ANNA MARIA Huge pieces of
renourishment equipment being stored in Tampa Bay
off Bayfront Park are placing both piers in the city
at risk of being damaged or destroyed, according to
the piers managers and at least one city commissioner.
In fact, on at least two occasions, large sections
of pipe or other equipment have broken free during
rough weather and narrowly missed smashing into the
relatively slender pier pilings.
"One of the pontoons where they float their pipes
broke loose and came ashore just 10-feet from the
pier," said Dave Cochran, manager of the Rod
& Reel Pier. "Just a little further to the
north and we would have had a bad situation."
"That is not the most prudent place to store
all that equipment," added David Sork, manager
of The City Pier Restaurant. "Its between
two of the most vulnerable structures on the West
Coast of Florida."
Sork said so far there has only been one close call
at the pier he manages.
"Some equipment broke loose when one of the fronts
came through and came very close to the pier,"
he said. "Both piers are vulnerable. When you
have something the size of that renourishment equipment
crashing into an eight-inch piling, you have a problem."
City Commissioner Dale Woodland said hes become
convinced that the Bayfront Park location is a poor
choice for equipment storage,
"Weve had some close calls," he said.
"Theyve lost some of the pipes more than
once. So far, weve been lucky with these fronts.
The wind has been out of the north, northwest, or
southeast, but if it were to ever come out of the
northeast and straight onshore, wed be in trouble.
Those little pilings wouldnt stand up to those
huge, great big pieces of equipment."
Woodland said hes expressed his concerns to
Manatee County Ecosystems Management Director Charlie
Huntsicker, and he hopes that in the future, some
other place will be found for equipment storage.
"I dont care who the contractor is, its
obvious that this is a bad place to store equipment,"
he noted. "And with Goodloe, its been especially
bad because of the delays."
Woodland noted that usually a contractor wants to
get in and get out and finished with the job as quickly
"Thats the way the contractor makes his
money," Woodland. "Delays are costly for
a contractor, and delays leave the window of vulnerability
for something like those piers open way too long."
Woodland said he would work hard to see that alternate
storage sites are selected for any future projects
on the Island.
"There are plenty of other places that can be
found without compromising the piers," he said.
"Weve seen what Bradenton Beach has gone
through with their pier. Permits take forever now,
and its just difficult to rebuild."
Woodland said theres also the loss of revenue
"Those piers are a real asset for the city, and
we simply cant put them at risk like this,"
Ben Goodloe, project manager for Goodloe Marine, Inc.,
the renourishment contractor, said the location of
the barge is the only area designated by state agencies
for storage of equipment. He said they take extra
precautions when the weather gets real bad.
"Last year, we moved the barge and equipment
out of the area when there was a hurricane nearby,"
he said. "We have talked with the commissioner
about it and he said there were pipes 50 feet from
the pier, but when we checked it out, they were 400
Goodloe said they also got a complaint from a resident
who said the pipe was within 1,000 of her beach, but
that he looked at it and it was more like 10,000 feet
"We have to use that area to store our pipes,"
he reiterated. "Its the only one designated."
to open each half hour
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Motorists will be happier when crossing Island bridges
next season according to a ruling by the Coast Guard.
"The Coast Guard decided today that the bridges
will have half-hour openings from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
during four months of the winter season," Mike
Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee
Metropolitan Planning Agency, announced Monday.
"On May 15, officials of the Island Transportation
Planning Agency will select the four months. This
is a positive step and another tool to eliminate
some of the congestion at the bridges."
Howe said the question of which months would also
be discussed at the May 17 meeting of the Coalition
of Barrier Island Elected Officials.
"Its better than nothing," Holmes
Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore remarked, alluding to
the fact that the Coast Guard did not agree to closing
the Anna Maria Island and Cortez bridges during
morning and evening rush hours. "At least theyll
let us pick the months."
According to Michael Lieberum, assistant chief of
operations for the Seventh Coast Guard District,
"This has not been an easy decision. As stated
previously, the vehicle traffic counts and bridge
logs do not support changing the existing bridge
"On the other hand, your area does have a serious
vehicle traffic problem during the winter months.
Some of these problems are directly related road
construction/maintenance projects and some are related
to vehicle traffic flow issues in the vicinity of
"Im very pleased," Bradenton Beach
Mayor John Chappie exclaimed. "Its wonderful
that the three Island cities and Longboat Key worked
together to come to some resolution in this. Lets
give it a run and see how it goes."
Chappie said the ITPOs recommendation would
be taken back to each city commission for final
"Its great," Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn
said. "Its a demonstration of what took
years of perseverance and it finally paid off. Its
a good solution for both boaters and vehicle drivers."
permit fee changed for Community Center
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Commissioners last week approved
a maximum building permit fee of $20,000 in order
to give some relief to the Anna Maria Island Community
Center, which will be replaced this summer.
Prior to discussion on changing the permit fee schedule,
Mayor SueLynn told the board, "We received
the blueprints for the Community Center for their
building and added up all the permits. They come
to a total of $56,000 to $57,000. We thought that
was high given the fact that they are a not-for-profit
organization and the city would not necessarily
like to make money off of what they are doing."
She said that Building Official Kevin Donohue suggested
that the city cap the fee at $20,000.
"Its a $3 million building that will
require a lot of his time and energy to do his inspections,"
SueLynn continued. "Given the fact that some
residents are now paying $12,000 on permits for
builders, we did not think $20,000 was unfair."
Commissioner Dale Woodland asked if the city should
have the ability to waive some of the permit fees
for other non-profit organizations.
"Id have to look into it," City
Attorney Jim Dye replied. "There would have
to be some criteria created and a fair application
of the criteria."
SueLynn said the permit application is in the building
department, and the city has to act on it as soon
Chairman John Quam said the commission could change
the fee by resolution at any time.
"For right now, you could pass it and it would
allow you to take care of business for the next
month or so," Dye said.
Former Commissioner Carol Ann Magill urged commissioners
to establish criteria for non-profit organizations
now, rather than change the fee twice.
In other business:
Two agenda items, the Archer Way lot split and the
Sandbars final site plan, were continued to
Commissioners agreed to negotiate with Waste Management
for a new contract rather than go out to bid because
there are no other companies in the area that provide
waste disposal services.
SueLynn announced that the North Shore Gladiolus
drainage project would begin in the next two weeks
and is expected to take 16 weeks to complete.
clarifies sign code issues
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Commissioners agreed that real
estate signs can have two pendants and a tube, after
Chairman Rich Bohnenberger said the citys
sign code is unclear.
"A lot of things are gray (in the city sign
code), so I thought it would be appropriate for
the commission to decide what the intent of the
code was," he told the board.
City Attorney Patricia Petruff said according to
research done by her office, "The code provides
some guidance on signs that hang below. Those are
considered pendant signs. They are not considered
to be part of the real estate signs. Those signs
are allowed but they need a permit."
She said the definition of real estate sign could
be changed to include all signs affixed to the sign.
"That may be a starting place for discussion,"
she said. "The question becomes how much more
than the basic rectangular sign are you going to
allow them to hang above and below that sign?"
Bohnenberger asked if commissioners have an issue
with a tube affixed to the sign. They agreed that
tubes are OK.
He said another problem is that the code enforcement
officer does not know the location of property lines
in order to enforce the regulation banning signs
in the right of way. Commissioners agreed that that
the officer can remove anything thats "obviously
in the right of way."
to Remember auction surpasses goal
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The one night per year when the Island puts on a
formal façade has come and gone, and officials
at the Anna Maria Island Community Center were back
in Island garb Monday, counting up the proceeds.
It looks like another winner.
Community Center Development Director Aida Matic-Chaffee
said the gross amount collected was $364,795, including
a matching pledge from an unidentified donor of
$112,675. The matching amount will be applied to
the Centers construction fund for the new
building to be constructed this summer and the rest
of that amount, $252,120 minus expenses, will go
toward the operating fund.
The winning part is the fact that they surpassed
their expectations for the operating fund.
We had set a goal of $188,000, Matic-Chaffee
Thats the same goal Center officials set last
year, and that auction raised exactly that amount,
so this years operating fund amount is higher.
Last years total was more than $750,000, but
it was not comparable to this years, according
to Matic-Chaffee. She said last year, Ed Chiles
organized a large cash call, and donors were able
to make pledges that could be paid off over several
years. Last years pledges started at $50,000
and this years highest cash call amount was
This year, as before, Harrys Continental Kitchen
catered the dinner, the Anna Maria Oyster Bars provided
the bar, the Chiles Group provided hors doeuvres,
salad and rolls and Premier Beverage provided the
Winners were drawn from four raffles that were conducted
in conjunction with the Affaire to Remember. Florida
State Senator Mike Bennett pulled out the winning
ticket for a big-screen television set. Manatee
County Judge Jannette Dunnigan, a Holmes Beach resident,
won it. Other winners were Darrell Weaver for the
Super Bowl ticket package; Herman Fernandez, of
Tampa for the PT Cruiser golf cart; Bright House
President Rose Carlson for the diamond necklace;
and Shannon Dell, who won the pick of the live auction
and took the trip to Hawaii.
Paul Kelly was the high bidder for the tropical
vest. He paid $1,200 for the opportunity to wear
the vest for the year and will return it to the
Center next year to be auctioned again.
to form insurance task force
sun staff writer
As this years
Florida legislative session draws to a close on
May 5 and the beginning of hurricane season follows
on June 1, there is some insurance relief coming
It just wont be of any immediate help to residents
and business owners of the states barrier
"I was hoping that wed see a temporary
extension of the wind coverage from Citizens for
all the barrier Islands and for all property within
1,000 feet of the coast," said Rep. Bill Galvano,
a Republican. "That didnt happen."
What did happen was that the other of Galvanos
two proposals was enacted.
"I created a task force to scientifically study
eligibility for wind coverage," he said. "That
work will start almost immediately."
Galvano said he was disappointed by the failure
of the legislature to give temporary relief to the
barrier islands while the wind coverage pool is
"The way it is now just doesnt make sense,
Galvano pointed out. In Sarasota County, a
business owner east of I-75 is in the pool and a
business owner on Anna Maria Island cant get
wind insurance at any price."
Citizens Insurance, a state-subsidized insurance
company, was created as an insurance of last resort
after many of the private insurers began declining
to issue wind coverage along the coast.
It was not designed to offer cheap insurance and
is mandated by law to keep its price of wind coverage
above that offered by private insurers.
On Anna Maria Island, only Citizens can cover those
properties within 1000 feet of the Gulf. Properties
outside that zone are left to scramble to find wind
coverage from private sources an increasingly
Because of the rapidly rising cost of private wind
coverage, Citizens is now assessing its third rate
hike in a year.
A big problem is in the business community where
some businesses outside the wind pool are having
increasing problems finding private insurers.
A lack of the availability of wind coverage drastically
affected the sale of the business condominiums in
Bayfront Plaza. The condo conversion was all set
to move last September. It still hasnt occurred.
"My wind insurance for that building was cancelled,
and I couldnt find any other coverage,"
said Bayfront Plaza owner Jim Toomey. "The
tenants who wanted to purchase their units couldnt
get coverage, and without insurance, you cant
get a mortgage."
Lois Finley, who owns MaMa Los by the Sea,
was all set to purchase her space, but when she
was unable to get wind coverage, the mortgage shed
arranged went on hold.
Meanwhile, the cost of insurance went way up and
the cost of borrowing money went up, so Finley opted
to sell her business rather than pay the freight
on insurance that expensive, once it became available,
and a loan on which the interest had risen above
what she felt she could handle.
"It was just too expensive," she said.
"Thats a lot of ice cream to scoop."
Other business owners have chosen to just "go
bare" or "roll the dice" and go without
wind coverage and hope that no major storm sweeps
across our shores.
Several homeowners have also decided to take their
One property owner on Bean Point, who asked to be
anonymous, chose to drop his wind coverage after
he got a bill for $11,000 for wind insurance alone.
"That only covers $250,000 of loss," he
said. "Taking a chance on the $250,000 loss
makes better sense to me than the $11,000 a year
Other homeowners around the Island are also choosing
to do without wind coverage some because
they cant afford the pricey insurance and
some because they cant find it at any price.
skating champs live quiet Island life
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
I recently had an interesting surprise, when Mama
Lo (Lois Finley-Shook) brought me an article that
I wrote 25 years ago.
It was about a lovely couple that I had interviewed
for a weekly column I wrote for the Island Herald,
a publication of the Bradenton Herald. I phoned
them to see if we could reconnect.
Lou and Ellen Johnson live in an unassuming house
on Periwinkle Plaza, but once youre inside,
their past becomes apparent. The living room is
filled with trophies, paintings, photographs and
most importantly, two pairs of skates, one black,
As a couple, the Johnsons earned seven consecutive
national titles in dance skating, and as Lou recalled,
"It was a lot of hard work, but we had a lot
of fun and met so many interesting people."
The pair met at the North Avenue Roller Rink in
Chicago, where Ellen worked the concession counter.
Both were taking skating lessons and had different
partners, but when their teacher paired them, sparks
flew, and they became a couple both on and off the
The couple worked through proficiency tests, earning
medals and bars, each requiring them to master more
difficult dances. In 1959, they began competing
in contests, starting with the junior division.
Then they were promoted to the senior division where
they swept state and national titles every year
"You had to skate a set pattern by the book,"
Ellen explained. "There were competitions all
over the Northeast and Midwest New York,
New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana.
Our biggest problem was that our rink in Chicago
was very large and many of the others where we competed
were very small. We had to cut down our dances to
fit the smaller rinks."
Lou said one rink was so small that he ran into
the wall while skating. He also recalled the time
his age was called into question.
"At one competition in Indiana, another skater
challenged me," Lou remembered. "He didnt
think I was old enough to skate in the senior division.
I had to show my drivers license to prove
In addition to working full time, practicing daily
and skating competitions, Ellen designed and made
all their costumes decorated with hand-sewn sequins.
A tragic fall ended their dance skating career.
Lou, who repaired Westinghouse Elevators, fell in
an elevator pit and broke his ankle and heel. The
breaks took nearly a year to heal.
Shortly after, the couple moved to their Island
nesting season opener
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
Sea turtle nesting season is officially under way.
All up and down the length of the Gulf Coast of
Florida, season officially opened May 1.
For Anna Maria residents, that means that we will
see the official Turtle Watch volunteers walking
the all the Island beaches at dawn seeking signs
that female turtles have crawled ashore to lay their
"Our volunteers are really excited and anxious
to get going," said AMI Turtle Watch Chief
Suzi Fox. "We have a really enthusiastic and
committed group this year, and were all looking
forward to the season."
Fox said shes hoping for a better season this
"Last year, we didnt have very many nests,"
she said. "Nesting was down all over the west
coast. I hope its just a cycle or something
and not an indication that there arent enough
Fox noted that because of the renourishment project,
nests in the area where the pipes were across the
beach, nests were relocated to the north or south
end of the Island.
"We lost almost every nest we relocated,"
she said. "Some were lost to washouts, and
at Coquina, we lost every nest to raccoons. They
really like the eggs."
This year, the renourishment project continues after
a hiatus over the winter. The Florida Wildlife Commission
has set a deadline of June 1 for the pipes and all
the related equipment to be off the beach.
Fox hopes to see the first nest soon.
"The girls are out there," she said. "The
boat captains have reported that theres a
good number of them swimming around offshore doing
their thing. There are also lots of fish out there
more than usual and earlier than usual, the
captains told me."
Its mainly loggerhead turtles that lay their
eggs on Anna Maria shores. Loggerheads are a threatened
species. They are so-named because their heads are
quite large in proportion to their bodies.
Residents and visitors will see the volunteers walking
the beaches early in the morning. You can approach
and ask them questions about nesting habitat.
With the season underway, people need to remember
to shield or turn off any lights that shine on the
"You can go down to the waterline, squat down
and look back at the Island," Fox said. "If
you see any lights, the mother turtle can see them,
too. That can cause her to become disoriented and
she may not lay her eggs, or she may get lost in
People also need to remember to take their beach
chairs, umbrellas, volleyball setups and other equipment
off the beach during the hours of darkness. They
can become obstacles to the turtles.
Each city has ordinances protecting the nesting
activities of sea turtles as do the state and federal
A sick loggerhead was rescued off shore from Coconuts
Beach Resort on May 26.
"They called us from the resort, and we had
to swim out and bring it in," Fox said. "It
has an lump on the side of its head that turns out
to be an abscess."
Mote Marine Laboratory Veterinarian Dr. Charlie
Manire said the turtle is responding to treatment
and is doing well in one of the rehabilitation tanks.
Beginning next week, The Sun will again be running
Turtle Toms Timely Tips. Each week, well
offer a simple thing that Island residents can do
to make it easier for our guest nesters.
If you have any questions about local ordinances,
you can call your citys code enforcement officer,
or you can call Turtle Watch at 232-1405 with turtle
questions. You can find the Turtle Watch website