Vol 6 No. 43 - July 19, 2006

 

Tempers flare over Chamber offer

Whitmore supporters lining up

Junk problem �out of handÖ

Panel rejects condos

Board approves Community Center building contract

Registration begins for school year

Senate proposes oil drilling plan

�Mama LoÖ bids a sweet goodbye

 

 

 

Tempers flare over Chamber offer

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — An offer by the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce to study consolidating services among the three Island cities caused dissention in Holmes Beach last week.

"We decided we’re not interested," Chairman Rich Bohnenberger declared.

The Chamber announced last week that it formed a study committee consisting of the commission liaisons from the three Island cities — Commissioners Duke Miller in Anna Maria, Bill Shearon in Bradenton Beach and David Zaccagnino in Holmes Beach.

"I’m the liaison to the Chamber, and I think it’s my responsibility," Zaccagnino said. "If they bring up a proposal, it’s my duty to listen and report the specifics."

Mayor Carol Whitmore pointed out that at the June meeting of Island elected officials, Anna Maria commissioners offered to do the research on consolidating services among the three cities.

"The commissioners were there and no one said no," Whitmore said. "I did say, ‘Whoever wants to run with it, fine.’ I don’t think we should slam the door."

"We have the best public works department in this area, the best maintained infrastructure in this area and we do it with the lowest tax rate in this area" Bohnenberger noted. "I don’t see how Anna Maria can offer us anything. Any business that is being operated properly would definitely have to have a win-win situation and at this point in time, the only thing they could bring to the table is cash."

"I don’t think that we should assume or have any arrogance that we’re the best," Whitmore replied.

Zaccagnino said the commission has a duty to the city’s voters. He was referring to a referendum approved last fall by voters in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach to study consolidation. Anna Maria commissioners declined to put the referendum on their ballot.

"That’s not what they voted for," Bohnenberger retorted. "They voted to study the possibility of merging the three cities into one city, and Anna Maria opted not to do that."

Zaccagnino said the Chamber has the right to initiate a study to which Bohnenberger replied, "They have the right to do what they want, but they can’t ask you to represent the city commission."

Whitmore said the commissioners should allow Zaccagnino to attend the Chamber meetings and report back to them.

"If the commission wants to do this, then I want to have a joint work session with the other two Island cities because I want to know what they’re thinking about doing," Bohnenberger stressed.

"There are only two reasons to form a city. One is to provide your citizens with better services. The other is to have independence from the county. Anna Maria wants to divest themselves of their responsibility to provide the services to their citizens."

Bohnenberger said he has no faith in Anna Maria commissioners following through on their offer because "they’ve backed out on everything we’ve ever tried to do with them."

The consensus was to allow Zaccagnino to attend the Chamber meetings and report to the commission.

 

Whitmore supporters lining up

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

The first fundraiser for Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore’s bid for a seat on the Manatee County Commission was a huge success.

"I’ve had quite a few fundraisers at my house, and this one was the largest," State Sen. Mike Bennett said. ‘There’s such a strong outpouring of emotion for Carol. I’ve been pushing her to do this for four years. We’re really excited about it."

Whitmore said 150 to 200 people attended the event hosted by Bennett and raised $30,000 for her campaign, or about 1/3 of what it takes to run for a county commission seat. Her campaign has raised a total of $50,000 in two weeks.

"Every mayor in Manatee County was there," Whitmore said, "and former Longboat Key Mayor Ron Johnson. There were developers, lawyers from every law firm in the county and many Island residents.

"Some of the people I didn’t know, but they are supporting me because they’ve seen how I can work with everybody. A lot of people I don’t know also are sending me donations."

Bennett praised Whitmore noting, "Everybody likes her. Even when she disagrees with you, she listens, and you never feel that you walked away losing.

"She is very thoughtful. She understands things like the budget and conflict resolution. She has a lot of leadership qualities, and best of all, she has no agenda."

Bennett said there are four more fundraisers planned for coming weeks. On Thursday, Whitmore spoke at a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of East Manatee and attended a function of the Manatee Builders Association.

"She will bring a wonderful mix to the county commission," Bennett said. "We need somebody from the Island."

Junk problem �out of handÖ

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Cabana poles, beach chairs, volleyball nets and other items left on the beach by careless beachgoers are creating a huge problem for nesting sea turtles, Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall said.

"It’s out of hand," Hall declared last week. "Last year and the year before I tagged the items, but I did not have the concentration that I’m seeing this year."

According to the city’s code, everything must be removed from the beach between sunset and sunrise during turtle season. Obstructions left on the beach deter turtles from laying their eggs in the sand.

Hall said she visits the beach in search of items left behind and places a tag on each of them advising the owner of the law. Currently, she is targeting the beach between 64th and 75th streets.

"The tag is a 24-hour notice," Hall explained. "It’s to educate the people because a lot of them don’t know about the law. But if I return in 24 hours and the item is still there, public works employees will take it and put it in the city’s compound."

The city does not charge a fine for the item and the owner can get it back by coming to the public works department and claiming it.

"Yesterday, a turtle crawled up and encountered a beach umbrella but she still laid her eggs," Hall said. "I’m surprised she didn’t just go back to the water.’

Hall said a volleyball net on the beach in the 7000 block of Gulf Drive has been a continuing problem. The net is attached to poles, which are cemented into tires.

"No one knows who owns it," she said. "I tag it and it is removed, then someone puts it back again. I finally had public works take it yesterday (July 11) and put it in the compound."

Hall said the problems have been on the public area of the beach, but she noted, "If it’s on private property, Florida Statutes give us the right to remove it. In some cases, the items are only a foot away from a turtle nest. "

In addition to items being left on the beach overnight, Hall said the volume of trash left on the beach has increased.

"The amount of beach trash is unreal," she claimed. "Cans, bottles, flip flops, sneakers, sandwich bags — you name it. I found some clothes so close to the water that they would have gone out with the tide. A turtle could get entangled in that in the water."

Hall asks beachgoers to be good neighbors to the turtles and their fellow beachgoers by removing their trash and personal items from the beach. Holmes Beach has added extra garbage cans to its beach end streets to encourage people to take their trash with them when they leave.

One thing has improved however, Hall said.

"We have had no problems with lighting this year. All of Holmes Beach has been excellent."

Lights shining on the beach draw hatchling turtles to them instead of into the water.

Panel rejects condos

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The city’s building department made its case against developing beachfront property at 1402 and 1404 Gulf Drive N. and the planning and zoning board agreed, recommending that the city commission turn down the project.

This is the second rejection of the project, which the applicants, Beach, Inc., and Island Development, said was wrongfully turned down the first time due to a scrivener’s error in 1989 when the land was inadvertently designated preservation in the city’s future land use map.

When it was first rejected, the developers appealed and a court ruled in their favor, citing that the sand soils of the land were not consistent with those of preservation property, and that those soils were important criteria for determining such a classification.

When the developers re-applied for the change from preservation to medium/high density residential seasonal tourist, the city disregarded the sand soils and built its case on two points – traditionally high beach erosion and the location of a main dune line through the property.

Building Department Technician Gail Garneau played a DVD presentation by engineer Karyn Erickson, of Erickson Consulting Engineers, in which she used aerial photos of the land taken as far back as 1987 showing a small amount of beach on the west side of Gulf Drive, plus a photo taken in 1994, a year after the beach renourishment showing a massive amount of land. She said that the federal government has indicated it will not be in favor of renourishing the beaches forever, threatening the project when renourished sands erode. She also said studies on the site and with previous engineering records indicated the south end of the project eroded at an average rate of 24.9 feet per year and on the north end, 22 feet per year.

She also said the subject property has a single dune system where other properties to the north and south had dual systems offering more protection to Gulf Drive from stormwater.

"The applicant is seeking to build on the west side of the dune area where the west shore is located," Building Official Ed McAdam told the board. "This is where the primary dunes are located."

The city also presented, among other papers, an appraisal on the land from 1996 saying the "legal use of the land is controlled by the city of Bradenton Beach" and is "zoned E-1, preservation, and is unbuildable."

"I think we are hearing a present and future movement toward preservation on the Gulf side," said board chairman and long-time veteran of the board Bob Dale. "When we first worked on the comprehensive plan in the 1980, we wanted to preserve the beaches. We went to the beaches to survey them and decided to designate the empty lots as preservation."

The vote to reject the request was unanimous. The applicants have one more chance when the city commission hears the request at a future meeting.

 

Board approves Community Center building contract

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — The Island Community Center executive board on Friday approved the multi-million dollar contract that will take them into the future with a new building.

"This is an exciting day for the community," Assistant Executive Director Scott Dell said. "This morning the executive board approved a contract with the Walbridge Aldinger Construction Company to begin construction before Sept. 1. We are hopeful though that construction could begin as early as Aug. 14."

"We have a financing deal in principal with Northern Trust Bank and are awaiting the commitment letter. Within two weeks we should have this letter and then sign the final contract."

In June, Community Center board members approved spending up to $4.1 million on a new building and borrowing up to $2 million to compete the project.

Since then, negotiations with the construction team have reduced the price to $4,099,000. Dell said savings were realized by eliminating small things such as pavers for the parking lot and a privacy fence separating the playground area.

"We had to do some value engineering to get the price down, but we were able to do it without any changes to the floor plan or square footage of the facility," Dell explained. "If we raise enough money, we can put them back in the plan.

Dell said Center officials have spent five years researching, planning, discussing and fundraising to get to this point.

"It was a long process to design a Center this community can be proud of — a building that will meet the current needs of this community, try to predict the needs 25 years from now and, at the same time, fundraise on concept drawings.

"This community is truly amazing. The generosity over the past five years from individuals through personal donations, bowling tournaments, the Affaire to Remember Auction, golf tournaments, grants, etc. has made all the difference."

Center officials have already raised $2.5 million toward the project, and Dell said they are confident that they can raise the remainder, as they did in 1983, when the current building was constructed.

"We are gearing up for the community fund-raising phase of the campaign and, hopefully, everyone will pitch in to help," Dell said. "We listened, the need was there and now it is going to happen."

During construction, adult programs and administrative offices will relocate to St, Bernard Catholic Church. The teen program will be held in the Holmes Beach Public Works Department building and counseling sessions will be held in the Holmes Beach Police Department conference room. Construction should take eight months to a year.

 

Registration begins for school year

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – After a shortened summer vacation, students at Anna Maria Elementary School and other schools in the Manatee County system will be returning to class soon. The first day of the new school year is Monday, Aug. 7.

To accommodate students who moved into the area over the summer, there will be a registration beginning Monday, July 24, and ending Friday, Aug. 4, at AME.

For students moving to Florida from out of state, there are several requirements:

• Children under 18 must have a parent or guardian present at registration. Students who are 18 must have proof of their age.

• A certified birth certificate.

• Proof of a physical examination dated within the preceding 12 months, if entering a Florida school for the first time.

• Physical exam (DH-3040) completed and signed by a licensed physician, e.g. medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, doctor of chiropractic, a registered nurse practitioner or a physicians assistant licensed in the state of Florida. The exam must be within the 12 months prior to the child enrolling in a Florida school and must have a review of components (complete body systems review). Children are not admitted to school without this physical exam form. Contact your medical provider (doctor/clinic) for a school physical exam (DH-3040). For students coming from out of state, other forms will be accepted if it includes a complete review of body systems.

• A social security number is requested (not required).

• Proof of residency in the form of a current electric or water bill - section with the address and name of parent/legal guardian as receiving the service, a current lease agreement with parent legal guardian's name, an official letter from company that is providing housing with name of parent/legal guardian or a notification of approval to enroll from the student accounting office.

• Proof of immunization (Must be on Florida Form DOH680).

• A copy of the child’s most recent report card for students entering grades 1-12.

Age requirements are:

• Preschool: Must be 3 years old on or before Sept. 1. Children with disabilities may be served beginning with their third birthday, if not earlier.

• Kindergarten: Must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1.

• Grade One: Must be 6 years old on or before Sept. 1.

For more information, call Anna Maria Elementary School at 708-5525 or the school district at 708-8770.

 

Senate proposes oil drilling plan

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

The U.S. Senate may vote on a plan as early as this week that would create a 234-mile buffer zone off Tampa Bay for oil and gas drilling and a 125-mile buffer zone off the Florida Panhandle, both lasting until 2022.

The buffer zone, which does not extend to Florida’s east coast, uses the military mission line as the eastern boundary for Florida’s Gulf coast drilling operations. The line defines an area in the eastern Gulf where the armed forces conduct training exercises.

The Senate plan is a response to the House passage of the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act earlier this month that would allow drilling as close as 50 miles from the country’s shorelines, with a local option provision for states to limit it to 100 miles or more offshore, or allow it closer than 50 miles.

Sen. Mel Martinez helped negotiate the Senate plan, which replaces the Permanent Protection for Florida Act that he proposed in February with Sen. Bill Nelson. It included a 150-mile buffer zone.

"This is a good deal for Florida and one we need to take so that we can protect our tourism economy, our pristine environment and our expansive military training area," Martinez said.

As an incentive for states to allow offshore drilling, the plan provides that those states receive 37.5 percent of royalties that companies pay for federal drilling rights.

Under the plan, oil and gas companies would be allowed to drill in eight million acres of the Gulf that otherwise would have been off limits for the next several years. Existing leaseholders within the 125-mile buffer zone could swap their leases for new leases in open areas.

Rep. Katherine Harris, of Longboat Key, called the Senate plan a "positive development" in protecting Florida’s coastline while developing domestic oil production, but she advocates extending the protection to the Atlantic coast.

Earlier this month, Harris had proposed her own bill in the House. The Coastal Economic and Environmental Protection Act of 2006 would have authorized state legislatures to decide whether to allow offshore drilling.


 

�Mama LoÖ bids a sweet goodbye

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA - Mama Lo just can’t help herself.

“Can I get you some water?” Lois Finley asked the steady stream of customers who came in expecting ice cream on Monday while she was packing up the store.

After six years, waiting on people is a hard habit to break, and Mama Lo hasn’t stopped, even though she closed up shop on Sunday. The decision was made after Bayview Plaza went condo.

Monday, customers came in to say goodbye and left with armloads of goodies, as she gave away everything that wasn’t sold or slated for auction.

The train that ran around a track on the ceiling was on its way to a three-year-old customer in New York who admired it. A T-shirt with the store’s logo went to a customer with Alzheimer’s disease whose eyes flashed a spark of recognition at the name Mama Lo.

Mama Lo, who got her name when she was pregnant with son and shop manager Scott, kept only a few mementos for herself. A blender, a three-dimensional art work by Ruth Elliott depicting Anna Maria’s piers and a Betsy Roe painting of herself and husband Charlie Shook at their wedding outside the shop was all she kept - if you don’t count the friends she made of her customers and the memories.

“Oh, look!” she calls out to Charlie, holding a single key on a key ring. “Remember this? It was a storage room key that everyone accused everyone else of losing years ago, she said.

But even spats were always in fun at the popular shop. Her 10 employees are like siblings to son Scott and daughter Susan Ramsey. While they were packing things up, one threw a whipped cream pie in the other’s face to lighten up the sad mood.

If she’s sad, Mama Lo doesn’t let on. She’s looking forward to traveling for a couple of months with Charlie and “contemplating the future,” she says, adding that she’s not ready to retire.

Two girls in bikinis come in and ask for a cone, not realizing that an employee is cleaning an empty ice cream freezer.

“We’re closed,” Mama Lo says, still smiling. “You want some iced tea?”

 

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

 

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