Santa visits with a fan during the Dec. 15 Christmas on Bridge Street celebration in Bradenton Beach. Santa rode in on the Anna Maria Island Privateers sleigh and the Privateers joined this year’s festivities for the first time to raise money for their ongoing effort to save the sleigh. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Christmas will be celebrated islandwide and include candlelight services, masses and sermons Sunday through Tuesday, Dec. 23-25.
St. Bernard Catholic Church
St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, will celebrate Mass at each service, including regular services Sunday, Dec. 23.
On Christmas Eve, a children’s Mass will be held at 4 p.m. and midnight Mass will begin at 10 p.m.
On Christmas Day, 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services will be held.
The Rev. Michael Mullen will officiate.
For more information, call 941-778-4769.
Episcopal Church of the Annunciation
Christmas Eve candlelight services at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.
On Christmas Day, there will be a 9:30 a.m. service at the church.
The Rev. Dee Ann de Montmollin will officiate.
For more information, call 941-778-1813.
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
With worship, carols, candlelight and Holy Communion, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church will celebrate Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at the church, 6608 Marina Drive.
On Christmas Day, worship service will begin at 9:30 a.m.
The Rev. Rosemary W. Backer will preside at the services.
For more information, call 941-778-1813.
A candlelight service at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve will be held to celebrate the holiday at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, according to the Rev. Ed Moss.
Regular Sunday services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. also will celebrate the season, Dec. 23.
There will be no service Dec. 25.
For more information, call 941-778-0719.
Roser Memorial Community Church
Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, will hold a Christmas Eve candlelight celebration service and Sing We Now of Christmas Nativity Pageant at 5:30 p.m., with music by Joyful Noise children’s choir, soloists and ensembles.
At 9 p.m. Christmas Eve, a traditional candlelight service, will feature “Shepherd Story” and music by the choir, soloists and ensembles.
On Christmas Day, the church will celebrate at 10 a.m. service in the chapel.
The Rev. Gary A. Batey is the pastor of the nondenominational Christian church.
For more information, call 941-778-0414.
Longboat Island Chapel
The Longboat Island Chapel will feature a candlelight service at 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve at the church, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key.
A Sunday worship service will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 23, with the Rev. Charlie Shook will preside at the services.
For more information, call 941-383-6491.
Christ Church of Longboat Key
“The Wondrous Gift” will be the Christmas Eve sermon by the Rev. Bruce W. Porter at a 7 p.m. candlelight service at the Christ Church of Longboat Key, 6400 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key.
At 10 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 23, “One Foot in Heaven” will be Porter’s sermon at the church.
There are no Christmas Day services.
For more information, call 941-383-8833.
Harvey Memorial Community Church
Harvey Memorial Community Church, 300 Church Ave., Bradenton Beach, will worship at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 23.
For more information call 941-779-1912 or 727-433-2584.
The Florida Department of Transportation will begin a study in January for a replacement of the Cortez Bridge.
Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Mike Howe told members of the Island Transportation and Planning Organization Dec. 10 that the study would take about a year.
He said public meetings will be held after the study’s completion to discuss options, much as they were in 2006, when the DOT began discussing the possible replacement of the Anna Maria Island Bridge on State Road 64/Manatee Avenue.
The DOT study will look at all possible scenarios for the bridge on State Road 70/Cortez Road, Howe said, including cost of a major rehabilitation of the bridge, if feasible.
During DOT public meetings in 2009 for a new Anna Maria Island Bridge, residents gave opinions of the various options presented by the DOT. The majority of written comments favored a new, two-lane, low-rise bascule bridge with emergency traffic lanes. The public rejected a high-rise bridge. The DOT has yet to include the new bridge in a five-year plan.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy said the type of bridge is not as important as where the DOT puts it.
“Right on to Longboat Key,” he said tongue-in-cheek.
“Every afternoon rush hour, all the Longboat Key traffic backs up in Bradenton Beach,” Shaughnessy said.
Politicians have discussed a bridge direct from the mainland to Longboat Key for more than 40 years without success.
Cortez bridge rehabilitation
The DOT has one bridge project for Anna Maria Island in its tentative five-year plan for capacity, resurfacing and bridge projects.
Rehabilitation and repair of the Cortez Bridge for an estimated $6.1 million is in the plan, but no start date for construction was listed. The repairs would be for the bridge and State Road 684/Cortez Road to just west of 127th Street, Cortez.
A not-guilty jury verdict in the three-year-old lawsuit waged by the family of a Deltona man who died in a watercraft accident near a staging area for an artificial reef project at Longboat Pass at south Coquina Beach appears headed to yet more litigation.
“We’re appealing everything,” plaintiff’s attorney Tiffany Faddis of Faddis & Faddis P.A of Orlando said last week.
As one of two attorneys for the personal representative of Jose H. Medina and Christie L. Soto during the five-day trial ending Nov. 19, Faddis said an appellate lawyer has been retained for the appeal in the wrongful death case.
A week after the verdict, the plaintiff’s attorneys filed motions seeking a new trial and 12th Judicial Circuit Judge Diana Moreland’s recusal from further proceedings.
An affidavit by Medina’s widow claims Moreland deprived her of a fair trial, and listed 17 grounds, including improper evidentiary rulings as well as anger, hostility, animosity, disrespect and a demeaning attitude toward plaintiff’s trial attorney Eric H. Faddis.
The recusal motion alleges a “well-founded fear she will not receive a fair hearing on account of the bias and prejudice of Judge Moreland against plaintiff and her counsel.”
Earlier this month, Moreland denied Faddis’ recusal motion.
A five-day trial, alleging negligence and involving admiralty law, ended with a defense verdict that found no negligence on the part of McMulley Marine Services Inc. and Pine Island Towing Company. Manatee County awarded McCulley Marine Services the contract for the reef project in May 2009. Pine Island Towing operated the barge.
The judge dismissed the county from the suit on a summary judgment motion before the jury was seated Nov. 13. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the other defendants, Tug Champion Inc. and captains of the vessels, John W. McCulley, Michael Hollingsworth and Roland Blakely.
Medina drowned under the barge while attempting to preserve his disabled personal watercraft July 4, 2009, after he and friends had launched recreational vessels from Coquina Beach Bayside Park.
The tug and the barge were brought from Marco Island to Longboat Pass July 3, 2009, and were moored in the 530-foot channel. It is undisputed that at the time of the accident, the tug and barge were stationary, and the personal watercraft was drifting.
The trial included expert and other testimony relating to admiralty law and an issue about mooring in narrow parts of the waterway on the day Medina and friends ventured out on the watercrafts.
The appeal will seek to overturn the jury verdict, as well as Manatee County’s dismissal due to its limited participation, having hired independent tug and barge contractors, according to plaintiff’s attorney Tiffany Faddis.
As of The Islander press time, the court had not ruled on the request for a new trial.
There were more questions than answers for Holmes Beach commissioners Dec.11 on the future of the proposed Mainsail Anna Maria Lodge at the corner of Marina and Gulf drives.
Earlier in the day, Mainsail Lodging and Development president Joe Collier and two others showed Mayor Carmel Monti, Commissioner Judy Titsworth and the city building staff a site plan for a 120-seat restaurant, bar and lodging complex of 20 buildings, including 31 townhomes and nine hotel units at 5325 Marina Drive. The project also includes a marina that has operated for several years, with the city leasing a portion of the docks to Mainsail.
In 2001, the commission approved the proposal for the property known as Tidemark Lodge, when Carlingford Development Company was the developer.
It was linked to a commercial zoning change, with special exceptions and conditions, including 111 parking spaces, lodging limited to transient guests of no more than 120 days and an Old Florida architectural style. The Tidemark property was sold after a bankruptcy in 2004 and, according to county records, is now owned by Mainsail AMI Marina LLLP of Tampa and George Glaser of Bradenton.
Commission Chair Jean Peelen said the ownership has changed numerous times.
Peelen and Commissioner David Zaccagnino said Mainsail should have made a presentation before the commission. Zaccagnino asked whether Mainsail knew it needed to be briefed with their plans, and was responsible for approving any site plan changes.
Monti said he wasn’t sure the current developer knew the politics of the city. He said he agreed to Collier’s staff visit to discern the developer’s intentions, although the developer advised he was unable to make the commission meeting.
“Frankly I’m glad they didn’t waste the city council’s time because it was not a very meaningful meeting,” Monti said, referring to the city commission and adding there are complicated site-plan expiration issues the city needs to fully understand.
Later in the meeting, Titsworth reported Mainsail representatives showed the group a site plan, but not floor plans. They want to move slowly, building-by-building as units sell, she said. Titsworth questioned how that would work with a resort community.
The city’s 2001 resolution approving the development tied the site plan to elevations, special exceptions and parking requirements, and there’s no longer a valid lease for parking with the bank, she added.
Commissioner Marvin Grossman said he is “very concerned” about the parking.
Titsworth said she had a “ton of questions” Mainsail representatives weren’t prepared to answer, but they offered to make a future presentation to the commission. She asked Monti to make sure that happens.
While she hoped the city could work with Mainsail, she said if the commission is not satisfied, she favored moving to revoke or amend the site plan.
Building inspector David Greene said he expected to be working with the old site plan’s footings, foundation, building location, height and design.
At the staff meeting, city officials asked for Mainsail’s civil design plans and a current schedule of proposed construction, he said.
The developer’s most recent project schedule called for a Nov. 1 “start date” for site cleanup as well as for site and civil designs plans for two buildings, and set Nov. 26 and Dec. 15 for architectural designs and Dec. 1 for permit submission and review.
None of these items have been submitted, according to city building officials.
After the meeting in a phone interview, Collier said Mainsail would be revising the project schedule. He blamed the recent change in the city building department staff for delays, but said he was “ready to march forward.”
“We’re spending money for engineers and architects and pre-development sales and marketing,” he added.
He expected construction to begin in the first quarter of 2013.
A Nov. 27 meeting had been set for the Mainsail presentation before the commission, but the city rescheduled the meeting to Nov. 20. Monti said two dates for a commission presentation had been canceled by the developer.
Collier said he’s waiting to hear back from the city staff to arrange a meeting after the holiday “so their architect and project manager can walk through the sequencing,” and then, he said, Mainsail will be ready to submit for permits.
He said he did not know anything about the city commission wanting a presentation.
In September, then-Mayor Rich Bohnenberger asked the commission to begin a revocation process for the project, calling it an abandoned construction site, and commissioners agreed.
City officials then said the sales trailer permit expired and the condition of the site amounted to a code violation.
In October, the developer told Bohnenberger Mainsail intended to kick start the project, and if need be, defend its right to the entitlements with litigation.
The commission agreed to back off revocation proceedings, and instead called for sunset provisions for future site plans.
Those provisions were on the Dec. 11 agenda, and commissioners unanimously approved them as an amendment to the land development code.
City attorney Patricia Petruff said developers will now be required to show “reasonable continuous progress” and clarifies current requirements for site plan expiration.
The amendment also requires:
• A building permit applied for within 90 days of site-plan approval, with a one-time 90-day extension.
• Additional extensions approved by the commission.
• If an active permit is not maintained, the site plan will be voided.
• Site plan shall expire three years after the date of the site plan unless decided otherwise by the commission.
Giving an example of the new law, she said, “It doesn’t allow someone to get a building permit for an underground sewer connection, and that be the only permit they would receive for five years.”
Petruff added, however that for the amendment to make sense, additional proposed LDC changes — adopting the state building code as required by the state’s Emergency Management Division — were needed. She said she’d left with the city’s building department for review a couple months ago, and they were never returned and added to the code.
While Holmes Beach residents have been packing city meetings in the past year to complain about huge houses, investors moving residents out of the city’s housing stock and renter-related problems, at a Dec.11 meeting, it was the turn of new owners, contractors and others to voice their opinions about a proposed building moratorium.
About 20 peaceful protesters wore green imprinted shirts, stating “No Construction Means No Jobs,” and two Holmes Beach police officers monitored the Dec. 11 meeting.
A draft ordinance to stop tear downs, rebuilds and new construction for six months in the R-2 district was discussed. It included a Dec. 6 retroactive date so as not to cause a rush on building permits.
Fourteen contractors and owners voiced their opinions — mostly against the retroactive date and six-month provision — and by the meeting’s end, the commission was swayed to take out the retroactive date and replace it with Dec. 25, a “Christmas present,” as suggested by Commissioner David Zaccagnino, and change the draft moratorium’s duration to “up to” six months.
Along with these revisions, at a second meeting last week, a consensus of commissioners agreed to limit the impact of the moratorium to future construction equivalent to 50 percent of a home’s existing market value.
The proposed moratorium is expected to be up for a commission vote at the meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Jack Sandleman of Gulf Drive spoke to the duration issue. “Perhaps six months is a bit too long,” he said, suggesting a 90-day moratorium.
Janice Martinez said she’d begun demolishing a home Dec. 11. “And now I found out we can’t start construction for six months. What’s up with that?”
She told commissioners she wants to live in Holmes Beach with her children — who have been coming to the island every summer — and her grandchildren.
“Be fair to people like us. We’re not building a home to rent,” Martinez added. “Can you make an exception for people who want to live in this community and be part of this community and help this community grow?
“What about our economy? And all the people out here in green shirts who earn their living on the island, in a very honorable and noble profession? Think about that before you start taking away our rights, please.”
James Martin, a contractor from Bradenton, said, “We’re a small company and don’t have a lot of employees, but they have families. To stop all construction for six months is too much. It’s tough enough with the economy as is.”
Code enforcement board member John Wise said, “You’re talking only about 10 houses” and listening “only to the squeaky wheel,” not a satisfied majority of citizens.
Scott Boyd of Baronet Lane told commissioners to consider the possible cost of litigation.
Eric Yonkee, who’s been building a home for the past several months, feared he’d be held to the backdated moratorium.
However, Commission Chair Jean Peelen said so long as a permit is filed with the city building department before the moratorium effective date, he would not be affected.
Bradenton attorney Louis Najmy, representing Beach to Bay Construction, among other contractors, businesses and property owners, next approached the podium.
“I get that you want to ensure the island isn’t overbuilt,” he said, adding he understood the big house focus.
Najmy told Peelen, “I can’t stop connecting your manifesto to this ordinance that is solely targeted to demolitions in R-2 district properties and a potential goal to stop one builder — Beach to Bay Construction.”
Najmy suggested the city “do it for all zoning districts,” and only for three months.
Resident and contractor Darrin Wash of Wash Family Construction said he understood the moratorium was about duplexes and underground footers, but asked why six months. “It’s going to hurt the green shirt people here. It’s going be a big impact on us contractors,” he said.
City attorney Patricia Petruff said the planning commission needed time for its review, and both the city and planning boards had to follow legal requirements for public hearings and notices.
Peelen said, “Our commitment up here is that we’ll do it absolutely as expeditiously as possible.”
Wash continued, “Six months to you is like business as usual for you guys. We aren’t coming to your jobs and saying you can’t work for six months.”
Commissioner Judy Titsworth said, “This issue is not just about the duplexes. We have a developer, developers, who haven’t been looking at the comprehensive plan.
“The multi-family seasonal tourist has crept into our R-2 district while we were sleeping,” she added, referring to the change from small rental houses for one family to many families sharing the new multi-story homes.
David Scott of Palm Drive added another consideration, “The moratorium is going to discourage people from buying because of the uncertainty.”
The city commission of Holmes Beach was to hold a reception for retiring Police Chief Jay Romine after press time for The Islander, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, in city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.
Romine will retire Dec. 20 after 19 years in the top law enforcement spot.
Commission Chair Jean Peelen welcomes all to attend the gathering as well as a formal presentation in Romine’s honor immediately following the reception and during the 7 p.m. commission meeting, also in city hall.
At the time of his appointment, Romine was the youngest police chief in the state. He served the city more than 26 years, beginning as a patrol officer in 1979, and advancing to patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, lieutenant, assistant chief and chief.
Romine also chief contributed his expertise and experience to numerous local, state, national and international associations and boards.
He currently serves as secretary/treasurer for the Florida Police Chiefs Association; a member of Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice Executive Institute Policy Board; state representative to the State Association of Chiefs of Police; member of Tampa Bay Chiefs of Police Association; chair of the Manatee County Law Enforcement Council; and chair of the Manatee Technical Institute Criminal Justice Academy Advisory Board and Board of Governors.
For more information, call Peelen at 941-896-5827 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly Osborn isn’t answering whether she will cooperate with a Florida Department Law Enforcement request to release requested evidence needed to conclude the investigation into her daughter’s 2009 death in Bradenton Beach.
Sheena Morris, 22, was found dead in a BridgeWalk Resort room hanging from the shower head by a dog leash. Her death was ruled a suicide, but later changed to undetermined in 2011 after a private forensic pathologist spoke to the medical examiner about his conclusions.
It was Dr. Michael Berkland’s contention — hired by Osborn — from the file photos that the crime scene could have been staged. However, Berkland’s reputation was called into question when it was discovered that he had twice been fired from medical examiner duties. A storage unit belonging to Berkland also was found to have human organs being stored in common household containers.
Osborn’s contention is that her daughter was murdered and a public campaign to have her daughter’s death investigated further came to fruition in September when an FDLE SMART panel recommended that the Bradenton Beach Police Department take additional steps in its investigation.
BBPD Police Chief Sam Speciale administratively reopened the case, and FDLE agents were assigned to assist the department.
The investigation stalled last month when BBPD — at the behest of FDLE — requested Morris’ computer, medical and psychological records. Osborn refused to release the items to BBPD.
She has maintained that BBPD botched her daughter’s death investigation and, in a letter back to Speciale, said she had no intention of releasing anything to his department.
Her refusal to cooperate spurred a Dec. 3 letter from FDLE Special Agent in charge John Burke to Osborn asking for her cooperation in releasing the requested items. Osborn has insisted that BBPD be removed from the investigation and that FDLE take charge.
Burke explained to Osborn that FDLE has no jurisdictional authority to take over an investigation and that BBPD remains in control of the investigation, but with FDLE assistance.
The Islander obtained a copy of Burke’s letter under a public records request and Osborn then expressed displeasure over the letter’s release, although other communications between Osborn and BBPD have been made public.
Following The Islander Dec. 12 report on Burke’s letter, Osborn sent an email to the city of Bradenton Beach, calling once again for FDLE to take over the investigation. She also called for disciplinary action to be taken against Speciale for the release of the letter as public record.
Osborn complained that the letter was “confidential” and it should not have been released.
However, in spite of Osborn’s protest, the letter was not marked confidential.
FDLE also has confirmed that the letter was not marked confidential.
Osborn would not answer questions from The Islander if she would cooperate and release the requested items to BBPD.
Burke further offered to have FDLE agents pick up the items, but she cited a request from Burke to limit her public comments on the investigation as a reason not to respond to further questions.
Burke explained in his letter to Osborn that her continual public appearances discussing the investigation could be harmful to the investigation.
However, on learning of The Islander’s Dec. 12 story, she contacted other media outlets insisting to them that Speciale released a “confidential” letter during an open investigation.
She also accused The Islander of wrongdoing by reporting FDLE’s push for her cooperation.
“Your paper will reap the repercussions of your actions,” she said in a Dec. 11 email to The Islander.
In regards to whether she will comply with the FDLE request, Osborn told The Islander, “I cannot respond at this time. The release of this letter is under review,” but she would not say by whom.
“You will be hearing plenty about this article that was published, and it won’t be from me,” Osborn wrote to The Islander.
Osborn accused The Islander of misleading the public by reporting that the investigation is an “administrative” action, but Speciale is in charge and can and has termed the reopening as administrative in nature.
In a Dec. 13 email, Osborn backed away from her statements against The Islander, saying, “My issue isn’t with you publishing the article. My issue is with the chief releasing it … the chief knew or should know as law enforcement that this is an open investigation.”
However, it is not classified as an open investigation, according to Speciale.
The Islander pressed Osborn for a yes or no answer if she intended to cooperate with the FDLE request, but she has opted not to reply.
As of press time, BBPD and FDLE say there was no response as to her intentions.
Steve Gianiotes readies Lima the llama for the Bethlehem Walk in Anna Maria.
Four generations in Hal Kesyer’s family, including 101-year-young Hal, BJ Love, Rosanne Tennyson and Emery Vulgan, gather before the Dec. 15 Bethlehem Walk with others from the Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria.
Solemn onlookers learn there is no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph to spend the night Dec. 15 during the Bethlehem Walk at Roser Memorial Community Church in Anna Maria.
With the Rev. Gary Batey presiding, three kings bear gifts for Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus Dec. 15 at Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.
Bosun Duytschaver as Jesus, Julia and Shawn Duytschaver as Mary and Joseph greet the crowd Dec. 15 in front of Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, after the Bethlehem Walk.