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Date of Issue: August 30, 2007

Holmes Beach dedicates bridge to military personnel

In their honor...
Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman, left, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and Holmes Beach City Commissioners John Monetti, Pat Morton and Sandy Haas-Martens help cut a ribbon on the rebuilt Key Royale Bridge Aug. 24. The bridge was dedicated to military veterans. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff

“Fourteen died yesterday,” Len Tabicman said as he stood on the Key Royale Bridge awaiting the ceremony dedicating the rebuilt span to members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

For the most part, the brief Aug. 24 dedication on the Holmes Beach span was a joyous occasion. But some also soberly thought of those who have served in the Armed Forces, especially those who did not return home.

Tabicman, who can see the bridge from his Key Royale home, proposed that local officials dedicate the structure to military servicemembers past and present.

“I proposed it because there are a number of people I know who are not here any more,” Tabicman said.

“I kept going across the bridge and thinking it needs to be dedicated,” he added.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, as he dedicated the bridge, thanked Tabicman for his proposal.

The mayor also thanked city commissioners, representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, former mayor of Holmes Beach.

“It’s a project near and dear to me,” said Whitmore, who shared hugs with city officials after the program. She said dedicating the bridge to military servicemembers “is perfect.”

Present for the dedication were members of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, DOT officials, residents of Key Royale, city employees and city commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens, David Zaccagnino, John Monetti and Pat Morton.

The mayor and commissioners used super-sized ceremonial scissors to snip a red ribbon that stretched across the bridge.

After the mayor read a proclamation, a color guard from American Legion Post 24 slowly marched from east to west across the span.

Bohnenberger then unveiled a bronze plaque on the bridge that reads, “Key Royale Bridge dedicated to the members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces. 2007.”

With traffic on the bridge stopped for the duration of the dedication, the mayor joked that he wanted a brief event so as to not upset those bound for the links at the Key Royale Club.

The bridge project was completed at the end of May, close to Memorial Day. Work began last fall, overseen by the DOT.

The city borrowed the money with interest to finance the $3.4 million construction project in anticipation of reimbursement from the state later this year.

“I had a tremendous opportunity in building this bridge,” said Kent A. Duaderman, associate project administrator for the DOT. “It was a good cooperative effort.”

“I love the bridge,” said Tabicman, adding that the old structure posed a danger to walkers and bikers. “At night, you’d trip and fall.”