Vol 7 No. 11 - December 6, 2006


Builder converts funeral home

Holidays go surf and turf with boats, Prelude

Holmes Beach merchants greet strollers, shoppers

Handel’s Messiah performance Dec. 17

History on the move in Cortez

Winterfest this weekend

Comprehensive plan clears major hurdle

MPO: No trolley to Bean Point




Builder converts funeral home

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

"I knew it was what I wanted," he said. "It's an excellent building."

Griffith-Cline Funeral Homes put the building on the market after having its insurance cancelled and learning that a new policy would cost considerably more money. Agnelli had already decided he wanted to purchase his own building and when an earlier offer fell through, he said he made his own offer of $990,000. The seller took it and three weeks ago they held a sale of the building's contents.

Agnelli said he is happy to have purchased the property, which is the northern anchor of the Holmes Beach business district. He said his business will be headquartered at the new building, but he wants to rent out portions of it to related businesses such as a mortgage lender and a title company.

"We want to offer one-stop shopping here," he said. "You could purchase property, get a loan and close the deal in this building."

Of course, he would be there for those wanting to remodel or build a new home or structure on the land they purchase.

Agnelli got into construction 37 years ago in Worchester, N.Y. He bought a house on the Island in 1983 and moved to the area permanently in 1999, opening his business here. He does new construction and remodeling and he tries to do right by his customers.

"The key to success is to give the customer value for their dollars," he said. "We probably don't make as much on a job as other builders, but when you walk into one of our homes, you know it was done right."

Despite a recent slowdown in real estate sales and a slump in construction, Agnellli sees his purchase of the Griffith-Cline property as his statement about the future of the Island.

"We're here to stay," he said. "That's why we bought the building."

Holidays go surf and turf with boats, Prelude

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH - The holiday spirit arrives by land and by sea this year.

This Saturday is Bradenton Beach's Christmas Prelude on Bridge Street, which coincides with the Cortez Yacht Club's Lighted Boat Parade.

The Bridge Street merchants have planned a day of fun and shopping starting at 9 a.m. Parking is available at the Cortez or Coquina beach lots south of town. From there, you can hop the free trolley to the roundabout.

The day ends at 7 p.m., but you might find a good observation point south of the Bridge Street Pier for the boat parade after dark. The parade leaves the Seafood Shack restaurant in Cortez and heads south to Longboat Pass before returning to Cortez.

Stores on Bridge Street will be open throughout the day with unique gift ideas from interior décor to massage gift certificates.

The sidewalk next to the roundabout is a great location to watch the Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade pass through town on its way to Coquina Beach shortly before noon. Strolling carolers will entertain the shoppers from 4 to 6 p.m. when a large Christmas tree next to Bridge Street Bazaar will be lit.

Following the lighting, there will be a silent auction of holiday wreaths. Proceeds from the wreath sales go to the Anna Maria Island Historical Society.

There is also a raffle for a number of Island gift baskets. Proceeds from the raffle go to the Officer Pete Lannon Fund for the elementary school's resource officer, who is battling cancer. Tickets are $2 each and can be purchased from merchants along Bridge Street plus Island Bazaar in the Anna Maria Island Centre on East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach.

There will be a Toys for Tots collection point on Bridge Street for anyone who wants to donate a new toy for those less fortunate. The DeSoto Conquistadors will be there will their parade ship at 2 p.m.

Also, the winners of the Bradenton Beach Holiday Lighting Contest will be announced. First and second place prizes will be awarded for residential and commercial displays.

The first-place winners will get $150 and second-place winners will get $100. Every home and business in the city has a chance to compete and judges will tour the city on Friday, Dec. 8, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Holmes Beach merchants greet strollers, shoppers

Holmes Beach mercants opened their doors last Friday night to hundreds of shoppers and strollers in that city's annual Christmas Walk.

The sights and sounds of the holidays filled the cool, evening air as people walked through stores, offices and restaurants, some offering food and refreshments.

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce kicked off the celebration with the lighting of its giant Christmas tree in the parking lot. There was live music at several locations and shoppers reportedly found it a good time to get something unique for somebody special.

The next night, the city capped the celebration with an outdoor viewing of the classic, "It's a Wonderful Life."

Handel’s Messiah performance Dec. 17

Bells will ring, guest stars will shine and the Christmas angel will appear at the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra's annual holiday concert , "Messiah and More," directed by Alfred Gershfeld, on Sunday Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. at The Island Baptist Church, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. General admission is $15. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, or by calling 778-1217. For more information, visit www.amicco.org or call 778-1716.

The concert will open with festive music by Corelli and Mozart, followed by Christmas songs from around the world. Guest artists, joining the chorus in selections from Handel's Messiah, will be soprano Michelle Giglio, mezzo-soprano Gisella Monclova, tenor Harv Wileman and bass Richard Storm. Robert Parrish, director of music at Trinity Methodist Church in Bradenton and an adjunct professor of voice at Manatee Community College, is guest chorusmaster.



History on the move in Cortez

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ - Fifteen years after Cortezians began the effort to save it, the historic Burton/Bratton store began its move across the village on Monday to the site of the Florida Maritime Museum.

Mary Fulford Green of the Cortez Village Historical Society watched the former store and post office creak down the street and remembered Cortez women during World War II waiting on its porch for word about their loved ones.

"It's been here so long the tin roofing we replaced is already rusty," laughed Allen Garner, president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, who enjoyed the long-awaited moment with museum coordinator Roger Allen as the store left its not-so-temporary resting place across the street from the U.S. Coast Guard Station.

One of the oldest buildings in Manatee County, the store was built around 1895, when Cortez was called Hunter's Point. In 1896, when the village's name changed to Cortez, it housed the community's first post office.

L.J.C. Bratton bought the store and added a few hotel rooms, calling it the Albion Inn after his son. Subsequent owner Albert "Joe" Guthrie expanded it in the early 1900s to a 24-room hotel. The only waterfront building in Cortez to survive the hurricane of 1921, it operated until the U.S. Coast Guard bought it in 1974 and turned it into a station.

When the rest of the building was demolished in 1991 and replaced with the existing Coast Guard station, the store was saved with $12,000 in contributions raised by the historical society and the Organized Fishermen of Florida, Green said.

In its new location behind the former 1912 Cortez schoolhouse, the store will serve as an office and display space for the Florida Maritime Museum.

Winterfest this weekend

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH - More than 100 national artists and craftspeople will gather on Dec. 9-10 for the 19th Annual Anna Maria Island Art League Winterfest Festival of Fine Arts and Fine Crafts from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at city hall park.

Musical entertainment at the family event will include bluegrass, Cajun zydeco and classical Spanish guitar, while local restaurateurs' seafood and barbeque specialties will be featured in the food court. Community organizations also will be on hand with historical and environmental information and interactive displays.

Proceeds from a raffle of art work donated by the artists will benefit the Anna Maria Island Art League's Scholarship Fund, which provides classes to children and adults. Tickets are six for $5 and winners need not be present to win.

Admission and parking are free.

Among the exhibiting artists is award-winning abstract photographer and Island resident Jay Canterbury, whose work features found objects in vivid colors and deep textures.

Canterbury won a first place award at the first juried show he entered, the 1989 Anna Maria Island Festival of Fine Art. His work is on display at Manatee Community College in Bradenton and Venice and at the Ritz Carlton and Whole Foods in Sarasota.

Winterfest and Springfest, held in March, are the major fundraisers for the League, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the arts on the Island.

In addition to classes, funds from the festivals underwrite operation of the art center, exhibits at the gallery at 5312 Holmes Blvd. in Holmes Beach and a variety of community programs.

For more information, call 778-2099.


Comprehensive plan clears major hurdle

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA - After four years of hard work, the city's comprehensive plan is on its way to the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in Tallahassee.

The latest step in the local process for what consultant Tony Arrant calls the "citizen planners" was a public hearing before the city commission.

The commission chambers were full, including residential and business property owners. Some liked the plan as is; some sought changes.

When all was said and done, the plan was transmitted the way it had come to the public hearing.

Former Commissioner Linda Cramer, represented by her attorney, Michael Connolly, asked that her property at 9702 Gulf Drive be represented as ROR on the Future Land Use Map (FLUM).

Connolly maintained that the lot had always been commercial and it was only through an error that the lot was designated residential today.

"It sticks out like a sore thumb," Connolly said. "There's a popular restaurant nearby, and everything is commercial or ROR (residential/office/retail) except for her property."

Connolly presented the commission with letters from resident Steve Lardas, who was on the planning board at the time of the last FLUM adoption, and from Mark Ratliff, the former owner of Cramer's property.

Nearby residents disagreed. Some spoke at the public hearing.

"For us, protecting the residential quality of life is key," said resident Robin Wall, who spoke for herself and her husband, Peter.

The city received 25 letters for the record from neighboring residents asking the city to keep the property residential on the FLUM. Kramer said she and her attorney will continue to pursue the matter with the DCA.

Another requested property change was for the lots on the northwest corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard. The property was zoned commercial after the property owners in 1982 won a lawsuit against the city seeking commercial use for that property.

Attorney Matt Taylor spoke on behalf of the owners, LBK Realty, Inc.

"Everybody supports what we want to do," Taylor said. "We are asking the commission to correct a wrong. It would drop the impact of whatever is built on those six lots to the neighboring properties by changing the use from commercial to ROR."

In the end, the commission opted to transmit the plan to Tallahassee with the commercial designation remaining on those lots.

The next step in the process is for the DCA to study the plan. It will issue comments and sent everything back to the city. That step in the process could take up to a year, according to Arrant.

Then the commission will discuss the comments, make any changes, hold another public hearing and re-transmit the whole thing to DCA.

At that point the plan could be accepted as is, or it could be sent back to the city for further work.



MPO: No trolley to Bean Point

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

MANATEE COUNTY - The trolley route can't be extended to include Bean Point in Anna Maria.

The word came down from Michael Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization last week.

At the request of Anna Maria resident Mark Alonso, the Island Transportation Planning Organization (ITPO) asked Howe to check into the feasibility of having the trolley swing around the north end of the Island instead of stopping at Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

How said there are several problems that make it impossible,

"In short synopsis, such a route has several operational detriments which makes such a change not feasible," Howe wrote in a memo to the Island mayors.

Howe said he had Manatee County Area Transit Manager Transit Manager Ralf Heseler investigate altering the current route to go across the humpback bridge on North Bay Booulevard and along North Shore Drive.

Heseler's findings are several: the gross weight of the trolleys exceeds the maximum weight limit of the bridge; the bridge is too narrow to allow safe crossing of the trolley; the road on the north side of the bridge is narrower and could pose a safety hazard; there has been opposition from residents to extending the trolley line; the running time and turn around location to go north would make it difficult for the trolley to operate within is current schedule.

One point Alonso raised at the December ITPO meeting was that huge construction trucks traverse the bridge on a daily basis going and coming from construction sites on the north shore.

Heseler responded that trucks do go across the humpback bridge and along North Shore Drive, but he feels that it would be unsafe for the trolleys to do so.

Alonso was out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

Members of the ITPO are expected to discuss the matter once more at their January meeting in Anna Maria.


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