Tag Archives: 05-20-2020

Memorial Day brings changes

Memorial Day will be observed Monday, May 25.

Many local government operations will be suspended for the holiday.

The fare-free island trolley will operate on the holiday, but Manatee County Area Transit will not operate other fixed-route services or the Handy Bus service.

Residential trash or recycling pickups regularly scheduled for Mondays will be Tuesdays, and collection services may be pushed back through the week.

Atlantic hurricane season begins early, amid COVID-19 concerns

Arthur stirred up more than wind and rain.

The first tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic season — forecast to stay off the southeast coast and track northeast out to sea —stirred up concern for dealing with disaster and coping with hurricanes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management is expected this month to release guidance on how local government might want to handle storms.

Other recommendations, mentioned during an April meeting of the state’s Re-Open Florida Task Force, might include sheltering evacuees in hotels instead of schools or other public buildings.

“Regarding COVID-19, the unique issues of this public health crisis may require emergency management officials to consider stay-at-home orders instead of evacuating people in a storm’s path,” reads the task force’s report to the governor. “If evacuations are required, transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, may be considered in addition to buses to assist in evacuations. Further, utilizing additional school locations to add capacity to allow for greater social distancing as well as hotels may be considered in addition to current evacuation centers.

The report also notes the importance of creating emergency plans for families and continuity plans for businesses, as well as setting aside cloth face coverings.

Meteorologists with AccuWeather, a leading weather forecast service, predicted 14-18 tropical storms during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Seven to nine storms are forecast to become hurricanes, and two to four are predicted to strengthen into major hurricanes.

Another early forecast, from Colorado State University researchers in April, predicted “an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States and in the Caribbean.”

The CSU forecast was for 16 named storms this season — the average is 12.1.

Also, according to CSU, the probability of at least one major hurricane — a storm of Category 3 or higher — making landfall on the U.S. continental coastline is 69%. The average for the last century is 52%.

A forecast from the federal government, prepared by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, will be released May 21.

The 2019 season produced 18 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three were major.

Last year marked the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001.


2020 Storm Avengers series

Look in the May 27 issue for the first installment of The Islander’s 2020 Storm Avengers series, with information about preparing for hurricane season.

2020 storm names

Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

AME principal shares school details, praises staff

Only empty desks and classrooms occupy Anna Maria Elementary in Holmes Beach.

Instead of kids rushing about and fifth-grade graduation assemblies, the COVID-19 pandemic has emptied the hallways.

AME parents and students — and also AME staff — wonder when they will be back in session and what will have changed?

Since late March, AME students, as well as many students across the country, have practiced distance learning, studying at home via online study tools.

“Never in my career as an educator would I have ever guessed we would be dealing with these additional challenges in learning,” AME principal Jackie Featherston wrote The Islander in an email.

She praised “educators and families for rising to the occasion of making sure our students continue their education to the best of their ability.”

Featherston said she’s heard from teachers who believe they’re becoming better educators because they’ve had to quickly adapt to the virtual platform and find new resources to support instruction and families.

Featherston also said parents have a deeper understanding of how children learn and of their kids’ struggles and strengths.

Still, for AME’s fifth-graders, the academic year will end this month without the usual class activities and events, including a class trip and awards ceremony to mark their transition to middle school.

Traditionally on the last day of school, the AME student body, staff and principal line the halls to clap, hug, wave and deliver a tearful goodbye to the fifth-graders as they leave the building for the last time.

It’s rare to see a dry eye during the event.

The 2019-20 fifth-grade class will be celebrated with a twist on the old tradition — a drive-thru “car awards” parade on campus on the last day of school.

On Thursday, May 28, 10 a.m.-noon, fifth-graders are expected to arrive in cars and other vehicles for a motorcade through the bus loop “to drop off books and computers, and will then proceed to the car line to pick up their awards and enjoy a very special farewell and surprise,” Featherston said.

The end of the year also will bring the retirement of first-grade teacher Toni Lashway, who has taught at AME for 33 years.

Lashway will be missed by staff and students.

Also, second-grade teacher Sandra Fischer, who was AME’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2019-20, will transfer to Bayshore Elementary.

Fischer had the least seniority at AME, which is losing two teaching units in the 2020-21 year.

The Manatee County School District increased the number of students per class in each grade and, as a result, AME, along with Stewart Elementary and several other schools in the district are losing teachers.

“We will open the school year with one kindergarten class, one first-grade class, one second-grade class and two third- through fifth-grade classes,” Featherston said of the 2020-21 year.

Registration is open for the next year.

Parents can pick up registration packets at the front door of the school, where they can make inquiries on the intercom.

Alternatively, parents can request registration information online.

The 2020-21 year is set to start for students Monday, Aug. 10, but the date could be delayed due to COVID-19.

Featherston said three scenarios are being discussed: full-time with students in the AME building; full-time e-learning or a rotation of half the students in class and half at home.

“I am expecting that staff with personal protective equipment will conduct a daily screening at the entrance of the school which includes a temperature check,” Featherston said.

If anyone has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, cough or shortness of breath, they would not be admitted.

Also, no volunteers or visitors would be allowed entry to the school during the pandemic restrictions.

Hourly hand-washing, social distancing and other safe practices are planned to help students return to brick-and-mortar classrooms.

“I do believe the majority of us are looking forward to much more normalcy in our future,” said Featherston.

Adult soccer returns to center pitch, horseshoes, golf still off course

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A CABB Facilities Services worker disinfects equipment in the Center of Anna Maria Island’s fitness center in advance of its May 20 reopening. Islander Photo: Courtesy Center

With the school year coming to a close in the next week or so, summer vacation should be days away for most of us, but what kind of summer will it be?

The only guarantees are that it will be hot and humid!

However, Gov. Ron DeSantis has loosened the leash, so to speak, on COVID-19 restrictions. While had not moved to phase 2 as of May 18, but operations were opening and expanding, including gyms and fitness centers, which were allowed to open at 50% capacity.

The decision was welcome news to the folks at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The center’s fitness center was set to open May 20.

After having CABB Facility Services sanitize at the center, including the fitness center, the center turned its attention to implementing new policies and procedures to ensure the safety of members, visitors and staff.

The center also was making plans to wrap up the adult indoor soccer season, which will migrate outdoors to the field.

The schedule will pick up with two weeks of the season, followed by playoffs and championship matches.

The action will get started at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 21.

Other island sports endeavors remained on hold.

Tom Nelson of the Key Royale Club told The Islander that the club canceled the Memorial Day Scramble and cookout as it looked to June to resume matches.

Members are playing rounds, but organized matches are on hold.

Also, the horseshoe group that typically congregates at the pits at Anna Maria City Hall is waiting on the city for an “all clear,” according to horseshoe group spokesman Jay Disbrow.

On the mainland, G.T. Bray Park, managed by the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, will remain closed throughout May.

Park spokesman Marcus Francis encouraged organized sports leagues that use park facilities to have a plan or when the park opens the calendar for athletics.


Magic gears up for phase 3 tryouts

While soccer activities are on hold, Manatee Magic, a competitive program for boys and girls within the Manatee Area Youth Soccer Association, opened online registration for tryouts.

Registration will allow MAYSO to contact players when tryout plans are set, which, according to the Florida Youth Soccer Association, will begin when Florida moves to phase 3 in the pandemic recovery plan.

There is no cost to try out and the Magic will not initiate payment plans for its select team players until the pandemic is in the rearview mirror and the season is a certainty.

Registration is online at mayso.org.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me, vice president of competitive soccer at info@mayso.org.

Meanwhile, if you have sports, fishing or event news and photos to share, please, submit them to news@islander.org.


Obituaries – 05-20-2020

Doris Jean Athans

Doris Jean (Biddle) Athans, 92, of Bradenton Beach, died April 27 at Serenity Gardens of Bradenton Assisted Living Residence.

She died peacefully of natural causes in the loving company of family and friends. A 35-year resident of Bradenton Beach, she enjoyed the beautiful Gulf of Mexico views and the friendly and caring community that she said was unique to Anna Maria Island.

She was born June 30, 1927, in the rural outskirts of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she spent her childhood with younger sister, Janet, and older step-brothers, Wayne and Red.

She later attended the University of Michigan, earning a degree in physical education, where she also met her husband, George Peter Athans, who played football for the Michigan Wolverines.

She remained a lifelong fan of Michigan football even after graduating and moving to Mount Kisco, New York, where she taught at the local elementary school while also receiving her master’s degree in teaching from Columbia University.

Shortly afterward, she joined the faculty of the local Boys and Girls Club and the park and recreation commission to provide recreational programming and instruction in children’s activities, pre-school education and summer camping recreation for more than 30 years.

From 1968 onward, she spent her summers in Bennington, New Hampshire, with her husband, and for more than 20 joyful years they ran Camp Winamac, a horseback riding and water sports camp. She always felt fortunate for her rich and adventurous life.

A family service will be announced at a later date.

Mrs. Athans is survived by two daughters and a son, as well as four grandchildren, who also revere her memory.


Joan Hampton Peery

Joan “Joann” Hampton Peery of Anna Maria died May 8. She was born Sept. 2, 1928, to the Revs. Joseph Hampton and Anna Hopper.

Her father, as well as her grandfather the Rev. Seaborn Hopper, were Methodist ministers.

She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in education on a Methodist Missionary scholarship.

Before public kindergartens existed, she helped establish private kindergartens at Methodist churches in Tennessee and Georgia. She surveyed the new “government city” of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for the Methodist Church, where three Methodist churches and a Methodist hospital were ultimately built. She was a popular Methodist church camp counselor and director of both senior and children’s choirs.

In 1951, she married William Whitley Peery Sr., a physicist with the Atomic Energy Commission. They moved from Tennessee to Atlanta and raised two sons after Mr. Peery was selected to help open the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new regional office.

Mrs. Peery was a teacher and educator in Tennessee and then in Georgia for many years until retirement at age 70.

The couple retired to Anna Maria Island.

She will be buried in a private service at the Peery plot in Maplewood Cemetery in Tazewell, Virginia. Memorial contributions may be made to the Anna Maria Island Garden Club, P.O. Box 4131, Anna Maria, FL 34216, or Roser Memorial Church, P.O. Box 247, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

Mrs. Peery is survived by two sons, William Whitley II and wife Deborah Curtis, and Joseph Hampton and wife Janet Brockus; grandchildren Jennifer Peery Logue, Clinton Curtis and Tammy Perryman; and great-grandchildren Vincent, Gabriella Guerra, Alex and Karissa Ibarra and Layla and Myah Guzman.


Robert L. Wampler


Robert L. Wampler, 64, of Holmes Beach, died April 28 at Tidewell Hospice.

He was born Dec. 27, 1955, in Harlingen, Texas to John and Sara Hendrix.

He met and married Debbie in Atlanta in 1978 and they moved to Anna Maria Island in 1979.

He was the owner of Bluewater Tile Installation for more than 30 years.

He was a kind and gentle soul who never met a stranger. He loved boating and fishing and taught many island visitors how to catch the big one.

He was an organic gardener and loved helping neighbors with their gardens. He was a loving and giving friend to all.

He will be missed by all who knew him.

Donations in his memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital online at www.stjude.org.

Mr. Wampler is survived by his wife, Debbie; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Randy and Brenda Evans; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Don and Sandy Greer; nephew Jon Ryan Taylor, niece Krista Butler; and his good friend since high school, Jim Redman.

Streetlife – 05-20-2020

Anna Maria

May 10, 400 block of Spring Avenue, assault. The MCSO responded to a report of an assault at about 1:15 a.m. A witness reported a fight taking place and that one person involved threatened to run over another person. An MCSO report said the dispatch received an abandoned 911 call and “the call turned into a fight which turned into a battery.”

May 10, 100 block of North Bay Boulevard, loud noise. The MCSO received a complaint at about 11 p.m. of a loud noise.

May 11, 100 block of Willow Avenue, fraud. The MCSO took a complaint of fraud. The complainant said a credit card went missing from a purse and was used in Tampa.

May 11, 800 block of Jacaranda Road, beverage violation. The MCSO dealt with a beverage violation at about 2:30 p.m.

May 12, 200 block of Palm Avenue, loud noise. The MCSO received a complaint about loud noise at about 10:33 p.m.

May 13, 400 block of Spring Avenue, loud noise. The MCSO received a complaint about loud noise at about 10 a.m. The complainant reported loud music next door but when law enforcement arrived there was no music playing.

May 13, 500 block of Kumquat Drive, suspicious vehicle. The MCSO received a report about 8 p.m. of a suspicious vehicle.

Anna Maria is policed by the MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

No new reports.

BBPD polices Bradenton Beach.


No new reports.

MCSO polices Cortez.

Holmes Beach

May 6, Hurricane Liquors, 5344 Gulf Drive, petit theft. The store manager called the Holmes Beach Police Department to report the theft of a bottle of vodka. The officer apprehended a man nearby. He was arrested and transported to the Manatee County jail.

May 9, 100 block of 50th Street, alcohol. While on patrol, an officer saw three juveniles drinking alcohol on the beach. The officer issued each a violation for consuming alcohol on a public beach. A parent retrieved the juveniles.

May 9, 4300 block of Gulf Drive, traffic. An officer received a license plate reader hit on a vehicle. Upon stopping the male motorist, the officer determined his driver’s license was suspended and he had an open container of alcohol. The alcohol was dumped and the man was released after being given a notice to appear, as well as a citation for possession of open alcohol in a motor vehicle.

May 9, 4300 block of Gulf Drive, traffic. The LPR system alerted the officer on patrol. The motorist was stopped and placed under arrest for driving an unregistered vehicle with a suspended license. He was issued two notices to appear. The vehicle was towed and the man was released.

May 10, 3900 block of Sixth Avenue, traffic. The officer on patrol was notified by the LPR system of a motorist with a suspended license. The female driver was given a notice to appear. She was released at the scene and a passenger drove the vehicle.

May 13, 300 block of 68th Street, noise. An HBPD officer was called to a noise complaint where he heard loud singing. The officer measured the sound with a decibel meter, determined the noise was excessive and issued a violation to the property owner.

HBPD polices Holmes Beach.

Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the BBPD, HBPD and MCSO.

The return of the king — the silver king runs in local waters

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Michael Corbino of Longboat Key holds onto his May 14 catch, a 100-plus pound tarpon, just long enough for a trophy photo. Corbino was guided by Capt. Warren Girle in the nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where he hooked up the silver king on a pass crab.

The long-awaited migration of tarpon to the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island is occurring, although the real push of fish has yet to arrive.

Targetable schools are here, but the numbers are spread thin.

And that’s not to say they weren’t being caught this past week.

In the weeks ahead, we should see a big influx in numbers of fish. And while we wait for the larger mass of tarpon to arrive, the sharks already have taken notice. Reports of hammerheads and bull sharks chasing tarpon are being heard daily, with some hammerheads exceeding 15 feet in length, and the bulls aren’t far behind.

Seeing these majestic creatures in their element is truly fascinating. That is, as long as you’re not in the water. Seeing them from a boat or the beach is optimum.

So as the tarpon population increases in our waters, you can expect to see more large sharks.

On the flats, catch-and-release snook and trout are dominating the bite. Finding clean water is key to getting in on the action. Areas where clean water exists usually have good tidal flow, lush grass flats and are free from floating seaweed and other debris. Casting live shiners as bait is working best for the snook. As for the seatrout, casting soft plastics on a jig head works well.

Moving offshore, blackfin tuna are the highlight for yet another week. Other migratory fish such as kingfish, African pompano and cobia are being found. Bottom fishing for snapper is resulting in many mangroves and yellowtails. Red grouper are being reeled up from the depths, too.

On my own excursions with Southernaire charters, I’m finding the catch-and-release snook action quite exhilarating. Fishing swift tides in areas of clean, clear water is resulting in many catch-and-release snook on the hook for my sportfishing clients. Casting live shiners around mangroves and oyster bars is proving to work best. Most snook catches are following 20-26 inches.

As for the trout, deeper grass areas are holding good numbers of fish. Strong incoming tides seem to be the best when targeting these buck-toothed fish. Live free-lined shiners or soft plastics are luring the trout to the hook.

Capt. Jason Stock is spending plenty of days on patrol along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key in search of tarpon. Scattered schools of fish are being found cruising within a few hundred yards of the beach, which makes them quite targetable in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Casting live crabs or threadfin herring is working to trigger a strike.

And with the tarpon come the sharks. Bull and hammerhead are most frequently being sighted.

In fact, Stock managed to have a 16-18 foot hammerhead take a bait and briefly stay on the line.

Moving offshore, Stock is finding blackfin tuna accommodating his clients. While targeting the tuna, Stock is encountering more sharks, one of which happened to be a tiger shark estimated to be 20 feet. Gives a new meaning to “Tiger King.”

Capt. Aaron Lowman is targeting catch-and-release snook along the mangrove shorelines of the Manatee River and ranging north to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Strong tides during the full moon were producing a great catch-and-release bite, but as the moon phase changed, the bite followed suit. Catch-and-release snook are being hooked frequently, but they’re just not as frenzied as during the full moon.

Catch-and-release spotted seatrout are being caught with regularity. Again, swift tides during the full moon produced a better bite then those tides occurring during the waning moon.

Capt. David White is investing most of his time pursuing tarpon. Fishing along the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key is worthy of sighting schools of fish, as well as in the passes to the north and south of Egmont Key. Casting live pass crabs or threadfin herring is proving to attract some action from the silver kings.

Moving offshore, African pompano and blackfin tuna are being caught by White’s clients on baits fished toward the surface.

Bottom fishing is resulting in red grouper, yellowtail and mangrove snappers. For bait, White is carrying an assortment — pinfish, sardines and shiners.

Capt. Warren Girle also is taking sportfishers to target tarpon along the Gulf beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Casting live pass crabs to schooling fish is Girle’s plan of attack.

Running up on fish that are daisy-chaining or slowly cruising in schools in depths of 10-20 feet of water just off the beach is producing action.

On a recent trip, Girle put a client on a hookup on the first cast of the day — a solid 100-pound fish.

Although this day started out with a bite, not every day does, but Girle is consistently leading clients to numerous hookups and trophy photos on his spring tarpon trips.

            Send high-resolution photos and fishing reports to fish@islander.org.

Eyes on the road 05-20-2020

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following notices:

  • State Road 684/Cortez Road at the Cortez Bridge: Crews will be working on the bridge. Motorists can expect intermittent east and westbound lane closures 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday, May 26-28.
  • State Road 64/Manatee Avenue at Perico Bayou and Palma Sola Bay bridges: Crews are working on the bridges. Motorists can expect lane closures 7 p.m.-6 a.m. Completion will be in the fall.
  • Multiple locations in Bradenton Beach: A county pipeline replacement project continues. Impacted areas include Bay Drive South, Bridge Street, Church Avenue and Cortez Road. Expect construction in rights of way and increased truck traffic.
  • Cortez Road and 119th Street West in Cortez: Work to realign the intersection of 119th Street West on Cortez Road/State Road 684 continues. Drivers can expect lane closures on Cortez Road from 123rd Street West to 86th Street West 10 p.m.-6 a.m. and on the south side of 119th Street West during the same period. Pedestrians can expect sidewalk closures.

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

— Lisa Neff