Tag Archives: News

Privateers’ parade continues longtime island tradition

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Anna Maria Island Privateers and their scholarship recipients celebrate the Fourth of July aboard the Skullywag — the Privateer float/boat — in the annual parade sponsored by the community-minded “all for kids” membership. Islander File Photo

The exact date of the first Anna Maria Island Privateers’ Fourth of July parade is difficult to track down.

According to John “Redbeard” Swager, Privateers president, the first parade was held in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

The parade’s original intention, he said, was to keep people on the island for the summer. During the Fourth of July, most islanders would head elsewhere to attend celebrations, he said.

small-business owners and community members decided a parade in town would attract people during the summer, increasing traffic after the snowbird season ended.

When the parade began, the Privateers towed a trailer that they decorated as their pirate ship, which was pulled by a car, and the parade was a small affair.

Today, the journey up the island can attract more than 100 floats, and the Privateers’ motorized ship “Skullywag,” the third ship in Privateers’ history, leads the pack, with all the members onboard.

This year’s parade was to begin at 10 a.m. July 4 at Coquina Beach and to end at the Anna Maria City Pier.

The Privateers are a nonprofit with a mission of entertaining kids and helping the community. They participate in a number of events on the island annually, as well as lead two parades a year up the length of the island – the Fourth of July parade, and the Christmas parade.

The parade was to be joined by the Desoto-based Crewe of Hernando DeSoto pirates and the Krewe of Santa Margarita of Clearwater.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to the island and everybody that supports us,” said Tim “Hammer” Thompson, the Privateers’ liaison officer.

“It celebrates the Fourth of July because without the Fourth of July, there wouldn’t be any freedom,” he said, referencing the nation’s founders’ decision to declare independence.

After the parade, the Privateers are hosting a party at the Ugly Grouper, 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, to recognize the winners of the scholarship awards. Hammer said more than $20,000 in scholarships will be distributed at the event.

Ahoy matey. And Happy Fourth of July.

Cortez man arrested for DUI

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A vehicle without headlights was observed at 1:42 a.m. June 23, careening on Bridge Street and Gulf Drive.

Tanner Pelkey, 27, of Cortez, was arrested for DUI after he was pulled over by Bradenton Beach Police Officer Steve Masi in the 200 block of Gulf Drive North.

Masi had followed Pelkey’s vehicle from the Drift Lounge parking lot at 120 Bridge St. and observed it hit curbs and cross the center line on Bridge Street. The vehicle’s horn blared near the roundabout at Gulf Drive, according to Masi’s report.

The officer also reported the vehicle swerved on Gulf Drive between the north- and southbound lanes and veered into the bike lane.

At Masi’s request, the Florida Highway Patrol responded to conduct a DUI investigation.

Pelkey told the state trooper he didn’t know why he’d been stopped and wanted to go home.

According to the FHP report, Pelkey failed field-sobriety tests.

While being transported to Manatee County jail, he swore at the officer and refused to provide a breath sample, according to the police report.

Pelkey was released on $500 bond, pending arraignment at 8:25 a.m. Monday, July 24, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Pickleball player dies on community center court

A game of pickleball at the Center of Anna Maria Island turned to tragedy June 23 when a center member suffered a heart attack in the gym and died at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton.

Roger Nigg, 65, was a longtime visitor who recently retired and moved full time to Anna Maria, according to executive director Kristen Lessig.

During a game of pickleball, Nigg reportedly started experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack and collapsed.

Nikkiah Jaworski, who was staffing the front desk, called 911, while operations director Chris Culhane brought an automated emergency defibrillator from the second floor to the gym, Lessig said.

Nigg’s wife, nurse practitioner Justine Preis, was present and monitoring him, Lessig said, as well as Dr. Carl Pearman, who also was playing pickleball.

Lessig said CPR was delayed because Nigg still appeared to have natural breath and a heartbeat. She said Preis began performing CPR as Manatee County EMTs arrived. EMS was on the scene within 10 to 15 minutes and transported Nigg to Blake.

Lessig commended her staff’s response and added that everyone on staff received CPR training June 28, two months earlier than the past year, to include the summer staff.

Preis also was hospitalized following her husband’s death, but was discharged by June 29.

Bianca Benedí

Holmes Beach patrol officer honored for ‘going beyond’ call of duty

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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, left, recognizes Holmes Beach Police Officer Alan Bores with the dedication and professionalism award June 19 during the Congressional Law Enforcement Award Ceremony at the Manatee County Courthouse in Bradenton. Islander Courtesy Photo

A Holmes Beach police officer known for tracking down drivers operating vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol has been honored for his dedication.

Holmes Beach Police Officer Alan Bores, 38, received a dedication and professionalism award June 19 from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan during the 16th District Congressional Law Enforcement Award ceremony at the Manatee County Courthouse in Bradenton.

“I didn’t know it was coming,” Bores said. “I feel very honored. My family and girlfriend think it’s very good for all the hard work I’ve done.”

      In July, Bores will receive another award for enforcing DUI laws from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“Officer Bores has made the city of Holmes Beach a safer place to live and visit due to his outstanding police work and proactive patrolling,” read a news release issued by HBPD Detective Sgt. Brian Hall. “He has quickly become an invaluable member of the department.”

Chief Bill Tokajer recruited Bores in July 2015 to follow him to the HBPD from the Longboat Key Police Department. Bores is a Sarasota native going on his 14th year in law enforcement.

      “He’s a very proactive enforcement officer,” Tokajer said. “He’s an officer who does the right thing. He’s somebody that can be trusted to do the right thing.”

Bores made 69 arrests in 2016, including 34 for driving under the influence.

He said he focuses on DUI arrests because they make the roads safer.

“Every day you read about accidents and fatalities that are caused by impairment,” he said.

His chief clue a driver might be tipsy or worse: Erratic driving.

      Hall cited three instances where Bores came through with major arrests in 2016:

  • Jan. 1: Bores arrested a home burglary suspect at an occupied residence with no injuries to the occupants.
  • April 13: Bores stopped a vehicle and arrested the driver on multiple charges, including drug possession involving marijuana, cocaine and meth.
  • Oct. 7: Bores arrested two suspects wanted in connection with several burglaries and property-damage cases.

Tokajer said Bores was selected for training as a drug recognition expert for his diligence in enforcing DUI laws. He is one of four in Manatee County.

Bores said the training enables him to detect other impairment besides alcohol, whether it’s drugs, medical issues or a combination.

“All have different signs of impairment,” Bores said.

      Buchanan presented the award to Bores as one of 12 law enforcement personnel honored in his district. It’s at least the fourth year in a row for an HBPD employee to be recognized by Buchanan, Tokajer said.

“To win this award, it takes an officer who goes above and beyond the call of duty,” Tokajer said. “And that’s what Alan does. He’s been doing a great job.”

Buchanan established his awards six years ago to recognize law enforcement officers, departments and units for exceptional achievement, according to a news release from his office.

Buchanan stated, “Every day, brave men and women put themselves in harm’s way to enforce the laws of our society and protect public safety. They deserve our gratitude and respect. These awards are a fitting tribute to our officers and a reminder of the important role they play in our communities.”

Buchanan’s award winners were chosen by a panel of law enforcement personnel.

Top notch to begin

The Islander’s Top Notch contest begins anew.

The contest celebrates what still is known as the “Kodak moment,” despite the widespread switch from film to digital technology.

Look to July 7 for the first deadline, including your July 4 holiday photos.

The contest includes six weekly front-page winners. Each receives an Islander “More than a mullet wrapper” T-shirt.

One weekly will take the top prize in the Top Notch contest, earning the photographer a cash prize from The Islander and certificates from local merchants.

A pet photo winner is the final week.

The deadline is Friday each week.


Tips for top notch success

You can find fame and a cover photo in The Islander if you’ve got a great snapshot. This coveted photobug spot could be yours.

Ex-boyfriend attacks woman in her home

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A Bradenton man was arrested after he allegedly choked a woman inside her Holmes Beach residence.

Dustan Swihart, 44, was arrested June 24 on charges of domestic battery by strangulation and criminal mischief after police were called to the woman’s home in the 300 block of 63rd Street.

Holmes Beach police arrived at 4:11 a.m. to signs of a struggle and observed red marks on the woman’s neck.

According to reports, the woman told police her ex-boyfriend pushed her around the bedroom until she locked herself in a bathroom. He then allegedly kicked a hole in the bathroom door, picked open the lock with a knife and pulled her out of the room.

Swihart allegedly grabbed her neck and applied pressure until she struggled to breathe. He then threw her into a closet.

The woman told police she had seen Swihart at D.Coy Ducks Tavern in Holmes Beach earlier in the evening.

A friend took the woman home at about 2 a.m., after which Swihart woke her up with a knock at the door. She asked him to leave several times but he refused, according to a police report.

Swihart told police several times that the woman invited him inside the residence, the report stated.

Swihart was transported to the HBPD for paperwork. There, he allegedly began yelling and tried to pull away from an officer walking him outdoors for transport to the jail.

The officer put Swihart against a wall “to get a better grip” and walked him to the squad for transport to the Manatee County jail, according to the report.

Attorney Peter J. Lombardo of Bradenton filed a not-guilty plea June 27 on Swihart’s behalf.

Swihart was released June 28 on $50,120 bond.

His arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Anna Maria fires second engineering firm from pier repairs

Anna Maria commissioners held an emergency meeting July 3 to halt negotiations with Taylor Engineering and begin negotiations with McLaren Engineering for the city pier engineering project.

Taylor Engineering’s estimates for the cost to engineer repairs and obtain permits for repairs to the city pier ranged from $475,000 to more than $500,000, Mayor Dan Murphy said, more than three times the $150,000 the city anticipated for the project.

“It goes beyond what the city can afford,” Murphy said.

Commissioners unanimously voted to move next to McLaren Engineering — the third-ranked bidder — and allow Murphy to begin a third round of negotiations.

In 2015, a marine survey found the Anna Maria City Pier was in need of repair.

In December 2016, Murphy put out a request for proposals to engineer repairs and obtain permits for remodeling and construction.

Three companies — Wantman Group Inc., Taylor and McLaren Engineering — responded to the bid. Murphy, along with city clerk LeAnne Addy and city planner Robin Meyer, ranked the three companies in order to negotiate.

Under Florida law, a municipality must negotiate with only one bidder at a time.

The relationship with WGI was cut short by the city following two months of delays obtaining information about the extent of the project.

In addition, Murphy said the expenses, at roughly $253,000 were too high to justify. However, Taylor Engineering’s bid came back twice as high as the bid from WGI.

Murphy said Taylor’s prices were “higher across the board,” due to a more detailed proposal and a more thorough plan to complete the project, including the potential that the pier may be more extensively damaged than the 2015 study found.

The scope of the project includes engineering plans for repairs to the pier and preparation of permits for the construction. The price tag does not include construction or building costs.

The city now moves on to its final option. Murphy will seek McLaren’s estimate of the scope and cost of the project and bring it to the commission for consideration.

If the commission approves McLaren’s response, the engineering process can proceed.

Endangered shorebirds hatch in Holmes Beach

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A colony of black skimmers, an endangered shorebird nesting on Anna Maria Island, congregates May 18 on the beach fronting the 5400 Gulf Drive condos, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Sandy Ambrogi
A black skimmer chick hunkers in the sand June 25 while another chick crouches next to a mature skimmer on the beach in the 5400 block of Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW/Pete Gross

People aren’t the only ones enjoying summer on Anna Maria Island.

A colony of black skimmers — an endangered shorebird species — is nesting in Holmes Beach on the shore fronting the 5400 block of Gulf Drive.

The black-and-white birds with a distinguishable splash of orange on their beaks can be seen flying low over the Gulf, skimming their food from the shallow shoreline waters.

Volunteers have been monitoring skimmer nesting on Anna Maria Island for about 15 years, but this is the first known skimmer colony to settle in that spot, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox.

As of June 27, the shorebird monitors reported 56 skimmer nests with about 70 adults and 12 chicks.

Fox says by the end of nesting season — early to mid-August — she expects 30-80 chicks.

When eggs were spotted May 21, the area was roped off for the birds’ protection.

However, the birds’ safety needs extend beyond their present roped-off boundary.

As the chicks mature, they travel between their nests and shoreline, learning to fish, interact and fledge, according to Fox.

She says it is important to watch out for the small, sand-camouflaged chicks that hunker on the shoreline.

“Their instinct is to just drop in the sand when their mother calls out a warning,” Fox said. “This means they can be at risk of being stepped on if someone’s not paying attention.”

Fox said people should exercise care when walking on the beach near the colony between 53rd and 56th streets in Holmes Beach.

Additionally, predators drawn by trash are a threat to the skimmers. Fox said while the nesting area doesn’t have open dumpsters, beachgoers need to respect Mother Nature.

“No matter where you are on the beach, especially during this busy summer season, please remember to pick up your trash,” Fox said. “This is a beautiful place to live — let’s keep it that way for animals and people.”

To report a sick bird, contact Fox at 941-778-5638.


Turtle watch seeks help for post-holiday cleanup

In anticipation of a busy Fourth of July, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring is planning a beach cleanup at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 5, at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

People interested in volunteering for the cleanup should bring gloves and trash bags, said AMITW executive director Suzi Fox.

For more information about the cleanup, visit AMITW on Facebook or call Fox at 941-778-5638.


Be a hero for sea turtles this holiday — and everyday

  • Leave personal fireworks at home and attend an official display instead. The loud sounds and bright lights of fireworks on Anna Maria Island beaches can have catastrophic effects on nesting birds and sea turtles.
  • Stay out of marked nesting areas and keep your distance from nesting sea turtles.
  • Don’t use flashlights or camera flashes on the beach at night. They can distract nesting sea turtles and cause them to halt their nesting plans or return to the water.
  • Do not feed birds or leave trash, picnic leftovers or fish scraps on the beach. These scraps attract predators that will eat the eggs and hatchlings of birds and sea turtles.
  • Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922, #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone or text tip@myfwc.com.

            Source: FWC

Sarasota man arrested for marijuana, meth

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A Sarasota man stopped for speeding was arrested for possessing meth, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Holmes Beach.

Paul Barnes, 47, was arrested June 11 on the drug charges after Holmes Beach Police Officer Alan Bores clocked Barnes’ vehicle traveling 56 mph in a 35-mph zone in the 700 block of Manatee Avenue.

Bores reported noticing the odor of marijuana when he approached the blue Honda and asked the motorist if he had contraband.

Barnes allegedly acknowledged that he had marijuana, and, on checking the man’s pockets, Bores found crystal meth.

After a vehicle search, Bores reported finding 4.6 grams of marijuana, three glass pipes, a syringe, hypodermic needles and a digital scale. The meth weighed 0.6 grams, according to the report.

In addition to the drug charges, Bores cited Barnes for speeding, driving with a suspended license and failing to provide proof of insurance.

Barnes was transported to Manatee County jail, where he posted $2,200 bond.

Barnes’ arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Monday, July 14, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

WMFR rates in top 4 percent in U.S.

Thanks to a new rating by Insurance Services Office, West Manatee Fire Rescue is ranked among the top 4 percent of fire departments in the nation.

Fire Marshal Jim Davis announced June 27 WMFR’s rating moved up from class 3 to class 2, ranking the department among the top fire departments. ISO’s scale ranges from 1-10.

In March, the ISO visited WMFR to test the department on its equipment and training, as well as its ability to respond to a fire while timed.

The WMFR scored excellently in virtually every category, Chief Tom Sousa said in March.

The fire department struggled to accomplish a timed task, he said, but ISO offers a mathematical formula to calculate the historical response time in place of the timed test, which improved WMFR’s score.

Sousa explained that due to the nature of the island, the department struggles to dispatch a unit from every station, including Station 1 in Holmes Beach, to the scene of a fire within 12 minutes.

Although one engine team on the mainland can generally reach any mainland location in less than five minutes, the fire engine traveling from island to mainland always takes longer, he said.

The rating is used to calculate fire insurance rates. It goes into effect Oct. 1 and, as a result of the increase, residents and businesses could see fire insurance rates drop, Davis said.

According to Davis, only 1,565 of the nation’s 46,042 fire departments have the same or higher ranking.

Bianca Benedí