Vol 6 No. 22 - February 22, 2006


County sinks Seafood Shack plan

Contractor: Request not made to remove pipe

Police search for armed robber

Green turtle rescued at WestBay Cove

Property owner ordered to clean up or else

Scenic Highway connection still on table

Rising seas won�t wash out Island soon

Students walk for science course




County sinks Seafood Shack plan

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – Manatee County’s bid to purchase the Seafood Shack restaurant for a maritime museum and boat ramp is dead in the water.

Following the recommendation of its staff, county commissioners voted against purchasing the property last week, citing the price, traffic and safety issues posed by a boat ramp and the fact the property does not qualify for grant funding.

The county began negotiating the purchase last summer, and had discussed locating the Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Museum at Cortez on the waterfront site instead of at the landlocked 1912 Cortez schoolhouse, under renovation on 119th Street.

The 6.1-acre Seafood Shack property includes the restaurant and marina, the Showboat, Annie’s Bait and Tackle, a boat repair shop, a single family home and the parking lot across the street from the restaurant.

The site is appraised at $9.7 million, less than owner Ham Jones is willing to accept, Assistant County Administrator Dave Rothfuss told the commission.

"I cannot accept anything below the appraisal value of an experienced appraisal firm," Rothfuss read from a statement prepared by Jones. "I will attempt to sell the property otherwise."

"We had hoped for a price below the appraised value," Rothfuss said.

The appraisal is based on the "highest and best use" of the property, he said, which the appraiser determined as a wet-slip marina and amenities, fewer than 10 single-family homes, and a boat sales and service facility where the restaurant and bait shop stand.

Rothfuss also recommended that commissioners abandon the plan because the property does not appear to qualify for grant funding from the Florida Communities Trust, which would have offset operations and maintenance costs of a county facility at the site.

Post-acquisition costs were a significant stumbling block, Manatee County Administrator Ernie Padgett said.

"We just felt like there were too many unknowns relative to the millions of dollars we would have to put into this project after acquisition," he said.

"We just can’t afford it," said Commissioner Donna Hayes, who made the motion to stop the negotiations.

The lack of grant funds influenced Commissioner Rob Getman, who originally advocated the plan.

"I support preserving waterfront properties for citizens," he said. "It’s the fact that it doesn’t qualify for supporting funding that slams the door shut."

The commission also noted concerns about increased traffic and safety problems at a public boat ramp, voiced by spokeswoman Lynn Henneman and other members of the Concerned Citizens of Cortez Coalition.

"Compatibility must be proven," said CCCC member Peter Durant, who lives next to the Seafood Shack, adding that the general preference of his neighbors is for single family

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Contractor: Request not made to remove pipe

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The contractor for the beach renourishment project says he has never gotten a request for a proposal (RFP) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dismantle the pipeline.

Ben Goodloe, project manager for Goodloe Marine, Inc., said they have talked about it with the Corps, but the RFP is the first step in dismantling the pipeline that has sat in the sand from Manatee County Public Beach to Katie Pierola Park since the end of last year.

"The last time we met with them was December 15," Goodloe said. "Since then, we have been in contact, but they never asked us in writing for a price estimate to tear it down."

Barry Morse, information officer for the Corps office in Jacksonville, which is overseeing the project, told The Sun last week that the Corps was negotiating over who would pay for the dismantling.

The pipeline has drawn complaints from members of the Island’s tourist industry who say it is an eyesore, blocks access to the water and poses a hazard.

Goodloe quit renourishing just after hurricane season when a series of cold fronts moved through with accompanying rough water, making it impossible for them to dredge the sand accurately from a borrow pit off the north end of the Island. They asked for a delay until spring, saying it was too hazardous to be in those waters during the winter storm season.

The Corps granted the delay, saying the company would have to finish the job by June 1, which is a month into sea turtle season. The Corps negotiated with Turtle Watch, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to be able to allow the project to proceed into its second turtle nesting season.
"This job should have been done before hurricane season last year," Goodloe said. "They (the Corps) kept delaying it and we didn’t get a notice to proceed until the end of June. After that, we had the worst hurricane season we’ve ever had."

The series of hurricanes that passed during the summer delayed the project because Goodloe would have to move its dredge toward shore due to high waves. The Corps offered to renourish Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach after a turbulent hurricane season in 2004 caused heavy erosion. This latest project fortifies the beaches that were last renourished in a federally funded project in 2002. At that time, beaches along the city of Anna Maria were also renourished, but not with federal funds. Goodloe is supposed to fortify those beaches this year in a separate job after it finishes the first project.<< Top

Police search for armed robber

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Two armed robberies within a short period of time brought out the police in force last Friday night around 10 p.m. No shots were fired, nobody was harmed and the robber, who was described as "polite speaking," got away with only $49 in cash.

According to a Bradenton Beach Police report, numerous Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies and officers from Longboat Key and Holmes Beach assisted in setting up a perimeter around the scene of the two robberies. A K-9 unit was called and a sheriff’s office helicopter flew overhead as officers searched for the robber, who was described as a white male about 5 feet, 8-9 inches tall, weighing about 150 pounds, 19-22 years old with medium length light colored hair. He was reportedly wearing a white hooded sweatshirt with "Nike" written on it and tan or dark colored pants and wore the hood over his head during the robberies.

Bradenton Beach officer Roy Joslin arrived at the scene of the second robbery within a minute of receiving the call. Two people from Illinois reported that they were walking south on Gulf Drive at the 300 South block with four acquaintances when the suspect approach the two. He reportedly said he was sorry to bother them and that he didn’t want "no one" to get hurt and then showed them a pistol. They gave him $44 and he said, "Sorry to bother you, but I’m in a bad spot." He walked away and was last seen going east on 5th Street South.

As Joslin was taking the information, a Longboat Key officer who was assisting in setting up the perimeter radioed that two other victims had approached him and reported an earlier armed robbery. The couple, who live in Bradenton Beach, said they were approached at 4th Street South in the Cortez Beach parking area by a man of the same description who also told them that he didn’t want to hurt them. He then showed them a pistol of the same description, although the male victim said it appeared the pistol was unloaded. The suspect told them he needed money and when they asked him how much he needed he said $100. He got a $5 bill and told them, "I’m glad I didn’t have to hurt you." The female victim asked the robber where he was going and he said, "I’m not telling you."

The police K-9 unit dog tracked the robber to the east end of 5th Street South, where the scent ended. Police searched the city, but were unable to find him.

Bradenton Beach Detective Sargent Lenard Diaz is investigating the case as one suspect committing two armed robberies.


Green turtle rescued at WestBay Cove�

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

An apparently dead green turtle that stranded at WestBay Cove is now recovering at Mote Marine Laboratory.

"The lady who called thought the turtle was dead," said Anna Maria Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox. "And when I first saw it, I thought it was dead, too. It wasn’t moving."

Fox said the turtle then slowly moved its head to one side and blinked.

"We checked it over and got it into the truck," she said. "It’s a green turtle, and usually we can’t take those to Mote, because they all have fibropapillomas. Those are little tumors, and they’re really contagious. Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission won’t let them have any more than two greens with the tumors there at a time."

When she looked at the turtle, Fox said she didn’t see any tumors, so she called Dr. Charles ManiRE at Mote to see if he had room for the sluggish sea turtle without fibropapillomas.

"Charlie came down to my truck and really examined the turtle," Fox said. "He didn’t see any either. It was great, so they took the turtle in to the rehab hospital."

Mote staff named the juvenile green Chilly Willie since he was found on Tuesday morning when it was quite cold in this area.

"He was very cold," Manire said of Willie. "His temperature was 13 centigrade, which is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. They are cold blooded, but it should be about 75 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit."

Chilly Willie’s heart rate was down from a normal 25 beats per minute to five. Willie also had a high white blood count, so he was started on an antibiotic.

Scientists are hopeful that Willie will make a full recovery. He will have to be cared for and observed at Mote’s turtle hospital for at least several months before he can be released into the wild.

Meanwhile, two other green turtles rescued off Gulf beaches are going to have laser surgery on their fibropapillomas next week.

"The tumors on these turtles are on the outside of the eyes and the skin," Manire said. "When the tumors are on the outside, they can be removed, and the turtle can hunt and eat again. We keep the turtle for a year after the laser treatment to make sure no new ones form, and then the turtles can be released."

The tumors are a form of wart, according to Manire. The incidence of fibropapilloma is being observed worldwide among the green turtle population, so scientists are thinking that there might be some sort of virus at work. Earlier thoughts that some form of pollution might be the cause of the tumors have been pretty much dismissed because of the wide distribution of the problem.

"When the tumors get inside the turtle, inside the digestive tract or inside the eyes, rather than on the surface, then we can’t do anything to help that particular turtle," Manire said.

Mote is studying the condition along with other scientists around the world in hopes of determining the cause of the condition. When that’s known, finding a potential cure or prevention is possible.

Rehabilitating Chilly Willie and other sea turtles is expensive.

"If people didn’t support Mote and the work it does with sick and injured animals, we’d have nowhere to take a turtle we find stranded," Fox said.

People who want to donate to the care of Willie and other turtles can call Mote at 388-4441, or they can log onto the website to get details about how to contribute. Just type "Mote.org" into your search engine.

You can also check on Chilly Willie’s progress on that website.<< Top

Property owner ordered to clean up or else

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA —A property owner on Chilson Avenue has until March 29 to clean up his yard of face fines of up to $250 a day.

That’s the order of the code enforcement board, which heard the case against Angelo and Dhimitra Louloudes, who live at 237 Chilson Ave.

Code Enforcement Officer Gerry Rathvon said that she had been trying to get the property owners to clean up since October. There are weeds and high grass instead of lawn, there is a stack of PVC plumbing pipes, there is an inoperable vehicle and there are large piles of junk and debris in the yard, Rathvon said.

"They have removed one inoperable vehicle," she told the board. "But another remains in the front yard. They removed a large pile of dirt, but there is still a lot that needs to be done."

Robert Louloudes represented his grandparents at the hearing. He said there’s no one in the house who can do the work, and there is no money to pay someone to do it.

"It’s just my grandparents and me and now my dad," he said. "My grandmother has had a stroke and my grandfather has Alzheimer’s. My dad has diabetes. I’m the only one working."

Robert Louloudes said he works 12-hour days at a Nissan dealership in Sarasota, he has bad knees and he is just too tired to clean things up when he gets home from work.

The board gave Louloudes until March 29 to get the property into compliance with city codes.

"That should give you enough time to get things in order," said board Chairman Bill Iseman.

Louloudes thanked the members of the board and said he’d get his grandparents’ property in order by then.

If the property isn’t brought up to code by then, the case will come before the code board at their April meeting where fines of up to $250 a day can be levied against the property owners.

This is the second time this property has come to the notice of code enforcement. When the owners were cited two years ago, a group of citizen volunteers spent a Saturday cleaning up the property.<< Top


Scenic Highway connection still on table

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Holmes Beach City Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens spoke at the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity meeting on Feb. 7 about connecting with the Palma Sola Scenic Highway.

The notion was first raised when the two groups met last fall and it was left on the table to negotiate, although the Bradenton Beach group voted it down at its own meeting two weeks later.

One obstacle to joining the two Scenic Highways is the fact that there is a stretch in Holmes Beach that is not designated a Scenic Highway.

Haas-Martens said her city commission approved extending the Scenic Highway designation along Gulf Drive to Manatee Avenue, which is the Palma Sola designated Scenic Highway.

Haas-Martens told the group that Florida Department of Transportation’s Scenic Highway Manager Andy Nichols told her it would be a paperwork issue and it would be easier to extend the Bradenton Beach designation than the Palma Sola one.

Bob Herrington, of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, who is a member of both groups, said they would have to change the name of the Bradenton Beach group.

"We would have to look into it further," said Scenic Highway Entity Director Michael Pierce.

"A first step would be a letter from the Holmes Beach City Commission," Herrington told Bradenton Beach City Commissioner John Shaughnessy, "but you might want to discuss it with your city commission first."

Shaughnessy asked about grants that each of the Scenic Highway groups might get and who would oversee them.

"Palma Sola is not talking about combining, just expanding your group to theirs," Herrington said. "You would probably want to get an interlocal agreement with Holmes Beach because if a project goes north into Holmes Beach, they would have to accept maintenance on it."

"The only advantage would be it would be a continuous Scenic Highway," Haas-Martens said. "Holmes Beach has already done improvements like a bike path and landscaping along that roadway."

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie asked who the Palma Sola group answers to. Herrington said Manatee County and the cities of Bradenton and Holmes Beach.

"One of my concerns is, it’s a lot simpler for us because it’s one municipality," Chappie said.

That’s when Herrington said Chappie might want to check the minutes of the Bradenton Beach meeting that occurred after the joint meeting because they may have decided at that meeting that they did not want to participate. Pierce said he remembers that the group did note the idea down, but he noted that the Bradenton Beach group has some new members now who might support it.

"This might be a good opportunity to partner with Holmes Beach, Bradenton and the county," Chappie said. "That’s something our commission supports."

The group decided to try to get Nichol to a future meeting to discuss the idea further.

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Rising seas won�t wash out Island soon

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – The sea level is rising every year, due mostly to a natural cycle, but Island residents have plenty of time to adapt to the change or abandon the Island.

That’s the word from Ernie Estevez, director of Mote Marine Lab’s Center for Coastal Ecology who spoke last Saturday at the Island Branch Library in front of Save Anna Maria (SAM).

Estevez, who grew up on Anna Maria Island and called himself "An Island boy who wished to become a marine biologist and became one," brought a chart showing the level of the sea over the past 10,000 years. He pointed out that what happens over the course of a day or week is known as weather and what happens over the course of thousands of years is known as climate.

Estevez said tides are generally lowest in January and February and highest from August through October.

"Some of that difference is caused by wind, rain and river flow into the bays," he said, "but the main reason is the temperature of the water. When it is warmer, it expands and raises the sea level."

Estevez said there is global warming, and it is being exacerbated by human use of fossil fuels, but the warming is part of a natural trend, the result in the lull between ice ages, which lower the sea levels considerably.

"We are toward the end of a period when the sea level was low," he said, showing a chart of the sea level over the past 10,000 years. "We are in between ice ages."

Estevez said when the water levels began to rise after the last ice age, Florida was a large prairie and Anna Maria Island was not an island. Where the Island now stands was as far from the Gulf of Mexico as it is now from the Atlantic Ocean.

When the water started to rise, early humans who went to the sea would have seen forests in the slow process of being swallowed by salt water with tree falling into the ocean. Estevez said the sea level started rising quickly around 9,000 years ago and slowed down 2000-3000 years ago. Anna Maria Island is probably 4,000-6,000 years old.

"The barrier islands formed from shoals and sandbars," he said. "They resembled Passage Key; they moved around a lot. When the rise in the sea level slowed, they stabilized and became islands."

Estevez said the sea level is rising about three to four centimeters per century or a current rate of 2.4 millimeters per year, a little thicker than your big toenail. Of course, he said, this is ongoing and it mounts up over lengths of time.

"It would take 300 years for the sea level to rise 2.2 feet," he said.

Asked if he thought that human pollution was adding to the rise in temperatures and the sea level, Estevez did not answer directly. He said the scientific community had set up several models of variables to determine how quickly the water levels would rise and that each model had a high and low effect on the overall picture, but he would not predict the future of the sea level.

He passed out a chart of the global average sea level rise from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing a general rise in the sea level until the year 2050. After that, the "envelope" of probable rise varied widely, depending on such factors as how many people are on the planet, how much energy they use and what types of energy they use.

"The low models show a rate about what it is today," he said. "The high model includes increasing the current use of hydrocarbons that produce carbon monoxide and heat the atmosphere."

He said even at its high, the result does not appear to be too serious through the next 94 years. << Top


Students walk for science course

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Eight laps around a makeshift track equals a mile and that is what students at Anna Maria Elementary School walked last week to fulfill their obligations to those who gave them money for a new science instruction course that the school is purchasing.

Many of the students came dressed for cold weather, although sunny skies raised temperatures outside well above the 37 degree temperatures recorded at sunup. Each grade walked together and the walkathon was finished by noon.

The Harcourt science course includes textbooks and classroom materials for each of the six grades at the school and it costs $19,000, a price that was discounted by Harcourt. The goal of the walkathon, organized by a committee at the school, was $5,000, but when all the pledges came in last week, they totaled $10,000.

In addition to pledges from parents, family and friends of the students, there were also 38 corporate sponsors who donated money, paid for ads on T-shirts the students wore or donated prizes for students who got the highest amount of money pledged.

The top money raiser was Brianna Connelly, a first-grade from Carly Carlsward’s class. Fourth grader Jerry Mayer, from Janie Ensworth’s class, raised the second highest amount and fifth-grader Dalton Hicks, from DeAnn Davis’ class, raised the third highest amount. Carlsward’s class raised the most money and won a pizza party, Davis’ class came in second and Ensworth’s class came in third.

The school will start using the Harcourt material next year.<< Top

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