Vol 6 No. 38 - June 14, 2006


Fishing tourney set for this weekend

Manatees considered �threatened�

Storm survivors advise Island business owners

Longboat renourishment extended again

Anna Maria advocates combining city services

County to upgrade old water lines

Mayors concerned about traffic congestion

Adult classes continue at Center during summer




Fishing tourney set for this weekend

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

The Anna Maria Island Community Center’s Fishing Tournament will get under way on Friday, June 16, with a captains’ meeting at the Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, and a taste of the Island menu. Two dozen local restaurants will provide food.

The fishing is slated to begin at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, and great prizes are planned for the inshore and offshore categories. The entry fee $325 per boat after June 12 and the fee includes a captain’s package (two tourney T-shirts, hat and coolies), the Taste of the Island menu and a fish fry at the awards banquet on Sunday, June 18, at the Center.

Registration forms are available in Holmes Beach at Bark and Company Realty, Inc., 5348 Gulf Drive; Island Discount Tackle, 5503 Marina Drive; Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive; and in Anna Maria at the Center.

Tourney chair Steve Bark has announced that there will be a new Children’s Pier Division for children 12 years old and under at the Anna Maria City Pier. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. on June 17.

The fee is $20 and includes tackle, sun tan lotion, a tourney T-shirt, lunch donated by the City Pier Restaurant and a ticket to the awards banquet. The event will be supervised, and the Anna Maria Island Privateers will aid the children.

Children's trophies will be awarded for biggest, most and smallest fish. The first 20 children to sign up are eligible for a special raffle prize at the awards banquet.

Sunday's awards banquet begins at noon and is open to the public. Entertainment is by Dr. Dave. There will be raffle and door prizes.

The menu includes fried fish, cold slaw, hush puppies, peas with rice and Key Lime pie. Tickets are $12 or $6 for children 6 through 12. There is no charge for children under 6. Catering is by the Chiles Restaurant Group

For more information, call 778-1908 or 778-5900.


Manatees considered �threatened�

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

Manatees in Florida are being reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened," one of four species being reclassified, including bald eagles, gopher tortoises and Panama City crayfish.

Last week’s unanimous decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicates that manatees are no longer in imminent danger of extinction, but still have a very high risk of extinction, according to commission spokesman Henry Cabbage.

The reclassification does not reduce protection measures, he said, adding that manatees will continue to be federally protected under both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and on a state level under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.

New manatee speed zones, currently being posted in area waterways, will remain in effect despite the reclassification, he said.

Issuing the ruling at the same time that new speed zones are being posted will confuse boaters, said Glenn Compton, chairman of local environmental group ManaSota-88.

"We’re very disappointed with the ruling," he said. "It’s hard enough to enforce existing regulations without sending a mixed message by putting up the signs at the same time as you’re downlisting."

The listing change will take effect after a manatee protection plan is completed by the commission. Public participation is encouraged throughout the plan’s formation, which could take a year to complete, Cabbage said.

The reclassification was prompted by a 2001 petition from a recreational boating group, the Coastal Conservation Association, to evaluate the endangered status of the West Indian manatee. The commission completed two biological reviews of the species, finding that the population has increased over the past few decades but could decline more than 50 percent in the next 50 years. Manatees also met the requirements of "threatened" because the number of mature adults was estimated to be less than 2,500 and the population could decline by more than 20 percent in the next two generations, according to the commission.

Three thousand one hundred and sixteen manatees were counted in Florida’s annual manatee synoptic, or simultaneous, survey in February, down from 2005’s count of 3,143 manatees. The highest number of manatees counted in a synoptic survey was in 2001, with 3,300 animals spotted.

In January, the commission reported that 2005 was the second-worst year for manatee mortality in 31 years, with 396 deaths. Red tide and boaters each killed about 80 manatees last year.

The Save the Manatee Club points to last year’s high mortality statistics as proof that manatees still need the full protection of the endangered status, according to Director of Science and Conservation Patti Thompson.

The commission’s classification system is inappropriately based on the World Conservation Union’s "one-size-fits-all-species" criteria, designed to identify species in danger of extinction on a global scale, she said, adding that the commission also arbitrarily redefined the WCU’s "endangered" status to mean "threatened."

Last week, 17 conservation, animal welfare, and public interest groups filed a petition with the commission asking the state to revise its imperiled species classification system and requesting that the agency delay any downlistings.

ManaSota-88 was not among them, but plans to work with the Save the Manatee Club on the issue, Compton said.

"The manatee clearly is in need of the highest level of protection that the state can afford," he said. "What needs to be addressed is the loss of manatee habitat as we develop throughout the state."

Also last week, commissioners removed bald eagles from the imperiled species list, as they are no longer are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future, with 1,133 nesting areas in the state, compared to 400 in the country 40 years ago, according to the commission.

"What we’re doing for eagles is working," commission Executive Director Ken Haddad said. "Our goal is for all imperiled species to recover to the point where we can remove them from the list."

Two other species are declining: Gopher tortoises, which are found on Anna Maria Island and Egmont Key, and Panama City crayfish are being uplisted from "species of special concern" to "threatened."

Storm survivors advise Island business owners

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH — "Have a plan," is the mantra that survivors of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Charley repeated over and over at this year’s hurricane preparedness seminar for business owners.

"Have a very detailed plan and share it with your employees," Biff Motley, of Whitney Bank, advised. "Make sure every employee knows where they are going to go and you know where they are going to go. Make sure that they know to contact you — a bottom up communication plan."

Motley said no one could have foreseen the devastation that a combination of a hurricane and broken levees would have on New Orleans, which is 80 percent gone, and storm surge would have on Waveland, Mississippi, which is completely gone.

Have a long-term plan
"While our evacuation plan worked, it was not of a large enough scope to take into account the devastation of Katrina," he pointed out. "Think about a long-term plan — what you would need to operate your business remotely for an extended period of time."

He said the bank had a very thorough employee plan and provided employees with personal needs and helped them find housing.

"You’ve got to put them in the frame of mind that they can start doing their job," he said.

Motley also said business owners should digitize, back up documents, back up their back-ups, communicate with their clients and take a client list with them when they evacuate.

He said things they did not envision in New Orleans were the complete collapse of the communication system and the huge demand for cash and noted, "Cash in king; you’ll need more than you thought."

Inform your guests
West Manatee Fire Chief Andy Price advised hotel/motel owners to educate their staff members to be able to respond to questions from guests regarding hurricanes and evacuation.

"Visitors have to evacuate somewhere also. Hoteliers should get together and make up a handout sheet for guests with maps and shelter locations.

"They don’t have a friend that lives in Bradenton, The only place they can go is a shelter, and they have to need to know and understand what the have to have to be there."

He said new models of storm surges have shown that many areas that were previously thought safe would be under water during a large storm. He advised business owners to ask employees to fill out pre-storm forms detailing their planned evacuation location and a back up location with a phone numbers.

People come first
Charlie Brown, a banker who weathered Hurricane Charley in Charlotte County, emphasized, "People come first. Put together a head count list and search and report list. Get a needs list for your employees.

"Feeding people becomes paramount; that’s one of the reasons they’ll be coming in to work. We set up a free general store in the bank for staff members. It was another reason that our staff was coming in to work."

He said that owners should back up all their data three times, distribute multiple keys to employees and contract with a security firm in advance.

"Cover your computers with plastic bags and tape it down," he said. "If the windows are breached, it will protect the computers. If your business is breached, get your computers out.

"Cash is king, but have it in small bills because there won’t be any cash registers," he advised. "Power is also king, so put together a generator plan."

He said security precautions include putting protective film on the windows and measuring the windows in advance in case the business owner needs to board windows to protect them from looters.

Longboat renourishment extended again

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

LONGBOAT KEY – The Longboat Key beach renourishment project has been extended again, this time until mid-July.

The Longboat Key Town Commission has authorized additional sand to be placed behind the Islander Club, which is in a high erosion area and has lost about 60,000 cubic yards of sand, public works department spokesman James Linkogle said.

The project at the Islander Club, 2295 Gulf of Mexico Drive, should begin immediately after the current project is concluded, by June 25, and be completed by July 1, he said, adding that demobilization will take another 11 to 15 days.

Originally scheduled for completion last December, the project has hit several snags.

Last September, town officials allowed the beach renourishment contractor, Seattle-based Manson Construction, to leave the job for three weeks to help dredge the Port of Pensacola, which Hurricane Katrina had made too shallow for Navy ships to access.

In December, the project was expanded to the north end of Longboat Key because of critical erosion next to a condominium building, followed by a sea turtle death, which stalled the project in January.

In March, Manson left the project to assist the Army Corps of Engineers in Mayport, Florida, using the beach renourishment hopper dredge Bayport to deepen a channel for Navy vessels. The Bayport was too large to access the white sand in the shallow borrow area off Anna Maria Island, and two smaller dredges were unavailable until mid-April to transport the white sand from shallow areas to the Bayport in deeper water.

In April, seabirds, including snowy plovers and black skimmers, arrived on Longboat Key for nesting season, causing contractors to detour around the nesting areas. Two nests were relocated from a beach scheduled for renourishment to a section that was completed, Linkogle said.

When the project is finished, the renourishment should last eight years, unless a major hurricane strikes the area, town engineers estimate.


Anna Maria advocates combining city services

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – The city that opted out of a referendum polling voters on consolidation is the city keeping a version of that concept alive.

City commissioners at their June 8 work session discussed the idea again.

"I feel we should take up the idea of consolidation of services on the Island for two reasons," said Commissioner Duke Miller. "One, there is the potential to save taxpayer money, and two, there is the opportunity to ensure long-term professional management of municipal services."

Commissioners Chris Tollette and Linda Cramer both said they also wanted to consider the consolidation of governments.

Miller took exception, "Are you saying you want to do away with the 25 mph speed limit?" he asked. "Because that’s what we’d have if we consolidated governments. I’ve done some research on this, and you can’t have three different sets of rules if you consolidate the governments. All you can do is to make Anna Maria residents into a homeowners’ association with its own set of rules."

Deputy Mayor John Quam said that based on a survey he conducted, he’d be opposed to a consolidation of governments.

"I speak for all the people who participated in the survey," he said. "The overwhelming majority was opposed to consolidating governments but favored looking into consolidating services."

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he’s in agreement with Miller’s idea of looking into consolidating services.

Miller said that a homeowners’ association would have no authority to enforce its rules except through the courts.

"You couldn’t have a code enforcement officer," he said. "Every time someone broke the rules, you’d have to take them to court to get them to comply with the rules."

Anna Maria opted out of a referendum that was placed on the ballot last November asking voters if they would support a study of the consolidation of the governments of the three Island cities. Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach commissioners opted into the referendum, and the voters in those two cities voted overwhelmingly in favor of the cities.

Anna Maria commissioners took a more cautious approach, declining to place the question on the ballot after overwhelming public opposition.

Commissioners also objected to the wording of the referendum question, which Mayor SueLynn told them they would have to use if they wanted to be in accord with the other two cities.

Commissioners at that time said they thought the language was too vague, and they thought the results would lock the three cities into pursuit of consolidation of government. Some commissioners said they would support asking their voters if they supported a study of consolidation of services, but they were told they had to buy into the proposed consolidation of government language or opt out of the referendum altogether.

At the June 8 meeting, Mayor SueLynn declined to discuss the matter with the mayors of the other two cities, saying she’d leave that to the commission.

Miller agreed to approach the other two mayors about the idea of a study of that would look at consolidating services.

Miller is proposing what he calls an Island Municipal Services Organization.

In a memo, Miller outlined what he thinks the goal of a study should be.

"The goal of the study should be to furnish all three cities a debatable, realistic scenario for providing municipal services Island-wide, with appropriate costs attached; something we can sink our teeth into and make informed decisions regarding this matter."


County to upgrade old water lines

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH — Residents in the south end of the city will be getting new larger water lines, and as a bonus, Manatee County will repave their streets after the work is done.

"The street has existing 2-inch galvanized water mains and we’re replacing them with 4-inch PVC," Project Engineer Tod Phinney explained. "Streets are 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th streets south and all except for 10th Street, the water mains are on the south side of the road."

The new mains will be installed parallel to the existing ones, and once they are in place and pressured tested and tested for bacteria, they will be connected to the existing meter boxes.

"Because the right of way is fairly narrow, we can’t put a machine in to drill a line up underneath the road," Phinney continued. "We’re going to saw cut the roads and put the service lines in the road and put a temporary asphalt patch over the saw cuts. When the job is completely done, we’re going to resurface the roads entirely."

He said that residents may move landscaping that has a risk of being damaged, but the county plans to restore the landscaping to as good a condition as it is in now.

Paul Hasbrook, county utilities maintenance supervisor, said he would notify a resident if a driveway is to be blocked temporarily, so he can move his vehicle.

Phinney said the project will include at least one water shutdown and boil water notice for residents there, but it will be during the night, most likely 1 to 2 a.m.

The replacement project is to begin this week on 10th Street and is expected to take 90 to 120 days to complete.

All the work will be done on the side streets and Gulf Drive will remain unaffected.


Mayors concerned about traffic congestion

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Mayor Carol Whitmore sounded the alarm and now the Island’s mayors plan to discuss the issue of increasing weekend traffic at the next Island Transportation Planning Organization meeting on June 26.

In a recent letter to the mayors and Manatee County Commission Chairman Joe McClash, Whitmore said, "Over the past few months, there has been a tremendous amount of vehicular traffic on the barrier islands on weekends."

She said there are traffic jams, long lines of traffic and overflowing beach parking lots, and people are parking along the right of way and anywhere else they can find. She asked for a discussion on the issue.

"We can’t not let them on the beach," Whitmore said. "I’m not ever going to do that because everybody’s paid for these beaches to be renourished. We have to find a way to accommodate everyone safely."

She said one way to ease the problem is when the beach parking lots are full to close them and post it on electronic, roadside message signs.

Another way is to encourage people to use the park and ride lots on 75th Street at Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road and take the trolley to the Island.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie agreed with Whitmore and pointed out, "We always try to encourage the public to ride the trolley to keep cars off the roads. We encourage a bicycling community by investing in new sidewalks and a multi-use trail to make it as easy as possible for people to use alternative transportation."

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn noted that while traffic has increased dramatically on weekends in recent weeks, "we must determine if it’s a blip on the screen or a trend and then address it."

She said one of the problems for Anna Maria is the lack of parking space.

"We have really limited space," she pointed out. "The city ought to buy the lot at the corner of South Bay Boulevard and Pine Avenue for parking, but I don’t expect the commission to entertain that idea based on its past performance on acquiring land."

SueLynn said another issue is that day visitors tend to be "less respectful of the environment," and if the trend continues, it will create a strain on public works and police services. She also noted that all three cities must cooperate on a solution so that the traffic is not pushed from one to the others.


Adult classes continue at Center during summer

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Whether you want to nurture your body or your talent, the Anna Maria Island Community Center is offering three adult classes throughout the summer.

Laura Bennett teaches a Pilates/yoga mix three times a week; Sherry Fideler teaches a fitness class, Muscles and More, twice a week; and Sue Lynn Cotton teaches watercolor once a week.

Pilates/yoga offers total fitness
"This class will make you better at everything you do!" Bennett exclaims, and her students enthusiastically agree. "It improves strength, flexibility, muscle endurance, posture and balance.

"The main benefit of Pilates is that it gives you a long, lean look and tightens the abdominal area. It improves your core strength. The core includes all the muscles connected to the spine. Yoga improves flexibility and balance."

Bennett has been teaching the class at the Center for five years and has been a personal trainer for 20 years. She is certified through Peak Pilates and Yoga Fit and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

"I love teaching this class," she said. "It’s like a total body workout because you get so many exercise components. It doesn’t get any better than this. This is the perfect job."

Classes for beginners are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and for intermediates are on Saturdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Bennett said a student will feel the effects of the exercises after 10 sessions. The fee is $5 for Center members and $8 for non-members.

Class bonds friendships
"I thought it would be a way of making a living and giving people the information I have learned, but it ended up being something that united people in a common interest," teacher Sue Lynn Cotton said of her water color class.

"We have become a tight circle of friends, and anyone who comes into the class immediately has a group of close friends."

Cotton said students work with a limited palette of six basic colors and complete a painting during every class.

"We work from a photos and start with basic line drawing that everybody copies to get the painting underway quickly. I demonstrate and then they paint.

"We mix everything on the watercolor paper. It gives a much more interesting look and you can come out with a much more unified painting. We emphasize the light source and shadows."

She said she takes her finished painting home, photographs it and puts it on her Web site, suelynncotton.com. If a student hasn’t finished her painting, she can refer to the Web site.

After every class, the students go to lunch together at the Rod and Reel Pier. Last fall, students and their spouses took a five-day Caribbean cruse with painting classes held during the cruise.

Cotton grew up in Texas and attended classes at Stephen F. Foster State University and other colleges in the Dallas area. She began working in commercial art in 1978, then worked for a book publisher doing cover designs and illustrations before moving to Florida and deciding to support herself with art.

In addition to the Center, Cotton teaches at the Longboat Center for the Arts, Michael’s and for special interest groups. She exhibits in galleries in Texas and Florida and does commissions. She is a member of National League of American Pen Women.

Her four-week class is held on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 1 p.m. A Thursday class is held during the season. The fee is $65 for members and $70 for non-members.

Build muscles and more
"It strengthens your muscles," Fideler said of her exercise class, Muscles and More. "As you are stressing your muscles, it tugs on the bones and strengthens them.

"It improves balance, heart strength and lung capacity and relieves stress. It helps you look and feel better. It helps with weight management because the more muscle you have the faster you burn calories."

Fideler said each student works at her own pace and with different weights. The class also uses rubber tubing and other strength-building equipment.

Class begins with a five-minute warm up, and then students spend 40 minutes on their feet, 10 minutes doing abdominal work on the floor and 10 minutes stretching. The class also includes balance work.

During season, Fideler teaches a class at the Center called Tai Chi for Arthritis, a program developed by an Australian physician.

"When you are in pain, you tighten up. In the class, you learn to relax the muscles, ligaments and tendons that surround the joints," she explained. "They relax and blood can flow more freely. It brings oxygen and nutrients and gets rid of the by-products."

Fideler said her family has always exercised, and her 86-year-old mother still visits the gym three times a week. She said while taking an aerobics class, the instructor asked if she would like to teach and she’s been teaching for the past 17 years.

In 2000, she made the break and quit her day job to become a personal trainer and teach classes. In addition to the Center, she teaches at Bayfront Park Recreation Center on Longboat Key and the Manatee Family YMCA.

Her class at the Center is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10 a.m. The fee is $5 for members and $8 for non-members.


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