Tag Archives: 02-20-2013

AM commission may reconsider ban on building projects

Facing complaints from a number of Anna Maria property owners and local builders that a hold on building permits is causing financial harm and confusion among homebuyers, city commissioners on Feb. 14 agreed to revisit the freeze put in place Feb. 7.

Commissioners first passed an administrative moratorium in January, while city attorney Jim Dye set about preparing a moratorium ordinance. At that time, they said building projects “in the pipeline” could be processed by building official Bob Welch.

However, commissioners changed their minds Feb. 7 after learning it would be difficult to differentiate which projects were in the pipeline.

Holmes Beach builder Greg Ross of Ross Built Construction Co. of Holmes Beach said at the Feb. 14 meeting that he has several projects under development and on hold in Anna Maria because of the administrative moratorium. His projects are nearly ready for permit submission, he said.

“How long is the administrative moratorium in effect?” Ross asked commissioners. “There’s a lot of confusion in the building community right now, and I would like clarification.”

Cathy Adams of Plant City attended the meeting with her husband, Bill, asking that the halt to building permits be lifted. The couple bought an older home in October, a teardown, and are planning to rebuild.

“We were 99.9 percent ready and just days away from submitting our plans when this went into effect. We’ve spent thousands of dollars and now we don’t know when we can build,” Cathy Adams said.

The city has changed the rules since October, leaving people who want to build or remodel in a quandary, Bill Adams said. He said it hurts honest builders and property owners who just want a nice home.

“It just doesn’t seem fair,” Bill Adams said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland agreed that the city should discuss lifting the temporary moratorium on building permits at the earliest opportunity.

“All this is doing is hurting the little guy,” Woodland said.

Woodland and Commission Chair John Quam voted Feb. 7 not to halt permitting while the moratorium was readied for a first reading and public hearing, but the motion to freeze permits passed 3-2.

Quam planned to put the moratorium issue on the Feb. 28 agenda, but commissioners agreed to move discussion to the Feb. 21 meeting.

In other business, commissioners agreed with Dye to continue to Feb. 28 a public hearing on an ordinance in which the city would swap easements with the Sandbar Restaurant.

Dye noted the original easement given the Sandbar in 2005 by the city was part of the restaurant’s site plan at that time. Any change to a site plan has to go through another site-plan process, he said.

Engineer Lynn Burnett, representing the Sandbar, said she believes the easement was recorded as a pedestrian walkway in the Manatee County plat book.

If the 2005 site plan recorded the easement as pedestrian, Burnett said there’s no need for another site plan that would say the same thing. Dye agreed, and Burnett will return to the Feb. 28 meeting with information on how the 2005 easement was recorded.

Commissioners also passed the second reading of an ordinance requiring that parking spaces for new homes be designated on building plans. The ordinance requires a designated parking space for each bedroom beyond three bedrooms. The ordinance also requires at least one space be under cover.

Commissioners also agreed to an offer by an anonymous donor through Commissioner Gene Aubry to pay for oak trees around the six vacant lots at the east end of Pine Avenue.

Aubry, who has made several designs for a park on the vacant property, said the city should retain an architect for the park plans.

Quam suggested the commission return to just two meetings per month instead of meeting every Thursday, as it now does.

Commissioner Chuck Webb said there are just too many serious issues before the commission to keep putting them off to a meeting in two weeks. He said the commission should meet weekly until the significant issues have been resolved, and other commissioners agreed.

The commission will continue to meet at 6 p.m. every Thursday until further notice.

The next meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

Agenda items include the freeze on building permits, along with regulations on residential development, and priority items on the commission’s Tasks 2013 list.

Attorney adds to record public records request

Attorney Rich Rumrell of Rumrell Law, Rumrell, Bate & McCleod, P.A., St. Augustine, who represents unidentified Anna Maria property owners, has made another public records request of the city.

Mayor SueLynn said the records request of Feb. 1 would take staff several weeks to compile, and Rumrell submitted a second request Feb. 8, adding to his previous list, all permit applications for residential homes three stories or higher since Jan. 1, 2009, to the present.

He also requested permit applications for homes greater than 2,700 square feet, any documents since 2010 concerning police procedure for a noise complaint at a single-family residence, a vacation rental or a long-term rental.

Rumrell also requested any databases of vacation rental owners from 2010 to present and any databases of long-term rentals from 2010 to the present.

Rumrell has declined to identify his clients.

His public records requests began after the commission passed an administrative moratorium Jan. 31 — meaning city officials could not accept new permit requests — for the issuance of building permits for single-family home construction, while the commission finalizes and approves a construction moratorium ordinance.

Mayor SueLynn said staff members have been gathering documents already requested by Rumrell, and that after discussing the new request with the city attorney, staff will compile records for the second request.

Commissioners have discussed lowering the maximum height of new construction from 37 feet to 27 feet, and other possible limits.

Commissioners will not be enacting any new law enforcement procedures for noise complaints. Dye has said law enforcement procedures by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies assigned to the Anna Maria substation are the duty of the mayor, not the commission.

SueLynn said the only new procedure for noise complaints is that a copy of a noise complaint that deputies respond to is given to the code enforcement officer for review. The city has an ordinance that limits loud noises after 10 p.m.

The mayor said she would research the number of times deputies were called on a noise complaint in 2012, but believes there were less than five complaints for the year.

Code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon did not issue any citations in 2012 to any renter, manager or owner for violating the city’s noise ordinance.

BB hangs up on cell tower planner

The strained relationship between Bradenton Beach and the Center for Municipal Solutions came to an end Feb. 8 with notification the city will repeal its cellular communications tower ordinance.

CMS’s Lawrence “Rusty” Monroe and the city have been feuding for months over language in the ordinance drafted by Monroe and adopted May 5, 2011, under former Mayor Bob Bartelt’s administration.

As the city moved forward with discussions on installing a cellular communications tower near the public works facility last year, Commissioner Ric Gatehouse observed several issues in the ordinance he found objectionable.

The relationship between the city and Monroe became brittle and shattered at one point, with Monroe withdrawing — saying he would take his ordinance with him.

Monroe said the city had no rights to use his ordinance without agreeing to pay exclusive application review fees to his company, as per the original agreement outlined in his ordinance.

Gatehouse initially wanted the ordinance repealed, but settled on amending it to give the city more authority, and to prevent potential abuses from occurring to local businesses.

The two sides unexpectedly came together Jan. 24 with an announcement from city attorney Ricinda Perry that negotiations on a consulting contract with Monroe were ongoing.

However, on Feb. 4, Perry said negotiations had stalled because Monroe refused to budge on key factors important to protecting the city’s interest.

Those factors included Monroe not wanting a termination clause if he was found to be doing anything illegal and he refused to agree to the city’s standard insurance needs, according to Perry.

One of the major sticking points was that Monroe wanted the city to be financially liable for an applicant who pulled out of the review process, according to Perry.

Commissioners directed Perry Feb. 7 to try one more time to negotiate a deal, but said they could not protect the city’s best interests under Monroe’s terms.

In an email dated Feb. 8, Perry informed Monroe that the city “will not be engaging your firm for professional services.”

Monroe has insisted the city cannot use his ordinance without his services. Perry said the ordinance has too many legal issues.

She wrote the city “will be repealing its enactment immediately.”

Monroe responded Feb. 11 saying the action was regrettable and disagreed with Perry’s legal assessment.

However, he thanked the city for its decision to repeal the ordinance to protect what he called his intellectual property.

Building official Steve Gilbert confirmed that the city was going another direction Feb. 12.

“I’ve been directed to find some local ordinances that match up and fit our criteria,” he said.

Gilbert said he has looked over several thus far, “and it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for us.”

Perry predicted Feb. 7 that if negotiations failed with Monroe, it would take about two months for the city to write its own ordinance.

Gilbert said if everything went smoothly, “then two months would be pretty good. We are still going to have go back through a planning and zoning review, then it all has to come back to the commission again. So it’s going to be awhile.”

Peelen may appeal lawsuit ruling

Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen may appeal a recent ruling by the12th Judicial Circuit Court that keeps alive a libel suit filed against her by business owner John F. Agnelli Jr.

Judge Diana Moreland denied Peelen’s motion to dismiss Agnelli’s amended complaint Feb. 7 and gave her 10 days to answer the suit.

The suit alleges statements that Peelen made in a Sept. 30 newsletter were false, published without reasonable care as to the truth or falsity and harmed Agnelli’s construction business.

Peelen is being represented by Jay Daigneault of Frazier, Hubbard, Brandt, Trask and Yacavone, LLP, of Dunedin, under the city’s Florida League of Cities’ insurance.

In the recent motion won by Agnelli, Daigneault argued that as a commissioner, Peelen is shielded by sovereign immunity granted to state and local officials.

The state law protects officials from being held personally liable for damages due to acts or omissions in the scope of employment, unless they’re made maliciously or in bad faith.

Moreland’s decision ruled against that argument, and Peelen said last week her attorneys were “considering if the ruling is appealable.”

Agnelli’s attorney, Peter Mackey, of Mackey Law Group, P.A., Bradenton, is looking at the case differently.

“Mr. Agnelli is going to go forward to trial,” said Mackey. “He’s been slandered in our opinion.”

Mackey added, however, that the case could reach a settlement first.

        The lawsuit was filed Oct. 9, following distribution by Peelen of her newsletter in which she confused the identity of John F. Agnelli Jr. and his son, Frank Agnelli.

        The newsletter pertaining to city issues was distributed from Peelen’s personal email account.

        At the commission meeting the same day John F. Agnelli filed the suit, he criticized Peelen for a careless lack of regard for the truth. Peelen announced she had acknowledged her error to the email recipients and also apologized to Agnelli at the meeting.

        But Agnelli responded that Peelen’s words will remain forever on the Internet.

        Agnelli’s first complaint named Peelen as an individual, but alleged libel against her as a commissioner. In his amended complaint, Agnelli asserted that Peelen defamed him individually.

Shore resignation accepted, FISH elections April 1

In one of the quickest actions of the Feb. 3 Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage meeting in Cortez, the resignation of Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court R.B. “Chips” Shore from the FISH board of directors was unanimously approved.

Shore sent a letter Jan. 3 announcing his resignation from the board, but pledged to remain as a FISH member. He cited “inflammatory language and rhetoric used by FISH board members toward his office and the museum staff, in particular,” as reasons for his resignation.

A feud between FISH and the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., in Cortez, has been brewing since early 2012 after an internal audit conducted by Shore’s office revealed a division of finances between FISH and the museum was required.

The museum is owned by Manatee County and Shore’s office provides management and operations.

The two entities have split some revenues in the past, but according to a Florida Communities Trust grant, which secured the purchase of the museum property, FISH was not allowed to use museum grounds for fundraising activities.

The two entities made several attempts to reconcile their differences, including a September meeting facilitated by someone hired by Shore’s office to bring the two organizations together. The success of that venture was short lived.

It’s not the first time Shore and museum staff have walked away from FISH in the past year, but the Feb. 3 acceptance of Shore’s resignation made the departure official.

FISH held off voting on Shore’s resignation at its Jan. 7 meeting in hopes he would change his mind. But FISH board member Turner Matthews said he spoke to Shore and confirmed he would not return to the board.

The board will hold its annual election meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 1, at Fisherman’s Hall, 4515 124th St. W., Cortez.

In addition to Shore’s seat, board members up for re-election are secretary Joe Kane, vice president Debra Ibasfalean and board members Karen Bell and Rick Stewart. There also are two vacant seats to fill from previous resignations.

Bell and Kane confirmed their intentions to run for re-election. Stewart’s re-election bid is tentative due to the board’s consideration of a paid position. Ibasfalean had not confirmed her intentions, as of press time for The Islander.

Also running for the board are newcomers Michael Northfield, Ryan Murphy and commercial fisher Chris Osgood.

FISH treasurer Jane von Hahmann said there are currently 185 dues-paying members eligible to vote in the April election.

She said everyone nominated thus far would be placed on a list and mailed to FISH members, including absentee ballot instructions.

“The slate of nominees is mailed out for absentee ballots,” said von Hahmann, although on the night of the election, nominations can come from the floor.

Absentee ballots must be received by March 25 to be counted.

Matthews raised concern about absentee and email votes, saying it is open to fraud. He motioned to disallow absentee balloting for FISH elections.

“If people care enough to vote, they should care enough to come in person,” he said.

Bell seconded the motion, noting only a small percentage of the membership come to meetings.

“How do the ones who never come to a meeting know who is a good board member and who is not?” she asked.

Kane objected to the motion, saying its paramount to voter suppression, but the board voted on the motion. Of 10 members present, the motion failed 6-4.

Matthews made a second motion to eliminate email votes, but the motion died for a lack of a second.

Anyone wishing to vote must become a FISH member seven days prior to the April 1 election.

Membership forms are available online at www.cortez-fish.org. For more information, call 941-254-4972 and leave a message and contact information.

Holmes Beach proclaims Pam Leckie Day

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti presents a community service award to resident and Islander of the Year Pam Leckie for her tireless work at the Island Library and at the Roser Food Pantry during a Feb. 12 commission meeting. The city commission also designated Feb. 13, 2013, as Pam Leckie Day. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Holmes Beach interim police chief serves up 1-year plan

What could a new Holmes Beach police chief accomplish in a year?

    That’s what Mayor Carmel Monti has asked some candidates for the city’s top law enforcement spot.

    In December, the newly elected mayor announced he would conduct a search to replace former Police Chief Jay Romine, and named the department’s 19-year lieutenant, Dale Stephenson, to fill the interim position.

    In addition to Stephenson, five applicants submitted interest in the position, although it has not been advertised and there is yet no job description or deadline to apply.

    Stephenson is seeking to hold the position until he retires. Because he opted into the Florida Deferred Retirement Option Program, that date is July 31, 2016.

    Monti recently said he’s in no hurry to name a permanent successor, and that he prefers to hire from within.

    The 2012-13 budget for the police department is $2.1 million, of which $1.78 million is personnel services, including salaries, taxes, retirement and insurance contributions.

    Stephenson, a 26-year HBPD veteran, submitted his plan in January, saying “It’s really just a mixture of my feelings.”

    Stephenson provided historical context as well as recommendations for the department, which includes 13 sworn officers and seven civilian employees. There are11 patrol officers, a detective sergeant, five dispatchers, a police clerk and an administrative assistant.

    Stephenson recommends maintaining the status quo with a few tweaks in manpower, shift hours, community outreach, purchases, vehicles, marine patrol, police pension and succession plans.

    He favors reinstating performance evaluations, a practice discontinued five to seven years ago.

    Stephenson recommended combining the lieutenant and chief jobs, while adding a middle-line supervisor/patrol sergeant, who would be chosen through promotional testing and a multi-agency review board.

    “As you know it is very important for members to feel they have a chance to expand a job function and be recognized for good work even if it is in a small agency,” Stephenson wrote.

    He suggested shift changes for dispatchers, who presently work a 12-hour rotation.

    “It’s my opinion that the officers schedule remain the same but the dispatch schedule be further evaluated due to cost and coverage issues,” Stephenson wrote.

    In the past 26 years, Stephenson pointed out the department has grown by two officers, one created in the 1990s by a community police grant and later made into a permanent position, and another patrol position was added 10 years ago.

    Stephenson said the department is handling complaints in the range of 2,700 and 3,000, while calls average 5,000-6,000 per year.

    He said the call numbers have remained consistent over the past five years, saying they’ll vary “only a few hundred” each year.

    Stephenson supports current staffing levels and recommends future changes be based not on national averages, but on a comparison of regions with similar population and tourist influx, as well as a determination that complaints are handled satisfactorily.

    “I feel that currently we do meet that level and, by far, Holmes Beach Police Department backs up the other two cities more often than they respond to Holmes Beach,” he added.

    While there’s been some talk about consolidating patrols and dispatch with Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach, Stephenson doesn’t see it happening unless one of the cities chooses to contract with Holmes Beach for those services.

    In the late 1980s, a non-binding vote produced a joint dispatch center for the three island cities, but it disbanded due to disagreements among the cities. Only Holmes Beach continued to maintain a dispatch center.

    Currently the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office dispatches emergency calls for Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria. Bradenton Beach has its own police force. Anna Maria contracts with the MCSO for law enforcement needs.

    Stephenson said he looked into the possibility of one municipality providing another’s police services, and said it “can be done, but the discussion between both cities would be crucial to decide the needs of both communities.”

    The Holmes Beach dispatch center operates with five certified telecommunications specialists who maintain state certification with periodic testing. A new law requires 230 hours of training for dispatchers, which one recent HBPD hire completed in December, according to Stephenson.

    With concerns about the city’s pension contribution as the HBPD retirement rolls increase, former Mayor Rich Bohnenberger favored a move out of the city’s independent benefit plan and into the Florida Retirement System.

    Stephenson, as a 25-year member on the city’s police pension board, which monitors its investments in the Municipal Police Officers’ Pension Trust Fund, disagrees.

    “One of the first problems with that is that the city would no longer collect its share of state money toward the current retirement plan,” which, he said, is a $37,511 annual contribution.

    In addition to increased costs and the loss of a 6 percent contribution from new hire salaries, Stephenson pointed to a lack of local control over investments and ongoing litigation involving changes in the Florida Retirement System.

    Stephenson also identified problems with changing to a contribution-based plan.

    He said his concern is “that the city could be impacted by a severe storm that would decimate the tax base” and without the state backup that exists in the current plan.

        “If the city feels that change should take place, I would guide them in keeping the current plan, but changing the benefit rates for new hires,” he said.

Treehouse owner seeks DEP permit, city waiver

There’s a new wrinkle in the ongoing saga of the Angelinos Sea Lodge unpermitted, two-story beachfront treehouse.

    Built in 2011 in the beachfront backyard of the lodge that includes a home and four vacation rental units at 103 29th St. in Holmes Beach, the treehouse was once under a removal/modification order from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, but in December the owners were allowed to apply for an after-the-fact permit.

    As expected, owners Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran applied for the DEP permit, as required of structures built seaward of the coastal construction control line to protect the beach and dune system.

    But not expected is the owners’ Feb. 12 request to the DEP to waive the required no-objection letter from the city of Holmes Beach, providing evidence the treehouse complies to the city’s setbacks, zoning and building codes.

    The waiver request was part of an after-the-fact permit application and letter sent by the owners’ attorney, David Levin, of Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A., of Sarasota.

    City building inspector David Greene said Levin’s office requested the no-objection letter in January, but the city declined because the treehouse is not compliant with city code. Greene said the city had not received a copy of Levin’s letter, waiver request or application.

    DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said the DEP received the application Feb. 12 and it is being reviewed.

    In the application letter, Levin told the DEP that the no-objection letter was impossible to obtain because “the only person competent to provide such evidence has declined to do so.”

    He wrote that he approached city planner Bill Brisson with the request. But Brisson replied Feb. 1, directing Levin to send the no-objection letter to the Holmes Beach building department.

    Levin disagreed. He told the DEP that Holmes Beach was without a building official with the necessary certifications and authority to interpret the city’s land development code.

    Although the city is contracting for Manatee County’s building department services, Levin claims the city-county contract doesn’t cover LDC interpretations.

    But on Feb. 11, temporary building official Tom O’Brien received a provisional one-year building code administrator certificate from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, enabling him to act as a building official, according to the DBPR spokesperson Beth Frady.

    Greene said a DBPR certified building official can interpret the city land development code.

    Holmes Beach code enforcement officer, David Forbes, advised the owners in December 2011 before the city could consider a letter of no-objection, it required a survey, engineering and information on materials and certain facts to indicate the structure meets hurricane-force wind regulations.

    While the owners have submitted an as-built survey, no engineering, materials lists or construction methods have been provided, according to Greene.

    Levin’s Feb. 12 letter was the most recent in a year-long string of correspondence between Angelinos’ owners, their attorney and engineers and the DEP’s Bureau of Beaches and Coastal System environmental manager Jim Martinello, who first warned of possible DEP violations. Field representative Steve West reported the violations in November 2011 included the 17-by-17-foot elevated, wood-frame deck and roof, supported by four concrete-type foundation posts, as well as dune area alterations.

    The owners appealed to the DEP in September 2012 to save their “unique and beautiful double deck in the tree” and, in December, Martinello gave the owners 45 days to submit an application, including the city’s no-objection letter, adjacent property owner information, evidence of their ownership, a sealed survey, a site plan and final foundation plans and specifications.

    In recent correspondence, Levin emphasized that in addition to the Australian pine trunk, only two posts, 12 inches in diameter, support the structure. He contended the structure is a minor activity exempt from DEP regulations, and said he was submitting the after-the-fact-permit application under protest.

    In addition to the no-objection letter waiver, Levin’s Feb. 12 letter requested exceptions from final foundation plans and specification requirements because the foundation was already buried in the ground, and the structure was not built according to detailed specifications.

    As part of the application, Levin provided an as-built survey, and asked that the site plan requirement be waived.

    The owners also submitted a $300 fee, applicable to a “minor structure,” even though Martinello’s December letter said the DEP’s fee would be determined upon further agency review.

HOW puts kayaks to work in vow to help vets

Holmes Beach resident Chris LeGore is the assistant coordinator for the Bradenton/Sarasota chapter of Heroes on the Water and is one of the four founders of the area chapter.

Locally and nationally, HOW helps veterans overcome their physical or emotional problems by providing a peaceful kayak tour, along with fishing in quiet and natural bayous. The calm provides therapy that no hospital or clinic can match, LeGore said.

“Our next HOW event is Saturday, Feb. 23, at Bayshore Gardens Park in Bradenton starting at 8:30 a.m., and we’re trying to get the word out that this is open to all veterans, but particularly those who have physical or emotional problems as a result of their service experience,” LeGore said.

LeGore became interested in forming a HOW chapter while attending a meeting two years ago of the Anna Maria Island Kayak Anglers of West Florida. His father is a member of the group and LeGore joined because he shared his father’s interest in kayaking.

“The subject of HOW came up at one meeting because it involves kayaking. Four of us decided to form a local chapter to reach out to the veterans, especially those who really need emotional help,” LeGore said.

Nationally, HOW was founded in 2007 at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas and has 38 chapters across the country. More than 4,500 “wounded warriors,” have been helped by HOW, said LeGore.

The founding members of the Bradenton/Sarasota chapter are LeGore, Raul Casas, Morton Hellwig and Ken Treffinger.

Many veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have insulated themselves from the world and are going through an emotionally difficult time, LeGore said.

“That’s why we have no set agenda, no group counselors or therapists, just kayaks and camaraderie. And everything is free. It’s very informal. We’ve found that kayaking around the peaceful waters of our area is great therapy for many of these veterans, especially those who lost a limb during their service.”

HOW provides the kayaks, the guides, the food and experienced anglers. LeGore said fishing is an option for the veterans, but some prefer just to kayak.

The Feb. 23 event is the third for the local HOW chapter.  All advertising and fundraising for HOW events has been word-of-mouth so far, LeGore said.

“We’re hoping to find a major sponsor to help us spread the word that we are here to help our wounded warriors. We have no set agenda and no forms or papers to fill out, no group counseling sessions or physical therapy. We just want to give our heroes a chance to recover and kayaking and fishing are two great ways to accomplish this. And the camaraderie formed goes a long way toward helping veterans,” he said.

LeGore recounted how one Vietnam veteran was reluctant to become involved because he feared groups and crowds. After attending two events, the man said he appreciated the fellowship and the fact that nobody was trying to change him or counsel him.

“He just enjoyed being on the water with others who could relate to being in the service and going to war,” said LeGore, who inherited his goodwill for veterans.

His father was in the U.S. Army in Germany, where he met and married LeGore’s mother. Additionally, LeGore’s grandfather was a German who refused to join the Nazi SS, Adolf Hitler’s paramilitary unit during World War II.

For his refusal, Nazi officials sent him to the Russian front as an army private. He became a prisoner of war of the Russians and spent five years working in a coal mine before his release. He eventually died of lung disease acquired from breathing coal dust.

“For me, helping veterans is special. It’s the least we can do to help our heroes. I thank all veterans for their service, and hope those interested in volunteering or joining the local HOW will come Feb. 23,” LeGore said.

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Bayshore Gardens Park, 6919 26th St. W., Bradenton, and concludes whenever people get tired and are ready to eat, LeGore said.

To reserve a spot for the Feb. 23 event and for more information, call Casas at 203-482-1790, or email him at raulcasas8686@aol.com.

You can also find the local HOW organization at www.facebook.com/HeroesOnTheWaterSarasota.

Island roadwatch

The Florida Department of Transportation has announced it will conduct a routine maintenance project at the Longboat Pass Bridge, spanning the Intracoastal Waterway at Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key, 9 p.m.-5 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, and Thursday, Feb. 21. A flagging operation will be in place to facilitate possible lane closures.

Motorists are encouraged to observe reduced speed limits and drive with caution during the maintenance project.