Vol 7 No. 28 - April 4, 2007

AMISUN Newspaper Tax forum set for Wednesday

AMISUN Newspaper Easter means Island services

AMISUN Newspaper Oil drilling back on table

AMISUN Newspaper Mike Pilato: Holmes Beach Officer of the Year

AMISUN Newspaper New insurance legislation proposed

AMISUN Newspaper Center’s Affaire will be an evening to remember

AMISUN Newspaper Record crowd at Eco Expo

AMISUN Newspaper Sandbar, Sun sponsor Easter Egg Hunt on the beach




Tax forum set for Wednesday

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Area business owners and homeowners will meet Wednesday night to discuss ideas to reform the state’s property tax system.

The Anna Maria Island-based Coalition Against Runaway Taxation (CART) and the Longboat Key-based Homeowners Against Runaway Taxation (HART) will report on their coalition-building project and discuss possible solutions to their common concern – inequitable taxation.

The inequity is that non-homesteaded property owners – which include business owners represented by CART – pay higher taxes than homesteaded property owners, said Barry Gould of Island Vacation Properties, a CART member.

"Save Our Homes, as good as it created an unintended circumstance," he said. "The challenge is to bring equity to tax bills."

Ignoring the inequity will ultimately create problems even for homesteaded property owners, he claims.

"A lot of people say, ‘Why should I care? I have my exemption,’ " Gould said.

But without tax relief, businesses will close, leaving homeowners with fewer choices for shopping and employment, causing a harmful effect on the economy, he said.

The recent proposal in the state Legislature to eliminate property taxes and substitute an increased state sales tax also is inequitable to non-homesteaded property owners, said Winnie Nelon of HART, whose members include seasonal residents who own second homes in Florida.

"The non-homesteaded residential properties will again be encumbered with the bulk of the property taxes, and because most non-homesteaded owners are seasonal, they have no vote in electing local officials who manage the spending," she said.

"Runaway government spending is the root of the property tax problem," Nelon said. "Until that is controlled, there is really no solution."

The meeting will be at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5701 Marina Drive, on Wednesday, April 4, at 5:30 p.m.

Easter means Island services

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Easter means a lot of things, especially on Anna Maria Island.

Easter means the end of the busiest part of tourist season to resorts and businesses that cater to visitors.

It means the resurrection, a new beginning to Christians who celebrate it.

It means the sunrise service to those who make the effort to be at Manatee County Beach while the skies are still dark.

The Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island has sponsored these services for 43 years. Nearby Café on the Beach provides the use of its facilities, Holmes Construction will furnish the stage and Key Royale Club will supply the podium.

Beginning at 6:45 a.m., pastoral representatives of the Island’s six churches will provide the Easter hymns, readings, offerings, the closing benediction and the postlude.

All you need to provide is a beach blanket or chair, something for the offering and an appreciation for the setting and the holiday.

Mother Nature will provide the sounds of the waves hitting the shore, the screech of the birds dining from the Gulf and the salt air aroma that drew us all here at one time.

If you’re coming from somewhere on the Island, remember that the parking lot fills up quickly and the trolley, which begins running at 6 a.m., is free.

The offering is divided among the Island’s churches, who work in harmony to fill the needs of our Island faithful.

If your plans call for attending one of the churches, they have several special services prepared.

• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1638., Rev. Harry Parsell. Holy Wednesday, April 4, Holy Eucharist at 7 p.m.; Maundy Thursday, April 5, Holy Eucharist at 9:30 a.m., Holy Eucharist with foot washing and stripping of the altar at 7 p.m., Garden Watch at 8 p.m.; Good Friday, April 6 Garden Watch at 8 a.m., Good Friday Liturgy at noon, Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m.; Easter Sunday, April 8, Holy Eucharist Rite I with Hymns at 7:30 a.m., Holy Eucharist Rite II with organ and choir at 9 a.m., Festival Holy Eucharist at 11 a.m.

• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1813, Rev. Rosemary Backer. Maundy Thursday, April 5, Holy Communion and Food Washing at 7 p.m.; Good Friday, April 6, Tenebrae service at noon and 7 p.m.; Saturday, April 7, Resurrection Service at 5 p.m.; Easter Sunday, April 8, services at 8 and 10:30 a.m.

• Harvey Memorial Church, 300 Church Ave., Bradenton Beach, 779-1912, Rev. Stephen King. Maundy Thursday, April 5, Potluck Supper and Holy Communion with singing around the table at 7 p.m. Easter Sunday services at 9:30 a.m.

• Crosspointe Fellowship (formerly Island Baptist Church), 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 778-0719, Rev. Dale Lawson. Easter Sunday, April 8, service at 10:50 a.m.

• Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave, Anna Maria, 778-0414, Rev. Gary Batey. Maundy Thursday, April 5, Service at 7 p.m.; Good Friday, April 6, service in chapel at noon; Easter Sunday, April 8, service with the sermon, "Last Words" at 9 and 11 a.m.

• St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-4769. Holy Thursday, April 5, No morning Mass, Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m., Altar of Reposition in activity center until 10 p.m., night prayer at 9:45 p.m.; Good Friday, April 6, Divine Mercy Services at 8:30 a.m., Stations of the Cross at noon, Passion of our Lord at 3 p.m.; Holy Saturday, April 7, Divine Mercy Services at 8:30 a.m., Blessing of the Easter Baskets at 11 a.m., Easter Vigil Mass at 8:15 p.m.; Easter Sunday, April 8, Masses at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon; Divine Mercy Services following the noon Mass, Easter egg hunt at 1 p.m.

Oil drilling back on table

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

A new U.S. Senate proposal threatens to undo last year’s federal legislation that prohibits oil and natural gas drilling within 234 miles of Tampa Bay and within 125 miles of the Panhandle until 2022.

The new Security and Fuel Efficiency (SAFE) Energy Act of 2007 would allow oil and gas exploration as close as 45 miles to Florida's Gulf Coast, an idea rejected by Congress last year in heated debate.

"This distance remains beyond the line of sight from the shore," according to the bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, of North Dakota, and Republican Sen. Larry Craig, of Idaho.

The legislation also would allow exploration off the Florida Keys in waters prohibited by the U.S. government’s economic embargo against Cuba.

In addition, it includes tax incentives for the production of alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles and supports a 4 percent increase in fuel efficiency for all new vehicles.

Florida's senators, Republican Mel Martinez and Democrat Bill Nelson, oppose the drilling portion of the bill, citing the risks of drilling to the environment and the state’s tourism industry, the political ramifications with Cuba and potential interference with the U.S. military's training zone in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

"This is bad policy," Martinez said in a press statement. "This proposal goes back on everything the Congress dealt with last year – everything we did to create a long-term buffer for Florida. I will fight this proposal every step of the way."

Contact Sen. Mel Martinez at 202-224-3041 and Sen. Bill Nelson at 202-224-5274.

Mike Pilato: Holmes Beach Officer of the Year

Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine has named Officer Michael C. Pilato as Officer of the Year. Pilato received the nomination from members of the department.

In the nomination, Romine cited Pilato’s action when two teenagers in a vehicle plunged off the Anna Maria Bridge.

"Officer Pilato and Sgt. Sloan of the Bradenton Beach Police Department were the first two officers on the scene. When it was determined what had occurred, both officers, without consideration for their own safety, removed their equipment and dove into the dark waters in an attempt to save the occupants of the vehicle."

One teenager was saved due to the officers’ actions.

Romine continued, "On the date of Dec. 25, while off duty and having Christmas with his family, Officer Pilato, who has just finished his tour of duty, overheard one of our officers pursuing an armed robbery suspect eastbound on Manatee Avenue.

"Officer Pilato immediately responded to the scene of the pursuit and assisted in the apprehension of the suspect, who was eventually charged with multiple offenses including armed robbery, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and bank robbery."

Pilato will be honored along with officers of the year from other local departments at a dinner sponsored by the Manatee County Hundred Club.



New insurance legislation proposed

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

Florida Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson have introduced six pieces of federal legislation to address hurricane issues in both Florida and the U.S.

The comprehensive legislation proposes a 10-year, $4.35 billion program to improve hurricane prediction, offers tax credits of up to 25 percent for mitigation expenditures, establishes tax-deferred catastrophe savings accounts, streamlines insurance regulations and paves the way for a national catastrophe fund.

It also would establish the bipartisan Commission on Catastrophic Disaster Risk and Insurance to assess insurance markets in the aftermath of the 2004-05 hurricane seasons, recommend changes to improve the health and competitiveness of such markets and assess the ongoing exposure of the U.S. to other disasters including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and floods.

"These prevention-oriented bills will work to make people safer in their homes, allow them to shelter-in-place, lessen their risk of loss, and reduce the monetary burden associated with hurricanes," Martinez said in a press statement.

Center’s Affaire will be an evening to remember

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

The 23rd annual Affaire to Remember, the Island Community Center’s annual fundraising dinner, dance and auction, will be held on Saturday, April 21, at the Grande Ballroom at St. Bernard Church.

Tickets are $150 per person or $1,200 for a table of eight and include a champagne reception and hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, a gourmet dinner and dancing and live and silent auctions as well as raffles of an electric vehicle, a plasma TV, a diamond necklace and the pick of the live auction.

The silent auction begins at 5 p.m. While guests are contemplating their bids, they can enjoy champagne courtesy of Air and Energy, an open bar courtesy of the Anna Maria Oyster Bars, hors d’oeuvres courtesy of the Chiles Group and piano entertainment by Richard Ries.

Dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. and the menu includes salad, crab cakes with remoulade sauce, roast tenderloin with vegetables in red wine sauce, braised chicken breast in red wine sauce with mushrooms, mixed garden vegetables, mashed potatoes with garlic, rolls and a dessert table.

Dinner and dessert are courtesy of Harry’s Continental Kitchens, salad and roll are courtesy of the Chiles Group and Premier Beverage will provide the wines.

Auction begins
While guests are finishing their dinner, Executive Director Pierrette Kelly will give her welcome message and the silent auction booths will be closed. Auction Chair Trudy Moon will then recognize the event’s sponsors.

The live auction will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the four raffle drawings will be held throughout the evening. Guests can dance to the sounds of KoKo Ray and the Soul providers courtesy of Joe Ungvarsky Construction and sip coffee and liquors.

The live auction will include trips to Alaska, Canada, Hawaii, Ireland and Las Vegas as well as some unique packages including the following:

• Twenty people can take a trip to the Trop as guests of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and enjoy a game in the owner’s suite located behind home plate. This package also includes the opportunity for two people to sit in the radio booth for an inning to observe the broadcasters in action and a $1,000 gift certificate at the stadium for food and drinks from Centerplate Catering.

• A VIP all access package for two to the 2008 Rolex 24 Sports Car Series at Daytona International Speedway will be enticing for race fans. The package includes full access pit passes, luxury suite passes, a hot lap in the pace car and admission to the Rolex Sports Car Series pre-race driver’s meeting. Race weekend is Jan. 26 and 27, 2008, and the two will stay 3 days and 2 nights at the Plaza Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach.

• The Concession and the Beach Bistro offer a round of golf for four people at this Jack Nicklaus- and Tony Jacklin-designed course. The group will be guided by one of the pros, enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch provided by the Beach Bistro and receive an autographed putter used by Tony Jacklin.


Record crowd at Eco Expo

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – It was a gathering of the people who are concerned about how we treat our environment and it drew a larger audience than ever.

The 2007 Eco Expo at Bradenton Beach City Hall was a success, according to those who were there.

"There was quite a crowd," said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox, who had a table with information about preserving the threatened reptiles that lay eggs on the Island every year. "It was nice because there was a lot for people to see and learn."

There was something for everyone, from a game that shows how the natural flow of water can affect lawns and flooding to a native plant sale and the presence of Anna Maria Island’s resident native plant expert, Mike Miller.

In the parking lot, Anna Maria Elementary School kindergarten teacher Katie Boesen brought volunteers and water health expert Dr. David James to promote their Water Saves Us group. Her students painted a rain barrel that was on exhibit there.

Volunteers also manned booths for Wildlife Rescue and the Florida Native Plant Society.

Inside, group such as the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, the Sierra Club and the city’s WAVES committee had exhibits and passed out information on everything from red tide to clean water and eliminating plastic bags from the beaches and bays.

"We hope it keeps growing," said Bradenton Beach Programs and Projects Administrator Lisa Marie Phillips, who initiated the Eco Expo when she was a city commissioner. "We hope everyone gets involved either through their everyday experience or as a volunteer."


Sandbar, Sun sponsor Easter Egg Hunt on the beach

The Sandbar restaurant and The Anna Maria Island Sun are again joining forces to bring the fifth annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 7, starting at 9 a.m. on the beach behind the restaurant at 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria.

Bring the kids ages 10 and under for a morning of fun with an appearance by the Easter Bunny.

Parents are urgd to bring Easter baskets for their children. The kids will be separated into groups by age and each group will start at a different time on a different area of the beach.

This annual event is unique in that the Easter Bunny puts gifts inside plastic eggs and then hides them in the sand or around rocks and plants on the beach. Parents are warned that their children might get a little sand on them, so they should be dressed accordingly.

It’s a fun event for the Easter Bunny also, who spent most of the winter up north and loves to get out on the beach whenever he gets down this way. Incidentally, he says that the beach on Anna Maria Island is the best he’s ever visited.

This event is free and open to all. Parents are again urged to bring baskets to hold the eggs their children collect during the hunt.

Previous Easter Egg Hunts have drawn upwards of 400 children and parking is limited. This parents who live on the Island are asked to consider taking the free trolley to avoid the traffic.

For more information on the Easter Egg Hunt at the Sandbar restaurant, call the Anna Maria Island Sun at 778-3986.


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