Tag Archives: Featured Image

It’s open!

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Manny Villalobos, 16, of Bradenton, catches air Feb. 15 as he rips off the rim of the skate bowl at the new Holmes Beach Community Skate Park.
Holmes Beach staff and some city officials — joined by a bevy of grommets — cut the ribbon Feb. 15 on the new Holmes Beach Community Skate Park in the 5800 block of Marina Drive. The first 100 guests received free hats and T-shirts from the city. Free hot dogs were dished up by Beach Bistro staff and Poppo’s Taqueria pumped out free burritos. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
Tito Porrata, left, lead designer with American Ramp Co., Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer, Mayor Judy Titsworth, city engineer Lynn Burnett, director of development services Eran Wasserman and Tom Sanger of Tom Sanger Pool and Spa stand in the skate bowl Feb. 15 to cheer for the new skate park. A team of city staff, elected officials, residents and business owners worked together to create the park.
Skaters and revelers celebrate Feb. 15 the grand opening of the Community Skate Park in Holmes Beach, along Marina Drive in the 5800 block.
Mason Timmons, 9, of Bradenton, rolls up a ramp Feb. 15, as people gather for the grand opening of the new Holmes Beach Community Skate Park in the 5800 block of Marina Drive.
Tito Porrata, lead designer for the American Ramp Co. for the new Holmes Beach Community Skate Park, prepares Feb. 15 to roll through street skate portion of the park during the grand opening.
Tisha Mooney, left, Anna Rehorn, Sophia Belsito and Maddi Davenport of the West Coast Surf Shop in Holmes Beach, host a table with raffle prizes Feb. 15 while True Green, 12, of Bradenton, fills out a ticket. The prizes were skateboard decks and grip tape.

13th annual AME Dolphin Dash takes off

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Runners in the AME Dolphin Dash 5K take their marks at the starting line in the school parking lot, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. The course will take then through the streets of Holmes Beach and back to finish line at the school.
Anna Maria Elementary kids take their marks in the 1-mile fun run Feb. 8 at the 13th annual Dolphin Dash, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photos: Brook Morrison
Danny Fitzwater of Sebring leads the pack on Holmes Boulevard Feb. 8 during the AME Dolphin Dash 5K on the streets in Holmes Beach.
AME first-grader Giuliana Bankert and father Darin Bankert run towards the finish line Feb. 8 at during the 1-mile race at the 13th annual Dolphin Dash.
Sue Hall of London holds her trophy Feb. 8 for overall female winner at the 2020 Dolphin Dash 5K to benefit Anna Maria Elementary.
Carol Westerman takes home the first-place medal for the 80-plus age category Feb. 8 at the AME Dolphin Dash 5K.

Centenarian honored for WWII service

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World War II veteran Alvaro “Al” Fernandez, 100, is pinned Jan. 31 by Korean War veteran Terry Willis, an honor guard member with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10141 in Bradenton, at Fernandez’s home on Sixth Avenue in Holmes Beach. The pinning was part of the Tidewell Hospice Honors Veterans Program. Fernandez was a U.S. Air Force communications sergeant. He also received a certificate and his wife Yolanda and daughter Margie received veteran caretaker pins. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen

New park open for pups, peeps

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Bailey, a golden retriever, makes a splash Jan. 25 while drinking from a “hydrant” water fountain, new to the improved dog park in Holmes Beach. The park officially opened Saturday morning with a ribbon-cutting celebration. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
Officials cut the leash, er, ribbon Carol Soustek, left, Holmes Beach commissioner, Eran Wasserman, director of development services, Carol Whitmore, Manatee County commissioner, Holmes Beach Commissioner Terry Schaefer, Mayor Judy Titsworth and Holmes Beach Commissioners Jim Kihm and Kim Rash with his pup, cut the ribbon Jan. 25 on the new city dog park between 59th and 63rd streets and Flotilla Drive in Holmes Beach.
Jack Elka’s drone-mounted camera views capture the expanse of the new dog park at the recreational field in Holmes Beach.
Jack Elka’s drone-mounted camera views capture the expanse of the new dog park at the recreational field in Holmes Beach.
Jack Elka’s drone-mounted camera views capture the expanse of the new dog park at the recreational field in Holmes Beach.
Plenty of dogs attended the opening of the new park Jan. 25 for a run and some fun during the ribbon-cutting festivities for the $50,000 large dog park on the multiuse field — at the site of the former Birdie Tebbetts baseball diamond — adjacent to Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive. Also attending, vendors, including Manatee County Animal Services, Animal Network and a pet rescue group, Running Rover pet-sitting service, Three Dog Bakery with treats for the pups and Painting with a Twist. Poppo’s Taqueria of Anna Maria provided free breakfast burritos to the “peeps” at the event.
Plenty of dogs attended the opening of the new park Jan. 25 for a run and some fun during the ribbon-cutting festivities for the $50,000 large dog park on the multiuse field — at the site of the former Birdie Tebbetts baseball diamond — adjacent to Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive. Also attending, vendors, including Manatee County Animal Services, Animal Network and a pet rescue group, Running Rover pet-sitting service, Three Dog Bakery with treats for the pups and Painting with a Twist. Poppo’s Taqueria of Anna Maria provided free breakfast burritos to the “peeps” at the event.
Pup treats Bazooka, a 5-year-old eski-poodle, accepts a treat Jan. 25 from Liz Naughton, manager of Three Dog Bakery, during the grand opening of the new dog park in the recreational complex between 59th Street, 63rd Street and Flotilla Drive in Holmes Beach, as owner Evelyn Taylor of Holmes Beach looks on.

Anna Maria faces hurdles for February pier opening

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Pre-demolition in 2018, the Anna Maria City Pier held memories for many people, including messages on engraved planks. Islander File Photo: Jack Elka

Anglers may be able to enjoy fishing off the Anna Maria City Pier by late February.

The mayor says there are hurdles, but maintains the pier contractor is on track.

Still, the buildings that were to house a restaurant and bait shop at the T-end of the pier will remain empty.

The historic pier was originally built in 1911 and closed after being damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The pier remained closed and was demolished by the city in 2018.

New construction began in January 2019.

“The pier is coming along nicely,” Murphy said at a Jan. 9 city commission meeting.

Most of the issues that arose in construction have been corrected, including a 3-inch gap on the platform at the T-end that was “fixed weeks ago,” Murphy said.

“Framing, siding, windows and most doors are up and hung,” he added.

As far as the bathrooms, power, sewer, water and fire suppression line, the mayor said “there are some hurdles with each one of these issues. But we’re still on track for an end-of-February opening.”

Some issues remained with getting power hooked up to the pier from the shoreside, but Murphy said he is working closely with Florida Power & Light remains confident the problems will be resolved in a timely fashion.

 

Pier tenant sought

The city commission Jan. 10 voted unanimously to decline the final lease offer from Mario Schoenfelder — pier operator since 2000 — and will instead seek requests for proposals from prospective tenants.

Although Mayor Dan Murphy said he and Schoenfelder had come to an agreement on many details, there remained two outstanding issues: insurance and rent payments.

In part, because Schoenfelder said he would be willing to spend $800,000 in pier improvements, Murphy recommended to the commission that the city pick up the tab for casualty, fire and wind insurance at an estimated annual cost of $50,000.

Schoenfelder was presented with two payment options: $18,900 or $21,600 per month, both with either a 3% annual increase after the first year or an annual adjustment based on the consumer price index.

But the option to make lower monthly payments called for an additional $250,000 from Schoenfelder on signing.

Schoenfelder countered with his own offer: $8,000 per month with payments abated for six months until the restaurant is opened and CPI-based adjustments kick in after three years.

There were other specifics to both offers. But in the end, there was too wide a gap between what the city was asking and what Schoenfelder was offering.

As to the prospects for a pier restaurant-bait shop operation, Murphy wrote a Jan. 18 text to The Islander: “It’s too soon to tell who is seriously interested but we have had quite a few calls about the RFP.”

Murphy said Jan. 10 that he wanted to issue the RFP by Jan. 15, but Jan. 18, he texted that the RFP “won’t go out until next week.”

Holmes Beach continues trudge down treehouse path

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Treehouse owner Lynn Tran pleads her case Jan. 7 before 12th Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
A treehouse, built in 2011 in an Australian pine tree by the residents of the beachfront home, still stands on the beach at 103 29th St., Holmes Beach. Islander File Photo

One treehouse built in Holmes Beach in 2011 without a permit has led to four pending lawsuits spanning seven years.

At a hearing Jan. 7 on a lawsuit filed in December 2018, 12th Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen heard the city of Holmes Beach’s motion to dismiss a second amended 11-count complaint by the plaintiffs, treehouse owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen.

At the beginning of the proceedings, Sniffen granted the city’s motion for judicial notice to include evidence already proven in cases pertaining to the structure.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, also a defendant in the case, filed a motion similar to the city’s, asking for a more defined complaint and motion to dismiss.

An order posted to the Manatee County public records website stated the court took the motion to dismiss under advisement and continued a Jan. 7 motion to impose sanctions.

At the hearing, attorney Randy Mora of Trask Daigneault, the Clearwater law firm assigned to the case by the city’s insurer, said Holmes Beach moved to dismiss the case on several bases, including “res judicata,” meaning a competent court already made a final decision in the matter.

“This is all about fairness. The plaintiffs don’t agree with what the law says,” Mora said. “And until this court tells them they can’t proceed any further, they will keep trying to get the answer they want.”

The city repeatedly has prevailed over appeals, including in a November 2019 hearing on a case that started in 2013. At that hearing, 12th Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas refuted the plaintiffs’ claim that a city ordinance, including a 50-foot setback from the state’s erosion control line on the beach, amounted to property taking without compensation.

Tran and Hazen built the two-story, uninhabitable structure in 2011 attached to an Australian pine tree on the beach fronting their home and four rental units they operate at 103 29th St., leading to litigation between the city, the DEP and the owners.

The city has argued that the treehouse was built in violation of the city building code and inside the beachfront setback.

The setback rule prohibits structures within 50 feet of the ECL, which separates the public area of the beach from private ownership. The 1992 island beach renourishment project permanently established the ECL.

The owners claim that state law, which allows a more flexible setback, supersedes local law and that then-city inspector Bob Shaffer said no permit was required.

According to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint, Shaffer said, “Just build it safe.”

At the Jan. 7 hearing, Tran said she and Hazen were given approval by the building official, but then were met with resistance from the city and DEP.

“No one told us what to do, so here we go,” she said, in reference to her and Hazen’s first declaratory judgment complaint.

Since 2013, three of four lawsuits are pending in circuit court, while the Jan. 7 case is in state court.

Circuit courts have general trial jurisdiction over matters not assigned by statute to the county courts and also hear appeals from county court cases, while state courts have broad jurisdiction.

Sarasota attorney David Levin is the plaintiffs’ attorney for the circuit court cases.

The plaintiffs are representing themselves in the state case.

A federal suit, added by the treehouse owners, was thrown out in August 2019.

As of press time for The Islander, a date was not set for the continued hearing.

What treehouse? Where?

Some might wonder what people are referring to when “the treehouse” turns up in conversations.

Located in Holmes Beach at 103 29th St. on the beachfront at a residence that includes four short-term rental units, is an elevated two-story, 400-square-foot open-air structure with solar power that was built around a large pine tree.

The owners have been in litigation with the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection since 2013 regarding the treehouse, which the city and state claim was built too close to a renourished beach — within the setback for the state’s erosion control line, and without permits.

Hundreds take 2020 Gulf plunge

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People — some in costume — rush Jan. 1, New Year’s Day, into the Gulf of Mexico for Clancy’s 12th annual fundraising event, the Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach. More, page 2. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
Bradenton residents Paul Halvorsen, left, and Bill Capobianco are outfitted Jan. 1 as Pacific Islanders for the Shamrock Shiver best costume contest. The pair finished as runners up to the “Pac Man family.”
Bradenton resident Dana Rothgery, right, organizes her family, costumed in a Pac Man-theme, for the Shamrock Shiver best costume contest held Jan. 1. The “Pac Man family” won the award for best costumes, having earned the loudest and most applause. Islander Photos: Ryan Paice
Bradenton resident Paul Devine, costumed as a sea turtle, dangles a smaller sea turtle from a string in his hand Jan. 1, during the Shamrock Shiver best costume contest in Bradenton Beach.
Sarasota resident Mike Gustow is dressed as a fisherman with a mermaid, wife Bonnie, as his catch at the Shamrock Shiver costume contest, Jan. 1 in Bradenton Beach.

What better way to start 2020 than to plunge into the Gulf of Mexico?

The air was a crisp 64 degrees when hundreds of people rushed Jan. 1 into the Gulf of Mexico for Clancy’s 12th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach.

About 500 people attended the event, according to Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub employee Daniel Cassidy. Nearly half of the attendees took the plunge.

Before the run to the Gulf, the crowd judged a costume contest.

Participants included Paul Devine, who dressed as a sea turtle. Bill Capobianco and Paul Halvorsen were costumed as Pacific Islanders. Steve Theroux was dressed as Spock from “Star Trek.” And a group arrived costumed in a Pac Man-theme.

The “Pac Man family,” led by Bradenton resident Dana Rothgery, won the top prize.

At the parking lot, volunteers collected donations and sold event T-shirts.

After the plunge at noon, people went to Clancy’s, 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.

Clancy’s has helped raised $246,876 since beginning its annual plunge in 2009.

The 2019 plunge raised about $27,000.

The 2020 plunge raised $25,537 as of Jan. 5, according to Rayma Stowe of Clancy’s.

To pledge or donate to the campaign, contact Jan Crudele of Florida Winefest at 941-952-1109.

For more information, call Stowe at 941-720-4072.

Privateers AMI parade rolls end-to-end, bypassing storm warnings

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The Anna Maria Island Privateers throw candy and beads to paradegoers Dec. 14 from their ship, the Skullywag, during their annual Christmas parade. The parade — all vehicles, no marching — rolled up Gulf Drive from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach to the City Pier Park in Anna Maria. Islander Photos: Ryan Paice
Santa Claus, right, and Jennifer “Mermaid” Price from the Anna Maria Island Privateers wave to paradegoers Dec. 14, delighting kids and adults as the caboose of the Privateer Christmas Parade. The pair later visited City Pier Park in Anna Maria for photos with children and to hear their Christmas wishes.
Santa Claus waves to attendees of the Christmas parade Dec. 14 from a float made of a giant hammerhead shark that resides year-round at a Cortez restaurant.
City officials from Holmes Beach, including Mayor Judy Titsworth, Commissioners Kim Rash and Pat Morton, wave and throw beads to paradegoers Dec. 14 from the Holmes Beach Police Department’s boat — as it rolls through the Privateer Christmas Parade.
People along the roadside during the Privateer Christmas Parade Dec. 14 watch horses and riders from the Real BeachHorses tour business of Bradenton march up Marina Drive.
The CrossPointe Fellowship band plays Dec. 14 from the church float in the Privateer Christmas Parade.
Passengers toss candy and beads to paradegoers Dec. 14.
People attending the Dec. 14 party following the Anna Maria Island Privateers’ Christmas Parade gather under the sail shades to eat lunch and visit with Santa Claus.
Anna Maria Island Privateers member Roger “Hoodat the Magnificent” Murphree hands out giftbags to kids attending the post-parade party Dec. 14 at Anna Maria City Pier Park after the Christmas parade.
Visiting from Toronto, Canada, Lindsay Amson, left, sits together with husband Matthew Blanche, and their children, Kieran, 4, and Liam, 1, under the sail shades of City Pier Park in Anna Maria Dec. 14 for the party following the Privateer Christmas Parade.
Members of the Anna Maria Island Privateers serve hot dogs and beverages, and talk over the day’s events Dec. 14 with a deputy from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office-Anna Maria substation.