Tag Archives: News

Holmes Beach to open new dog park

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Willie, a labradoodle, looks through “doggles” Jan. 10 on his way to the dog park in Holmes Beach with Bruce Rogers of Bradenton. “We love this dog park and can’t wait to see the improvements,” Rogers said.

A highly anticipated new dog park is about to open for canine cavorting in Holmes Beach.

The ribbon-cutting for the park — in city field north of city hall — will be 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25.

The park includes a dog splash pad, canine and human water fountains and run areas, along with updated seating for people at the cost of $50,000.

There will be several vendors at the event, including Perks 4 Pets dog boutique, Running Rover dog-walking and pet-sitting service and animal adoptions sponsored by Friends of Manatee County Animal Services.

There also will be prize giveaways and Mayor Judy Titsworth and code compliance supervisor JT Thomas will speak at the event.

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.”

Improvements on Bridge Street produce ‘beautiful mess’

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Classic Brick Construction workers place pavers Jan. 16 in parking spaces outside 119 Bridge St., a property owned by Debbie and Mike Hynds, and the Bridge Street Bazaar, 117 Bridge St., owned by Commissioner Jake Spooner. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

“There’s a mess on Bridge Street, but it’s a beautiful mess,” Bradenton Beach city attorney Ricinda Perry told commissioners Jan. 16.

Work is progressing on two projects to improve the aesthetics of the commercial strip — the burying of utility lines and the replacement of asphalt parking and crosswalks with pervious brick pavers.

Bradenton-based Classic Brick Construction installed pavers — which will improve the drainage — in the Moose Lodge parking lot, as well as in parking spaces outside the BridgeWalk Resort, Fish Hole Miniature Golf and the Daiquiri Deck/new Bridge Street Bazaar building, which is under construction.

The latter two properties are owned by Commissioner Jake Spooner, also a member of the community redevelopment agency, which funded the projects. He also serves as the commission’s liaison to the Bradenton Beach Area Merchants.

CBC also set pavers Jan. 16 in parking spaces in front of the current Bridge Street Bazaar building, as well as Blue Marlin Seafood and the Hynds Group building at 119 Bridge St.

Next, the contractor will install pavers in the crosswalk near the post office and the sidewalk in front of the property. CBC will also install gray pavers at U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act parking spaces along Bridge Street.

CRA members budgeted $10,000 for a police officer to secure the area during the installation. However, Perry said additional police hours may be required to complete the work, which will involve installing pavers in the parking in front of the Bridge Tender Inn and replacing teardrop-shaped pavers in the roundabout at the base of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

“This is a lot of work and we foresee needing more than $10,000,” Perry said.

She added that the cost of the paver project, as well as the utility project, may increase with change orders to handle unforeseen issues, such as how to secure pavers long-term. CRA members will discuss how to manage change orders, as well as additional funding for an officer on Bridge Street, during an emergency meeting at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Meanwhile, Wilco Electrical’s work placing utility lines underground is moving along.

“Unbelievably, we shot (bored) everything without incident so far, which is humongous,” Perry said. “I can tell you that visually you’re only going to see two transformers on Bridge Street.”

A transformer will be in front of the Island Time Inn, 105 Bridge St., and another will be near the Island Creperie, 127 Bridge St.

Other transformers have been concealed behind fencing and greenery near compact parking spaces at the base of the pier and underground at the Bridge Tender Inn.

Perry thanked Spooner for allowing the city to tie a transformer into an open delta connection — one connection in a three-phase electrical system in which three elements in series form a triangle with input and output supplied at each junction — on his new building while still under construction.

“We’re stuffing, basically, one of the transformers into the vice mayor’s transformer that he had paid for,” Perry said.

Perry said if the contractor keeps pace, 90% of the work will be completed the week of Jan. 20.

The CRA promotes restoration, growth and tourism for the district by funding capital improvement projects with incremental tax revenue collected by Manatee County since 1992, when the area was declared blighted.

Bradenton man arrested in AM for unlawful firearm

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A Bradenton man was arrested for possession of an unlawful firearm after law enforcement approached a vehicle parked at Bayfront Park after closing time.

At 10:33 p.m. Jan. 10, 316 N. Bay Blvd., a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy on routine patrol observed a parked maroon Volkswagen. The deputy noticed a case of Corona beer partly covered with a blue jacket and the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

The occupants exited the vehicle and poured out the alcohol as requested, according to the report.

They also presented identification on request.

The deputy observed a handgun in plain view in the vehicle under the passenger seat.

The firearm was a Glock 22 .40 caliber with three rounds of ammunition loaded.

After receiving his Miranda warning, passenger Jorge Perez-Lora, 18, of Bradenton, told the officer the firearm was his and that he had purchased it on the street.

Perez-Lora did not possess a concealed weapons permit and was arrested and charged with felony possession of an unlawful firearm.

His court date is 9 a.m. Feb. 7. Bond was set at $1,500.

The driver was not charged.

— Phil Colpas


Starship to rock community center in kickoff to concert series

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Starship featuring Mickey Thomas will perform Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Center of Anna Maria Island, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Islander Photo: Courtesy Starship

The Center of Anna Maria Island is offering an eclectic music mix in its second annual Bradenton Gulf Islands Concert Series.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, the center will welcome to its stage Starship featuring Mickey Thomas in the first concert of the 2020 season.

In the late 1970s, Thomas was living and gigging in the San Francisco Bay area when he began getting some notoriety for his vocal performance on Elvin Bishop’s hit, “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.”

Jefferson Airplane, which later became Jefferson Starship, had formed in the Bay area a decade earlier. Word spread they were looking for a new vocalist as founding members Marty Balin and Grace Slick were departing the group.

Thomas was preparing to journey to Florida to record a solo album when he got the call that Jefferson Starship was interested in him. Apparently, a roadie had forwarded the band Thomas’ demo tape.

Thomas joined Jefferson Starship in 1979.

“I thought I’d give it a couple years. And that was 40 years ago,” he told The Islander Jan. 8 via phone from his Palm Desert home near Palm Springs, California.

Slick rejoined the band in 1982 and would share vocal duties with Thomas over the next seven years.

“Sharing the stage with Grace was great,” Thomas said. “She was very interesting, opinionated, an intellectual with a sardonic wit. With Grace, you never had small talk, always interesting conversations.”

In 1985, Starship released the album “Knee Deep in the Hoopla,” which featured two hits, “We Built this City” and “Sara.” The album went platinum.

Starship followed this up with another hit single, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which became the band’s best-selling tune.

During the heyday of MTV in the 1980s, Starship’s music videos were everywhere, infiltrating pop culture with hits still popular today.

But as the ’80s turned into the ’90s, Starship’s brand of rock began to fall out of favor and the group disbanded in 1991.

By the mid-’90s, though, Thomas began to think Starship wasn’t done and started reaching out. None of the original members were interested, so he brought in new musicians. And that was 25 years ago.

“The longevity of this band is the greatest, all the way back to Jefferson Airplane,” Thomas said.

Nowadays, Starship performs 60-65 shows a year. Thomas also does solo projects, including corporate events and charity functions.

Thomas recently paired with Corey Feldman for what he described as a punk/pop version of “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”

“I really enjoy it now. There’s less pressure than there was in the ’80s,” he said. “I’m thankful I still have my voice. I still do all the songs in their original keys.”

However, even after all these years, performing remains challenging. “There’s an element of fear,” Thomas said. “What if tonight’s the night the notes don’t show up? It’s a lot of work to get to these notes!”

Thomas’ performance in Anna Maria will be the second date of his current tour, which was to kick off on the east coast Jan. 22 in West Palm Beach.

“We love playing Florida,” he said. “It’s a great way for us to start off the year … and the decade.”

An opening act will begin at 7 p.m. Starship will take the stage at 8 p.m. at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The Bradenton Gulf Islands Concert Series is sponsored by the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria.

At press time, the center had sold about 250 of 500 tickets.

Center executive director Christopher Culhane said he expected the concert to be near sell out by Jan. 23. Prices range from $40-$75.

For ticket information, call the Manatee County Performing Arts Center at 941-748-5875 or go online to manateeperformingartscenter.com.

HB parks committee finalizes projects, plans future work

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Nick Bozza, visiting from New York Jan. 8, tries out the new Holmes Beach skate bowl. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Some beautification projects have come to fruition and some are just beginning in Holmes Beach.

At a Jan. 8 meeting of the city’s parks and beautification committee, discussion included the nearly completed renovation of city field — the recreational field adjacent to city hall in the 5800 block of Marina Drive, and plans to make pocket parks in the city more easily adoptable for businesses and residents.

Commissioner Carol Soustek, liaison to the committee, said at least a portion of a mound of clay remaining on the field had been removed the week of Jan. 13.

Previously, the clay was used on the baseball diamond — Birdie Tebbetts Field — which was underused and eliminated to make way for the dog park.

Additionally, a silt fence was taken out.

Also, Christie’s Plumbing of Holmes Beach ran water to the field for a canine splash-pad and water fountains.

Landscaping, including live oaks and coconut plum shrubs, will be planted this month.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the dog park is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25.

Regarding adopt-a-spots, member Donna Ryan created a spreadsheet of small, city parks available for public adoption, plantings and maintenance.

Six of the city’s 26 pocket parks and medians have been adopted by residents and landscaping companies.

Committee members agreed to meet separately with Eran Wasserman, the city’s director of development services, to walk the available areas and determine which spots are irrigated and which ones would require water in order to inform interested people.

Member Dennis Groh researched ways other cities set up adopt-a-spot programs and provided the group with an example from the Columbus, Missouri, adopt-a-spot program, which he said best matched Holmes Beach’s goals.

According to Groh, the Columbus plan makes it easier for people to adopt spots than the city’s program.

The next Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.


Celebration planned for Holmes Beach skate park

The skateboarders are stoked.

Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth said the skate park grand opening will be Saturday, Feb. 15, at the recreational complex at city field in the 5800 block of Marina Drive.

The celebration, beginning at 11 a.m., will include professional skating demonstrations and vendors.

Titsworth said the name of the park will be Community Skate Park.

The skate bowl cost $100,000.

— ChrisAnn Allen

HBPD makes auto theft, paraphernalia arrest

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A vehicle driven by Tyler Kenneth Daniel, 20, of Dover, triggered the Holmes Beach license plate reader system Jan. 11, which alerted a patrol officer to the stolen silver Buick entering the city.

The officer located Daniel and his passenger in the parking garage of the La Playa Encantada condominiums, 6006 Gulf Drive, and called for backup.

Upon searching the vehicle, officers found a pipe that tested positive for methamphetamine, a pipe that tested positive for THC and a piece of foil with a gummy substance that also tested positive for THC.

Daniel told HBPD officers that the pipes in the car were his, according to a police report.

The suspect said he paid a woman $75 to use the car and did not know it was reported stolen.

Officers also found a credit card belonging to the vehicle’s owner and, upon checking the suspect’s cellphone, noted the screen was open to BestBuy.com, showing the woman’s bank card information.

A notebook containing what appeared to be additional credit card numbers, along with dates, times and receipts was found in the vehicle.

Daniel was arrested and transported to the Manatee County jail. Holmes Beach Detective Sgt. Brian Hall is investigating.

Daniel is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 7.

— ChrisAnn Allen

Cortez fish house withdraws case against DEP over submerged land, stilt house

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“Junior” Guthrie built the house over the water a short distance from the A.P. Bell Fish Co. docks. Islander File Photo

A.P. Bell Fish Co. dropped its suit against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The dispute over ownership of submerged lands had been scheduled for a bench trial in January.

The core issue in the case involved a 2017 demand from the DEP that Cortezian Raymond Guthrie Jr. remove a stilt house he built in Sarasota Bay near A.P. Bell Fish Co. or pay fines for ignoring the order.

Guthrie built the 1,200-square-foot structure, including a metal roof, air conditioning and other amenities, between February 2017 and May 2017 without state permits.

In June 2017, the DEP determined the submerged land was owned by the state.

Guthrie was sued Feb. 6, 2018, by the DEP.

On April 27, 2018, Guthrie responded, denying the agency’s claims and maintaining he owned the land based on the Butler Act.

The Butler Act, according to the Florida Bar Association, “was created to stimulate commerce and to encourage upland riparian owners to improve their waterfront property. In order to accomplish this purpose, waterfront owners were permitted under the act to obtain title to submerged lands adjacent to their uplands by bulkheading, filling, or permanently improving the submerged lands.”

The act was repealed in the 1950s, but may be used in certain situations to grandfather bulkhead structures in submerged lands when an owner made an improvement before its repeal.

At a hearing Feb. 5, 2019, Cape Coral attorney Joe Beasley argued that Guthrie “rebuilt” the structure within the footprint of prior net camps.

Ruling in February 2019, 12th Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas entered summary judgment in favor of the DEP and against Guthrie. Nicholas said his decision was based on a proper November 2017 DEP final order, as well as Guthrie’s failure to respond or request a hearing.

But the judge stayed the execution of his order pending the resolution of Bell’s case against the DEP.

In May 2018, A.P. Bell had filed a motion to intervene in the dispute, claiming the commercial fish company owned the land under the stilt house.

In defense to Bell’s complaint, the state contended the Guthrie structure was built in May 2017 and “occupies a footprint that is at least three times larger than any structure that may have previously existed at the site.”

Before issuing the final DEP order against Guthrie, the environmental agency sent investigators to the property, researched the site’s history and, in June 2017, determined the submerged lands were owned by the state.

The DEP sent several warnings to Guthrie seeking compliance and offered a consent order to resolve the matter, but he did not agree to its terms.

“I dropped the intervening (case),” fish house owner Karen Bell said Jan. 17. “I was trying to help Junior (Guthrie).”

Bell said she withdrew her motion after her attorney said she lacked sufficient evidence to prevail.

“I’m really upset about all this,” she said. “My lawyer said that we didn’t have enough proof — even with the historical photos.”

Bell’s suit claimed, in part, that Guthrie’s stilt house had historical significance. Net camps were widely used by fishermen to tie up their boats and mend and dry cotton fishing nets in the 1920s-40s.

Bell said the battle to keep the illegal structure isn’t over.

“We are going to try something else,” she said, although she did not elaborate.

And it was not clear at press time for The Islander what impact Bell’s dropped lawsuit meant for enforcement of the final order against Guthrie — who was ordered in February 2019 to remove the structure and pay $6,500 in fines and penalties — pending the Bell lawsuit outcome.

Race day excitement begins for AME-PTO Dolphin Dash 5K, 1-mile fun run

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Dolphin Dash organizer Kelly Gitt and Tom Orehowsky of the Bradenton Running Club discuss details for the upcoming race. Islander Photo: Courtesy Kelly Gitt

Are you ready to dash?

Tom Orehowsky of the Bradenton Running Club and Anna Maria Elementary race organizer Kelly Gitt are looking for runners and volunteers for the 13th annual Dolphin Dash to benefit the AME Parent-Teacher Organization.

For volunteers, Gitt said., “I could really use about 10 adults in total.”

They must be early birds — ready to assist with check-ins at AME by 7 a.m.

The 5K race and 1-mile run, set for Saturday, Feb. 8, will leave from the school parking lot, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, to run the streets in Holmes Beach and return to the school. The 5K runners will start at 8 a.m. and the fun run begins at 9 a.m.

Sign up for both is at runnergirl.com and race day registration will begin at 7 a.m.

Gitt suggests runners park at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, and walk to the campus.

Awards and refreshments will follow the race at the school.

The PTO’s goal is to raise $25,000 for new school benches and a butterfly garden.

Race fees are $25 per adult and $15 per child under 18.

Also, race organizers are offering sponsorships to businesses and individuals, with gold level sponsors contributing $500 and silver $250.

Both sponsorship levels include promotional material that will be handed out at the race, and gold sponsors can set up a booth near the finish line.

Limited space is available for logo placement on T-shirts, flyers and advertising.

For more information, contact Gitt at 941-357-4488 or email kelly@gittsoldit.com.

Eyes on the road 01-22-2020

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following for the week of Jan. 20:

  • Cortez Road and 119th Street West in Cortez: Work to realign the intersection of 119th Street West on Cortez Road/State Road 684 is beginning this week. Drivers can expect detours and night-time lane closures. Ajax Paving Industries of Florida is the contractor on the project, estimated to cost $5 million and continue until fall 2020. The work involves resurfacing the roadway, improving drainage, constructing a sidewalk, installing new lighting.
  • Multiple locations in Bradenton Beach: A Manatee County pipeline replacement project continues in Bradenton Beach, possibly into the late summer. Impacted areas include Bay Drive South to Bridge Street, Church Avenue to Cortez Road. Construction in rights of way is expected, as well as increased truck traffic and heavy equipment operations. People — motorists and pedestrians — can expect detours.

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

To view traffic conditions, go online to smarttrafficinfo.org.