies at Family Fun Day

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Students of Diane Partington’s Studio of Classical Ballet of Sarasota perform for guests of the center’s Family Fun Day Dec. 7. Dancers performed selections from the Nutcracker, which will be showing at the Sarasota Opera House Dec. 21-22.

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Gingerbread houses created by local businesses were on display for fun day attendees to admire and vote for their favorite.

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Scott Dell of the center greets Chuck Lester and Joey Lester at the annual event they sponsor for “family fun.”

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Santa arrives to Fun Day Dec. 7 at the Anna Maria Island Community Center aboard a West Manatee Fire Rescue firetruck, where children anxiously await his arrival.

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Family Fun Day ballet dancers pose with Santa while other children and their families form a line to get a word and photo with the jolly fat man on a visit from the North Pole to AMI.

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The Manatee High School drum line leads Santa on his arrival by firetruck to his seat on center stage in the AMICC gym.

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Santa greets children and their families as he passes through the lobby of the community center on his way to his seat on the stage accompanied by the Manatee High School drum line.

BAM: BB kicks off overhaul plan to fire administrative staff

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon began his new policy of holding a work session prior to city meetings with a bang as the city began to overhaul its administration department.

A plan put forth by Commissioner Jack Clarke and supported by the majority of the commission will essentially terminate every staff position at city hall, but allow current employees to reapply for their positions in an attempt to create a more structured environment.

At the Dec. 5 work session, Shearon indicated the departure of former city clerk Nora Idso is an opportunity to restructure the administrative staff.

Idso left her position for undisclosed reasons, but it appeared to be related to medical issues, according to her resignation agreement. She accepted the agreement terms in November to receive her full salary through April and keep her insurance through July.

“Nora has been our city clerk for a long time and she wore many hats,” said Shearon. “She was city clerk, city treasurer and the department head for the building and planning department.”

Karen Cervetto has been named “acting city clerk.”

Shearon said the city has been cautioned by its auditors for years to separate the city clerk and treasurer duties between two people. Shearon said the Florida League of Cities recommends that a municipality split the clerk and treasurer duties.

“Right now, we don’t have a city clerk or a city treasurer,” said Shearon, who told commissioners he is seeking direction in filling the positions. He said the planning department head can be addressed later.

“A lot of our policies and procedures are in dire need of updating and redoing,” said Shearon. “My thought is that we need to hire these people and basically start fresh.”

That brought Clarke forward to lay out his plan for the overhaul.

“My long-term plan is to eliminate every administration position and re-establish the positions of clerk, deputy clerk and every current employee for those positions,” said Clarke.

Only Vice Mayor Ed Straight questioned the idea of terminating employees and having them reapply for their jobs.

“I don’t know about that,” he said.

Commissioner Janie Robertson said she liked the idea of starting from scratch.

“We totally need to readjust the energy and talent in that office,” she said, while noting it’s an opportunity for the existing employees to showcase their strengths.

Perry said before the city moves forward with a plan to restructure city hall, she needed a consensus that the city would create separate positions for city clerk and treasurer, which she received, including authorization to spend up to $1,000 to advertise the job openings.

Perry then focused on the restructuring aspect and suggested keeping the same employee titles, but creating new responsibilities for each employee. She said she would need a consensus to proceed.

However, Straight said he wasn’t comfortable with the making existing employees reapply for their jobs.

“But it’s obvious I’m outnumbered here,” he said.

The final question to be answered is the chain of command at city hall under the mayor. The city clerk has typically been second in command. Perry asked if it would be the city clerk or treasurer who would be considered the administrative department head.

Clarke said for his plan, the clerk and treasurer would each be department heads of their supporting staff.

Officials acknowledged that funding for two positions is not budgeted, but Shearon said the city is going to have to “bite the bullet on this one” to come into compliance with its charter.

AME collects aid for typhoon victims

Anna Maria Elementary School students are collecting donations to help children affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which wreaked havoc in the Philippines.

The three-week effort involves collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, new sheets and blankets and instant dry noodles, as well as pocket change to help with shipping costs.

Students are gathering donations through Dec. 20 at the AME front office.

The school is working with gift2care.org in Bradenton.

To learn more visit gift2care.org or call Michelle Laade at 941-737-9662 or AME at 941-708-5525.

Beach renourishment to begin Dec. 11

Rumors of the next beach renourishment project’s startup have been floating around the island for months.

In fact, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox was told earlier this year to prepare to move sea turtle nests during nesting season, which came May 1 and went Oct. 31.

But rumors were put to rest Dec. 5 when Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker told a full gallery at the Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting that renourishment will begin Dec. 11.

Islanders can expect to see the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors mobilize heavy equipment to begin what Hunsicker called a “sight to see.”

The project involves an offshore dredge, from which sand is pumped to shore in a pipeline, and moved and smoothed with heavy equipment into a beach extending beyond the present shoreline.

Hunsicker said the $16 million project was made possible by a federal emergency spending bill passed after damages from Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012 were assessed.

About 75 percent of the project will be funded through the federal spending bill with Manatee County resort development tax funds and state funds each paying 12 percent.

“We are the beneficiary of good, white, fine-grained sand and are the envy of many places around the world,” said Hunsicker, who noted that the island beaches are the most important tourist attraction in the county.

Hunsicker explained the natural process of sand movement in the Gulf of Mexico’s wave action. But storms such as Debby can have devastating consequences to the natural development of beaches.

He said it’s better to have a beach take the brunt of a storm rather than a residential or business district, which can result in the loss of tax dollars.

Hunsicker said it’s proven that a community with a healthy beach fares better from a storm event than a community with an unhealthy beach. For that reason alone, he said, upkeep of the island beaches is vital.

The project is expected to end around mid-February, at which time a second phase unrelated to the main project will take place at Coquina Beach.

The Coquina Beach project is expected to end sometime in late March or early April.

Also scheduled: the replacement of three erosion-control groins along Cortez Beach, which is expected to be completed sometime in early 2015.

In other business, commissioners put the cell tower proposal on hold.

It was an action item the prior commission tried to get done before the Nov. 5 election, but was unable to do so in time and now the cell tower proposal has hit its first obstacle under the new administration —  one commissioner publicly opposed the cell tower as a citizen.

City attorney Ricinda Perry brought forward an easement request needed by Verizon to run underground cable to the proposed cell tower site at the end of Church Avenue and next to the public works building where a land-lease agreement has been authorized by the prior board.

Commissioner Janie Robertson previously opposed the location and the idea of the city giving up public property for a private venture.

Perry said the 10-foot easement was necessary for the cell tower to function, but Verizon submitted only a text description of the easement.

Robertson said at the meeting that the description was too difficult to comprehend and that it appeared to add up to a lot more than 10 feet.

Perry agreed, saying it is typical for a sketch to be included in an easement description, but Verizon did not submit one.

“It looks like our new parking lot is being leased away,” said Robertson. “I don’t know if I want to do that.” She said her understanding is that “we can’t do anything with our property because there is some underground wiring there.”

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Vice Mayor Ed Straight remain on the commission and support the cell tower proposal and location.

“I don’t see any other choice,” said Straight. “We have to have a cell tower.”

Robertson said the location ties the city’s hands for decades and said the city couldn’t even plant a tree in the easement if it wants.

“I think the whole thing needs to be rethought,” she said.

Vosburgh suggested an expert be brought in to explain the easement to Robertson and Mayor Bill Shearon asked Perry if the matter is time sensitive.

Perry said it was not and suggested a presentation, including a sketch of the easement, from Verizon would be a good idea.

Commissioner Jack Clarke moved to table the Verizon easement until a later date, which was seconded by Straight and unanimously approved.

HB parks committee wants beach access involvement

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification committee is getting back to business with its second meeting since its summer break. It also now now has two city commission liaisons — possibly.

City commissioners voted on appointments to various committees and entities at their Nov. 19 meeting, at which time, based on the recommendation of Mayor Carmel Monti, Commissioner David Zaccagnino was eliminated from the beautification committee and replaced by Commissioner Marvin Grossman.

Zaccagnino protested at that meeting and later sent an email to the committee saying he would not attend its Dec. 4 meeting.

“Politics has reared its ugly head again and the mayor has dismissed me from this committee,” Zaccagnino wrote. “At the last commission meeting, I fought very hard to stay on, but it’s apparent that Marvin Grossman has more pull with the mayor and he will be your new liaison.”

Zaccagnino has been a liaison or member of the committee for 10 years and touted in his email the committee’s accomplishments, including the redevelopment of Kingfish Boat Ramp, memorial tree program, increasing tree canopy in the city, becoming a member of Tree City USA and more.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, Zaccagnino said the committee would not like his dismissal. He was partially right.

Committee chair Melissa Snyder said she had a conversation with Monti before the commission vote on liaison assignments, expressing frustration over Zaccagnino missing four meetings.

However, Snyder did not want Zaccagnino removed from the committee and upon finding out what the commission did, requested that he remain as liaison. Monti approved her request, but Grossman also will remain involved. He attended the Dec. 4 meeting and addressed the committee on beach accesses.

The city has been contemplating how to enhance beach accesses. Monti and building official Tom O’Brien have presented some ideas at various meetings that include beach access shelters, which have drawn criticism from residents who oppose shelters.

Those opposing say shelters detract from the natural environment and draw homeless people looking for a place to sleep or teenagers looking for a place to drink alcohol.

City officials have maintained that discussions are in the idea phase. Nothing official has been presented to the commission, but O’Brien is working on a presentation.

Grossman said the parks and beautification committee can get involved by presenting landscaping ideas to the commission. Grossman, who opposes shelters, said landscaping and benches are better solutions.

He has been involved with the dog park and has touted it as a place for dogs to play and people to socialize. He would like to see a similar environment created at the beach accesses.

“One of the things on my list to get involved with before I was elected was the dog park and the reason is that besides being a park, it’s a social event,” said Grossman.

He said it’s rare to see citizens anywhere talking with one another other than at the dog park.

“It’s an important community aspect,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to get together and I believe the beach accesses present another opportunity to do the same.”

Grossman said he is considering organizing sunset meetings at specific beach access points as a social function.

Snyder said those sites need to be identified and then a targeted landscape project can be determined to beautify the areas.

She agreed to accompany Grossman on a tour of the sites and bring some ideas back to the committee at its Jan. 8 meeting.

In other matters, the committee took issue with a lack of action on the city’s part for projects already approved by members.

Snyder said bushes were supposed to be planted at the 79th Street trolley stop, “but nothing has been done.”

She also said bollards were recommended to be placed near the entrance of the Grassy Point Preserve to prevent people from driving cars on the trail.

“It was recommended by Manatee County to put those bollards there and public works still hasn’t done it,” said Snyder.

Committee member Bob Longworth said the red cedar tree planted on Marina Drive and 77th Street in April is still wrapped in ropes.

“It is still tied up,” he said. “It needs to have some weed eating done around it and trim it up. It looks like hell.”

Committee member Jerry West said it won’t do anyone any good to criticize public works.

“Public works is doing a good job overall,” said West. “I think they are overworked. Maintenance is something we should look at and set up some priorities.”

Snyder said she wasn’t trying to criticize public works and acknowledged that committee members look for specific things that workers probably don’t see on a daily basis.

In other matters, the committee agreed to make a recommendation to remove the vegetation around a sculpture at the entrance to the Key Royale subdivision.

Snyder said it should be replaced with ground cover landscaping to prevent the vegetation from overtaking and covering the sculpture.

The committee also agreed to approach the city to suggest updating its Christmas decorations for next year, citing some that were “outdated and faded.”

Snyder also resurrected a community garden idea discussed in 2012, but never moved forward.

A community garden would give residents a chance to take part in a larger garden to grow vegetables of their choice.

Anna Maria has something similar, but use planter boxes. Snyder is against that idea and favors what the Annie Silver Community Center, in Bradenton Beach, has done by using land to section off garden plots.

Snyder said she would like to use a plot of land outside the small dog park and baseball field. She wants to move the idea forward, but said it would depend on community involvement. She asked interested people to email her at melspond@aol.com.

Longworth said Holmes Beach “already has chickens running around. We might as well have a community garden.”

West disagreed, saying such the topic is not appropriate for the parks and beautification committee and should be taken up by local garden clubs.

The committee also discussed what to do about its annual education seminar.

Snyder suggested educating residents and visitors on the city’s many pocket parks, where small stretches of land have been dedicated as mini parks.

West said there are as many as 10 in the city and many are coming into their own as far as beautification. He suggested the committee members come up with a few ideas and present them at the next meeting, which is at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.