Vol 7 No. 14 - December 27, 2006


No delay in bridge opening schedule

Ten apply for AME principal job

BeachHouse fireworks Dec. 31

Manatee mullet madness

Resident says be thankful for county preserves

City to move quickly on mold problem

AME hosts healthy event

Mayor to revamp board�s authority and makeup




No delay in bridge opening schedule

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

Implementation of half-hour openings for the Anna Maria and Cortez bridges is still slated to begin at the end of January or beginning of February, according to Mike Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"I talked to Michael Lieberum (Coast Guard spokesperson) on Friday and he said they are trying to process it as quickly as possible," Howe explained. "The final rule will be sent electronically to Washington, D. C., for final approval and legal review.

"Hopefully it will get in the Federal Register the first week in January. It would be effective in 30 days after that, which puts it at the first week in February. Everyone at the Seventh Coast Guard District knows how important this is to us."

The change originally was to begin Jan.15, but was delayed due to a problem with the Coast Guard’s notice requirements. Once implemented, the 30-minute schedule will be in place each year from Jan. 15 to May 15 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. There will be 20-minute openings the remainder of the year.

The original plan called for a curfew on openings between 7:35 and 8:29 a.m. and 4:35 and 5:29 p.m., but that proposal was rejected a year ago, Howe said.

In issue began in 2005, when the Island’s mayors asked the Coast Guard to review the existing regulations regarding drawbridge openings. The Coast Guard published a notice of the proposed change and took public comments. In addition, it held a public meeting in Holmes Beach in March 2006, before agreeing to implement the change.

For further information, contact Michael Lieberum at (305) 415-6744.

Ten apply for AME principal job

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – The list of persons wanting to become the next principal at Anna Maria Elementary School stands at 10, and a panel has been formed to try to pare down that number.

The panel consists of three Manatee County School Board members and three members with connections to the school, plus a community member with no ties to the school. They are seeking a replacement for Kathy Hayes, who is leaving to become principal of the brand new Gullett Elementary School east of Bradenton.

The panel members are third-grade teacher Kathy Granstad, cafeteria manager Rene Harper, parent Julie Krokroskia, school district human resources director Darcy Hopko, coordinator of school leadership development Anthony DiBello and Manatee County Director of Elementary Schools Tim Kolbe. The seventh member could be former Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce President Don Schroder, who has sat on the AME School Advisory Council for several years as a community representative, although it has not been confirmed that he has accepted.

Krokroskia said that she open to input, and anybody who would like to talk with her can call her at 778-2535.

According to Kolbe, who was principal of AME before the current principal, Kathy Hayes, the panel will begin looking into the qualifications of the 10 applicants the week after the holidays, perhaps as early as Jan. 2.

"The panel will interview the applicants and will choose three finalists," he said. "After that, we will hold a forum at the school where they will face two sets of judges: parents and members of the community; and teachers and school staff.

"They will spend 30 minutes before each group," he said. "Half of that time they will present their qualifications and they will answer questions the rest of the time."

Kolbe said every member of the audience at the forum will have a chance to evaluate the candidates on their merits and qualifications.

"Everyone will be given a card for each candidate," he said. "They will be asked to evaluate them on a scale of one-to-five."

The date of the forum has not yet been set, but Kolbe said they hope to have a new principal in place by Jan. 20. He also said the whole process might be cut short if a certain type of candidate has applied.

"Dr. Dearing could appoint an applicant if he or she is already serving as a principal at another school in the district," he said. "That’s the way Kathy Hayes got her new position at Gullett."

BeachHouse fireworks Dec. 31

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – If you’re the type who enjoys ringing in the new year with a bang, come on down to the beach around the BeachHouse shortly before midnight on Sunday, Dec. 31, and watch the fireworks.

Once again, the BeachHouse restaurant in Bradenton Beach is sponsoring a fireworks display.

This year’s celebration is a bittersweet one, as it commemorates the one-year anniversary of the last fireworks show put on for the BeachHouse by Jim Taylor, who died last year of a heart attack while he was in Orlando with his children.

"We will remember Jim and all he did," said BeachHouse Manager Mike Shannon.

The Chiles Group, which owns the BeachHouse, contracted with Bell’s Firework Display Co., of Tampa, last year for its July 3 and 4 shows on the beach. Shannon said they will do it again for this one.

"This will be a short show," he said. "It won’t be as long as the third and Fourth of July shows, but it should be a good one."

As usual, the BeachHouse will be serving dinner at a private party inside the restaurant and ou on the deck. The cost is $99 per person and it includes a full dinner, beginning at 9 p.m.

"It sells out every year," Shannon said. "People can sit out on the deck, and we have space heaters in case the weather turns cold."

Even if you don’t get the dinner package, you’re invited to come out on the beach and enjoy the fireworks. Parking is available at Coquina Beach and Cortez beaches, south of the restaurant. There is limited parking in the city, and the show usually attracts a lot of viewers from the mainland.

The fireworks on the beach are a beachy way of bringing in the new year, instead of watching the ball drop at Times Square on television. Remember, however, alcohol is prohibited on the beach and the police will enforce the law.

Manatee mullet madness

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

Sometimes this time of year, the mullet run in Lee County or Sarasota County or elsewhere on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Lt. Rob Gerkin said you could never predict just where they’ll be.

"Last year, it was off Sarasota," he said. "This year, it seems to be centering around Manatee County."

The inshore waters of the Gulf and the surrounding bays are full of mullet boats and commercial fishermen from all over the southeastern United States.

During the week, the commercial fishermen are at work. There is no bag limit; they can take as many as they can catch, according to Gerkin.

"They take them for the roe," he said. "That’s where the money is. They strip the roe and send it overseas where there’s a big market."

The weekends are closed to commercial mullet fishing this time of year with a 50 mullet limit per recreational boat.

With a stream of boats loaded to the gunwales parading in and out of the commercial processing houses in Cortez, some are worried that the black and silver mullet may be fished out.

"It’s actually not as bad as it was before the ban on gill netting," Gerkin noted. "Now they have to use cast nets, and you can’t take as many that way. The gill nets yielded thousands and thousands of fish a cast."

Gerkin said the numbers appear to be stable, though the recent red tide outbreaks have taken their toll on the mullet populations just as they have on other species.

He said there is currently no legislation pending that would further limit mullet take.



Resident says be thankful for county preserves

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

Don Garneau wants you to know how lucky you are.


Because you, like Garneau, live in very close proximity to four Manatee County preserves — the Neal Preserve west of the Perico Bay Club, the Robinson Preserve along 99th Street Northwest between 17th and Ninth avenues in Palma Sola, Geraldson’s Community Farm along Ninth Avenue off 75th Street West in Palma Sola and Riverview Pointe Park south of the DeSoto National Monument.

"People don’t even know the preserves are there," Garneau, who lives in the Perico Bay Club, declared. "Let everybody be thankful for what they’re getting. It’s for all the people to enjoy."

Phases of development

Each preserve is in a different phase of development. The county is currently purchasing the Neal Preserve and plans to begin removing the exotics soon.

The first phase of work on the 480-acre Robinson Preserve, which included removing exotics and developing a series of inner tidal canals to connect the lakes, has been completed. The second phase, which includes plantings, boardwalks, canoe trails and launches and hiking trails, is slated for completion in 2007.

In October, the county approved the management plan for the five-acre Geraldson’s Community Farm. It will become a working farm that is community operated and will provide educational outreach and farming demonstrations and community events.

The first year of operations includes offering two acres of farm fields, a small community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in which people buy shares in the farm’s harvest, a farmer’s market, a Web site, a newsletter, community events, an extension demonstration/education area and a CSA share program for food banks and soup kitchens.

Riverview Pointe Park, purchased by the county several years ago, was left in its natural state to complement the adjacent DeSoto National Monument.

In addition, the county plans to purchase 65 acres of upland and 130 acres of wetland that is adjacent to St. Joe’s high-rise development on the Palma Sola Causeway. And, of course, the Palma Sola Causeway has been named a Florida Scenic Highway and is being enhanced with landscaping, a second restroom and a small boat ramp.

A lucky man

Garneau says he has been a lucky location man twice in his life.

"In 1956, I built a house in Wayne County, Mich." he recalled, "and didn’t know it was abutting the William P. Holliday Forest and Wildlife Preserve. Two years later, I saw an article in the newspaper about a man named Arthur J. Richardson, a Detroit banker and philanthropist who died in 1938.

"The story is that his aunt and uncle, William P. Holliday, raised him and he romped there (in the preserve) as a child. He bought it because he wanted one part of Wayne County to remain untouched as it was in the 18th century. He left it to 10 beneficiaries and when the last one died, it was given to the state of Michigan."

Garneau’s second lucky break came when he was senior product designer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich.

"My boss told me that if I ever retired to Florida, I would have to come to the Bradenton area," he said. "I was transferred to Japan for three years, then to England for six months. One day, my wife said, ‘Let’s go to Florida.’ We had never even talked about it before that."

Garneau said a supervisor had purchased a unit in the Perico Bay Club and convinced him to buy one sight unseen in 1988. The development is adjacent to the Neal Preserve, across the Causeway from the proposed Perico acquisition and a foot bridge that accesses the Robinson Preserve.

"What are the odds of this happening twice in a lifetime?" he asked. "I really lucked out to be surrounded by preservation areas. I hope people use and enjoy them."

City to move quickly on mold problem

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Mold continues to grow in the walls and attic of city hall. Mayor Fran Barford has stated that getting the mold cleaned up and removed is her top priority.

A mold remediation protocol, which is a technical report outlining exactly what the city needs to do to safely rid city hall of the problem, came into the city late last week.

Environmental Safety Consultants’ mold remediation protocol includes exact specifications for what needs to be done to remove the mold from the building.

The report indicates that the mold may have spread since the initial assessment was done by ESC about six weeks ago.

"If the work reveals additional mold contamination, the remediation areas may increase in size," the protocol report states. "The contractor must be ready to respond, install additional containment …"

The report also recommends that the building be remediated as soon as possible.

"During and after remediation, until mold testing confirms complete remediation, the work areas should not be occupied or entered by anyone except the mold remediation firm’s representatives," the report states.

"It was a show stopper, reading that," said Public Works Director George McKay. "We didn’t expect that at all."

McKay said the report has been forwarded to the Florida League of Cities, the city’s insurer.

"They will study the protocol and let us know if it’s complete enough. And meanwhile, we will have to make a decision about what to do while the work is going on."

Mayor Fran Barford was out of town for the holidays and couldn’t be reached for comment.

The ESC protocol states that a medical doctor should be consulted if employees are experiencing health problems.

At least two employees have been experiencing sinus and other respiratory symptoms. The physician of one reportedly told her that working in the presence of mold is definitely not a good thing.

Both employees have been placed on medication but continue to report to work.

McKay said the city wants to move as quickly as possible.

At the Dec. 14 city commission meeting, Barford asked for and received permission to do whatever she has to get the mold problem solved, including spending up to $10,000, which is what the city’s insurer will pay. The League of Cities will then go after the roofing company and its insurer to recover the money.

"As soon as we get word from the insurance company and a list of contractors who know how to do this work, we’ll go out for bids on the removal," he said.

The mold is the result of two floods that took place while city hall was getting a new roof in August of this year.


AME hosts healthy event

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

Anna Maria Elementary School will be holding its first Dolphin Dash in January.

The Bradenton Runner’s Club has joined forces with the AME-PTO to host the 5K fitness run, and 1-mile fun run at Anna Maria Elementary School, 4700 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach on Saturday, Jan. 20. The 5K run starts at 8 a.m. and the 1-mile fun run begins at 9 a.m.

There will be awards for all age groups. The entrance fee is $20 for adults and $10 for children under 16. All participants get a free T-shirt.

Fifth-grader Gabby Fenton won the T-shirt design competition. Students submitted their line drawings that best represent the Dolphin Dash. More than 55 entries were received. Gabby’s design will appear on the front of all the race T-shirts.

AME students can train for the Dolphin Dash in the half-marathon challenge. Students will be able to run a half marathon during their training period. All students at the school can build up their stamina in a simple training program running laps before school, at home and in PE class. Coach Barry Borrell and mile monitors will confirm students’ progress, and it will be announced on the Morning Show at school each week.

The morning of the Dolphin Dash, the students will run their final mile, completing the half- marathon challenge. Each student who completes the training program will receive Dolphin Dash shoelaces.

Renowned local runner Mickey Hooke will host a running clinic for students, parents and runners of all sorts on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the school. Everyone is invited to join the fun and run, run, run.



Mayor to revamp board�s authority and makeup

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Mayor Rich Bohnenberger told members of the parks and beautification advisory board that the board was created by the comprehensive plan with very specific criteria, which it is not meeting.

"I can assure you that my plans are not to disband the committee or change to way you do business," Bohnenberger explained to the board. "I’ve looked into the creation of the committee, which was done by the comprehensive plan."

The plan states that board’s membership shall include individuals from the public works department, business community, condominium associations, neighborhood associations, Island Community Center, the city commission liaison and the general population.

"The word shall is a major problem because it conflicts with some of our codes and state statute," Bohnenberger said.

He said according to the plan, the board’s only duty is to submit an annual report on the status of the city’s parks and recreational facilities to the city commission.

"We need a more comprehensive description of what the committee’s function is and that can be done legislatively," he continued. "In order for that to be done, we have to change the comprehensive plan."

Bohnenberger said he would consult with the city attorney and the board’s chairman to develop language to outline the board’s makeup and responsibilities.

Tree policy change
Bohnenberger also explained why he changed the city’s tree policy to eliminate the city’s responsibility to contribute $200 towards the purchase of each memorial tree.

"I just think the folks in the government shouldn’t take money from one citizen and give it to another for personal memorialization of anything," he said.

Member John Molyneux, who developed the original concept, said that the matching funds were to encourage people to donate trees no matter how much they could afford.

"We did not specify how much," he explained. "The other thing was that we were to raise the money and solicit public support. Offering the matching funds made it more attractive.”

He agreed with Bohnenberger that the city should not make donations for memorial trees, and he noted that former Mayor Carol Whitmore had changed the committee’s tree policy concept.

Member Kathy King agreed and said that the original concept called for a public/private partnership with board members seeking the funding from individuals, businesses and civic groups.

"The original proposal did not call for the expenditure of city funds," King said. "We were trying to get public involvement."

Board members agreed to revisit the tree policy, and Bohnenberger suggested that they explore getting grant funding to purchase trees. He said there is $15,000 in the beautification budget.

In other business, the board reelected Jim Dunne as chairman, and set the date of their annual plant seminar for Feb. 20, 2007. The topic will be native, salt tolerant plants, and King is the program chair.


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