Vol 7 No. 46 - August 8, 2007

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Bowling a blast at O’Connor Challenge

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper GSR land set for sealed bid sale

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Sheriff Brad Steube meets the Island community

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Support builds for Pine Avenue project

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper City rejects Olesen settlement

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Forecasters lower expectations

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Packets available for November election

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Share in the harvest at Geraldson farm




Bowling a blast at O’Connor Challenge

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

Get ready to rock the lanes in the 17th annual O’Connor Bowling Challenge sponsored by The Sun and set for Saturday, Aug. 25, at AMF Bowling Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road, Bradenton.

This year, pre-registration is required for this sell-out event. Registration forms are available at Duffy’s Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, or by calling Billy O’Connor at 650-5488.

"Last year we had to turn people away," O’Connor explained. "The only way to guarantee a lane is to register and pay in advance. You have to pay to play."

The donation is $25 per person, which includes shoes and three games. Bowling starts promptly at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.

"You can also pay not to play," O’Connor pointed out. "Many people just like to come and have fun and don’t want to bowl, but they want to make a donation to the Community Center."

All proceeds from the event are donated to the Island Community Center to purchase sports equipment. In the past 16 years, more than $200,000 has been donated.

This year’s after party has been moved to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6696 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, due to a conflict at the BeachHouse, where the party has been held for many years. Oyster bar owner John Horne has promised beer and margarita stations, a full bar and a limited menu for revelers.

Raffle tickets for a big screen television, donated by The Sun, and hundreds of prizes from local merchants and restaurants will be available at the bowling alley. Tickets are six for $5.

In addition to the raffle, trophies will be awarded at the after party. Trophies include high and low game male and female, high series male and female and the Chuck Stearns Memorial High Game Trophy, The trophy is in honor of Holmes Beach Police Officer Charles "Chuck" Stearns, who passed away in 2005.

For information, call Billy O’Connor at 650-5488.

GSR land set for sealed bid sale

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The vacant, Gulffront lot that GSR Development planned to turn into Rosa del Mar is scheduled to be sold by sealed bid on Sept. 7.

GSR, headed by principals Robert Byrne and Steven Noriega, is reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Bids may be submitted to Barnes Walker Title, 5914 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, and are subject to approval by creditor Horizon Bank and the court, said Barry Gould, of Island Vacation Properties, the listing broker.

The bank initially objected to the sale, arguing that the original purchase price in the listing agreement, $8.85 million, was inadequate to satisfy GSR’s debt of $8.56 million plus Island Vacation Properties’ 6 percent commission. The new asking price of $9.2 million would more than cover both.

The new owners will be required to either remove the sandpile on the western border of the site, which is contaminated with construction debris, or bulldoze it flat onto the site, according to the city of Bradenton Beach.

Rosa del Mar, designed as a 14-unit Gulf front condominium in Bradenton Beach, was one of GSR’s two largest projects. The other, Villa Rosa in Anna Maria, was designed as a gated, canalfront community with 17 custom single-family homes.

The company recently gave up ownership of 15 other Island properties valued at more than $33.5 million, according to court records. Secured claims against them total $23.5 million.

For more information on Rosa del Mar, visit www.rosadelmar.info.

Sheriff Brad Steube meets the Island community

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube came to the Island last week to introduce himself to Island residents and answer questions.

"I was appointed by the governor a few weeks after Sheriff Charlie Wells retired," Steube told the group. "and it’s been quite an experience up to this point.

"Sheriff Wells bailed out just in time," he continued with a laugh. " I got what’s going on in Tallahassee, I got the rise in crime, I got the new county administrator. My life is good."

Steube moved to the county when he was 7 years old and attended Bayshore Elementary, Bayshore Junior High, Manatee High and Manatee Community College.

"I decided after high school that I really didn’t like school," he said. " I had three scholarship offers, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I took a job in construction. I was digging ditches instead of building house, which is what I wanted to do."

He then attended the police academy and was hired by the Longboat Key Police Department, where he spent two years. Longboat Key was a little too laid back for the young officer, so he started at the Sheriff’s Office in 1978.

Career at MSO

Steube worked undercover narcotics for eight years and was a member and then in charge of the SWAT team for 17 years. He said some of the most pressing problems in Manatee County are gang-related activities, burglaries and robberies.

"What I really want to tell you about the sheriff’s office is that we have a number of good hard working people whose desire is to solve whatever problem you have," he said.

"We have a great working relationship with all of your police departments and your chiefs and all of our assets are available to you at any time. All of the local law enforcement agencies don’t care who gets credit for things, we care about putting the bad guys in jail."

He and his wife Debbie have been married 31 years and have two sons, Greg and Grant. Greg, who is in the Army, returned from Iraq three months ago and is stationed in Hawaii. Grant has been a patrol deputy with MSO for five years.

Questions from residents

After his talk, Steube responded to questions from residents and elected officials.

Q: Is there a problem with burglaries with homeless people?

A: When we finally got the county ordinance in place (to ban panhandling at street corners) and we’ve run those folks off, the problem has decreased a little bit. But because there are still groups living in the woods, we still have a problem.

Q: Are all the gangs in Manatee County identified?

A: There are 14 gangs with 400 to 600 members and associates. They’re starting recruiting in the middle schools. We got funding for the Jim Brown’s Amer-I-Can program and it will be taught in four middle schools. That will help the prevention side.

Q: How do you work with Homeland Security?

A: We have certain people with top-level clearance and we get information as it comes it. We have actually worked some cases.

Q: Are there problems with meth labs and pot grow houses in the county?

A: We had one we thought was a meth lab, but it really wasn’t what you see on TV. They were doing it the wrong way. Years ago we used to have grow houses. In the grow houses you have heat, and our aviation unit has infrared on it and we do flyovers from time to time to check for that very thing. If we get a reading, we can pull the electric and water bills.

Q: How is the tax issue affecting you?

A: I put in for a $12 million increase based on our needs. The county administrator said I had level funding – I’ll get the same next year as this year. I put together a plan, and, basically, our folks will get COLA and I’ll get eight positions.

Q: Will you keep the school resource officers in place?

A: Yes. We’ll pay half and the School Board will pay half.



Support builds for Pine Avenue project

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Supporters of the Pine Avenue restoration project are putting their money where their mouths are.

"We’ve had wonderful response with our fund raising," said Michael Coleman. Coleman said about half of the $10 million needed has been raised from a disparate group of investors. He declined to name them, however.

Coleman has contracts on 21 lots on Pine Avenue, where he envisions a series of buildings that will be used for offices or retail shops on the ground level with one living floor above — a use that was envisioned by the city when the district was set aside for residential/office/retail (ROR) use in the 1992 comprehensive plan.

Gene Aubrey, a local architect with an international reputation, designed structures for two of the lots for Coleman, which the two are calling Florida Gulf Coast cracker. The buildings have wide porches where Coleman said he could see people sitting in rocking chairs.

Aubrey’s wife, Janet, said her husband, who is retired, is very excited about the project. He hasn’t decided if he will do all the design work for the Pine Avenue restoration project, but he is very enthusiastic about it and in full support.

In addition to the 21 lots he already has under contract, Coleman said he is talking to other property owners along Pine Avenue who have come forward.

"We are now in conversation with two more property owners," he said. "So we are talking to the owners of six different properties in addition to the 21 lots we have under contract."

As soon as the $10 million is raised and the lots acquired, Coleman said the investors would get with the designers, engineers and city to get final plans drawn. Then the actual building will begin.

Coleman said the people who are getting on board are "people who love this Island and want to keep the laid back nature of what we have here." Coleman made those remarks to Anna Maria city commissioners last month as he outlined his vision for them.

"I envision a promenade along Pine Avenue all the way from the city pier to the Gulf," he told them. "When you talk to the old-timers, that’s what the forefathers of this Island envisioned."

Restaurateur Ed Chiles is another enthusiastic supporter of the project. He’s working behind the scenes with potential investors.

Coleman said he wants the entire project to be an open book.

"I know that people have concerns about specific aspects of this project," he said. "A big concern is parking, but when you talk to people in depth, it’s not really parking they’re concerned about, it’s traffic flow. There has to be a way for people to move on and off the streets without a negative impact on neighboring streets like Spring Avenue. We are going to study that and deal with it."

Coleman said he wants the community to be in open conversation about the project.

"If anyone has an issue, let’s be as open and direct as we can," he said. "Let’s talk about it."

Coleman said anyone who wishes to talk to him about the project could call him at 778-5493.


City rejects Olesen settlement

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Despite a day-long mediation session July 26 to hash out a settlement offer in the lawsuit between Patricia and Terry Olesen and the city, commissioners rejected the offer last week following a closed, or shade, meeting.

The issue began last year when the Olesens were remodeling their home at 504 South Bay Blvd. and the city stopped work after maintaining that the Olesens were building a wall in city-owned beach access and the building was encroaching into the setbacks. The Olesens maintain that they own half the beach access.

City commissioners advised the Olesens to apply for a setback variance, but they have been unwilling to do so and sought a jury trial. The first mediation session in May was unsuccessful.

The terms of the last week’s settlement agreement were as follows:

• The city would pay the Olesens $45,000 and be responsible for all mediation costs.

• The city would support a variance application, with specifics outlined in the agreement, and waive all application fees.

• If the variance were denied, this settlement would be void.

• The city would lift the stop work order and allow the Olesens to proceed with exterior renovations except the wall.

• The city would have an easement over and above the 5-foot strip of land abutting the Olesen’s property and making up 50 percent of the existing 10-foot platted right of way.

• The city would dedicate the entire 10-foot walkway to the Olesen’s family members and place a plaque or other monument at the site.

Commissioner Duke Miller made the motion to reject the offer, but said he was willing to send the issue back to mediation.

‘The variance is so wide spread that if any aspect of it, including the house hanging over the south side, gets rejected it goes to trial," Miller pointed out.

Commissioner Dale Woodland seconded the motion and noted, "If you don’t completely accept the agreement, anything you do is a rejection."

The vote was unanimous.

City Attorney Jim Dye asked how commissioners wanted to proceed, and Woodland said he would like further mediation, in particular the first part of the agreement.

Dye suggested setting a shade meeting to discuss options. Commissioners set the meeting for Monday, Aug. 13, at 5:30 p.m.


Forecasters lower expectations

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

The difficulty in being a forecaster is that you’re never 100 percent sure about what will happen. That’s especially true when it comes to predicting tropical storms, where the technology is so new that they have to go back and analyze past history.

That might be the reason why the prediction team at Colorado State University in Fort Collins headed by Dr. Philip J. Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray has lowered its predictions of cyclone activity for the 2007 season.

According to the data released in early August, the expectation for named storms has dropped from 17 to 15, the number of hurricanes from nine to eight and the number of intense hurricanes from five to four.

The reason is due to slightly less favorable conditions in the tropical Atlantic. Sea surface temperature anomalies have cooled across the tropical Atlantic in recent weeks, and there have been significant dust outbreaks from Africa, signifying a generally stable air mass over the tropical Atlantic.

The scientists expect either cool, neutral or weak La Nina conditions to be present during the storm season.

While this is good news for residents of Florida, it doesn’t mean you can unpack your evacuation kits.

"I wouldn’t use their prediction as a tool to decide whether to drop my guard," said Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby, the city’s emergency management chief. "It doesn’t matter if they predict 100 hurricanes because if none of them hits here, you’re okay. They can predict one hurricane and if it hits here, we’re going to have a terrible season."

In short, Cosby said, don’t let down your guard until after hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Last year, El Nino weather in the Pacific set up conditions that would not allow storms to form into hurricanes in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. It turned what had been predicted to be a heavy season into a dud.



Packets available for November election

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

Election packets for the November election are now available at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office and at least one Island candidate has filed papers to run.

In Anna Maria, three commissioners, Dale Woodland, John Quam and Chris Tollette, are up for reelection.

In Bradenton Beach, the mayor’s seat and the seats of Commissioners John Shaughnessy, Ward 1, and Janie Robertson, Ward 3, are up for reelection. Commissioner Bill Shearon has filed papers to run for mayor.

In Holmes Beach seats coming up for reelection are Commissioners David Zaccagnino, Pat Morton and Pat Geyer. Geyer was appointed by commissioners to fill the one year left on Mayor Rich Bohnenberger’s term when he resigned from the commission to run for mayor in 2006.

Qualifying is Sept. 4 through 18 in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach and Sept. 17 through 21 in Bradenton Beach. The election will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Terms of office are two years and the salary is $4,800 for commissioners and $9,600 for the mayor. All candidates in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria must be citizens of the United States and registered voters in Manatee County. The residency requirement is two years.

Candidates in Bradenton Beach must be registered and residing in the city for nine months prior to the date of qualifying. A candidate must reside in the ward in which he is running. There is a three consecutive term limit.

Candidates must qualify by paying an election fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary of office ($48) or filing an undue burden oath and by collecting petition signatures of 15 voters residing in the city and submitting a candidates residency affidavit.

Requests for election packets or absentee ballots may be made by calling the office of the supervisor of elections at (941) 741-3823 or using the elections Web site at www.votemanatee.com.

For further information on qualifying or registering, call 708-6130 in Anna Maria, 778-1005 in Bradenton Beach or 708-5800 in Holmes Beach.


Share in the harvest at Geraldson farm

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

For $50, you can reserve a membership to share in the first harvest beginning this fall at Geraldson Community Farm.

Manatee County purchased the 20-acre farm, located on Ninth Avenue off 75th Street West in Bradenton, in 2005. The farm is structured as community-supported agriculture in which the farm’s organic produce is available to members, who buy shares of the harvest.

The $50 membership fee will be applied toward the first share and is refundable until Sept. 15. The cost of one share will be between $450 and $500 and two shares between $725 and $800. The fee will be finalized by Sept. 15.

A share is about two grocery bags full of produce. Large families can purchase more than one share or individuals can split a share with a friend. There will be seven to nine types of crops available each week, which can change weekly depending on what is available.

Members will receive a weekly share of produce for 28 weeks between Nov. 7 and May 17 and can choose from the following share options:

• Delivery share – The produce will be delivered to pick-up locations on Wednesdays. Pick-up sites will be in Palmetto/Ellenton, St. Petersburg and Sarasota. More information on the pick-up time and locations will be available in the coming months.

• At the farm share – Members will pick up their produce at the farm and will be able to pick it out from a display. There will be limits on the amounts, so everyone can have a choice, and there will be a swap table for exchanges with other members. Pick ups are on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• U pick – All members can come to the farm and pick their own selected crops. This option is available on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To reserve a membership, call Sarah at (941) 723-3252 or go to the Web site at fwcrd.org and from the menu on the right side, click on Geraldson Community Farm. When that page comes up, click on "Click here to visit our Web site" and select the option you want from the menu on the right.


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