Vol 6 No. 16 - January 11, 2006


Gene Moss passes away at 81

Library to accept art exhibits again

Kayak festival to boost sports, safety

Auto theft leads to high speed chase

Red tide takes bait

Funds sought for red tide nutrient research

Mote studies focus on red tide

30-day rental limit goes to commission




Gene Moss passes away at 81

ByPat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Wiley Eugene "Gene" Moss, 81, passed away Sunday, Jan. 8, from complications following recent surgery.

Moss, who with his wife, Elizabeth, was named The Sun’s People of the Year in 2004, has been an Island resident for 49 years. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island, the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and Roser Memorial Community Church, where he and Elizabeth taught Sunday school and were members of various boards and committees.

"Gene grew up in Wichita, Kan.," Elizabeth recalled, "and attended Wichita State University majoring in education. His grandfather had citrus groves in Bradenton, and he sent Gene here to oversee them.

"He got a job teaching at Walker Junior High School and then at Anna Maria Elementary School. I was teaching there at the time. We met at a birthday party and married in 1956. We had twins, Ed and Jim, in 1958 and Elizabeth in 1964."

Shortly after moving to the Island, Moss became involved in the Rotary Club.

"When I moved here, Gene and his brother constituted half the Club members on the Island," Rotary Club member Jim Dunne said. "Because of them, the Club has grown and become as active as it is today."

Moss was instrumental in raising funds to buy the welcome sign in Holmes Beach that greets people coming on to the Island, Dunne said. He was awarded the Club’s Paul Harris Foundation Fellow award in 2004.

"In his declining years, he came to all the meetings," Dunne said. "He was a symbol of what Rotary was and is. He will be sorely missed. What energy he had he gave back to the community."

Moss left Anna Maria Elementary to work with handicapped children for the state of Florida in vocational rehabilitation. He also taught reading to migrant children in Rubonia. He volunteered at Anna Maria Elementary school until last fall, taking the trolley to the school.
He and Elizabeth were charter members of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society.

"Gene was famous for his dry wit," Carolyne Norwood, co-founder of the historical society, said. "He also was very active in Rotary and Roser. He was the head of transportation at Roser before George (her late husband) took over. He loved to walk and to take the trolley."

A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at Roser Church, Pine Ave., Anna Maria. The Mosses’ son Ed, a pastor at Braden River Baptist Church, will perform the service.

Memorials can be made to the Roser Memorial Community Church Van Fund, P.O. Box 247, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

<< Top


Library 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 children’s 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 library’s 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.

<< Top

Kayak festival to boost sports, safety

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The beaches of Anna Maria Island belong to swimmers and others trying to escape the heat during summer.

This year, for one weekend, they’re 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 everyone.

The idea of a summer festival is unique because the festival season usually coincides with tourist season when more people are here, but the commission’s 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. "We’ll have the county’s portable stage and we’re 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.
"We’re 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 put them

in buckets to observe the fauna (animals) in the water."

That’s a feature she offers people who take her Around the Bend nature tours.

Fraley signed on as a consultant to Manatee County’s Visitors and Convention Bureau on eco-tourism last summer.

"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 karen@aroundbend.com.


Auto 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 owner’s 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 mother’s 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 mother’s 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 Sheriff’s 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 sheriff’s 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.

Sheriff’s 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.

<< Top

Red tide takes bait

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – Red 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 don’t stay alive during red tide, said Louie Mura, of Annie’s Bait and Tackle in Cortez.

"But when it let up in November, then we got shrimp bigger than we’ve had in the last five years," he said. "There’s no problem getting shrimp."

Shrimp thrive after a bloom of red tide because the algae kills their predators, scientists and anglers agree.

At Corkey’s Live Bait and Tackle in Cortez, shrimp are plentiful, but baitfish are still scarce due to last year’s 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 it’s 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 and pompano.

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 they’re 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 said.

Baitfish populations may not have bounced back from last year’s red tide, or other causes could be to blame, said Jeremy Lake, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Marine Fisheries.

"This time of year, in general, there’s 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. "They’ll take rotting and decomposed things and make a great meal."

<< Top


Funds sought for red tide nutrient research

ByCindy Lane
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 Florida’s Gulf coast.

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 Mote’s 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 isn’t good data as to what the economic impacts are," she said.

<< Top


Mote studies focus on red tide

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CITY ISLAND – 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 buoys.

• $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

<< Top


30-day rental limit goes to commission

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — 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 city’s 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 city’s board of adjustment rather than use a hearing officer to hear variance requests;

• 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 signs;

• 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 a house;

• 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 homes;

• 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.

<< Top

"Write a letter to the editor about a story."

<< Go back to Index January 11

<< Go back to Index archives



About us | News | The Island | Subscription | SUN Store | Classified



AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper