up now for Little League baseball
By Mike Field
sun staff writer
Its time to break out the bats, balls and gloves
and PLAY BALL once again, as Little League baseball returns
to the Island at the Community Center.
Registration is going on now at the Center, located at
407 Magnolia Ave. in Anna Maria.
The league is for boys and girls from ages 5 to 17, and
everyone who signs up by Feb. 10 will receive a free ticket
to the Devil Rays-Pirates game on Sunday, March 12.
That also is the leagues official opening weekend
, which will include the traditional parade of players
and coaches, plus team pictures and baseball games.
The cost will be $55 per player for tee ball, $65 per
player for the live pitch and pitching machine divisions,
and $75 for the junior division ages 13-15. There is a
$5 discount for each additional sibling that plays. Assistance
from the Bill Ogden Scholarship Fund also is available
for those who cant afford the signup fee.
The last day to register is Saturday, Feb. 10.
Everyone who signs up will be placed on a team but for
parity in the divisions there also will be mandatory tryouts.
The tryout schedule is as follows:
Saturday, Feb. 11, 10:30 a.m. 10-12 year
Saturday, Feb. 11, noon 7-9 year olds;
Saturday, Feb. 11, 1:30 p.m. 5-6 year olds;
Monday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. 7-9 year olds;
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m. 7-9 year olds.
Some of the games this season will be played at the Bayfront
Recreation Center in Longboat Key due to the renovation
of the Community Center.
Coaches also are needed this year.
For more information, call 778-1908 and speak with Andy
project a step closer
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Residents
along North Shore Drive, North Bay Boulevard and Gladiolus
can expect to see a drainage system in place by the end
A pre-bid conference for the joint project the city plans
with Swiftmud was held at city hall on Feb. 2, and six
contractors turned out to pick up packets and to hear
from City Engineer Tom Wilcox. Most indicated informally
that they plan to submit bids.
"What we are basically doing is trying to do something
about water quality impact and flooding in the drainage
basin," Wilcox said at the conference. "There
will be a lot of very shallow, open swales running down
an alley to the east of South Bay and North Shore."
There also are a lot of encroachments in the alley that
will have to be removed, according to Wilcox.
"A notice will be sent to property owners telling
them they have to remove fences, sheds and shrubbery from
the project area, or the contractor will remove it for
them and dispose of it," he said. "Those notices
will go out closer to the start of the work."
Wilcox said the swales would only be a foot deep at the
bottom. Theyll be 10-feet wide with a gentle slope
to a two-foot wide flat bottom.
"Homeowners will be able to mow it easily,"
he added. "The outflow will be to the existing
canals through filter boxes, which will clean out the
heavy metals, oil and other pollutants."
Wilcox works for Baskerville-Donovan, Inc., and he told
the contractors that after a series of meetings with property
owners in the Gladiolus drainage basin, the decision was
made to keep several large trees in the swales, and there
will be places where residents can drive to their property
over the swales.
Several contractors asked about inspections.
"BDI will be in charge of all inspections,"
Wilcox said. "But we wont be on the job full
When asked who the local contact person would be, Wilcox
said it would be Anna Maria Public Works Director George
"Unfortunately, he wasnt able to be here today,"
Wilcox told the contractors. "He had a meeting with
the DEP in Tampa."
(McKay had sent e-mail to the staff saying hed be
out of town from early morning until late afternoon.)
The project is expected to cost between $175,000 and $225,000.
Half will be paid by the city, and half will be picked
up by a Swiftmud grant.
Bids are due on Feb 16.
Wilcox said he expects the project to be under way by
late March or early April, and it should be "substantially
complete after 90 days with some additional days to do
the final and cleanup work."
signal bothers neighbors
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH It has been described as something
akin to prison camp torture, a constant ticking noise,
and the people who live near it are asking for a solution.
The noise is coming from an audible pedestrian signal
(APS) installed at the intersection of Gulf Drive and
Cortez Road and the complaints are coming from residents
of Bridgeport condominiums, on the northeast corner of
"Its very irritating," said Jim Graham,
who lives at Bridgeport and wrote a letter to Bradenton
Beach Mayor John Chappie. "At night, its impossible
Graham said other residents there have complained about
the noise, especially this time of the year when many
Floridians open their homes because of cooler temperatures.
Graham said the noise is constant and he feels that there
might be something wrong with the device at that intersection.
"Ive been in other cities where they have these
and the noise usually last about 10 seconds after the
light changes," he said. "Here, its a
constant tick, tick, tick."
Graham said during the day, traffic drowns out the ticking
sound but at night, when there is less traffic, the signals
Bradenton Beach officials said, however, that there may
be nothing they can do about it.
"It needs to make noise for the seeing impared pedestrians
to find it," said Public Works Director Dotty Poindexter.
"The county has another signal like this at 43rd
and Cortez Road, near WalMart, and it is even louder because
it is located next to a six-lane road. The wider the road,
the louder it has to be and the one in Bradenton Beach
is set at its lowest level."
The city may not be able to remove the signal, according
to Assistant Public Works Director Tom Woodard.
"Once its in there, its there,"
he said. "It would take a higher level of government
to remove it."
Woodard worked for the signs and traffic marking division
of the Manatee County Public Works Department and is well-versed
with the Federal Manual for uniform Traffic Control Devices,
which covers street crossing lights.
Bradenton Beach Vice Mayor Bill Shearon, who is legally
blind, spent a better part of two years trying to get
the signal at that intersection. He said the state approved
the installation of the APS and Manatee County installed
it and that Bradenton Beach has no control over it. He
said he sympathizes with the nearby residents who find
the beeping an annoyance.
"Im not completely blind and can see the button
on the signal, so for me, it is not that much of a concern
to have the signal, but someone who is completely blind
might have different feelings about it," he said.
"I think if anything was altered, they might have
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues."
Grahams letter compared the signals constant
beeping to torture.
"The constant 24/7 knocking noise is causing great
mental anguish and sleep deprivation," the letter
said. "It is the equivalent of torture that is used
in prison camps."
Tom Vaught may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maria/Austria sister city contemplated
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH High
school students in Mooskirchen, Austria, are working with
their teacher to form a sister city relationship with
the cities of Anna Maria Island.
Teacher Michael Schwab, who also represents an American
company in Austria, learned about Anna Maria Island from
a neighbor who had visited, said Holmes Beach City Commissioner
David Zaccagnino, who is corresponding with Schwab on
The students and the schools headmaster have met
with the mayor of Mooskirchen about the idea of starting
an exchange, according to a letter from Schwab to Zaccagnino.
Meanwhile, Schwabs students are translating the
Mooskirchen town website into English, and hope to translate
Island city and possibly chamber of commerce websites
into German, Zaccagnino said.
While the project originally was focused on Holmes Beach,
Zaccagnino said that it has expanded to include all three
Island cities with the involvement of the Anna Maria Island
Chamber of Commerce, which has established a committee
on the project.
Mooskirchen, an agricultural area with a history dating
back to 1136, has about 2,000 residents. Its website is
to renovate Beach Inn
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Sean
Murphy has won approval to turn the Beach Inn, the counterpart
of his Beach Bistro restaurant at 6600 Gulf Drive, into
a high-end resort while keeping the "old Florida"
flavor of the building.
The 14 units at the hotel will be enlarged by enclosing
the patios and walkways adjoining the units, said Brent
Whitehead of Cortez-based Whitehead Construction, whose
firm will do the renovations.
The open atrium also will be enclosed, transforming it
into a 1,500-square-foot lobby where guests can socialize
and conduct business meetings, Murphy told the Holmes
Beach Board of Adjustment last week, which unanimously
approved the plans.
"To justify the cost, we need to take it upscale,"
said Murphy, a partner in Beach Inn Partners. "The
lobby is essential."
The economic pressure to convert motel and hotel rooms
to condominiums is negatively affecting restaurants and
retail stores, he said.
"Our biggest problem is the loss of 20 to 25 percent
of hotel rooms to condos in Manatee County," said
Murphy, who also is a member of the Manatee County Tourist
Don Schroder, president of the Coalition Against Runaway
Taxation (CART), agreed, speaking on Murphys behalf
at the hearing.
"Every dollar in room rates equals three dollars
spent at other businesses," he said. "He is
meeting a need."
to get second legal opinion on coastal overlay district
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA An outside
legal expert has been retained by the city commission
as it moves forward with its coastal overlay district.
Nancy Stroud, an attorney from Boca Raton, will be taking
a look at a proposed ordinance that will establish a coastal
overlay district. City Attorney Jim Dye and City Planner
Alan Garrett are writing the proposal.
The district will run roughly around the coastal perimeter
of the city from the southern-most city limits on the
Gulf, then sweep around Bean Point and terminate at Galati
Marine on Bimini Bay.
Existing platted lots in the district will not be affected
by the ordinance, but any lots that are newly platted
or replatted would have restrictions placed on their size,
height and development.
Some weeks ago, City Commissioner Chris Tollette suggested
that the city seek outside counsel for a second opinion
on the citys legal vulnerability if they go ahead
with the establishment of the coastal overlay district.
Tollettes research led her to Stroud. At their January
meeting, the city commission approved the hiring of the
attorney, but they have not determined what they are willing
to spend for outside legal counsel.
"Lets not be penny-wise and dollar foolish,"
Tollette said. "We want to protect ourselves from
litigation with this ordinance as much as we can."
Several property owners in the proposed coastal overlay
district have already retained attorneys to represent
them should the ordinance pass.
fined over ethics violation
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips, who was found guilty
by an administrative law judge in Tallahassee last week
of using her office to intimidate a resident, said shes
glad its over and she wants to move on.
Judge Carolyn Holifield said Phillips, who also serves
as the citys vice mayor, misused her public position
and fined her $2,000.
"I have a lot of things to do before Im done
in office and I cant let this slow me down,"
she said. "In a way, its hard to be punished
when youre trying to do the best for your city."
The case stems from a traffic incident Jan. 3, 2004, when
Phillips blew her horn at Ronald Ockerman after he slowed
down or stopped. He responded with an obscene gesture,
according to police reports, and Phillips drove around
him and forced him to stop. She got out of her car and
Ockerman said he was going to call police.
Phillips then said, "Go ahead and call the police"
because "she owned or controlled the
police," according to the order. She also told Ockerman
to follow her because she was going to give him a ticket.
Phillips said she will consider appealing the order, although
it is an expensive process. She said shes glad its
"That incident does not define me and it certainly
is no reflection on my co-workers," she said. "When
youre an elected official, its a completely
different deal. You give up some of the civil liberties
you had before youre elected."
Phillips noted the incident occurred within three months
of her election and she did not recognize the importance
of being an elected official.
Phillips said Ockerman attended her last community meeting
and spoke with her cordially about what the city is doing.