Online travel firm says Anna Maria #1
Funeral home has closing sale
Boil water notice for Thursday
Center construction on schedule
and Orchestra open season
sculptors to compete at Sandblast Nov. 18
considers projects manager
action encouraged on red tide
firm says Anna Maria #1
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH As Anna Maria
Island heads into another season, there is a hopeful
sign that it will be a good one.
TripAdvisor, an Internet travel website that fields
inquiries and reviews of destinations from travelers
worldwide, places Anna Maria Island at the top of
its TravelCast Top Ten Hot U.S. Destinations for 2007.
Its a list that includes Kailua, Hawaii; Siesta
Key; Macon, Ga.; Breckenridge, Colo.; Millinocket,
Maine; Vail, Colo.; Bishop, Cal.; Franklin, Tenn.;
and Eureka, Calif.
TripAdvisor spokesman Brooke Ferencsik said that this
is not a list of the most popular destinations, just
those generating the most interest lately.
"TravelCast evaluated the change in search activity,
reviews from tourists who visit these areas and forum
postings to come up with the list," he said.
"This doesnt mean that Anna Maria is the
most popular designation for the upcoming year, but
its the one that has generated the most buzz."
Ferencsik said that there are no specific figures
available on how many inquiries web site visitors
had made, but he said that TripAdvisor averages 20
million inquiries per month on its site, which indicates
the amount of interest that is there for these destinations.
Ferencsik said that part of the Islands appeal
appears to be its reputation for beautiful beaches
and laid-back lifestyle.
"One of the common factors in the list of top
10 destinations, except for Breckenridge and Vail,
appears to be that they are not high-traffic areas,"
he said. "People seem to be looking for some
place more relaxing than your typical tourist areas
like Orlando or Miami."
Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Mary
Ann Brockman said that the news was "great."
"Its really positive news and we need it,"
she said. "We had a mild hurricane season and
red tide hasnt been a factor, but with rising
insurance premiums and taxes tearing at our business
community, this is the kind of news that we need."
Brockman said she expects a great season for the Island
this year, and she hopes the powers that be can take
more measures to help solve the tax and insurance
crises before too many business owners give up and
Kent Davis, a member of the Manatee County Tourist
Development Council, was elated when he heard the
news, but he said he is not surprised.
"I remain totally enthused about Anna Maria Island,"
he said, "It remains one of the most relaxing,
unspoiled destinations in the world."
Davis, who developed Siam Garden resort in Anna Maria
and then sold it, remains active in the Islands
tourism industry through his involvement with the
Funeral home has
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH A sale organized by Julie McClure
Estate Sales drew a lot of shoppers Friday at Griffith-Cline
Funeral Homes Island Chapel following the news
that somebody had bought the property.
The chapel closed its doors for business almost a
month after The Sun reported it was being sold.
Buyers came in droves Friday morning to look over
the office furniture and fixtures marked with prices
on masking tape, but the big news was that they had
a buyer for the property, although nobody knew who
that buyer is.
"Were looking to close on that property
next week," said Michael Grice, the Wedebrock
Real Estate agent who listed the building. He did
not disclose the price or the buyer, saying only that
it would remain a commercial office building.
"The purchaser plans to do some real quality
upgrades to the property," he said. "There
will be some new businesses that will locate there
that will be an asset to the area."
Meanwhile, as the stock of desks, office chairs and
artwork on the walls dwindled, officials at Griffith-Cline
said that funerals would be handled at their chapel
at 720 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton.
Ken Griffith, owner of the company, was unavailable
for comment, but he told The Sun on Oct. 10 that he
was selling the Island chapel because of the rising
cost of insurance and taxes. He said the chapel did
not bring the amount of revenue that would justify
the expense of keeping it open.
One business that will likely feel the loss of the
chapel is The Island Florist, located a few blocks
away in the Island Shopping Center.
Owner Herbert Sesterhenn said that he feel sad about
the loss of any business on the Island in light of
the rising cost of insurance and taxes.
"Weve seen the natural foods store die,
Mama Los and several others because of taxes
and insurance and were going to see more,"
Sesterhenn said. "Theyre all going to go
away unless something changes."
Sesterhenn said the volume of business from the Island
chapel was not that high, but they were able to help
with last minute details because they were nearby.
He said that Bette Kissick, who worked at the chapel,
was a treasure who would be missed.
"Bette lives out here and knows a lot of people,
and her presence was very comforting to families who
were going through the trauma of a funeral,"
he said. "She is very caring and helped people
through a bad time in their lives."
Griffith-Cline built the Holmes Beach chapel in 1961.
Griffith said in an earlier interview that it was
an emotional decision to close the Island chapel,
but one that had to be made.
Boil water notice
The Manatee County Utility Operations Department
has issued a boil water notice for residents and businesses
from Gulf Drive and East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach
to the north end of the Island following replacement
of water valves and a water shutoff between midnight
and 7 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9.
Customers are advised that once service is restored,
all water used for drinking or cooking should be boiled
at least one minute as a precaution. As an alternative,
bottled water may be used. This precautionary notice
will remain in effect until a bacteriological survey
has shown the water to be safe.
The department sent pre-recorded notices to all phone
numbers in the affected area earlier this week. For
more information, call 792-8811, ext. 5216, from 7
a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 747-HELP after 4:30 p.m.
construction on schedule
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA The long anticipated Community
Center construction project has begun and the walls
should begin rising in about a month.
The projects superintendent, Bernie Chilton,
of Walbridge Aldinger, said winter residents are coming
back to the Island and stopping by the construction
site for a look and to talk.
"The longer Im here, the more I see how
important this is to the community and how much it
is used," he said.
Chilton said the foundation work is progressing with
the under slab plumbing installed and the electrical
conduit 75 percent competed. Workers are also digging
the elevator pit along the Magnolia Avenue side of
"Its been kind of quiet, but the activities
are important ones. Having the foundation started
is a big thing and in three to four weeks it will
culminate in pouring the building slab. Were
getting important details in place."
Chilton said walls will begin rising in about a month
and the exterior of the building should be completed
by the end of February. Then interior work will begin.
Completion is expected at the end of June 2007.
"Weve had some visitors asking when they
can use the tennis courts, but there are too many
issues with safety and security," Chilton said.
"We knew all along that tennis is important,
so were working on finding a solution."
Chilton said the company is helping with logistics
of the groundbreaking ceremony planned for Nov. 16
and noted, "Theyre trying to make it a
good positive event. They held off until now so people
could return and be a part of it."
Regarding the project, Chilton observed, "All
the planning has been well worth it. Theres
a long way to go, but everything is positive."
Chorus and Orchestra
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra
(AMICCO) under the direction of Alfred Gershfeld opens
its concert season on Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. with
"Celebration of Autumn" at Island Baptist
Church, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.
General admission is $15. Tickets may be purchased
in advance by calling 778-1217 or after Nov. 12 at
the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf
Drive in Holmes Beach. For more information, visit
The program will showcase the talents of its members
recruited from the greater Bradenton and Sarasota
area, some coming from as far away as Tampa and Nokomis.
Organist Robert Winslow will perform Bach's Fantasia
and Fugue in G minor and, with the orchestra, Handel's
Organ Concerto No. 4.
Tenors Bill Kelley and David Kesler, bass Bernard
Hahmke, sopranos Ruth Danielle and Jeanne Larrañaga
and alto Martha Di Palma will join the chorus and
orchestra in performance of Bach's Cantata No. 192
and selections from Mozart's Coronation Mass. The
orchestra will perform Mozart's popular Symphony No.
25 in G minor.
Maestro Gershfeld, artistic director and principal
conductor who has been with AMICCO since its inception,
now travels from Miami, where he is professor of conducting
and director of orchestras at the New World School
of the Arts, to conduct AMICCO concerts and key rehearsals.
He relies on newly appointed Assistant Conductor Jon
Magendanz to rehearse the orchestra in his absence
and on the chorus director to prepare the chorus.
James W. Johnston, music director at First United
Methodist Church in Bradenton, is serving as guest
chorus director for the November concert.
to compete at Sandblast Nov. 18
The sixth annual Sandblast, a sand sculpture competition
that pairs youth groups with local business sponsors
to raise funds for Keep Manatee Beautiful, is set
for Nov. 18 at the BeachHouse restaurant in Bradenton
Beach. Ed Chiles and the restaurant are the events
A professional sand sculpture team called Team Sandtastic
will start three days before the event by building
a huge exhibition sculpture at the site that will
have a pirate theme. The public is invited to the
free clinics conducted by Team Sandtastic on Nov.
15 through 17 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the restaurant to
learn sand sculpture tips, tricks and techniques.
On Nov. 18, teams will begin arriving at 7:30 a.m.
to get first pick of the 15-by-15-foot plots. Sculpting
commences at 9 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. the
Anna Maria Island Privateers will also be part of
the competition. A team of judges includes the restaurants
general manager Becky Shannon, a professional sand
sculptor with Team Sandtastic and master marine artist
David Miller with Maui Art.
Team Sandtastic (www.teamsandtastic.com) has won many
contests and awards across the globe. In July of 1998
at Georgia Stone Mountain Park, the team created the
tallest sandcastle ever hand built in under 100 man
hours and holds that current Guinness World Record.
It stands at 28 feet, 7 1/4 inches.
David Miller (www.mauiarts.com) draws his inspiration
from many hours of diving in the beautiful waters
of the Hawaiian Islands, California, Mexico, and Jamaica.
His work is shown in galleries across the U.S., Australia,
Japan and Europe and locally on St. Armands Circle
The 16 teams registered to compete are Ad-VANCE Personnel
Services, Anna Maria Island Privateers, Bayshore High
National Art Honor Society, Boys & Girls Clubs
of Manatee County, Crusader Environmental Club from
King Middle School, Intrepid Home Health, Lakewood
Ranch High School Science Club, Lincoln Middle School
Student Council, Manatee Community College EARTH Club,
Manatee High School Anchor Club, Manatee High School
Art Department, Manatee High School Environmental
Science Students, Manatee High School Ocean Awareness
Club, ManaTEENS, Reef Rakers and Sarasota Bay Buddies
and Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island
To enter a team or sponsor one of the teams registered
so far with a $300 tax-deductible donation, call Keep
Manatee Beautiful at 795-8272 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH City commissioners will advertise
for a replacement programs/projects manager following
debate over the requirements of the position.
The commission amended a description of the position,
which was held by Dottie Poindexter until she resigned
last month, taking out a requirement that the applicant
have a bachelors degree in civil engineering
or a related field. The new language says a degree
Poindexter was initially the citys public works
director, but she took on the new management position
when the city commission decided it needed somebody
to oversee capital improvements projects and programs.
Poindexter worked closely with the citys Scenic
Highway committee and WAVES, the Waterfronts Florida
committee. Those groups are considering projects to
improve Gulf Drive and the waterfront areas of the
city, and both have been instrumental in getting and
administering grants for those projects.
The position will be posted with a salary of between
$47,000 and $59,000. That was a point of contention
as the city commission debated the language of the
How long will we sit here with this post empty,
asked Commissioner Janie Robertson. We could
wait forever to get a civil engineer in here.
Commission Lisa Marie Phillips agreed that the degree
requirement could be a stumbling block.
I talked with a friend who is a civil engineer,
she said. When I told her what the salary is,
she laughed heartily.
City Attorney Ricinda Perry said she checked with
other cities who have a projects/program manager and
the salary was comparable.
We already have a civil engineer in (Building
Official) Ed McAdam, said Commissioner Bill
Shearon. Couldnt we require just some
This person will be working on government construction
projects, Perry answered. You might want
to require more than just some college.
Phillips then recused herself from further discussion
because she felt this decision might bring financial
benefit to her in the future. She did not elaborate.
Mayor John Chappie suggested they delay a decision
until they hold a work session, but the commissioners
decided to go ahead and post the description without
the engineering degree requirement.
encouraged on red tide
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ A diverse group gathered in Cortez
last week to discuss fighting red tide with political
action in addition to scientific research.
Tourism-related business owners, environmentalists
and coastal residents discussed promoting political
action to battle red tide based on the widely-held
belief that it may feed off the nutrients in pollution
Sarasota County passed a resolution earlier this year
to "set the example for other public and private
entities" by using less fertilizer in the rainy
season and using slow-release fertilizer to reduce
nutrient runoff into area waters.
"Right next door its happening," said
Stuart DeCew, red tide and coastal pollution coordinator
for the Sarasota Sierra Club, which sponsored the
"We want to rally a base of people who will contact
local officials," he said, especially in neighboring
Manatee County and its municipalities. "One county
doing this wont solve the problem. It needs
to be replicated in other counties."
Red tide is an overgrowth of the microscopic algae
Karenia brevis, which emits a neurotoxin that causes
fish, seabird, sea turtle, dolphin and manatee deaths.
In humans, it can cause respiratory problems when
inhaled and digestive upset when consumed in contaminated
A record red tide bloom on Floridas Gulf coast
lasted throughout 2005, creating a "dead zone"
in the Gulf of Mexico discovered by charter Capt.
Wayne Genthner, of Longboat Key, who told participants
at the meeting that awareness of the problem must
be transformed into political action.
The dead zone is recovering, but another, less severe,
red tide bloom has persisted since July 2006 from
Pinellas County south to Collier County.
The link between fertilizer runoff and red tide growth
is scientifically unproven but possible, researchers
say. University of Miami researcher Larry Brand announced
the results of a study last month showing that red
tide is increasing and gaining potency, which he attributes
to an increased amount of nutrients in the ecosystem.
As part of the process to turn the Sarasota County
resolution into an ordinance, four public meetings
on red tide are scheduled this month at Twin Lakes
Park, 6700 Clark Road in Sarasota Nov. 14 for
fertilizer industry representatives, Nov. 20 for civic
and homeowner groups, Nov. 27 for governmental groups
and Nov. 30 for environmental groups. All meetings
will be held from 1 to 5 p.m.
Information from the meetings will be used in a recommendation
to be presented in April to the Sarasota County Commission.