Vol 7 No. 20 - February 7, 2007


Island prepares storm aid

Villa Rosa, condo project sale coming up

Insurance loopholes closed

Deputy arrests burglary suspect

County addresses beach parking problems

Robins come bobbin� through town

Dolphin injured by fishing line

School says goodbye to Mrs. Hayes




Island prepares storm aid

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – When a disaster like the swarm of tornados that hit Central Florida this past weekend occurs, it takes a while for aid crews to gear up.

Emergency responders arrived on the scene within the hour — responders like police, fire and rescue. Representatives of the Red Cross and Salvation Army were not far behind, feeding and sheltering victims and responders alike.

The kind of long-term aid that is going to be necessary for the storm victims is being assembled and will be delivered as the days and weeks unfold in the storm’s aftermath.

It’s going to be a long term effort for these people to rebuild their lives," said Pete Robb, an Anna Maria resident who works with the Manatee Assistance arm of the Florida Southern Baptist Emergency Team. "I expect we’ll get the green light to go in pretty soon. This is a rigorous system. We go in as soon as we are allowed to and assess the needs of the victims. We look at their food needs, cleanup needs and rebuilding needs. We are there to help people."

Robb, who stressed the fact that he is just one member of a much larger assistance team, said it’s early still, and no one but first responders are on the scene.

"They are still searching for victims," Robb said Monday. "Entry into that area is very controlled right now." He added that law enforcement has to be on the lookout for looters, as well as victims.

The Island resident has had first-hand experience responding to disasters as a member of the Baptist Emergency Response Team. He was in New Orleans after Katrina struck.

"I was there," he said. "Our team went there a couple of times to help with rebuilding. Something like that takes years and years to come back from."

Robb said he expects his team to get the word to be on the move soon.

Island Baptist Church, where Robb is a member, will be waiting to hear from him what kind of assistance the church can offer to the victims of the tornados.

Other Island help
Roser Church will be sending aid to the storm-tossed areas of Central Florida as well.

"We don’t know what they need yet, and we don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing," said Louise Van Pelt, chairman of the mission committee at the church. "But we will definitely be doing some sort of fund-raiser to help."

Van Pelt said the mission committee has a meeting scheduled for Thursday this week, and storm relief will definitely be on the agenda.

St. Bernard’s Catholic Church had nothing planned at press time. It will be taking its direction from the diocesan office.

Members of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church will wait to hear from their Synod what they can do to help.

All Island Denominations probably won’t be doing any direct storm relief. Frank McGrath heads up AID, and he said that the type of assistance offered by his organization is more person-to-person and more localized to the Island.

"But if we get word of a specific person with a specific need, we’ll respond," he said.

No one from West Manatee Fire and Rescue or from any of the local Island law enforcement agencies was expected to be deployed to the area, according to officials from West Manatee, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach Police Departments and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Villa Rosa, condo project sale coming up

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

GSR Development’s two unfinished projects on Anna Maria Island are expected to go on the market within a month, according to Bill Maloney, GSR’s chief restructuring manager.

The assets of the company, whose principals are Robert Byrne and Steven Noriega, are being liquidated under chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code to pay creditors.

Rosa del Mar, a 2 1/2-acre Gulffront property in Bradenton Beach, has city-approved plans for 14 condominiums, while Villa Rosa in Anna Maria is platted as an 18-lot gated community with deep water access, Maloney said.

Unlike another 16 Island properties owned by GSR that will be marketed exclusively by RoseBay Realty, Maloney intends to offer the two developments to several realtors by March. He will sign contracts with those who produce qualified prospective buyers, he said.

A for sale sign he installed at Rosa del Mar last month already has produced about 15 calls from serious buyers, he said, adding that a model home priced at $2.5 million at Villa Rosa also has attracted attention.

Maloney said he is being especially careful to price the properties realistically because the Island real estate market is weak and the prices will dictate the immediate future market.

"GSR is the largest landowner on the Island," he said. "If we sell them below market value, they’ll become the new standard."

Bankers will not lend more than 80 to 90 percent of the appraised value of a home, he said, so if the GSR properties are underpriced, comparable homes with higher prices will have low appraisals and buyers will have trouble getting financing.

"That would chill the market," he said.

Maloney said he expects the property to sell relatively quickly, partly by offering a 4 percent buyers’ representative commission incentive and partly because it’s a "once in a lifetime chance" to control prime Island real estate.

Completing the sales could take up to nine months, he said, after which creditors will be paid. More than $1 million already has been repaid, he said.

Insurance loopholes closed

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

Gov. Charlie Crist issued an emergency order last week to freeze insurance rates and keep companies from canceling policies in response to the new state insurance law.

Some customers were receiving phone calls saying "You’re cancelled," Rep. Bill Galvano told about 40 people attending an information session about the new law in Bradenton last week.

In an emergency order, Crist prevented companies from dropping customers until May, when another part of the new law prevents them from dropping customers close to hurricane season, which starts June 1.

He also froze rates for about 20 companies that had not already made new rate increase filings before the law was passed last month.

The law reduced rates, as the governor had insisted, Galvano said.

Citizens customers can expect 17.7 to 18.7 percent savings, he said. Rates are frozen and planned rate increases will not take effect, including a 23.1 percent increase that went into effect on Jan. 1, for which rebates will be required, and a 56.5 percent increase scheduled for March 1.

State Farm customers will see an average 7 percent savings on their rates and homeowners with other companies will see 21.8 percent average savings, he said.

But the most important part of the law in the long run allows policyholders to get further premium reductions by strengthening their buildings, Galvano said.

"The only way to decrease insurance rates is to not have hurricanes, which we can’t control, or make hurricanes less expensive by mitigation," he said.

Lawmakers decided it was more cost-effective for the state to contribute to mitigation efforts than to pay for damage to poorly-constructed buildings, he said, and they attempted to fix a broken system that did not reward people for adding shutters and taking other mitigation steps.

When it becomes available, information on mitigation discounts will be posted at http://www.floir.com.

Deputy arrests burglary suspect

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – A Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy arrested a suspect on the street Sunday after linking him to a daring home burglary.

According to a sheriff’s office report, the victim, Barbara Tyler, returned home from getting a newspaper and noticed that the front door to her residence at 109 Cedar Ave. was unlocked, even though she locked it before she left.

Tyler entered the residence from the back door, asking loudly if anyone was there and then spotted the suspect in her driveway. She asked him what he was doing, and he said that he had found a wallet in front of her home. He then left on his bicycle heading north on Cedar. Tyler called police.

Deputy Gary Sellitto responded and searched the area in his patrol car. He spotted William Reed, of Holmes Beach, who matched her description, at the corner of 78th Street and Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

Sellitto asked Reed for identification, and he said he had none. He gave Sellitto a wallet saying he found it in front of Tyler’s residence. Sellitto called for backup and a Bradenton Beach officer responded and stayed with Tyler while Sellitto returned to Tyler to see if a crime had been committed. She said that after confronting the suspect, she found out her purse had been rifled. He returned to where Reed was being held and asked for Reed’s name. Reed gave a false name, which he recanted when Sellitto his picture ID in the wallet. Reed was arrested for resisting a law enforcement officer without violence and read his Miranda rights. He later admitted breaking into the house during questioning and was charged with burglary, according to the report.



County addresses beach parking problems

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department has plans for the south end of Anna Maria. Now all it needs is permission and the money to make those plans reality.

The plans came as a result of talks between Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, Police Chief Sam Speciale and Building Official Ed McAdam with Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department Director Cindy Turner, Deputy County Administrator Karen Windon and others. The were looking for a way to allow Bradenton Beach Police, which the county pays to patrol Coquina Beach and Coquina Bayside Park, better control of crowds at the parks.

At a meeting in October, they discussed what the needs and issues were, according to Park and Recreation Department Planner Mike Sosadeeter. One of the most urgent needs was to control cruisers in the parking lot, he said.

"The way it’s set up now, there are wide areas of land where people in cars can go around in circles," Sosadeeter said. "The police want to cut down on that by being able to cordon off areas of the lot."

The new plans for the parking areas coincide with the Coquina Beach Multi Use Trail being built between the lot and the beach this spring. Sosadeeter warned that if the plans are carried out, some Australian pines would be cut down, but they would be replaced with native shade trees.

According to the tentative plans, the parking lot would be divided into several sections. The westernmost parking lot road would no longer be connected from one end of the park to another.

The southern section of the lot would have access from the road that goes under the approach to the Longboat Pass Bridge. Parking spaces would be delineated by bollards and landscaping. There would be some pull-through spaces for motor homes or travel trailers near the approach to the bridge. A gate at the entrance to the westernmost road would control access. That road would end in a cul de sac at its northernmost end.

The next section would be accessible from the southernmost entrance off Gulf Drive. It would contain pavilions and the southern restrooms. The northern end of the road would end in a cul de sac and the southern end would have parking spaces. There is a large area of land between the westernmost and easternmost roads that could be used for sporting events or overflow parking, according to Sosadeeter.

The next quadrant includes the concession stands. The plans call for a loop in front of the stand for buses and trolleys to pick up and drop off passengers and the parking areas would have accesses perpendicular to the beach.

"That would make less conflict between cars and people," Sosadeeter said. "The way the lots are laid out now, when people are going west to the beach, they have to cross the roadway where people are driving and looking for parking spaces. When the roads run east and west, the people don’t have to cross the path of as many cars."

The quadrant north of that has more perpendicular parking lots up to the current bus and trolley turn around and public restroom.

The northernmost quadrant would have angle parking where there is room, which would cut down on the current situation where drivers sometimes have to pull onto Gulf Drive to get out of their parking spots.

Sosadeeter said there is no price tag on the plans and getting them implemented would likely take years, but he’s hoping Bradenton Beach will look at them and support them. He took them to the Scenic Highway Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

He is also hoping that Bradenton Beach might work with Manatee County to find grant money to finance the project, even if it is done in stages.

Robins come bobbin� through town

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

The City of Anna Maria Island was deluged by thousands of robins recently, sometimes with disastrous results to vehicle paint jobs.

Resident Charlie Canniff, a member of the local Audubon Society, said it’s part of their regular migration, although we don’t usually see this many at one time. He speculated the extended cold weather up north has kept them from returning. Canniff noted that they have their spring red breasts in preparation for the mating season, and now all they need is for the weather to turn spring-like.

"It’s kind of strange because during the Christmas bird count, we only saw two robins while there were more on Longboat Key," Canniff said.

While the robins were here, many of them snacked on Brazilian pepper berries, which made quick passage through their digestive tracks and onto the hoods and roofs of cars and trucks. Motorists are advised to try to wash the mess off before it does any permanent damage to paint jobs. Canniff said some of the berries the robins feast on could ferment, causing some of the birds to be guilty of "flying under the influence."

Canniff said as soon as the robins know that the weather up north is okay, they will disappear.

"They might be here in the morning and by afternoon, they’ll all be gone," he said.

It’s art of the mystery of nature as the original snowbirds continue on their way.


Dolphin injured by fishing line

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

It’s a sad way to get christened — Filly the dolphin got her name from the monofilament fishing line wrapped around her tail that could have killed her.

The 5.5-foot long bottlenose youth was rescued in Little Sarasota Bay last week and brought to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Dolphin and Whale Hospital for treatment.

Members of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program based at Mote had spotted her in December with fishing line trailing from her tail. After waiting to see if she could shed the line herself, the group had trouble finding her for more than a month.

When they found her again on Jan. 18, they saw that the line had become embedded and had collected algae, which created more drag, digging it deeper into her tail.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, which regulates the protection of wild marine mammals, authorized a 30-member team from Mote to rescue the dolphin. They picked up Filly a mile south of the Stickney Point Bridge on Jan. 30 and took her to Mote, where they discovered she also had eaten plastic.

During surgery, they found the fishing line was circling the dolphin’s spine and deeply embedded in her tissue. Mote veterinarian Dr. Charles Manire was unable to remove all the line and expects to perform an additional surgery this week.

"Cases of dolphins being negatively affected by humans are becoming all too common on Sarasota Bay," said Dr. Randall Wells, manager of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.

"In 2006, at least three adult dolphins died as a result of recreational fishing gear entanglement. Now this young dolphin would likely have died from having its tail cut off if it had not been rescued."

Continued fishing-related dolphin deaths will lead to the demise of the Sarasota Bay dolphin community, which has been studied for five generations, he said.

Filly has not been seen with her mother since May, which researchers called unusual, as dolphins typically stay with their mothers for the first three to six years of their lives. Filly’s mother was last seen by Mote staff on Jan. 19.

Recreational anglers can help protect dolphins by participating in the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program. Locations of recycling bins where fishing line can be discarded for recycling are listed at: http://floridaconservation.org/mrrp/bin_information.asp.



School says goodbye to Mrs. Hayes

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Wednesday was the last day at Anna Maria Elementary School for principal Kathy Hayes. It was a bittersweet day for the woman who presided over the Island school during its reconstruction and relocation into the new campus.

Hayes moved on to become the principal at Gullett, a brand new elementary school east of Bradenton, but not before students, teachers, staff and community leaders said goodbye during a surprise assembly at the school’s auditorium Wednesday afternoon.

The students worked on two projects before coming to the assembly. They each wrote a goodbye message on a large white card, which they deposited in containers for her as they came in. They also wrote goodbye in one of 450 languages on red sheets of paper, which they waved over their heads during the assembly.

Mrs. Hayes would also get best wishes from shells and pieces of beach glass that the students put into a huge glass vase as they left the auditorium.

"I want you to think of your best wishes as you hold your piece of beach glass or shell," counselor Cindi Harrison told the students before Hayes arrived. "That way, when you put them into the vase, she can have them to take home and wherever she goes."

Hayes had one final duty on Wednesday, to attend a luncheon with former clinic aide and front office attendant Debbie Gomes, who was chosen the Anna Maria Elementary School Support Employee of the Year. Gomes was treated to lunch by the school district, along with other support employees of the year from other schools.

In order to get Hayes into the auditorium, Harrison had an employee tell her there was a problem in the auditorium. As she walked in, the students started cheering.

The auditorium was packed with people, but Harrison had put a chair for Hayes at the end of the runway with a path leading to it.

As Hayes was seated, Harrison told the students, "We have one last hour to wish her well." Then she turned to Hayes.

"We have been through a lot of changes with you," she said. "Remember when this auditorium didn’t look like this?"

Hayes smiled, but it was a bittersweet smile.

Next, SAC Chairman Michael Pierce spoke, saying she had been a great leader in "one of the best schools ever."

"We hate to see her go," he said. "She is a multi-tasker who can wear out a Blackberry in no time."

PTO President Shannon Dell spoke next.

"You have been a great leader and role model for so many students and parents," she said, before giving Hayes a basket of items. "This is a basket of beach stuff because as you have said before, you may be going out east, but your toes will stay in the beach."

Finally, it was a teary goodbye for her to each student who came up to drop the beach glass or shell into her vase. Many stopped to hug her, as did their teachers and the staff of the school.


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