New AME principal appointed
Meeting targets parking shortage
New roof springs another leak
Free home fire safety survey can save your life
named programs and projects manager
asked to look at all piers
Teachers celebrate year one
to benefit START documentary film fund
New AME principal
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH The search for a new principal
for Anna Maria Elementary School is over, and the
new person has close ties to the school.
Tom Levengood, principal at Bayshore Elementary School
for the past 12 1/2 years and husband of AME reading
coach Becky Levengood, has been appointed to the position
by Manatee County School Superintendent Dr. Roger
Dearing. He replaces Kathy Hayes, who has taken a
similar position at Gullett, a brand new elementary
school in Lakewood Ranch.
Hayes has postponed the Student Advisory Council (SAC)
meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 9, to Tuesday,
Jan. 16, at 3 p.m., where Levengood will be introduced
to the school. A transitional team, composed mainly
of SAC members, is being appointed to help Levengood
get settled into his new position.
Levengood said that this was not the first time he
considered applying for the Island school position.
"I thought about applying when Tim (Kolbe) left,"
he said. "But we were right in the middle of
building a new Bayshore Elementary School, and I wanted
to see it through."
Kolbe quit the position four years ago to head the
elementary school teacher training program for the
district. Hayes succeeded Kolbe.
Levengood said he had heard about the high level of
parental and volunteer participation at AME and he
would welcome it.
"It will be a breath of fresh air to see that
much participation," he said. "I grew up
in a small town and went to a small school, so I can
appreciate what the Island school is all about."
The school system advertised for a new AME principal
right after Hayes announced her decision to transfer
to Gullett in early December. The district got 10
applicants for the position, but Levengood was the
only one who is was currently serving as a principal.
The district was also preparing a team to help choose
the new principal from those applicants who would
have undergone questioning at a public forum. However,
according to district bylaws, the superintendent can
appoint an applicant who is currently serving as a
principal, which circumvents the process and the forum.
Kolbe said he thought the parents, students and staff
at AME would like Levengood.
Hayes, who served as principal at AME for four years,
was pragmatic about moving on.
"I want to thank all the parents and community
members who provided support," she said. "I
will always have fond memories of my time here.
"I will definitely miss the students and the
staff members," she said. "I definitely
feel that our paths cross and I never like to say
goodbye' to anyone, just See you again.'"
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH It's time to sound off about
the parking shortage in this resort city, and city
hall will be open on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m.
to hear suggestions.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie announced last
week that he had hired city planner Allen Garrett
to facilitate the meeting. Garrett currently serves
as part-time city planner in Anna Maria.
The parking problem came to a head last month when
the city commission was considering a large scale
development plan for the refurbishment of the Historic
Bridge Street Pier. Business owners and residents
expressed opposition to the number of parking spaces
reserved for the restaurant being planned there, saying
that reopening the restaurant would force patrons
to park on private property.
At that time, Chappie made a deal to seek a solution
to the parking problem while the city oversees the
pier project. The commission approved the development
plan and the meeting is the first step in sticking
by Chappie's promise.
Residents, business owners and visitors are welcome
to come to the meeting. Chappie said he would welcome
any and all ideas and suggestions to add parking spaces
in the city, especially in or near the city's commercial
district on Bridge Street.
The city is also looking to install a park-and-ride
lot on the bay side of Gulf Drive at the north end
of Coquina Park. Employees of businesses in the commercial
district would be encouraged to park there and take
the trolley to work, freeing parking spaces near the
businesses for customers.
For more information on the meeting, call the city
clerk's office at 778-1005, ext. 3.
New roof springs
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Theres been another leak
in the new roof at city hall, just as the new mayor
begins to nail down a solution to the mold problem
from the first two leaks.
The latest leak wasnt too bad.
"It was around a plumbing pipe," said Public
Works Director George McKay. "The pipe sticks
up out of the roof, and the sealant around the pipe
wasnt tight. The leak was only about a couple
of cups full of water."
The most recent leak happened sometime between Christmas
and New Years Day and didnt cause damage,
according to McKay. He said the company that installed
the new roof came out within a couple of days to repair
The previous leaks were another story, however.
Roof USA began to install a new roof on the building
in August of last year. Workmen left one afternoon
without properly covering the building after the old
roof had been removed.
During a heavy summer rain, water leaked into city
hall saturating ceiling tiles, walls, insulation and
Several days later, other workmen unscrewed a pipe
without emptying the water. The water in that pipe
caused still more water damage.
Since then mold has grown in the walls, attic and
ceiling tiles requiring professional mold removal.
"The protocol calls for us to be out of the building
when the work is being done," said newly elected
Mayor Fran Barford.
"Theres quite a lot of work that needs
to be done, and it wont be cheap."
The mold inspection alone cost several thousand dollars,
as did the development of the protocol detailing how
to rid the building of mold. The cleanup is expected
to run into the thousands of dollars. McKay is in
the process of getting estimates for the work now.
Add to that the expense of relocating the offices
while the work is being done. Expenses will be high.
Barford contacted the Florida League of Cities, the
citys insurer, and learned that the city is
indemnified up to $10,000 for mold problems.
At the city commissions December meeting, she
asked for and got permission to spend up to that amount
to address the situation.
At that time, she told commissioners that the League
would reimburse the city for anything spent on mold
up to $10,000. Then the League would go after Roof
USA to recover the costs.
Barford said she plans to discuss the mold problem
with commissioners at their Jan. 11 work session.
Free home fire
safety survey can save your life
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA The first thing firefighters saw
was the house number dangling from a yard sculpture.
"There is a city ordinance that tells you what
size the letters must be," explained Captain
Kurt Lathrop, deputy fire marshal for the West Manatee
Fire & Rescue District, as he pointed to the illegal
house number display. "It must be visible from
the street. If were driving down the street
in the middle of the night, we need to be able to
"Come home from different directions and see
how it looks," firefighter Brian Gaskill advised.
"Decide where you can see it best."
My husband and I were a few minutes into a free home
fire safety survey offered by the fire district and
already busted. We hoped we fared better as the survey
"We just make recommendations to make your home
safer," Lt. Jeff Lonzo stressed. "We dont
report anybody for anything."
"We offer these surveys to the public so we can
look for hazards and electrical problems that could
cause us to come back (to fight a fire)," Captain
Ernie Cave, public education coordinator, said. "You
are under no obligation to comply with what we suggest
because you are inviting us into your home to make
The next thing firefighters looked at was the breaker
box mounted on the outside of the house. It passed
muster, but Lonzo said if you have any open slots
in the box that do not have fuses in them, install
a blank or someone could get shocked reaching into
an open slot.
The door lock was next, and Lathrop pointed out that
it was a keyed deadbolt and the key was in the inside
lock, as he recommends. If the key is in the lock
or on a string hanging from the inside of the door,
you dont have to search for it when youre
trying to make a quick exit with flames lapping at
Once inside, Lathrop asked, "Do you have a fire
escape plan? Most fire fatalities are found within
three feet of a door or window. Identify your egresses
and use them to develop a plan."
Parents also must rehearse the fire escape plan with
their children and practice it at different times
of the day, he said because "fire is not time
Lathrop then asked if we had smoke detectors and where
they were located. He said if the homeowner doesnt
have smoke detectors, firefighters will supply and
The firefighters checked to make sure ours were operational,
and Lathrop asked if the one in the kitchen went off
when we used the oven.
"Not since we got our new oven," I replied,
recalling that when we had our former oven, it set
off the smoke alarm on a regular basis, prompting
us to quip, "Dinners done!"
"Forty percent of all fires in the home are cooking
related," Lathrop revealed. "The first thing
people do when the smoke alarm goes off while the
oven is on is take the batteries out and then forget
to put them back."
He also said that many people put a smoke detector
at the far end of a hallway instead of at the front
end and noted, "You dont want the smoke
to get all the way down the hall before the alarm
goes off or you could get trapped in the bedrooms.
"We try to promote to kids that a smoke detector
is like having a big nose on the wall, but it doesnt
define what or where the problem is," he said.
"We tell them, If it goes off, get out."
He asked if we had a fire extinguisher, and I sheepishly
said we had one, but it went out of date and we never
replaced it. I said we kept it under the kitchen sink,
"Most kitchens are designed with one way in and
one way out, so dont put it there. You should
have to leave the kitchen to get it, then you can
decide if you want to use it or call us," he
Lathrop also checked for overloaded extension cords,
missing outlet covers and overloaded outlets. We did
well in this department, but I did ask him about my
power strip/surge protector for my computer.
"Your power strip is fine because it has the
ability to shut itself off," he said. "Always
buy one that is UL or FM approved."
Regarding outlets and extension cords, he pointed
out," If you have an outlet with two plugs; thats
what its designed for. An extension cord is
a temporary use. And when buying an extension cord
check whether its for indoor or outdoor use."
The fireplace received approval, but Lathrop cautioned,
"Get the chimney cleaned yearly or every other
year, depending on how much you use it. Here many
people burn pine, which has a lot of creosote in it.
Creosote sticks to the inside of the chimney and is
Other advice Lathrop offered was if you have bedrooms
upstairs and dont have an outside stairway,
get a folding ladder. If you have children, make sure
lighters and matches are in a safe place.
Firefighters will also check your garage for chemicals
to make sure they are stored safely, your pool chemical
storage area and your pools pump and electrical
"The hardest thing we face is people saying,
It wont happen to us," Lathrop
said. "We are trying to be proactive, but people
dont realize we offer these types of programs."
As he went through the house, Lathrop filled out a
report that included recommendations. One copy is
left with the homeowner and Lathrop files the other
To schedule a free home fire safety survey, call the
fire district at 741-3900 and ask for Cave.
programs and projects manager
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH Former City Commissioner Lisa
Marie Phillips, who worked on getting grants for city
projects and started the ball rolling on the citys
Waterfronts Florida designation, has been named the
new programs and projects manager.
Phillips is the second person to head the citys
newest department, succeeding Dottie Poindexter who
resigned Oct. 5 citing problems with scheduling and
"I didnt really have to look too far,"
Mayor John Chappie told the city commission after
disclosing his choice. "She knows the system;
she knows how to write grants.
"Part of her assignment is to run the Waterfront
Florida Committee," Chappie added. "She
knows that program better than anyone."
One of the problems with replacing Poindexter, who
transferred over to the new department from public
works, is the knowledge she had of all of the programs
and projects in the city from grant applications
to capital improvements.
Chappie said Phillips knowledge of those things
outweighed her lack of experience in some of the other
areas needed for the job. He told the commissioners
that the city had received several good applications
for the position since advertising for it in November.
Phillips spent one full term as city commissioner
in the second ward after being elected for a one-year
term in 2003 to finish the term of Dawn Baker.
After a somewhat rocky start that included an ethics
case against her by a citizen, Phillips began pushing
several environmental issues for the city. They included
an annual Eco Expo to showcase local issues such as
water use, storm drainage, pollution prevention, replacing
plastic bags at the beaches with cloth ones and building
a sustainable natural habitat. She was also a vocal
supporter of a proposed water taxi and pushed the
county into considering the Bridge Street Pier as
a stop for one, if and when it comes to fruition.
Phillips was able to pull together an application
for the Waterfronts Florida program on short notice
that won the city a designation. With that designation
came grant money to hold visioning sessions and further
opportunities in the future for more grants.
Phillips did not run for re-election last November,
saying she needed to find a way to make more money.
She got a part-time job for a consortium of governments
and businesses boosting commerce along the Manatee
River in Bradenton and Palmetto.
Following the meeting, Phillips said she was thrilled
to be able to take the position because she loves
County asked to
look at all piers
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH Mayor John Chappie says he
hopes the county doesnt forget about the three
groins on Coquina Beach as it rushes to rebuild a
pier that was built over a groin at the Manatee County
Beach in Holmes Beach.
Chappie was reacting to the story in The Anna Maria
Island Sun last week that quoted a county parks and
recreation official as saying tthe department is looking
into a fix for the pier, which was closed to anglers
and strollers last month.
Indeed, the three groins in Coquina Beach are in need
of attention. One resembles an accordion because the
deck collapsed where it meets the pilings that were
set out into the surf many years ago.
It appears the problem has caught the attention of
the newest member of the Manatee County Commission.
During the comments portion of the county commission
meeting on Jan. 4, former Holmes Beach Mayor Carol
Whitmore said she hoped the county would address the
pier at the Manatee County Beach. Whitmore was elected
to the county commission last November.
Fellow commissioner Jane von Hahmann, who hails from
Cortez, asked the county to also try to find the funds
to fix up the three groins along Coquina Beach and
Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Administrator
Charlie Hunsicker has also been pushing to improve
those groins. His plans call for building piers over
them, much like the one at the Manatee County Beach,
to turn them into fishing and strolling piers.
Last summer, Hunsicker asked the city of Bradenton
Beach to formally request that the county look for
grants to improve the groins. The city commission
approved a letter making that request in the fall,
and it was presumably sent to the county.
The next step appears to be up to the county administrators
office or the parks and recreation department to find
the funds to fix the groins as well as rebuild the
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH An anniversary came and went
quietly last week as students, teachers and staff
at Anna Maria Elementary School returned from the
Christmas and New Years holiday break. It was
the first year in their new campus.
A year ago, parents and students volunteered to help
teachers and staff move into new classrooms and offices
over the holiday break.
"We were here every day," said media specialist
Lynne McDonough. "My kids and the parents helped
get everything moved in.
"There were lots of parents helping move books
and furniture into the classroom," she said.
"We were ready to go that first week back."
Kindergarten teacher Melanie Moran remembered that
period when they were under the gun to get everything
done over the holidays.
"It was hard work, but its over,"
she said. "I just feel very happy about our new
school and my classroom."
It seems that the excitement of the past year in their
new digs has erased the memory of that extra effort
many gave to make sure the move went smoothly.
"I was talking the other day about how fast this
years vacation went," McDonough said. "My
daughter had to remind me that we worked all through
the break last year."
A lot has happened in the year since the move, and
the staff and students have adjusted to the new building.
As with any new construction, there have been the
usual problems in getting used to new things and the
"One thing I learned (about this experience)
is that it is never done," said Principal Kathy
Hayes. "Were still working on warranty
issues, which is an unfortunate part of building such
a large complex.
"Overall, its a delight," she said.
"I still think its the most beautiful little
school in the state."
The larger classrooms, with large storage areas and
close proximity to toilets and running water, have
definitely made life easier for everyone. Teachers
are also becoming attached to their new surroundings.
"Its feeling more and more like home,"
said fifth-grade teacher Anne Kinnan. "Im
starting to staple things to the wall."
Hayes said parents are relived that the new building
better addresses the issue of security.
"So many of the parents who talked with me feel
their children are safer in the new building,"
she said. "Theyre happy to be dovetailing
with the countrys new security measures and
that it is much easier to restrict access to the new
school in times of emergency."
While all of the teachers we talked to said they were
happy to be in the new building, there were some who
reminisced about the openness of the old campus where
you walked outside from one classroom to another.
"Ive been here 29 years and I miss the
old place," said Kinnan, "but the new one
is healthier, cleaner and nicer."
Kinnan said, however, that she finds herself spending
much more time indoors.
"Sometimes Ill get here at 7:30 in the
morning and when I leave at 4:30 in the evening, I
realize its the first time Ive been outside
all day," she said. "Nowadays, the teachers
fight for more outdoors exercise duty."
to benefit START documentary film fund
START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide, Inc.) will launch
its fundraising drive to produce a high-definition
(HD) documentary film on red tide at Oceanfest, a
gourmet dinner with seafood selections from some of
the Suncoasts most renowned restaurants.
Oceanfest will be held at Mote Marine Laboratory on
City Island on Thursday, January 18, from 6 to 9 p.m.
The events program will include an update on
STARTs activities by Ed Chiles, chairman of
the board; an announcement of expansion of Motes
beach reporting system by Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick,
senior scientist at Mote and a long-standing member
of the START Board; and a preview of the HD film footage
in Motes Immersion Theater. Proceeds from the
event will go to STARTs Documentary Film Fund.
START is partnering with the Essential Image Source
Foundation (EISF) to fund and produce this film on
red tide. Susan Sember, founder/president of EISF
and the films producer, will be present to introduce
the HD video preview. The film depicts activities
by START, Mote Marine, Florida Fish & Wildlife
Research Institute (FWRI) and NOAA to protect and
nurture our Gulf marine environment. The film also
features leading scientists and researchers relating
the progress in detecting, monitoring and mitigating
the effects of red tide.
The gourmet dinner will be provided by local restaurants,
including the BeachHouse, the Broken Egg, the Colony,
Euphemia Haye, Harrys Continental Kitchen, the
Longboat Key Club and Resort, MarVista, Mattisons
Riverside, Moores Stone Crab, Pattigeorges,
the Sandbar, the Sun House, and the Waterfront.
Dinner selections include seafood delicacies such
as grouper wonton tacos with wasabi caviar, seafood
lasagna, mini crab cakes, cold crab meat salad, baked
salmon in puff pastry, and snails Leslie and Caesar
salad. Key Lime pie and chocolate Godiva pie are also
on the menu.
There will be a wide variety of wines and beverages
provided. A martini bar will also be available.
Music for the evening will feature steel drums and
a woodwind quartet.
Approximately 50 tickets are still available at $25/person.
They may be reserved by calling the START office,
(941) 747-5656 or toll free, 888-757-8278, from 8
a.m. to noon.
Sarasota officials are investigating and may file
charges against him.
During the chase, the three squad cars used by the
officers were wrecked and had to be towed. According
to Stephenson, who made the report on the incident,
the Manatee County Sheriff's Office sedan ran into
the Bradenton Beach sedan, which was pushed into the
Holmes Beach pickup.
Stephenson said the sedans were total losses and the
pickup suffered a couple of thousand dollars worth
No law enforcement officer was injured in the crash.