Tag Archives: Community

Beach washout evident, renourishment planned

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Bradenton Beach’s southernmost groin, created an escarpment, revealing a rope and bollards — part of a divider that protected the dune from being trampled by people. Islander Photo: Courtesy David Herrmann

The beach will have to endure another hurricane season, but the Gulf of Mexico shoreline on Anna Maria Island will be renourished in 2019.

Hurricane and storm season runs May 1-Nov. 31.

Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, said in an interview Jan. 8 that two renourishment projects, spanning 5.4 miles of beachfront south from 79th Street in Holmes Beach to Longboat Pass, are in the works for 2019.

Beginning in November 2019, the first project will bring sand to the shoreline from 79th Street to Fifth Street South in Bradenton Beach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pay for 54 percent of the project, with supplemental and emergency funding appropriated from the U.S. Congress to counteract erosion caused by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, according to Hunsicker.

The state and Manatee County will split the remaining costs of island renourishment at 23 percent each.

Hunsicker said he expects the project to total $16 million.

“As a result of Hurricane Irma, we have a full year-and-a-half to two-year head start on addressing what would have otherwise been the erosion due to this last storm,” Hunsicker said. “If we had a completely healthy beach and observed these erosional losses, and then started the process today, it would take us at least another year-and-a-half to get to where we are right now.”

The cost of the second project will be split between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Manatee County and the state of Florida, with FEMA covering 75 percent and the state and county sharing the remainder.

The project will span the shore from Fifth Street South to Longboat Pass and cost about $4 million, according to Hunsicker.

“We hope to piggyback on the contractor that the army engineers will be using, so instead of stopping at Bradenton Beach and packing up and leaving, they can stay right with it and keep on going under a separate and independent contract to do the Coquina Beach segment, and thereby save substantially in local and state dollars,” Hunsicker said.

Mobilization costs for large beach renourishment projects can range from $4 million-$6 million before the first shovel is turned, according to Hunsicker.

In total, the projects would replace more than 700,000 cubic yards of sand lost to erosion and cost around $20 million. Hunsicker expects the work to last three-four months.

The sand will be dredged from a sandbar offshore of the northern end of Anna Maria Island and pumped in pipes to the renourishment area.

Hunsicker said a dump truck can load up to 10 cubic yards of sand at once, and to meet the project requirements would require 70,000 truckloads — an effort that would cost significantly more than dredging and pumping the sand.

A couple of recent storms have furthered the erosion caused by Irma.

Bradenton Beach resident David Herrmann said erosion is apparent north of the groins at Cortez Beach and is within 10 feet of a multiuse path that stretches from Cortez Beach to Coquina Beach.

“I’ve seen this beach come and go for 30 years and this is probably about the worst I have ever seen it,” Herrmann said in an interview Jan. 8.

While he isn’t concerned the erosion will impact his property, he is worried for the multiuse path and utility poles west of Gulf Drive.

“If we have another storm like we just had, it’s going to cut back even more, and the path will collapse. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “It’s a concern that will become a problem if we get two more storms like those that came through a couple weeks ago. If we get a hurricane, it’s gone.”

Hunsicker said beaches on the Gulf lose 10 feet in depth and width every year due to “an aggressive wave climate that actually has the effect of pulling the sand off the beach, like grabbing a bedspread off of your bed and pulling it onto the floor.”

To counteract the erosion, renourishment projects replace the lost sand so that the Gulf doesn’t eat farther into the beach.

“We put that sand out there, fully expecting it to be sacrificed under very heavy storm conditions,” Hunsicker said. “Rather than farther upland.”

Additionally, groins can help preserve and build upon the existing beach, as they trap sand moving down the beach via the drift current by slowing the sand and changing its direction.

“The new groins (in Bradenton Beach) kept the footprint of the sand in place,” Hunsicker said. “We didn’t lose that much sand there around the groin.”

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie agreed, saying that “in effect, with the recent storms, the groins and the dune system did exactly what they were supposed to do: protect infrastructure.”

Suzi Fox, director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, told The Islander erosion would have no effect on sea turtles or shorebirds while nesting is in its off-season, but would need to revisited when sea turtles begin nesting in May.

“It’s nothing new,” Fox said Jan. 8.

“Historically, that sand comes and goes. We’re a barrier island. That’s just going to happen.”

Trolley driver recovers girl’s plush pet, missing backpack

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Addison McGoey hugs Rudolph, her cherished toy buffalo, Jan. 12 on its return to her in New Jersey. Islander Photo: Courtesy Theresa McGoey
Patricia Adams drives an island trolley. Islander Photo: Courtesy MCAT/Keven Sheerin

It’s a tale of a damsel in distress, a hero and a happy ending.

It starts with the McGoey family of New Jersey as they wind up their holiday on Anna Maria Island Jan. 2, piling their belongings into the back of a rental car.

En route to the airport, already in Bradenton near U.S. 41, they noticed the tailgate was open and 12-year-old Addison McGoey’s backpack, containing Rudolph the buffalo, a stuffed animal and her constant companion, was missing.

It was important enough to send the family back to the island on a search.

They circled back, retracing their route to where they began in Anna Maria at Elm Avenue, but they had no luck.

In spite of their efforts, Rudolph and the black backpack were not found.

Enter island trolley driver Patricia Adams. She was driving her route that day when she spotted a black backpack on the side of the street near Ginny’s and Jane E’s Coastal Store and Bakery Cafe.

Adams stopped the trolley and picked up the backpack to put in the lost and found, thinking a rider might claim the item. She also started to do a little investigating.

“I looked up the local Craigslist lost and found and there it was,” she told The Islander. “So, I called the number and made arrangements about sending it back.”

Adams has been driving for Manatee County Area Transit for 12 years, spending the past two years on the trolley loop.

“She is one of our very best drivers,” Kevin Sheerin, MCAT supervisor in the trolley division, said Jan. 10 of Adams.

He said Adams was nominated for state operator of the year in 2018 and would be nominated again.

The McGoey family was thrilled by her extra effort, and the return of the much-loved Rudolph.

Mom Theresa said Addison was facing the probability she would never see Rudolph again. The toy was a gift at age 3, and she towed it everywhere.

“She maintained her composure until we got home to New Jersey. Then I think it hit her she might never get it back. When I got the call from Adams, I sent Addison a text,” McGoey said.

“I’ve never seen so many Os, Ms and Gs,” McGoey said.

“When I picked her up from school, she was all smiles,” she continued.

This was not the first time Rudolph was lost. In 2011, on another vacation, the furry buffalo got lost at the White House during the Easter egg roll on the South Lawn.

“He fell out of my purse,” McGoey said. “We told Addison Rudolph must have had some important business with the president. We found him in the White House lost and found.”

McGoey surmised, maybe he just likes to strike out on adventures of his own.

Rudolph and the backpack arrived by UPS Jan. 12 at the McGoey home in Summit.

“I told my daughter, there are a lot of good people out there,” McGoey said. “This just proves it once again.”

AME PTO — students, community — look forward to Dolphin Dash

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Gabriella Gilbert of Anna Maria Elementary pushes for the finish line Jan. 14, 2017, at the AME-Parent-Teacher Organization Dolphin Dash. Gabriella was the first-place winner in her 9-and-under female division. This year’s dash will be Jan. 19. Islander File Photo: Karen Riley-Love

Enthusiasm for the 13th annual Dolphin Dash has Gabriella Gilbert running laps.

The 5K race and 1-mile fun run at Anna Maria Elementary School is Saturday, Jan. 19. Gabriella, a fifth-grader at AME, has been training by running laps around the school basketball court during recess and rising early to exercise at home.

Her mom, Lindy Gilbert, president of Lux Carts, at 309 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, said her daughter has participated in the run every year since kindergarten.

“She absolutely loves running and loves the opportunity to give it her best — to give it her all,” Gilbert said in an interview Jan. 10. “It’s really great to see that.”

Competitiveness drives Gabriella to participate, and her zeal drives her mom to run.

“She always wants mommy to run with her, and then she leaves me in the dust,” Gilbert said. “I’m usually bringing up the rear with all my friends.”

Whether finishing first or last, Gilbert said it is impossible not to have a good time at the event.

“I haven’t found another group activity that just makes you feel so good!” she said. “Everybody cheers you on. Everybody comes together. You always seem to perform better than your fears make you think you might. It’s all positive, and I wish everyone on the island could share in the experience because it is wonderful.”

Principal Jackie Featherston said in an interview Jan. 7 that she is excited for the race, and will enjoy it from the sidelines.

“I don’t do the run,” she said. “Mostly I help with the setup and stuff like that. I’ll do whatever needs to be done to keep it running smoothly.”

The event, coordinated by Kelly Gitt and supported by the Bradenton Runners Club, will benefit the AME Parent-Teacher Organization.

Nichole Teich, president of the PTO, said in an interview Jan. 11 the race is the third-biggest annual fundraiser for the organization, behind the fall fest and spring gala.

The race will be Jan. 19, with registration at 7 a.m. in the south parking lot at AME, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

The 5K will begin at 8 a.m. and the 1-Mile Fun Run will start at 9 a.m. After the race, awards will be presented and every participant will receive a race swag bag.

“Just come and be there and go for it,” Gilbert said. “It’s all good. Even if you walk or if you get cramps, everybody is cheering you on and rallying around each other. Honestly, I don’t see how anything negative could come from it. Whatever happens, it’s going to end up being positive and as a really great memory for everyone.”

For more information, visit runsignup.com/race/fl/holmesbeach/dolphindash5kand1milefun.

BB sunshine lawsuit defendants depose ex-mayor, city clerk

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Jack Clarke, complainant in a lawsuit and former mayor of Bradenton Beach, awaits his deposition Jan. 7 at Vincent M. Lucente & Associates, a court reporting office in Bradenton.
Tjet Martin, left, a defendant in the Bradenton Beach sunshine lawsuit, is seated Jan. 7 with her partner and former Mayor Bill Shearon, and the five other defendants, Bill Vincent, Reed Mapes, Patty Shay, Rose Vincent and John Metz, prior to a scheduled deposition at the court reporter’s office in Bradenton.
Attorney Thomas Shults, counsel for Bradenton Beach sunshine lawsuit defendant John Metz, prepares Jan. 7 to depose ex-Mayor Jack Clarke, a plaintiff in the suit.
Bradenton Beach city clerk Terri Sanclemente waits with attorney Robert Watrous before her Jan. 9 deposition in the Bradenton Beach versus six citizens lawsuit.

The defendants say the lawsuit is political and was filed in bad faith.

A plaintiff says he sued because the former Bradenton Beach board members broke the law.

A lawsuit filed in August 2017 by ex-Mayor Jack Clarke and joined by the city against six former city board members alleges violations of Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws.

And the case is heating up.

Clarke was deposed Jan. 7 by Jim Dye, attorney for defendant Reed Mapes, and Thomas Shults, defendant John Metz’s attorney.

City clerk Terri Sanclemente was deposed Jan. 9 by Dye and Shults.

The city’s attorney for the suit, Robert Watrous, and paralegal Michael Barfield also attended the depositions, which totaled nearly 10 hours, adding to the city’s legal fees, which now exceed $110,000.

Clarke apparently paid no legal fees and has no financial liability in the lawsuit based on an agreement signed by the city with Watrous.

The suit alleges violations of chapters 119 and 286 of the Florida Statutes by former board members Mapes, Metz, Tjet Martin, Patty Shay, and Bill and wife Rose Vincent, who were then members of the grass-roots group known as Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach.

Bill Vincent founded CNOBB as “an all-volunteer organization that advocates for and enhances the quality of life in Bradenton Beach,” according to the now-defunct group’s mission statement.

But Clarke and the city disagree with CNOBB’s mission, claiming the board members violated Sunshine Laws by discussing city matters at meetings and through emails and text messages, in their efforts to overstep the city and amend the charter through citizen initiatives, bypassing the city’s charter review mechanism.

Clarke’s deposition began with Shults asking Clarke if he understands what it means to act in “bad faith,” to which Clarke responded, “That’s not in my lexicon.”

Clarke, Metz and the city have a history of political and legal disputes, including a lawsuit filed by Metz seeking to have Clarke’s name removed from the ballot for the May 19, 2015, mayoral recall vote.

Metz alleged Clarke failed to comply with the state’s “resign-to-run” law. However, the judge was not prepared to rule on the merits of the lawsuit without further study of the authorities, so Metz voluntarily dismissed the case, according to Metz.

During the Jan. 7 deposition, Shults determined that Clarke had not attended any planning and zoning board meetings in 2017, meetings where he claims parking garages were discussed.

However, Clarke claims the former board members violated Sunshine Laws during a CNOBB meeting when they allegedly discussed proposing a charter amendment that would prevent future multilevel parking structures in the city’s community redevelopment district.

Through discovery, Shults determined that Clarke had extensive communications with a reporter for The Sun newspaper, who followed CNOBB’s actions once the group formed and also had attended P&Z board meetings.

Additionally, one of the exhibits presented by Shults was an Aug. 1, 2017, email from reporter Joe Hendricks to Barfield stating CNOBB had committed a possible Sunshine Law violation.

Barfield is known locally for his involvement in a lawsuit that resulted in a commissioner recall in 2010 in Anna Maria and other Sunshine lawsuits in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

In the email, Hendricks sent a link to an article he wrote regarding the possible violation and a recording of a July 25, 2017, CNOBB meeting when the alleged parking garage discussion took place.

The city voted to join Clarke in the lawsuit a week later, Aug. 7, 2017.

During Sanclemente’s Jan. 9 deposition, Shults inquired about who prepared her affidavit for the lawsuit.

She answered that she did not write or index the affidavit, but she signed the document that was emailed to her. She said she does not remember who wrote it.

As city clerk, Sanclemente is the keeper of the city’s public records.

Shults asked Sanclemente how the city disposes of public records — both hard copies and electronic.

She said hard copies of public records that are more than two years old are reviewed, and the police department takes unimportant documents to Tampa to be burned.

She said that as far as she knows, electronic records never have been purged, but she is working on a “disbursement list” of records for an IT company to remove from the city server.

She said the building department has a similar process, but requires state paperwork detailing the list.

Additionally, Shults asked how text messages to and from city officials are handled as public record. Sanclemente said staff and city officials are instructed not to text on city cellphones but, if they do, they have been told to save the exchange as an email and preserve the record by sending it to her.

Shults asked if she received many emailed text message records from staff and officials, to which Sanclemente replied, “No.”

At the end of the deposition, Shults made a records request to Sanclemente through Watrous, for a copy of the building department’s state form for document destruction and her disbursement list of removed emails.

He also requested a copy of the employee handbook outlining department and employee responsibilities, a document Sanclemente referred to in stating the duties of deputy clerks.

Additionally, Dye requested a copy of a meeting notice, as it would appear on the door of city hall.

A hearing for a motion of partial summary judgment for legal fees is planned for Jan. 31 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W. Bradenton.

Mediation for the parties with attorney Jack Hawkins is scheduled for Feb. 25 at the law offices of Grimes Goebel Grimes Hawkins Gladfelter & Galvano, 1023 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

At a case management conference Dec. 3, Judge Lon Arend of the Manatee County 12th Judicial Circuit Court ordered a nonjury trial the week of March 18.

Clams for Bradenton Beach living shoreline near delivery

Clams destined for Bradenton Beach’s living shoreline are being bagged for delivery on Pine Island.
City engineer Lynn Burnett told Community Redevelopment Agency members Jan. 9 that Carter Davis of Farm Raised Clams of Southwest Florida in James City on the south end of Pine Island is packaging 200,000 top-neck clams for the city.
She expects the shellfish to be seeded near the Historic Bridge Street Pier in late January or mid-February.
The process includes collecting broken shells, which will be placed with the clams to stave off predators, according to Burnett.

The next step in building the living shoreline will be to transport the clams from James City to Bradenton Beach. Delivery will be on a refrigerated truck provided by CRA member Ed Chiles.

The CRA also determined that local fishers will be hired to place the shellfish in the water at the pier.

CRA commissioners voted in December 2018 to purchase the clams for $32,000, with an additional $8,000 in funds to cover placement and permitting.

Chiles, who attended the meeting by speakerphone, said he is happy with the project.

The city purchased clams too mature to be consumed, but with thick enough shells to prevent predation, and the clams will have the ability to effectively reproduce.

Chiles noted, the James City clams are ideal for a restoration project because of their survivability.

“I can’t wait for those clams to be in the water,” he said.

CRA sets public workshop for Bridge Street improvements

Property owners and tenants will soon get their say on the future of Bridge Street.

Community Redevelopment Agency members Jan. 9 voted 7-0 to hold a public workshop at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, to hear opinions on possible improvements to the street.

Storyboards will be drawn by contractor Emily Anne Smith to show options, including changing the commercial strip to a one-way or closed street.

The CRA district is bordered by Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico. The area was deemed blighted in 1992, leading to the creation of the CRA and the use of county tax funds to promote restoration, growth and tourism.

The CRA includes the mayor, city commissioners and two appointed members, John Horne and Ed Chiles.

Smith, who was hired by the CRA in August 2018 to provide an aesthetic vision for the historic district, said the workshop should provide the feedback she needs.

At the meeting Jan. 9, she told CRA members she is ready to get to work on her designs.

“I want you to let me do my job,” she said. “I have been pulled, stretched, in different directions for months. Give me something to do.”
Smith said she has a list of questions to present at the workshop.

One question is how best to supplement parking on Bridge Street. Smith said one idea is to shuttle people from Cortez Beach parking using golf carts.

Angela Rodocker, owner and operator of the BridgeWalk Resort, 100 Bridge St., attended the Jan. 9 meeting and told CRA members it is critical to bring the public into the discussion.

She said she would like to see Bridge Street change, but change shouldn’t be rushed.

City Commissioner Ralph Cole, who chairs the CRA, said he would visit businesses on Bridge Street to notify owners and tenants of the workshop.

Mayor John Chappie, a CRA member, said no motions or vote would be taken at the workshop.

The next CRA meeting will be 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Federal investigation of copter crash hits delay

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Duke Overstreet of Sea Tow, center, who oversaw recovery Jan. 4 of a helicopter that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico Jan. 2, and two other men note damages to the copter after it was brought earlier in the morning to the Coquina Beach South Boat Ramp. The helicopter was recovered at about midnight Jan. 3 about a mile offshore of Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Sea Tow Bradenton owner Duke Overstreet talks to the media Jan. 4 about his crew’s recovery of helicopter wreckage from the Gulf of Mexico. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
The helicopter that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico Jan. 2 with three people aboard approximately a mile offshore of Anna Maria is readied for transport Jan. 4 at Coquina Beach by Sea Tow Bradenton and Ben’s Crane Service of Bradenton. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

The federal government shutdown is reverberating on Anna Maria Island.

Answers to why Sarasota pilot Stanley Lee crashed Jan. 2 in the Gulf of Mexico about a mile from the Anna Maria shore — sending Lee and photographer Tom McKnight to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton — appear to be delayed due to the shutdown.

As of Jan. 4, Lee was reported in serious condition, improved from a critical status.

McKnight, who spoke to The Islander Jan. 6, was treated and released, said he’s feeling very sore but thankful.

McKnight was shooting video and stills of a boat for a manufacturer’s promotion, when water rushed into the helicopter.

“We were flying close to 50 minutes and had done multiple passes in the bay,” he said.

According to Robert Smith, director of Manatee County Public Safety, the helicopter was flying 10-15 feet above the water level before the crash.

“I really don’t know what happened. We were flying normal and then we were not,” McKnight said, adding he then submerged and realized he was hooked on something.

“Honestly, I thought that was it,” he added, saying he felt no panic.

Somehow he became unhooked, he said, came to the surface and saw the other men who had been in the helicopter also had surfaced.

Lee, McKnight and the third man in the chopper, Peter Bowden, boarded the boat they had been filming.

As a 911 dispatcher was directing the boaters, the U.S. Coast Guard from station Cortez met them with a 29-foot boat and crew.

The Coast Guard crew rendered first aid and escorted the boat to the Coquina Beach South Boat Ramp in Bradenton Beach. From there, a Manatee County EMS ambulance transported Lee and McKnight to

Blake. Bowden, saying he was not badly injured, refused EMS transport.

All civil aviation accidents undergo investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the NTSB website.

However, FAA public affairs officer Gregory Martin wrote in a Jan. 3 email there were no plans to begin an investigation of the helicopter crash.

An auto-email response Jan. 3 from Kathleen Bergen, FAA public affairs officer for the southern region, states, “Due to the lapse in government funding, I am not working.”

A similar message was delivered by an officer with the NTSB who answered the phone, but declined to give his name as a spokesman.

Meanwhile, local officials were fielding questions about the crash.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Randy Warren wrote in Jan. 3-4 emails that the FAA and NTSB were notified but an investigation had not begun, adding the FAA “may or may not follow up.”

Sea Tow Bradenton recovered and delivered the 2,500-pound Robinson R-44 helicopter, registered to Sarasota Helicopter Services, to Coquina Beach Boat Ramp for transport to Jacksonville.

Duke Overstreet, owner of Sea Tow Bradenton, said he and a crew, including a diver, found the copter in 25 feet of murky water at about midnight Jan. 3

Found among the retrieved helicopter were a professional video camera, a backpack and wallets.

The crash was first reported at 10:53 a.m. by one of the people in the vessel that was being photographed.The boater told the 911 dispatcher, “We’ve got multiple injuries. We’ve got a guy with his ear torn off. It’s bad. He’s got half an ear cut off and he’s choking blood.”

The dispatcher advised treatment and directed the boater to the boat ramp, remaining on the line until they were met by the Coast Guard vessel.

An MCSO Marine unit, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, and Longboat Key and Sarasota police departments assisted in the rescue.

McKnight, a guitarist with a rock band, The Verge, said he’s not looking at life the same since the crash.

Noting he lost his cellphone and video camera, McKnight said, “None of that matters.”

“That first gulp of air I took is the same air we all breathe,” but, he said, taking a breath again reinforced his belief in peace, love and helping others.

There were some reports that four people were aboard the helicopter when it crashed, but McKnight dispelled that rumor.

“There were three of us” on the chopper, he said. “Maybe the fourth was the angel.”

McKnight added that his band will play for a celebration of life for the crash survivors Friday, Jan. 18, at Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse in Sarasota.

Cortez Coast Guard remains on duty

U.S. Coast Guard public information officer David Micallef extended kudos to the Cortez crew that responded to a Jan. 2 helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico.

“They did an excellent job, coming to the scene within minutes and administering first aid and escorting the crash survivors to shore,” he said.

And they will continue with this type of work during the federal government shutdown, according to Micallef.

Micallef said the federal government considers Coast Guard services essential to provide national security and protect life and property, performing search and rescue, homeland security, law enforcement and environmental responses.

The Cortez station employs about 30 officers and other personnel.

Petty Officer Christopher Swanson of the Cortez station said Jan. 4 the Coast Guard found funds during the shutdown to issue employees a recent paycheck, but their next paycheck remains uncertain. U.S. Coast Guard public information officer David Micallef extended kudos to the Cortez crew that responded to a Jan. 2 helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico.

“They did an excellent job, coming to the scene within minutes and administering first aid and escorting the crash survivors to shore,” he said.

And they will continue with this type of work during the federal government shutdown, according to Micallef.

Micallef said the federal government considers Coast Guard services essential to provide national security and protect life and property, performing search and rescue, homeland security, law enforcement and environmental responses.

The Cortez station employs about 30 officers and other personnel.

Petty Officer Christopher Swanson of the Cortez station said Jan. 4 the Coast Guard found funds during the shutdown to issue employees a recent paycheck, but their next paycheck remains uncertain.

Shamrock shiver makes splash in Bradenton Beach

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People plungers — some in costumes — charge into the Gulf of Mexico Jan. 1 for Clancy’s 11th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Seventh Street South and Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photos: Ryan Paice
Mark Gritz, left, and Robert Nott, costumed as an Amish couple, win Clancy’s 11th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge best costume contest.
Ron Stout, left, is outfitted as “Mr. Red Tide” for Clancy’s 11th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge costume contest Jan. 1 in Bradenton Beach. He terrorized his sea turtle friend, Paul Devine, who took it all in fun.

New Year’s Day proved to be the perfect time for a plunge.

With 73-degree weather and clear skies, more than 100 people rushed Jan. 1 into the Gulf of Mexico for Clancy’s 11th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Seventh Street South and Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach.

The event began with a costume contest judged by the crowd.

Participants included Ron Stout, decked out as “Mr. Red Tide,” and a friend, Paul Devine, who wore a sea turtle blowup raft; Heather Horn, who was made up as a shamrock; and Bill Capobianco, who came as a unicorn that ate a monkey.

Outfitted as an Amish couple, Mark Gritz and Robert Nott walked away with the contest’s top prize.

At the beach, volunteers collected donations and sold event T-shirts and sand brushes.

After the plunge at noon, people returned to Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub, 6218 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, for an after-party with raffles, live music, food, beverages and awards.

Proceeds benefit Caring for Children Charities, the fundraising arm of the Sarasota-based nonprofit organization, Florida Winefest and Auction.

Since its inception in 1991, Florida Winefest has donated more than $8.5 million to children’s charities.

Clancy’s has helped raise $219,520 with its annual plunge since beginning in 2009.

The 2019 plunge raised at least $27,000, with pledges and checks still rolling in as of Jan. 3, according to Jan Crudele of Florida Winefest.

To pledge or make a donation, contact Crudele at 941-952-1109.

High-speed, high-priced sports car crash ends in Holmes Beach in DUI arrest

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2016 Lamborghini
Kiri Stewart, 30

A Bradenton woman fishtailed, spun and crashed into two street signs while driving a 2016 Lamborghini on Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach.

The driver, Kiri Stewart, 30, and her passenger, island businessman Shawn Kaleta, exited the vehicle uninjured, according to a Holmes Beach police report.

Stewart, 30, was arrested at 1:29 a.m. Dec. 29, 2018, for driving under the influence with property damage by Holmes Beach police.

From a parking lot at 4000 Gulf Drive, HB police officer witnessed the Lamborghini travel south on Gulf Drive and take a wide, left turn onto Manatee Avenue at a high rate of speed.

According to his report, the motorist accelerated aggressively, swerving off and back on the road, nearly hitting another eastbound vehicle from behind. The Lamborghini braked, passed the vehicle on its right, spun 180 degrees and struck two signs.

HB police officer approached the vehicle, determined there were no injuries and observed the passenger exit the vehicle, ignoring requests to remain in the car.

Stewart removed her high heels and began performing the field-sobriety test.

Kaleta said, “You don’t have to do this,” according to the report.

Several times HB Police Officer told Kaleta to step away and not to interfere with his investigation.

Stewart performed poorly on the roadside tests and was taken to the Holmes Beach police station, where she refused to take a blood-alcohol breath test.

At the station, Stewart told the officers, “Shawn said we have a get out of jail free card. I guess we don’t.”

West Manatee Fire Rescue was called to the scene due to smoke and odor from the vehicle, and disabled the Lamborghini power system.

With only 7,000 miles and an estimated $150,000 in damages, the vehicle was towed.

The Florida Highway Patrol also responded, reported the crash was due to “inattentive,” careless operation, exceeding the posted speed, running off the road and over-correction.

Stewart was transported to the Manatee County jail, where she posted a $500 bond and was released.

Her arraignment is set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.