Tag Archives: News

Time for a mammogram? Do it for AME

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If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, in this case it also can benefit programs for Anna Maria Elementary as well as help fight cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and screening mammograms have proven to be one valuable tool in the fight against the disease.

Bowes Imaging Center, 6207 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, is again partnering with the Anna Maria Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization in a fundraiser.

During the week of Oct. 23-28, Bowes will donate its insurance payout for every mammogram screening earmarked for the AME PTO. The average insurance copay is $141 for the procedure.

Last year’s mammogram fundraiser garnered more than $4,500 for AME-PTO projects. Organizers are hoping to increase the number of participants this year.

Giving is simple: Call your primary care doctor to determine your insurance coverage and ask for a prescription or a referral to have your yearly mammogram performed at Bowes Imaging Center.

Finally, contact Bowes to set your appointment during the designated week.

Anyone can participate in the mammogram fundraiser. Just make reservations now with Bowes at 941-782-0490 and be sure to designate AME for your donation.

HBPD puts on National Night Out, gives out 100 bikes

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Jack Weldon, 4, and brother John, 2, visiting Anna Maria Island from Virginia, beam at the new police cars they received from Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Manning. Manning assisted Oct. 3 at Holmes Beach National Night Out at city field.
The kids make the liveliest participants in the hula-hoop contest at the HBPD National Night Out, where winners took home bikes, helmets and other prizes donated by local businesses.
Jayden Sparks, 9, a student at Anna Maria Elementary, won the first bike given away Oct. 3 by the Holmes Beach Police Department. Sgt. Vern McGowin helps Jayden at the second annual National Night Out in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor
Sarah Graham, 8, a student at Stewart Elementary School in Bradenton, picks out her prize bike Oct. 3 as Sgt. Vern McGowin assists and sister Mary Grace, and mother Trish Graham look on at the Holmes Beach National Night Out at city field. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor
Denise Johnson, wife of Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson, battles the breezes with Chris Putnam of the Holmes Beach Police Department while readying balloons Oct. 3 for Holmes Beach National Night Out. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor
Danita Raulerson holds 9-month-old Rose Fisher Oct. 3 at Holmes Beach Police Department National Night Out at city field. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor
Davanee West, 7, a student at Anna Maria Elementary, holds still Oct. 3 as artist Ginny Savidge a volunteer for Holmes Beach Ace Hardware, applies face paint at the Holmes Beach National Night Out at city field. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor
Privateers Shelly “Fireball” Hill, Kim “Guy Kim” Peltier, Missy “Lil Bit” Miller and Cindy “Bubbles” Swager staff a booth featuring the Rat Toss Oct. 3 at National Night Out in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
At the dunk tank at National Night Out, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer smiles as Waylon Moore hurls at the dunking target. After the ball hit, the chief reappeared, soggy but unscathed. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
At the dunk tank at National Night Out, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer smiles as Waylon Moore hurls at the dunking target. After the ball hit, the chief reappeared, soggy but unscathed. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Angela Monetti, 7, impressed party emcee, JT Thomas, left, city treasurer Lori Hill, Officer Josh Fleischer and the crowd with her “mad skills” at the Oct. 3 Night Out. She “hooped it up” through the entire song “Thriller” by Michael Jackson — and she won a bike! Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

More than 1,000 people attended the second annual Holmes Beach National Night Out.

There were fun games, water slides, food — more than 1,000 hot dogs served — and prizes Oct. 3 at the Holmes Beach Police Department event.

“We just want to get the kids out from behind the computers to have some fun,” said Police Chief Bill Tokajer, a popular target in the dunk tank.

Within minutes of taking his seat, the smiling chief had been dropped in the drink four times.

A spritz of rain early on followed by sunshine encouraged a good crowd.

HBPD Sgt. Vern McGowin and Officer Josh Fleischer coordinated the event. McGowin was impressed by the surge of support nearly 100 bicycles and assorted prizes were donated for giveaways.

“This community is awesome,” McGowin said. “This event is all about building the community.”

Some 500 people showed up for the first Night Out in August 2016 but the day was a scorcher and the event was moved this year to October.

National Night Out is a community-police awareness-raising event held the first Tuesday of August in most states. Texas and Florida have the option to use the alternate date of the first Tuesday in October to avoid hot weather.

Developer v. Anna Maria heads to jury trial

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City requirements for a chain-link fence and drainage ditches around several homes on Magnolia Avenue is one of several city actions protested by developer Shawn Kaleta and Beach to Bay Construction LLC in U.S. District Court. The federal trial is set for the November term.

Talks to settle developer Shawn Kaleta’s federal lawsuit — now alleging $7.9 million-$12.3 million against the city of Anna Maria — appear to be in infancy as a jury trial knocks at the door.

Senior Judge James Whittemore ordered an eight-person jury trial to start in the November term at an Oct. 6 pretrial conference in U.S. District Court.

Kaleta’s case, filed in February 2016, alleges the city, through its mayor, commissioners and staff, discriminated and retaliated against him and his company, Beach to Bay Construction LLC, violating First and 14th Amendment protections.

The city denies the allegations.

In a recent pretrial statement, the city acknowledges new procedures were put in place to handle rapid growth in the past seven years, but denied treating Kaleta and Beach to Bay differently from other developers.

The latest reports from Kaleta’s experts calculate damages at $4.5 million less from the initial finding of $11.4 million under a lost-business-earnings approach, and at $12.3 million in a lost-permits calculation.

At the pretrial in Tampa, Whittemore also ordered the trial to run a maximum of seven days.

“It was a pretty straight forward hearing,” according to an Oct. 7 text from Kaleta attorney Aaron Thomas of the Najmy Thompson law firm of Bradenton, who attended the conference.

Kaleta and his company also are represented by Lakewood Ranch attorney Brian P. Kopp.

Thomas said the 40-minute conference was “mostly” about trial procedures, with “no real meaningful discussion of settlement.”

October dates were put on the calendar for “motions in limine” — requests heard by the judge outside the presence of the jurors.

Attorney Louis Najmy acknowledged Oct. 7 the two sides have had “discussion about having settlement talks.”

Mayor Dan Murphy could not be reached for comment Oct. 7.

Before the pretrial, two city motions were denied by Whittemore early in October.

The city had asked the judge to strike Kaleta’s experts and their reports and also asked for fees as well as for summary judgment.

In denying a city motion to strike, the judge ruled the city failed to show Kaleta violated court rules requiring expert witness disclosures.

The court similarly dispelled the city motion to end the case summarily, finding evidence of adverse conduct when viewed in the developer’s standpoint.

After the Oct. 6 conference, the city filed an “unopposed” motion to add witnesses to its list of 21 names. The inadvertently omitted witnesses were discussed during the pretrial, according to the court paper.

The city has named 24 witnesses.

Both sides have filed objections to the other party’s witness list.

The witnesses named in the city’s unopposed motion are: Pete Dospel, Dan Gagne, Brent Whitehead, Greg Ross, Frank Agnelli, Joseph Acebal, Jim Hugg, Sam Pakbaz, Holmes Beach building official James McGuinness, Keith Carter and Holmes Beach Commissioners Jean Peelen and Carol Soustek.

The city insurance carrier under the Florida League of Cities has provided counsel, William Lawton, John Conner and Jenna Winchester of Dean, Ringers, Morton, Lawton PA of Orlando.

The attorneys’ motions in limine are due Oct. 20 with responses due Oct. 27.

The eventual trial will be at the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse in Tampa.

Sea turtle season crawling to a close

There’s a season on Anna Maria Island’s beaches that recurs every year.

It has for millennia.

It is sea turtle nesting season.

Mid-way into October this year, Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director, is saying, “This is just the icing on the cake of a wonderful season.”

The 2017 sea turtle season on the island peaked with 488 nests, beating last year’s record by 53 nests.

As of Oct. 8, eight nests remain on the island.

From May-October, mature female loggerhead sea turtles emerge from the Gulf of Mexico to lay eggs and within a few hours, return to the water.

About 60 days after a nest is laid, a spume of hatchlings — sometimes more than a hundred — erupts from the clutch in the sand and proceeds to the Gulf.

The male turtles never come back ashore, while the females will return when they reach sexual maturity — in about 30 years — to lay nests on or near the beaches where they hatched.

During season, turtle watch volunteers walk a designated mile on the 7-mile stretch of island beach each morning just after sunrise, looking for signs of nesting activity and, starting about 60 days into the season, for hatched nests.

When nests are discovered, AMITW volunteers stake and mark them for protection and data collection purposes.

Hatched nests are indicated by a hole with tiny tracks moving away, usually toward the Gulf of Mexico. When volunteers spot a hatched nest, the hatch date is noted as part of the data AMITW shares with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Following a 72-hour wait period, AMITW volunteers excavate the nest to collect more data.

An excavation entails digging into the hatched nest to count how many eggs hatched, didn’t hatch, or if dead or live hatchlings remained in the nest.

Live hatchlings usually are released when found. If a hatchling appears weak or injured, it is taken for rehab to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

Many of the nests that hatched following Hurricane Irma’s passage Sept. 10-11 contained an above average number of unhatched eggs.

Ian and Joyce Griffin, of the United Kingdom, have been visiting the island for 15 years and are supporters of AMITW. When walking the beach near Newton Lane in Anna

Maria Sept. 29, they discovered hatchling tracks and notified Fox.

“We knew what we were looking for,” Ian Griffin said Oct. 3.

Upon excavation of the Newton Lane nest Oct. 3, AMITW found 28 hatched and 58 unhatched eggs.

While recent low hatch rates might appear to be the result of the storm, Fox thinks otherwise.

According to Fox, flooding from Irma was not excessive, and it is normal for nests at the end of season to hold unfertilized eggs.

“The end of season is housekeeping time for the mature females,” Fox said. “All of the unfertilized eggs need to be flushed out of their systems before they continue on their journeys.”

Fox said as season winds down, volunteers must “stay on their toes” to make sure they catch nests as they hatch.

She said sometimes hatches are missed — the small tracks, which are few and far between at this point in season, can be obscured by beach conditions, rain, wind and tide.

However, according to Fox, the dwindling hatch has not diminished the enthusiasm of turtle watch volunteers.

She said the cooler mornings and quieter beaches are “a pleasure” for the volunteers, who must work through the hottest part of summer.

For more information about AMITW, contact Fox at suzilfox@gmail.com or 941-778-5638.

Cortez stone crabbers buoyed for post-storm bounty

Mullet or pigs feet?

Before stone crab claws hit local markets and restaurants, the popular crustacean will have its pick of delicacies, according to John Banyas, who was preparing Oct. 4 for the seven-month harvest season.

Florida crabbers can bait and place their traps in the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay for the Oct. 15-May 15 season 10 days before the harvest begins. The bait may be anything from cut-up mullet to pigs feet to canned cat food.

First, the traps must be readied.

Karen Bell, owner of A.P. Bell, said she expects about 4,000 traps will be placed Oct. 8-9 by crabbers who work from her docks at 124th Street West in Cortez, but they may be delayed due to weather.

Wind and rain were in the forecast for the weekend as Tropical Storm Nate made its way through the Gulf of Mexico, north and west of central Florida’s Gulf Coast. Wind and wave action can shift and bury traps, making them difficult for crabbers to locate or retrieve.

Bell also operates Starfish Company Market & Restaurant adjacent to the Bell docks, where plenty of stone crabs are processed and sold.

At the 119th Street docks, all hands were on deck Oct. 4 under Banyas’ covered trap yard.

There, Banyas, owner of the Swordfish Grill, Cortez Bait & Seafood and N.E. Taylor Boatworks, and his crew worked to ready the traps —scraping old barnacles from the traps to make it easier for crabs to slip inside and adding new lines and buoys.

Banyas said he’d be watching the forecast closely in the upcoming days to determine when it’s safe to place the traps in the water.

“I’m a risk-taker. I might shoot a few out there,” he said with a chuckle.

Banyas said his five boats would ultimately place 2,500 crab traps.

Last year, he recalled the season started OK, improving midseason before it “fizzled out at the end.”

As far as this year’s bounty, neither Banyas nor Bell would hazard a guess.

Local owners and crabbers, however, have reasons to believe Hurricane Irma, which stirred the Gulf in September, likely helped their cause.

Storms stir up marine life and increase the number of stone crab landings, according to Ryan Gandy of the Fish and Wildlife Institute, a research arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The FWC monitors the stone crab population, the market and sustainability of the fisheries.

“It is true,” Gandy said, adding data show bumper crops of stone crab in the years of Florida hurricanes. “I hear this from the boat captains, too.”

State and federal laws allow claws to be harvested if they measure 2 3/4 inches-long or more from the elbow to the immovable portion of the claw.

After placing the traps, the crabbers return often to check, rebait and sometimes relocate them.

And beginning Oct. 15, they’ll harvest the crabs, removing the legal-size claws and returning the crab to the water to regrow its claws. The crabbers then re-bait and re-set the traps.

The FWC recommends only harvesting one claw, even if both are long enough, so the crab is not left defenseless for predators, including octopus.

Claws may not be taken from egg-bearing stone crabs, identifiable by orange or brown eggs amassed on the belly of the female crab.

Banyas and Bell and all commercial crabbers are FWC licensed for a specific number of traps.

Recreational harvesters are allowed five stone crab traps and a daily harvest of 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel.

DUI arrestee gets probation

A Holmes Beach woman arrested for driving under the influence in February 2016 was sentenced to 12 months probation.

Bonnie Pike, 51, pleaded no contest in 12th Circuit Court to the Sept. 28 DUI charge.

Judge Doug Henderson ordered her to complete an advanced-DUI school program and serve on a victim-impact panel. He also suspended Pike’s driver’s license for five years with a business purpose exception and ordered an ignition device in her vehicle for one year and impounded the vehicle 10 days.

Holmes Beach police stopped Pike speeding at twice the legal limit in the 5300 block of Gulf Drive and charged her with the DUI after field tests.

Pike was assessed more than $3,300 in court costs and fines.

Turtle watch, county to restore dunes

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“Please keep off dunes” signs line the plantings between the Coquina Beach Trail and Coquina and Cortez beaches in Bradenton Beach. The dunes are a part of erosion control for the beaches and grasses are planted on them to anchor the sand. Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring plans to work in conjunction with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department to rebuild dunes, plant sea oats and other grasses and provide signs to protect the dunes. AMITW is hoping for funding to partner with Anna Maria Elementary on a spring project to create signage. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

Eyes on the road

The Florida Department of Transportation posted the following advisory for the week of Oct. 9:

• SR 789/Gulf Drive from SR 64/Manatee Avenue to SR 684/Cortez Road: Manatee County is installing new force mains and water mains. For more information, visit amipipereplacement.com.

• SR 789 at the Longboat Key Drawbridge: Crews are working on the bridge. Expect nighttime/overnight intermittent north and southbound lane closures 9 p.m.-4 a.m. through Thursday, Oct. 12. Use caution and expect possible delays.

• State Road 684 at 119th Street West: Intersection improvements at intersection will begin in late-October. Improvements include extending the existing median east of 119th Street West to 119th Street West; eliminating the eastbound Cortez Road to northbound 119th Street West movement; installing improved crosswalks on Cortez Road and 119th Street West; and modifying the traffic signal to a continual green-phase for eastbound Cortez Road at 119th Street West unless pedestrian activates signal to cross Cortez Road.

Construction will begin late-October and is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2017. Motorists can expect lane closures from 8 p.m-6 a.m.

For the latest road watch information, go online to www.fl511.com or dial 511.

DOT plans Coquina-Gulf Drive sidewalk in Bradenton Beach

The Florida Department of Transportation is helping Bradenton Beach provide a more pedestrian-friendly city.

The DOT announced it will install a sidewalk along the east side of Gulf Drive from just south of 13th Street South to the North Coquina Boat Ramp in Bradenton Beach.

The 8-foot-wide concrete sidewalk will be about 1,000 feet long.

Additionally, the DOT is installing a mid-block crosswalk with a flashing beacon between Coquina Beach and the entrance to the north boat ramp.

According to the DOT, construction is planned to begin mid-October and, “weather permitting,” be completed by the end of 2017.

“We’ll finally have a continuous sidewalk through Bradenton Beach,” Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said during an Oct. 5 city commission meeting. “We’ve been working on this for over a year and now it’s finally coming to fruition.”

During construction, there will be occasional lane closures on Gulf Drive South, with flaggers present. The DOT requested that motorists be alert and slow down in the construction zone.

The project contractor is Ajax Paving Industries of Florida and the engineer is Wantman Group Inc.

The project is expected to cost about $343,000.

For more information about the improvements, contact DOT community outreach manager Brian Bollas at 844-359-0844 or brian.bollas@dot.state.fl.us.

Vice Mayor John Chappie thanked Shearon for the work he’s done on the project. “This is an important link we’ve been missing for years — the last link,” he said.

Holmes Beach relents on boat canopies, approves budget

The agenda for the Oct. 5 Holmes Beach City Commission meeting listed just two budget items.

But Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer made a splash when he confirmed the canopies on the docks at the 63rd Street boat ramp are coming down.

Tokajer said he and Mayor Bob Johnson tried to relocate the two vessels from the city docks on Watson’s Bayou. They could not find a suitable spot so it was decided the canopies would come down, Tokajer said.

In January, the city installed boat lifts and covers at the city-owned docks in cooperation with the West Manatee Fire Rescue District. A city police boat and a fire-rescue boat are stored at the docks.

Residents at Westbay Point & Moorings, 6500 Flotilla Drive, have been asking for months for the city to remove the canopies.

“I think that’s a good compromise,” said Westbay resident Mary Giudice, whose view overlooks the boats and canopies from her condo.

Commissioners applauded the compromise, too.

“I’m so proud of our city at times like this,” said Commissioner Jean Peelen. “We find a way.”

As expected, the commission adopted its $13,423,653 budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the second reading of Johnson’s budget plan.

The only public comment came from Jim Kihm, a candidate for a commission seat in the Nov. 7 municipal election. Kihm said taxpayers should be better informed by the commission, which has budgeted unapproved projects.

Commissioners also discussed dedicating funding for dog park and skate park improvements. The budget does not earmark money for either project.

Commissioners came to a consensus they would earmark money for both projects but postponed discussion to the next work session, as well as a vote at the next regular meeting.

The budget increase is $1.069 million, or 8.7 percent, from $12.354 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget.

The new budget was supposed to be effective Oct. 1 but a meeting lost to Hurricane Irma delayed adoption.

The proposed 2.25 millage rate per $1,000 is the same as in the 2016-17 budget. The rollback rate of 2.0669 percent is the millage needed to produce the same tax revenue as this year, according to treasurer Lori Hill.

The tax increase is expected to produce $3,946,331 in 2017-18 ad valorum revenues, an increase of $355,773 or 9.9 percent, over $3,590,558 this year.

The city commission will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.