to accept art exhibits again
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH More than a year after a controversy
over artwork displays at the Island Branch Library,
the county has revamped its policy and the library
is soliciting displays again including art.
All displays at the Island Branch Library were banned
in December 2004 after an art exhibit by Anna Maria
Island Art League Director Ginger White depicting
nudity was mistakenly hung on a wall leading to
the childrens section instead of the meeting
room. A maintenance person complained about the
subject matter while hanging the artwork and it
was removed, prompting complaints from White and
other members of the community. At that point, the
county banned all displays from libraries in the
system while it worked out a new policy.
According to the new county policy, the exhibits
must have been produced by a Manatee County resident
or entity or be deemed by the county to be relevant
in some way to the history, industry, culture or
geography of the county. Displays promoting commercial
ventures will not be taken.
Manatee County Library Public Information Officer
Jonathan Sabin said they are soliciting artwork
as well as other displays. When asked if nude artwork
would be considered, he said yes.
"We would give it the same consideration as
we would other artwork," he said. "Whether
it is approved would be up to the director. Nothing
in the new policy addresses nudity."
Sabin said in the past, the library system rarely
turned down a display. He said the only subjects
he ever rejected or would reject included gun collections,
food that could attract insects and animals that
would have to be cared for. The new policy states
that "materials which arrive at a library facility
in a state of disrepair, emitting a foul odor, lacking
proper installation hardware or which would otherwise
pose a possible threat to the health, safety or
welfare of library visitors may not be accepted."
Sabin said the new policy is not more restrictive
except for the requirement that the artist or the
subject matter must be Manatee County based.
Those interested in displaying must fill out a loaned
materials display offer, which may be picked up
at the library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach,
or accessed on the librarys Website at www.co.manatee.fl.us/library/master.html.
Select "Display Area Application" and
"Policy" to download the form.
The library will choose from the pool of applications
received up to Jan. 31. Filling out the form does
not constitute a guarantee that an exhibit will
be accepted for display, although the library will
contact everyone who submits an application .
The Island Branch Library has signs on its display
case asking for donors to contact them if they would
like to display their works. Displays will be hung
from February through June, but exhibitors who want
to display only have until the end of January to
get in an application.
For more information, call the library at 778-6341.
festival to boost sports, safety
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The beaches of Anna Maria Island belong to swimmers
and others trying to escape the heat during summer.
This year, for one weekend, theyre going to
have some company in Coquina Beach.
The Florida Gulf Coast Sports Commission is planning
a kayak festival for the weekend of June 24 and
25 at Coquina Beach and Bayside with something for
The idea of a summer festival is unique because
the festival season usually coincides with tourist
season when more people are here, but the commissions
goal is to bring in tourists and participants for
sporting events, and it has seen some success. It
put Manatee County on the list of stops for a major
beach volleyball tournament, which is usually held
in August in Bradenton Beach, with an increase in
resort and restaurant trade during the slower part
of the year.
The festival will be held on both sides of south
Coquina Beach and Park, according to commission
founder and president Joe Pickett.
"We want to make it a fishhook from the concession
area of the beach, around the (Longboat) pass and
over to the bayside," he said.
The list of activities includes eco-tours, training
and skills classes, kayak safety and fishing classes
and kayak races. Bayfest organizer Cindy Thompson
is bringing nearly 100 vendors from that event to
the kayak festival and there will be music.
"We want to have a Bandfest,"
Pickett said. "Well have the countys
portable stage and were would like to invite
as many local bands as we can get."
To get more information or to sign up to participate
as a vendor or performer, call Pickett at 224-7344.
Meanwhile, Karen Fraley, owner of Around the Bend
Nature Tours, is excited. She already conducts eco-tours
of the local waters in kayaks and she has some plans
for the event.
"Were trying to get several environmental
groups like Mote Marine, Turtle Watch and, of course,
Around the Bend, to participate," she said.
"We hope to have vendors who will let people
try their skills at kayaking."
Fraley said kayaking is a growing sports in the
waters of Manatee County and it is a great way to
learn about the local habitat. She said they will
offer an opportunity to explore the waters with
a net during the festival.
"We will be gib netting," she said. "These
are small nets on long handles and we will invite
people to collect critters in the grass flats and
in buckets to observe the fauna (animals) in the
Thats a feature she offers people who take
her Around the Bend nature tours.
Fraley signed on as a consultant to Manatee Countys
Visitors and Convention Bureau on eco-tourism last
"We are trying to get businesses involved in
the project," she said. "We want participation
from kayak and bike rental places, day spas, restaurants
and small hotels who want to promote eco-tourism."
She invites business owners who are interested to
call her at 794-8773 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
theft leads to high speed chase
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH An Oneco man was jailed after
he stole a 2000 Kia Sportage from a friend, then
led police on a high-speed chase when he decided
to return it.
The incident began Jan. 3, when the car was taken
from in front of the owners house at 4501
Gulf Drive. The owner called police the next day
after her son, Daniel McGrath, told her that a friend
called "Ace" and later identified as Kevin
McCants had stolen it from him.
According to the police report, McGrath drives his
mothers vehicle regularly and that he had
been in contact with McCants several times, but
Ace kept delaying the return of the car.
McGrath told police that he had met McCants with
a mutual friend and that on Jan. 3, he was at McCants
residence working on the McCants car.
He said that they needed parts and that McCants
did not have the money for them, so he volunteered
to help purchase them at Wal-Mart.
McGrath stopped at his mothers house to get
money and while he was in the house, McCants took
off with the car. When McGrath realized the car
was gone, he immediately called McCants, who promised
to return the car later that day.
McGrath said he repeatedly contacted McCants, who
gave him different times when he would return the
car. At around 6 p.m., McCants told McGrath he would
return it the next day.
That next day, McGrath called police and told them
McCants had called and said he was returning the
car. McGrath told a Manatee County Sheriffs
Deputy that he was afraid to be alone with McCants.
He said McCants was going to return the car at a
convenience store in Holmes Beach.
Police then sent several units out at strategic
places on the Island in hopes of intercepting McCants
in the stolen car. After an extended wait, McGrath
called and said McCants was nearing the Island on
Cortez Road. When McCants passed one of the officers
in Bradenton Beach, the officer pulled in behind
him until backups arrived. Another officer pulled
his car in front of McCants and the two turned on
their overhead lights. McCants then pulled around
the patrol car in front by going off the road and
over a lawn and accelerated toward Manatee Avenue.
During the chase over the Manatee Bridge, the officers
radioed to have sheriffs officers put out
the stop bar, a device that would puncture tires
when run over, but McCants somehow avoided them
and continued into Bradenton, running numerous red
lights before turning south on a side street. Police
followed as McCants slid to a halt in front of 2904
22nd St. W., and ran away. A patrol helicopter advised
that McCants ran through a residence and out the
back, over a fence and into another building at
a nursing home, where he did not come out.
Sheriffs deputies then deployed a K-9 unit,
which sniffed him out. McCants was arrested and
charged with grand theft auto, felony fleeing to
elude and driving with a suspended license. Bradenton
police charged him with burglary for entering the
building and he also had some outstanding warrants
through Manatee County.
tide takes bait
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
tide has made baitfish scarce, local anglers say,
but it also has provided a surplus of shrimp to
take their place.
Baitfish such as pinfish, shiners and greenbacks
dont stay alive during red tide, said Louie
Mura, of Annies Bait and Tackle in Cortez.
"But when it let up in November, then we got
shrimp bigger than weve had in the last five
years," he said. "Theres no problem
Shrimp thrive after a bloom of red tide because
the algae kills their predators, scientists and
At Corkeys Live Bait and Tackle in Cortez,
shrimp are plentiful, but baitfish are still scarce
due to last years red tide.
"This has been a poor year for us. We barely
stayed alive because of red tide," owner Corkey
Moore said. "It has really hurt everything,
but its good for the shrimp."
And shrimp used as bait are catching fish, he said.
"Fishing around this area has been very good
recently," Moore said, including black drum
Red tide has disrupted the food chain in Sarasota
Bay, leaving few baitfish there, said Captain Wayne
Genthner, of Longboat Key-based Wolfmouth Charters.
"A new crop is on its way, but it will be six
months before theyre ready," he said.
But baitfish appear to be active in the red tide
"dead zone" that Genthner discovered last
year in the Gulf, which he now calls the "recovering
zone." Anglers also have been catching baitfish
off the northeastern tip of Anna Maria Island, he
Baitfish populations may not have bounced back from
last years red tide, or other causes could
be to blame, said Jeremy Lake, spokesman for the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions
Division of Marine Fisheries.
"This time of year, in general, theres
a reduction in baitfish from the temperature of
the water alone," he said, adding that spring
should bring a new population.
Meanwhile, shrimp and crabs have a bumper crop of
dead marine life to feed on due to the red tide,
he said. "Theyll take rotting and decomposed
things and make a great meal."
sought for red tide nutrient research
sun staff writer
Mote Marine Laboratory
in Sarasota and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute in St. Petersburg are applying this week
for millions of dollars in grants to study red tide,
including the pressing question of whether nutrient
pollution causes its growth.
Anglers, environmentalists and others have long
suspected that the nitrogen and phosphate in fertilizer
runoff feeds the microscopic Karenia brevis algae
that caused marine life deaths and human respiratory
problems for several months last year along Floridas
The nutrients and their connection to red tide are
the subject of a study FWRI plans if it succeeds
in winning $4 million in grants from the National
Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, researcher Cindy Heil said.
"We would look at how nutrients are used by
red tide in coastal, estuary, offshore and lagoonal
areas," she said, as well as how the nutrients
are carried to the red tide blooms, by air, water,
land or marine life. FWRI plans to work with Mote
and six other scientific organizations to conduct
the five-year regional study if the grant is awarded.
Mote scientists also are awaiting word on a grant
of $100,000 to $150,000 a year from the National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study
the effects of red tide on the human respiratory
system, said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, manager of
Motes environmental health program.
Another avenue she hopes to explore is the economic
cost of red tide.
"We all know its hurts the community, but there
isnt good data as to what the economic impacts
are," she said.
studies focus on red tide
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are conducting
several red tide studies with grant funding from
various sources, including the following:
$1 million a year for three years from the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
to monitor waters from Tampa Bay south to Naples
for nutrients and toxins and to develop an early
warning detection system.
$600,000 over five years for Mote, the Fish
and Wildlife Research Institute, the University
of South Florida and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration to place red tide detectors on offshore
$406,000 over three years from the National
Science Foundation to operate four autonomous underwater
vehicles that detect red tide.
$364,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration to use detection technology to forecast
red tide at area beaches.
$50,000 to $100,000 in private donations
for control technologies, including experiments
with ozone and algaecides.
Source: Mote Marine Laboratory
rental limit goes to commission
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Planning commissioners recommendation for 30-day
rentals in the R-1 and R-2 districts will go to
the city commission for review along with other
changes to the citys land development code.
The two districts now allow one-week rentals, and
the controversial recommendation for a change prompted
a flurry of letters from residents and rental agents
when planners made it in June.
Planners held a special meeting to let them air
their concerns, which included loss of property
rights and loss of revenue for other Island businesses.
Rental agents said times have changes and vacationers
want weekly accommodations rather than monthly.
Planners pointed out that they are concerned that
the increase in investors buying rental property
is changing the character of the city. They also
said they have received complaints from residents
regarding short-term rentals disrupting their neighborhoods.
In addition, planners recommended grandfathering
the rentals from five to 10 years to allow the current
owners to continue to rent weekly.
Other recommendations include:
Keep the citys board of adjustment
rather than use a hearing officer to hear variance
Require a super majority vote of a quorum
(a majority plus one) in order to grant variances;
Allow six-foot high fences on side and rear
property lines without requiring the approval of
the adjacent neighbor;
Allow a six-foot high fence to begin where
the building starts, but it must remain four feet
high within the front yard setback;
Allow corner lots, which currently must have
front yard setbacks on both streets, to use the
side on which the structure fronts and on any designated
primary street as the front yard setback;
Broaden the definition of home occupation
to include Internet businesses;
Not allow property owners to re-apply for
special exceptions, vacations, variances, rezones
and amendments to the comprehensive plan for a year
after they applied previously and were turned down;
Limit garage sale signs to one two-square-foot
sign per property;
Limit the number of open house signs to two
per property, limit the size to two-and-a-half square
feet and include a provision that an off-property
directional sign counts as one of the allowable
Allow only one portable sign per occupational
license. If there are two businesses with separate
occupational licenses in one location, each could
have a portable sign;
Limit real estate signs to two per property
and two-and-a-half square feet each;
Limit maximum sign height in residential
districts to four feet;
Limit the size of model home signs from 20
to five square feet;
Allow people to share a house as roommates
but allow only four roommates per house;
Prohibit the rental of individual rooms in
Prohibit parking in vacant lots;
Provide for the expiration of an approval
of variances and expansions or extension of a nonconforming
use or structure 180 days after the approval is
recorded if the applicant has not filed for a building
permit or begun work;
Prohibit signs on the premises of after school
child care homes, family day care homes and group
Prohibit the use of submerged lands to allow
a property owner to subdivide a lot into two lots;
Prohibit the parking of RVs, boats and trailers
in driveways if there is a usable side yard.