Tag Archives: News

AMIHS distributes Holmes Beach walking tour brochure

Thanks to a group of historically minded volunteers, you can take a walk through Holmes Beach and learn about its history.

Members of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society have produced a walking tour of historic sites and landmarks in Holmes Beach’s history, and it hit stores across the island July 6.

The new brochure explores the city’s history, beginning with its origins as Cobb’s Corner, so named for Sam Cobb, the first homesteader in the area.

It provides a guided walking tour for key sites, such as the old city hall location on Marina Drive, along with pictures of what was once there and descriptions.

The brochure also provides travel distances whether walking, biking or riding the Anna Maria Island Trolley.

“We researched all the historic site information in our museum and we did a lot of research in local libraries,” AMIHS president Lynn Burnett said about the process used to put together the brochure.

“Anywhere we could go and pull documents, that’s how we started gathering the information,” she said.

“It took time to gather authentic photographs. We compiled it into a notebook with facts and photos and, from there, we decided what would be the most interesting,” Burnett said.

AMIHS recruited Bell Graphics in Cortez to design the pamphlet and local businesses to cover printing costs.
Burnett said the historical society printed 2,600 copies of the brochure.

The brochure has been in the works since January 2016, Burnett said. That’s when AMIHS submitted a proposal for the brochure to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and were approved for funding. In May 2016, AMIHS began research for the brochure.

The brochure is not the first, nor will it be the last, Burnett said. The historical society released an Anna Maria walking tour brochure in October 2015.

In addition, University of Florida master’s student Lauren O’Neill is spending the month researching historical sites in Bradenton Beach for her master’s project, as well as a new brochure.

“She’s really working diligently on doing this piece of the research for us, it’s time consuming,” Burnett said. “All of this is done on volunteer time, which is phenomenal in itself.”

Not all the information AMIHS found was included in the brochure, Burnett said. People who want to learn more about Holmes Beach can visit the AMIHS website at amihs.org.

The brochure will “really give you a sense of what used to be there,” Burnett promised.

Pick up a copy at the chamber, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, the Anna Maria Island Historical Society, 402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, and business locations throughout Holmes Beach.

For information on the historical society, call 941-778-0492.

FWC cites operator in Key Royale dock crash

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The dock at 665 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission cited James S. McEwan, 61, of Virginia, owner and operator of a 21-foot Sea Pro, who veered into a dock at 665 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach.

McEwan was issued a violation of boating navigational rules in the July 2 mishap.

FWC initially reported the name of a passenger as the operator of the boat.

According to a Holmes Beach police report, the McEwan looked away when the passenger attempted to secure an item in the back of the boat.

The passenger was injured, treated and released from Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.

Man gets probation, license suspension for DUI

Taking control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. It’s risky behavior.

William Nims of Sarasota, now 50, pleaded no contest June 6 to a DUI charge after Holmes Beach police found him asleep in driver’s seat of a parked pickup truck in February 2016. The truck was parked after dark without headlights in the 700 block of Manatee Avenue.

Florida DUI laws consider a person under the influence in “actual physical control” as well as “driving” the vehicle equally subject to the DUI penalties.

Twelfth Circuit Judge Doug Henderson sentenced Nims to 12 months probation, including a two-year alcohol-detection ignition device, DUI school, impact panel and 75 hours of public service work — and a 10-year driver’s license suspension.

However, records indicate the 10-year suspension was corrected June 20 to a one-year driver’s license suspension with the help of Nims’ attorney, Michael Braxton.

On June 27, the judge signed a probation order including a 10-year driver’s license suspension. However, according to the office of Casey Cahall, assistant state attorney, that order is presumably in error and will be corrected.

Nims also was assessed $3, 316 in fines and court costs.

Red tide not detected in Manatee

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was detected July 6 in Manatee County. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said there were reports of “slight respiratory irritation at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

Forecasts for Southwest Florida showed northern movement of surface waters and minimal movement of subsurface waters from Pinellas to Lee counties.

For more information about red tide in Florida, go to myfwc.com/redtidestatus.

Michigander arrested for DUI

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James H. Webb, 53

A man from Michigan was arrested June 28 for driving under the influence after his blue Nissan almost hit an electronic roadside sign in Anna Maria.

James H. Webb, 53, was cited for DUI, failure to drive in a single lane and a seat-belt violation.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Holmes Beach police cooperated to make the arrest after receiving a report of a reckless driver near the Anna Maria City Pier.

MCSO Deputy LeAna Cudzilo observed a blue Nissan swerving off the road at Gulf and Park drives, nearly striking the digital speed sign. The deputy stopped the vehicle at 7800 Palm Drive in Holmes Beach, according to a Holmes Beach police report.

Cudzilo requested the assistance of Holmes Beach Police Officer Alan Bores.

Webb told Bores he “had a couple of drinks” and was driving his girlfriend home “due to her being intoxicated and vomiting,” the report stated.

Webb began taking a field-sobriety test, however, it was discontinued after Webb lost his balance, according to the report.

Bores transported Webb to the police station, where he provided two breath samples measuring 0.173 and 0.164 blood-alcohol content, the report stated. The legal BAC is 0.08.

Webb was then booked at the Manatee County jail.

He was released on $500 bond, pending an 8:25 a.m. Monday, July 31, arraignment at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Tracked sea turtle Eliza Ann lays second nest on AMI

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Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy Leana Cudzillo captured a photo early July 3 using night-vision camera gear of loggerhead sea turtle Eliza Ann returning to shore at the beach near 77th Street in Holmes Beach to nest. Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and the Sea Turtle Conservancy placed a tracking device on the turtle June 20 after she nested at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. “This is the reason support from a sponsor to purchase these satellite tags is so important,” AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said July 5. “For the first time, we have positive proof that one turtle has nested on the island twice in the same season.” Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy Leana Cudzillo captured a photo early July 3 using night-vision camera gear of loggerhead sea turtle Eliza Ann returning to shore at the beach near 77th Street in Holmes Beach to nest. Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and the Sea Turtle Conservancy placed a tracking device on the turtle June 20 after she nested at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. “This is the reason support from a sponsor to purchase these satellite tags is so important,” AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said July 5. “For the first time, we have positive proof that one turtle has nested on the island twice in the same season.” Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW

Turtle Watch, county stress HB nesting problems

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A bench on the beach fronting Tiffany Place condos, 7000 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, is marked to protect a sea turtle nest beneath the bench that was verified June 25 by AMITW. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW
Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker speaks June 27 with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

Call it a message from Mother Nature.

“As we struggle with the business of life and the problems with accommodating both our residents and our tourists, we’ve got to remember there is wildlife that depends on us,” Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources director told Holmes Beach commissioners at their June 27 meeting at city hall.

Hunsicker is one member of a group working with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring to ensure the beaches are safe for people and animals during sea turtle nesting season, which runs through October.

AMITW executive director Suzi Fox asked Hunsicker to the meeting to explain the county’s involvement in nesting on the beaches. Also attending was Lauren Floyd, senior marine biologist at CB&I Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc., the company contracted by the county for beach nourishment.

“My job is to help our clients work through the process of designing nourishment projects — coastal projects that meet their needs while balancing the conservation of these habitats,” Floyd said June 27.

Floyd compiles data submitted by AMITW to help with permitting renourishment projects for island beaches.

At the meeting, Fox explained that during nesting season, everyone has “roles to play” to keep the beach safe for people and animals.

She said AMITW’s job is to collect data about the birds and sea turtles and, since the beaches have been nourished for almost 30 years, they now provide a nesting habitat for wildlife.

And with the improved habitat comes responsibility.

Fox came to the city commission because Holmes Beach has the most nesting activity of the island municipalities during a record-breaking sea turtle nesting season.

She said the city’s role is to uphold AMITW’s work to keep the beaches safe by enforcing city ordinances prohibiting behavior that could endanger wildlife.

Keeping the beach dark at night is a priority for AMITW, according to Fox.

Female sea turtles, which mostly nest at night, only leave the water to nest. So any distraction on land could lead to a false crawl — a failed nesting attempt.

Hatchlings soon will start to emerge from nests, and light visible from the shoreline could disorient the turtles and lead them away from their crawl to the Gulf of Mexico

Exterior lights visible from the shoreline must be low, shielded turtle-friendly lighting and indoor lights should be turned off or shielded after dark by curtains or blinds.

Fox said she submitted a list of properties not in compliance with the lighting ordinance to code enforcement in May, but they were still out of compliance as of June 27.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer said he has been working with Florida Power & Light on street lights that need updating and the other lighting issues mostly are rentals that have new tenants each week. He said code enforcement patrols the beach two nights per week, checking for lighting compliance and issuing verbal warnings.

Additionally, Fox said there are benches on the beach that pose a hazard for nesting sea turtles. She said so far this season, six turtles have “collided with benches” during nesting attempts, resulting mostly in false crawls, but there was a nest laid under a bench.

“In my opinion, the benches are in direct contradiction to the sea turtle protection ordinance which disallows any furniture left on the beach at night,” Fox said.

Tokajer said public works has moved several benches on the beach to higher ground, and will be moving more as needed.

Fox asked if a commissioner would serve as liaison between AMITW and the city.

“It would be really helpful if we had someone on the board who would be willing to check the lights and benches to see if code enforcement has followed through,” Fox said.

Commissioner Carol Soustek, a turtle watch volunteer, said she was up for the task.

Fox closed her portion of the meeting and said everyone is working together to do a great job for wildlife on the nesting beaches in Holmes Beach, but as season peaks, the rules must be followed.

“Holmes Beach has the highest density nesting because we’re doing the right thing here,” Fox said. “Now, we need to just do a little more.”

Coquina Beach visitor dies boarding PWC

A Georgia woman died after experiencing difficulty boarding a personal watercraft at the Coquina south boat ramp in Bradenton Beach.

Marsha A. Mincey, 51, was with family members from Georgia at about 2 p.m. July 1 when she stepped off a dock, went under water and started to panic, according to police reports.

When BBPD officers arrived at 2:15 p.m., Manatee County Marine Rescue lifeguards and medics were trying to revive the woman near the ramp. EMS transported Mincey to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.

Before first responders arrived, her family and others attempted to pull Mincey to the dock at the boat ramp on Sarasota Bay at the city’s south end.

Mincey was wearing a safety vest, according to the police reports.

“I’m not 100 percent sure it was a drowning,” said Bradenton Beach Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz, adding it may have been medical-related.

The death at Coquina Bayside Park came on the first day of a busy weekend that drew thousands of visitors to celebrate Independence Day at the beach.

Mincey’s is the third water-related death on the beaches since June 9.

Swimmers pulled a 25-year-old Lakeland man, Joseph Teston, from the Gulf of Mexico near Spring Avenue in Anna Maria on June 8. He died a day later.

Michael Angelo Rosario Alvarez, 29, of Haines City, died June 25 after he went missing in the Gulf near 47th Street in Holmes Beach. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew spotted Alvarez 150 feet from the shore after a two-hour search and rescuers brought his body to awaiting medics.

The cause of death in each case is pending a medical examiner’s ruling.

New postal contract awarded to entrepeneurs

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Bettye Purvis of Holmes Beach drops off mail at 5354 Gulf Drive, which is undergoing a change in postal unit operators. There was to be no interruption of service. See story, page 4. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor

The U.S. Postal Service delivered as promised.

There is a new post office operator at the Holmes Beach contract mail office in time to maintain continuous service.

Mail, Etc. opened July 1 at 5354 Gulf Drive.

The new contract postal unit serves Holmes Beach after another CPU lease expired June 30, USPS communications program specialist Enola Rice confirmed June 27.

The business manager is Diana Rowe. The postal operator is Laura Ritter.

“The transition occurred Saturday,” said Rowe, along with a meet-and-greet.

What business will occupy the front portion of the postal outlet is yet to be determined, Rowe said.

Rowe said she and her partner decided to see if they could keep the postal contract in Holmes Beach when they heard the previous operators were retiring. They chose Mail, Etc., as their corporate name.

Longtime employee Sue Phillips was retained, Rowe said.

“She’s worked at the post office here for many years,” Rowe said.

Mail, Etc. provides service to in-store box customers along with full-service shipping, printing, fax and notary services.

Mail, Etc. is open from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays.

The operators succeed Julie Quinlivan and Sally Woodward, whose run ended June 30.

Quinlivan and Woodward notified USPS of their plans to retire April 28 after roughly 18 months of operations.

“We’re retiring and that’s the end of the story,” said Quinlivan. “We were happy to provide the service.”

USPS had at least three confirmed applications.

Rebecca and Eric St. Jean, who have owned and operated Island Mail & More at 3230 E. Bay Drive for nearly four years, confirmed they applied for the contract.

But contract business units are not allowed to provide private mailbox services, third-party delivery services or any competing services similar to those offered by USPS, which disqualified Island Mail & More.

Island Mail & More received many calls from customers about moving their post office boxes, St. Jean said. “Now, it’s not an issue.”

Customers will retain their post office boxes at Mail, Etc.

Key Royale accident blamed on boat operator

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The scene of a boat crash July 2 in the 600 block of Key Royale Drive looks worse for the dock than the boat. Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said alcohol was ruled out and the cause was due to an “inattentive driver.” Islander Photos: Jack Elka

A boat veered off course along the waterfront homes on Key Royale Drive, crashing into a dock the second day of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Paul Martin Duncan, 32, was operating a 21-foot Sea Pro at 10 a.m. July 2 when it crashed into the dock at 665 Key Royale Drive in Holmes Beach, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer James Boogaerts.

Boogaerts said an FWC officer responded and reported two occupants aboard the boat — one with “a severe gash to his leg.”

Boogaerts said July 3 it was unclear from the FWC officer’s notes if one or two occupants were transported to Blake Medical Center by EMS.

Duncan was treated and released July 2 after an emergency room visit, according to medical center personnel.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer blamed the accident on an inattentive driver. No alcohol was involved, he added.

According to the HBPD report, the vessel was traveling west when a passenger attempted to secure an item in the back of the boat and the driver looked away.

Boogaerts said a citation was issued but he had no further details about the infraction at press time for The Islander.

Other emergency responders included the HBPD, Manatee County’s sheriff and marine rescue and West Manatee Fire Rescue.

— Kathy Prucnell