Thompson Sun�s Person of the Year
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Shes a successful businesswoman, she helps
make her childs school a better place and
she has brought fun to thousands of people.
For all she is and all she does, Cindy Thompson
is the Anna Maria Island Suns 2005 Person
of the Year.
Cindy has been an Island fixture for many years
and her involvement in the community is positive
and long-lived. She opened Paradise Bagels and Café
in 1999, joined the Anna Maria Island Chamber of
Commerce and was a PTO member, serving as president
of that group, at Anna Maria Elementary School.
Her most recent accomplishment has been organizing
and guiding the Chambers Bayfest Celebration
from its early days at the Island Centre, in Holmes
Beach, to its present location on Pine Avenue, in
Anna Maria. She has been a member of the Chambers
Board of Directors for two years and was honored
at the last Chamber Installation Banquet for her
"Cindy Thompson is the type of person who you
give a job to and she runs with it without direction,"
said Chamber Board Chairman Don Schroder. "She
is involved in the community, has her work and is
able to keep all the balls in the air at the same
She began as a volunteer at the Chamber after opening
Paradise Bagels and Café in 1999 and Chamber
President Mary Ann Brockman praised her for her
"She does everything when she says she will,"
said Brockman. "Sometimes its scary because
she does it without any fanfare. "You get to
the point where you wonder if its been done
and she hasnt contacted you, but when its
time, she comes in and says, Whats all
the worry? I told you it would be done."
Brockman said the Bayfest is Thompsons thing
and shes taking on another festival for the
Chamber planned for June 24 and 25 on Coquina Beach
in conjunction with the Gulf Florida Coast Sports
Commission. She will be in charge of the concessions
for the 10th Annual Captain Morgan Kayak and Outdoor
Festival. She has already notified the vendors from
the Bayfest and many plan to be at this new festival
"Shes a very organized young lady,"
Brockman said of Thompson.
Cindy got exposed to festivals and being organized
when she joined the PTO. The Fall Fest and the Spring
Fling are two of the groups major fund-raisers,
and she was president of the PTO when the Spring
Fling turned into a major event with each class
making art work and gift baskets for auction, thanks
to Spring Fling chair Sharon Alexander.
"If you had a new idea or approach, she never
shut it down," said current PTO President Lynda
Hicks, who was on the board during Thompsons
terms as president. "Definitely, she was an
asset to the school."
Hicks said Thompson was always there for the PTO
and got a lot done during her time there.
Cindys mother, Jackie Estes, is proud of her
daughter. The family moved to the area about 18
years ago and Cindy married Doug and became the
mother of Alec 11 years ago. Her love of children
has been instrumental in what she has accomplished.
"The worked at the Tampa Childrens Home
as a psychological counselor," Estes said.
"She still has contact with children she counseled
In addition to raising Alec, Cindy became a foster
mother to a 9-month-old girl and is still the girls
legal guardian, even though the girls parents
have part-time custody. She opened The Playroom
a couple of years ago, which catered to short-term
child care and even took in children of tourists.
She is currently the assistant director of Primrose
Learning Center, which takes her to Lakewood Ranch
during the weekdays, but she still has her business.
"She doesnt take care of the day-to-day
details of Paradise Bagels," said Estes, "but
she still takes care of the books."
As someone who has been around Cindy all of her
life, Estes said she is amazed at her daughters
"She does it all," she said. "She
never expects any recognition for what she does,
she just keeps giving.
"Im very, very, very proud of her."
quieter trolleys coming
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The new trolleys
are coming soon, but you might not notice it at
Manatee County Area Transit Manager Ralf Heseler
said the first of four new trolleys that they ordered
last year is due in about two weeks.
"I talked with the supplier and they said it
would be delivered within the first two weeks of
the year," he said.
The trolleys were ordered to replace the five vehicles
the county uses to service Anna Maria Island with
a Sunday shuttle from the mainland. The route uses
three vehicles at a time, and Heseler said the current
trolleys are wearing out.
"They have hundreds of thousands of miles on
them and they get a lot of use during a typical
day," he said. "The first trolley rolls
out to the Island at around 5:30 a.m. and the last
one comes in at around 11 p.m. and they dont
shut off the engines until theyre done, so
its a lot of wear and tear."
MCAT ordered the new trolleys from a different manufacturer
and ran into problems almost immediately after they
came because of the noise of their engines. They
retrofitted insulation in the engine compartments
and extended the tailpipes up the back of the body,
which helped some. Then came problems with squeaky
brakes from the sand and floor pans that rusted
out due to the salt air. When more than three trolleys
are down, they have to use a bus on the Island,
which sometimes draws complaints from riders.
Heseler said in an earlier interview that the noise
level of the new trolleys played a role in their
selection process. He also said they looked for
heavier duty models that they hoped would not have
as many problems with the salty environment where
they would be driven.
The trolleys have been a huge success as far as
ridership, however, and MCAT has been able to extend
grants that help pay for maintenance and the cost
of operations, which has enabled them to keep ride
free to the public.
The news of that success also spread to Sarasota,
where Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) initiated
talked with MCAT about extending the route through
Longboat Key and into Lido Key. Unfortunately, the
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was
unable to help fund the extension.
"We have gone back to the bargaining table
with the other entities to see if they could contribute
financially," he said. "The plan has been
laid down, but there is still the question of who
will pay for it."
Heseler said when they thought there would be grants
for operating expenses to expand the service south,
he had thought of using the new trolleys to help
with the extension, but since that wont happen
for a while, the new vehicles will be used exclusively
for the Island.
Heseler said the new trolleys would be the same
color scheme as the old ones. Asked if they would
look different as far as their style, he said no.
"You might not be able to notice the new ones
at first glance," he said. "They look
tree removed early
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH A ficus tree at Anna Maria Elementary
School that represented fond memories for former
students was destroyed on Friday, four days ahead
The demolition was slated for Jan. 2 as part of
the removal of old school buildings that have been
replaced with a new school complex opening this
week on the site.
Some residents had planned to protest the removal
of the tree on Jan. 2, according to Longboat Key
resident Lara Fine, who said she thought it was
wrong that the Manatee County School Board scheduled
the removal over the holidays when people are distracted
and, in many cases, out of town.
The demolition reminded Fine of a similar incident
at the school a year ago when several oak trees
were cut down over the objection of parents, children
and former students.
The school board was closed last week due to the
holidays, but spokesperson Margi Nanney had previously
said that the Department of Educations State
Requirements for Educational Facilities require
that school districts have "a program in place
to remove all invasive, non-native plants,"
and that the ficus tree was a non-native species.
Cortez landscaper Rob Crafts had volunteered to
move the tree for free to another site if the school
board or another volunteer would pay to rent a crane.
The City of Holmes Beach Parks and Recreation Committee
had located a possible site behind the CVS store
on Manatee Avenue and East Bay Drive, according
to committee member John Molyneux.
fire listed as arson
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
A fire at an unoccupied duplex at Seventh Street
South and Gulf Drive is now being investigated as
The fire, which damaged a kitchen in one of the
units on Tuesday, Dec. 22, was extinguished by units
from West Manatee Fire and Rescue. Neighbors noticed
smoke coming from a window and used garden hoses
to fight it until the fire department arrived. West
Manatee Fire & Rescue Deputy Fire Marshal Kurt
Lathrop began an investigation and last Wednesday,
he announced that he and an investigator from the
state fire marshals office had concluded it
"All accidental causes have been ruled out,"
he told The Sun. "There was some human intervention
at some time."
Lathrop said the duplex, which is listed for sale,
was unoccupied but the owner had rented the units
over the holiday. He said the owner was busy notifying
the renters that the units would not be available.
On Nov. 24, four arson fires were set in Bradenton
Beach and somebody tried to ignite trash at the
Cortez Post Office overnight. The fires were minor
and nobody was injured. Lathrop said his investigation
of the duplex fire indicates it was not related
to those earlier arsons.
Signs are posted around the duplex telling that
a $1,000 reward is being offered for information
leading to the conviction of whoever set the fire.
Tips can be anonymous. If you have any information
on the fire, call Lathrop at 741-3900.
auction Saturday at school
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
If you ever want to purchase that desk you or your
child sat at in the fifth grade or that drafting
table where you drew pictures of horsies with crayons,
nows your chance if you or your child
attended Anna Maria Elementary School.
The school is auctioning off items on Saturday,
Jan. 7, starting at 9 a.m. Auctioneer David DAmico
with Holzman Auctioneers, described what will be
on the auction block.
"Chairs, desks, tables, the remaining furniture
a lot of stuff that could be classified as
memorabilia," he said. "There is a column
and a wall as you enter the school with flat rocks,
and theyre going to take down those walls,
remove the flat stones, clean them and offer them
Crews will begin taking down the old school and
DAmico said they would hold the auction in
the remaining classrooms, going from one room to
"There are a number of items in each classroom,"
he said. "In addition to the furnishings, there
will be cabinets, TVs, VCRs in the classrooms."
DAmico said there are some exotic items also
"They will be tearing down the sound production
studio (used for producing the morning TV show),"
he said, "and there is a large pirate ship
The gym, which school principal Kathy Hayes said
earlier could not be moved without spending a small
fortune, will be replaced with a new one of a different
DAmico said as items are moved from the classrooms
that will not be standing at the time of the auction
to those that will still be there, like items, such
as desks and chairs, will be stored together. He
said if weather permits, he would go to a room and
pull out items with bidders standing outside.
The sale starts at 9 a.m., but DAmico said
they would be ready to register bidders by 8 a.m.
for those who want to get there earlier to look
over the sale items. No bids will be taken before
the starting time, however.
Money raised from the auction will go toward enhancements
at the new school.
So if the thought of owning your first grade desk
sounds interesting to you, or if you would like
to purchase a sturdy table or a cabinet for your
garage at a bargain price, show up at Anna Maria
Elementary School with some money. Who knows, maybe
that chewing gum you stuck under your seat to escape
your teachers watchful eye is still there.
Or it might be someone elses gum.
would re-establish scallops off Islands
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Old timers will tell you that the Bay waters off
the Florida Gulf Coast used to be teeming with bay
Those scallops are gone now, victims of the loss
of natural seagrasses, pollution and other human-caused
problems. But a team of scientists is trying to
jump-start the mollusks with experiments in several
Motorists heading to or from Longboat Key last week
might have noticed some bright yellow booms in the
water. They were a part of that effort spearheaded
by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FFWC)
and Mote Marine.
"We work with shellfish hatcheries like Bay
Shellfish, of Palmetto," said Jay Leverone,
of Mote Marine. "We give them adult scallops
and they fatten them up and spawn them.
"We end up with millions of eggs and larvae,
he said. "After about two weeks for the larvae
to develop, we set up the booms and free the larvae
Leverone said they let the larvae set up in the
water and come back after two days to see how they
are doing. If they attach themselves to seagrass,
they have a good chance of survival.
"This was very successful in Pine Island Sound,"
he said. "The population rebounded and now
were taking it to Sarasota Bay, Boca Ciega
and we have already done it in St. Andrews Bay in
In fact, according to an article in Mote Magazine,
published by the marine studies organization, when
they checked the scallop population at Pine Island
Sound after two years, they found that it had more
scallops than any other estuary in Florida. The
article quoted Leverone as saying Pine Island Sound
was more productive than estuaries where scallops
are commercially harvested.
Leverone said they can do this restoration relatively
easily and if it is successful, it will help replenish
the population in North Sarasota Bay around Anna
Maria Island. He said the larvae are attached to
the seagrass and they will come back in a year to
see how they are doing. If it works, they will leave
the rest up to Mother Nature.
Holmes Beach zoning conflict comes to light
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
After agreeing to resolve one zoning conflict, another
one has come to the citys attention that may
create problems before it is resolved.
The first involved a conflict between the citys
future land use map (FLU) and zoning on properties
between 52nd Street and Anna Maria Elementary School.
The FLU designates the properties as low density,
which would have a zoning designation of R-1 and
only allow single family units, but its zoned
R-2, which allows duplexes.
At the commissions instruction, planning consultant
Bill Brisson drafted an ordinance the change the
FLU designation on these properties to medium density
residential. The commission is expected to discuss
the ordinance this month.
At the time of the discussion, a resident of the
Sportsmans Harbour subdivision, which is west
of Gulf Drive between the elementary school and
St. Bernard Catholic Church, asked the commission
to consider including it in the proposed change.
However, in a memo to the commission Brisson said
that he did not recommend the change for that area
and noted, "I believe that these lands should
be rezoned from R-2 to R-1, thereby bringing the
zoning designation into consistency with the current
land use designation.
"Only seven of the19 lots on which duplex structures
are located contain the minimum 8,712 square footage.
Changing the land use designation to medium density
residential would permit another five lots, now
occupied by single-family uses to convert to duplex
uses, thereby increasing density in the area."
Brisson said the density increase could be up to
Land use attorney Scott Rudacille, however, has
asked the commission to set a work session to discuss
alternatives to Brissons recommendation on
Sportsmans Harbour. He said if the commission
agrees to rezone the area from R-2 to R-1, it should
grandfather the seven lots that currently contain
"The purpose of our request is to protect the
property rights and reasonable expectations of property
owners who may have purchased duplexes in this area
based on the existing R-2 zoning and the construction
of new duplexes in the area, which were permitted
by the city," Rudacille explained.
He said grandfathering the seven lots would protect
the property owners without increasing density.