Vol 7 No. 50 - September 5, 2007


Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Maloney succumbs to cancer

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper City OKs adult biz location

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Fee hikes accompany Center membership drive

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Award-winning reporters love laid-back beach life

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Agreement reached in Olesen case

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Debate stirs over comp plan

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper PTO recruits new school year volunteers

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Coach returns after Midwest hoops job




Maloney succumbs to cancer

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Former Commissioner Don Maloney, 79, died on Sunday, Sept. 2, at Blake Medical Center. Maloney served on the commission for seven years from 1998 to 2005.

"He was a pleasure to have on the board and always added insight," said Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who served as the city’s mayor and as a commissioner during Maloney’s tenure.

"I respected him and his ideas. We would agree to disagree and hugged after the meetings. He loved his family and being involved in politics."

Current Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, who also served with Maloney, said, “I’ve known Don since 1993. We disagreed on issues but always remained friends. He was a most unforgettable character. He will be greatly missed.”
"He was a great witty and wise Irishman, and he’ll be sorely missed," said restaurateur Sean Murphy, who celebrated being Irish with Maloney. "There will be a big hole in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade next year."

Commissioner Pat Geyer, who also shared Irish heritage as well as service on the commission with Maloney, said, "He was a great fellow to be around and always had a good joke. He had a great attitude and was great to work with."

Maloney was known for his jokes and quick wit at meetings, said West Manatee Fire Chief Andy Price, who noted, "He made every meeting interesting with his humor and underneath there was always a message that was true. He was a really smart man and I learned a lot from him. This is a great loss to the community and his family.”

Maloney was born in 1928 in Yonkers, N.Y., and graduated from Syracuse University School of Journalism in 1948. He spent 30 years with the Harris Corporation, a communications company. He and his family spent seven years in Japan, where he was CEO of a joint venture company between Harris and Marubeni Corporation, of Japan.

While in Japan, he wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Japan Times for three years, highlighting the humorous experiences of an American living in Japan. He authored seven humorous books, beginning with "Japan: It’s Not All Raw Fish."

He and his wife, Sarah, moved to Holmes Beach in 1992. He served on the city’s code enforcement board, the city commission and as the city’s representative to the Island Emergency Operations Center.

He was a member of the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club, the Moose, the Elks, Knights of Columbus, American Legion and Marine Corps League.

A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach.

City OKs adult biz location

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – With two holding out on moral grounds, commissioners agreed to proceed with a code change to allow sexually-oriented businesses in the city.

"In order to avoid any potential for litigation, we’re trying to provide at least one location within the community where an adult sexually oriented businesses could be located," planning consultant Bill Brisson explained. "We might be able to beat it if someone were to challenge us if we didn’t have a location, but do we really want to have to?"

The city received an inquiry in July from a company that wants to rent an office to film sexual activities and put them on the Internet. City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the city cannot prohibit adult-oriented businesses, but can regulate them.

Brisson said the challenge was to find a reasonable standard that would leave at least one location for an adult business.

"If we did 1,000 feet, there would be no location," he said. "I identified a series of criteria that leaves us 500 feet (from any church, library, public park or recreation area, land zoned R1-AA or R-1 or another adult use establishment).

"That only leaves the area where Publix is and further south in the shopping center up to a point within 500 feet of the single-family residential lot behind Mike Norman’s Realty office."

He said although the state statute prohibits the location of an adult use within 2,500 feet of a school, it does not address other locations. Nor does it address the new Internet sex businesses.

"If we go 500 feet, it may get us off the hook legally, but I don’t know if it gets us morally off the hook," Commissioner John Monetti observed. "We also leave ourselves open to the property owner down the road who doesn’t care who he rents to. We’re opening the door for that because we’re afraid and taking the moral low road of not just disallowing it."

Petruff said if the city approves an ordinance with a de facto proh

ibition against such businesses, the court would probably not uphold it.

"My caution to you is the only reason that we’re walking down this particular path is because we got a letter of inquiry. We’re now starting to get calls from other cities in the area that they’re getting similar letters.

"Quite frankly, I don’t know if that letter is simply a setup for a lawsuit for which the taxpayers may have to provide damages to someone because you have a prohibitory ordinance."

Brisson said if the city prohibits adult businesses and is challenged in court, "if they win, they can come in and do it before you can change it again."

Commissioner Pat Morton said the city should not open the door to them.

"The door is wide open because we have nothing in our code," Mayor Rich Bohnenberger pointed out."

Commissioner David Zaccagnino asked about the linear park at Sixth Avenue and 39th Street behind Regions Bank. Brisson said that would further narrow the allowable area.

Commissioners Pat Geyer, Sandy Haas-Martens and Zaccagnino agreed that the city should provide for a location, and Brisson said he would draft language for commissioners to consider at a future work session.

Fee hikes accompany Center membership drive

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – In conjunction with opening the new building, the Island Community Center is having a membership drive until Nov. 10, and those joining can save up to 10 percent.

Some may be taken back by the increase in fees from last year, but you don’t have to be a member to participate in programs. However, members will pay a reduced fee for programs.

"It’s a huge increase," Executive Director Pierrette Kelly acknowledged, "but as taxes diminish, our funding diminishes. We have to raise the money to pay the bills and the salaries."

Kelly said fees have not increased since the 1990s and collections were lax.
"We couldn’t charge much before because we didn’t have much to offer," Kelly explained. "Memberships will help sustain the Center, and we still have scholarships. No child or senior will ever be turned away for lack of a fee."
Fees are as follows with old fees in parentheses;

• Youth, $30 ($15);
• Adult over 18, $150 ($30);
• Senior over 55, $120 (new category);
• Senior over 55, six months, $80 (new category);
• Supporting family, $300 ($250).
• Tennis membership, single: annual, $140 ($125); six months, $95 ($80); monthly, $60 (45);
• Tennis membership, couple: annual, $190 ($175); six months, $140 (125); monthly, $75 ($60);
• Tennis membership, daily, $5 per person (no change).

A new membership category is a fitness membership with a fee of $35 per month or $425 annually, which includes all exercise classes.

"The fitness center can accommodate eight people," Kelly said. "It will be a fitness workout gym."

In addition, there is a combination membership for the fitness center and the Center for $550 per year for adults and $500 per year for seniors. Seniors also can get a six-month combo for $270.

"We’re trying to find funds to sustain our programs," Kelly said. "Every time you get $1 off your taxes, you have to pay somewhere else."

Various categories of volunteer opportunities and sponsorships for the sports and teen programs are available. Call Andy Jonatzke for sports sponsorships or Jeff Darwin for teen sponsorships at 778-1908.


Award-winning reporters love laid-back beach life

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – With a host of awards for investigative reporting between them, Clarence and Ellen Jaffe Jones these days prefer walking Bean Point and feeling the sand between their toes to exposing crooks.

"We like the old Florida hometown, laid-back lifestyle," Clarence said. "We wanted to be as close to the water as we could afford. Bean Point is the most gorgeous spot on the coast in Florida."

Clarence Jones spent 30 years in the news business, 16 in newspapers and 14 in television. He began in Jacksonville as a reporter while earning his journalism degree at the University of Florida.

"I got the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard in 1963. and then I went to the Miami Herald," he recalled. "I was part of a team of reporters who worked for a full year investigating the Dade County Sheriff’s Department. I finished my work for them as their Washington correspondent."

It was in Miami that he first met Ellen.

"We were competitors," he said with a laugh. "In 1980, she did her most famous story about a school superintendent who was using school purchase orders to buy gold-plated plumbing fixtures for his vacation home in Naples.

"We met at a Janet Reno news conference and she said I told her, ‘That was a really good story, but I should have had it.’ The day the story broke, Ellen resigned and then she moved to St. Louis."

A couple of years later, Clarence was at a convention in St. Louis and they reconnected. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and Clarence returned to Miami. They had no further contact for 20 years.

On to Louisville

His work for the Miami Herald led to his next job at WHAS-TV in Louisville, Ky., where he was asked to investigate law enforcement.

"I went to work under deep cover for eight months," he said. "I came out with two one-hour documentaries that created a huge ruckus."

After two years, he returned to Miami as an investigative reporter specializing in political/law enforcement corruption for WPLG. His work there brought him three duPont-Columbia Awards, four Emmys and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

He wrote his first book, ‘Winning With the News Media," taught broadcast journalism for five years at the University of Miami and then left television to start his consulting company, Winning News Media, Inc.

"After 911, I had a compulsion to find people who had been important to me in my life," he continued with his story about Ellen. "I called Ellen and told her that leaving St. Louis was the stupidest thing I ever did. In 2004, we were married on the beach on Longboat Key."

Ellen rises in television news

While completing her degree at the University of Missouri, Ellen became the first woman anchor on television news in Columbia, Mo. Her next job was in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was a television reporter.

"On a day that the wind chill factor was -70, I had the choice of being the primary anchor at a television station in Salt Lake City or to being a television reporter in Miami," she recalled. "I was in Miami for two years at the NBC affiliate."

There she won two Emmys, one for the investigation of the school superintendent and the other for uncovering a faulty dishwashing operation at a cola plant that led to an FDA recall.

"Then I got a job offer to go to St. Louis and my decision was whether I wanted to be a network correspondent or focus on a really good local market," she continued. "In St. Louis I could work in my own hometown."

She stayed in television news for 10 years, winning a National Press Club Award for a story on real estate fraud. Another interesting assignment sent her undercover as a cocktail waitress to investigate a company marketing self-defense products to rape victims.

She quit the news business to stay home with her children for six years, and then returned as an anchor and reporter for two years before becoming a financial consultant at Smith Barney.

While at Smith Barney, she reconnected with Clarence and the couple married and moved to the Island. They both do consulting work and Clarence writes freelance articles and will teach a photography class at the Community Center. Ellen teaches cooking classes at the Community Center, Whole Foods and the YMCA in Bradenton and offers private classes and coaching.


Agreement reached in Olesen case

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – The owners of a property on South Bay Boulevard and the city of Anna Maria reached an agreement over a building project that has been halted since April of 2006.

According to that agreement, Terry and Patricia Olesen will apply for a variance to allow them to leave a roof overhang in the setback and to erect a "garden wall" on their north property line. The Olesens are remodeling the house they own at 504 South Bay. They submitted plans to the building department showing details of the remodeling, which included building the garden wall in the middle of a 10-foot easement that has served the city as a beach access.

The Olesen’s survey, which was accepted by the city’s building official at the time, Kevin Donohue, showed the Olesens owned five feet of the 10-foot access. Donohue later said the survey proved to be inaccurate.

"You rely on the professionals to submit the proper surveys," Donohue said early in the case. "They put their professional seal on it."

As the wall went up, there was a complaint about closing the beach access. Further investigation by the city didn’t find any evidence that the beach access had ever been turned over to the Olesens. The Olesens were also unable to provide documentation that would be acceptable in a court of law.
With the house unfinished and the wall already erected in the easement, the two sides stuck to their positions through several mediation sessions.

Finally, on Aug. 28, city commissioners reached a potential agreement with the Olesens:

The city will pay the Olesens $22,500 with each party paying its own mediation costs.

The city will support a variance application for air conditioning units, roofline and a driveway, all of which encroach into the setback and for a six-foot wall to be placed on the property lines. The work is to be completed and a certificate of occupancy issued no later than Dec. 31, 2007.

If the variance is denied, the settlement is null and void.

The Olesens and the city are to work together to provide the building official such assurances as to enable him to lift the stop work order.

The parties agree that the disputed five feet of beach access shall remain owned by the Olesens, but the city shall have an easement over and above the five-foot strip of land abutting the Olesen’s property. The titling of that strip of land will be executed to be consistent with the other 10-foot platted rights of way in the subdivision.

Upon formal resolution of the dispute (when and if the variance applications are approved) the city shall place a plaque dedicating the 10-foot walkway to the Olesen family.

No date has been set for the variance hearing, which will take place before the city’s planning and zoning board. The variance application hearing will then proceed to the full commission with the recommendation of the P&Z board attached.


Debate stirs over comp plan

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Let the voters decide how and if any changes are made to the document governing growth in the city.

City Commissioner Duke Miller is urging the city to pass an amendment to the comprehensive plan that states just that. He’d like to see any growth changes come before the voters as a referendum.

Commissioner Chris Tollette is not so sure that’s a good idea.

"Referendums are complicated and difficult for the voters to understand," she said. "That’s why they elected us – to make decisions."

Four of the five commissioners appeared to support Miller’s plan at the Aug. 23 city commission meeting. Tollette said she was withholding judgment until she had a chance to study the matter and poll her constituents.

Last week, she sent out an e-mail soliciting opinions.

"As fellow residents and business owners, I need your opinion, so please put on your thinking caps," she wrote. "This has to do with the comprehensive plan and the future of making any changes to the future use of our property."

Tollette explained in her e-mail that the comp plan, specifically the future land use map and future land use element parts of the plan, govern development for the next 20 years.

The comp plan is the most powerful document in the city’s codes.

"Now my question for you is this: If someone wanted to change the zoning of their property in any way, i.e. commercial to residential or residential to commercial, etc., would you want the change to go to a referendum so you would be allowed to vote on it?" Tollette asked. "Example, there is currently a piece of property across from the city pier zoned commercial. If the owners wanted to change it to ROR, (residential/office/retail) would you want to vote on the issue in an annual election in November, or would you want the commission to vote on the issue using a super majority as the deciding factor?"

Generally, three of five votes are enough to pass something. With a super majority, you need four of five votes.

Miller’s argument for amending the comp plan is that sometimes a sitting commission does not act in concert with the wishes of the voters, and in his opinion, the comp plan is something that the entire community needs to shape.

"The initial motivations for my effort are twofold," Miller said. "The first is based on what happened in St. Petersburg Beach. A rogue commission set out to change the density and height codes. The citizens revolted, got the charter changed to require referenda on comp plan changes and land development regulation changes. The developers sued, lost twice."

Miller said that the second of his motivations came from what he said he and all other commissioners pledged in their campaigns, "To preserve and protect the character of our beloved city."

The city has been reworking its comp plan for the past four years. It’s now ready for the final step. It will be enacted as an ordinance, which can be amended right up until the second and final hearing on that ordinance, according to City Attorney Jim Dye.

The first reading is scheduled for Oct. 11 with the second and final reading on Oct. 25.



PTO recruits new school year volunteers

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Every school year, the Anna Maria Elementary School PTO loses a group of valued volunteers – parents whose children move on to middle school. Thankfully, there seems to be a new group of parents who enter the stream of volunteers who keep the group operating.

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, the PTO directors held an open house for parents who want to get involved, and more than 20 moms and dads showed up.

PTO President Joy Murphy talked about the mission of the PTO, which is to enhance the educational experience of the students by assisting the staff and teachers via fundraisers. She spoke of recent improvements, such as more than 30 trees planted at the school recently and paid for with money raised during their Spring Fling. Money from that event also was used to purchase leveled reading material for the second- graders and a computer cart with laptops, which the School Board matched with two more.

Murphy explained the different events, some of which make money and other that add to the experience. It includes:

• The kindergarten welcome to orient parents of first-time students to AME on the opening day of school.

• Art to Remember, which kicks off in September and raises money by selling merchandise that is adorned by student artwork. Proceeds go toward purchasing supplies and materials for the art class.

• The Fall Festival, which is held the Saturday closest to Halloween and includes a parade in costume from Holmes Beach City Hall to the school, a costume contest, arts and crafts, a bake sale and food sales on campus.

There are games for the kids with opportunities to win tickets that can be redeemed for prizes. The community is invited to attend and enjoy. Money raised goes toward stipends for the teachers to purchase supplies for their classrooms.

• Gift wrap sales in early fall allows students to sell holiday wrapping paper and decorations and raise money for the PTO general account.

• Hand tiles with a student’s hand prints are sold to parents to help raise money. The tiles are hung along the hallway walls.

• The Book Fair is held in the spring, either in March or April, for students and the community to shop for books in one location.. Held in the media center, it runs for one week. Proceeds go toward the media center.

• The Dolphin Dash is in its second year and will be held Jan. 19. It is an opportunity to get the students involved in exercise and running for good health. There is also a marathon for the adults planned.

• PTO dinners are held monthly, sponsored by local restaurants with desserts provided by classes. A play by one of the six grades is usually performed after the dinner. Funds go toward the general fund.

• Sunshine Math is a voluntary exercise every week for students interested in math. Parents help pass out worksheets and grade them when the students turn them in.

• Box Tops for Education and Campbell’s Soup Label collections help the school raise money by redeeming the labels and box tops. The funds go to the general fund.

• Domino’s Pizza Night occurs monthly with donations for each pizza sold from Domino’s.

• The school store is open once a week for students to purchase supplies.

• Staff Appreciation Week includes each classroom fixing or purchasing breakfasts and lunches during the week for teachers and staff to enjoy.

• Held in May, the Spring Fling is the largest fund-raiser tbe PTO puts on. As Murphy said, it is the grownups’ opportunity to enjoy themselves with a buffet dinner, auctions and dancing.

Volunteers are needed for all of these events. Murphy said they were short on homeroom moms, but by the end of the open house, all but a few slots were filled.

For more information, call Murphy at 730-2820.


Nationwide to drop 2,200 in Manatee

Two thousand, two hundred homeowners in Manatee County are among the 39,000 in the state that will lose property insurance coverage from Nationwide Insurance in January.

The company does not have a breakdown of how many of its customers are property owners on Anna Maria Island, spokeswoman Nancy Smeltzer said.
Notices will go out beginning this month to non-renewed homeowners and about 1,600 commercial property policyholders.

Nationwide agents will immediately begin helping customers relocate to other insurance carriers. While policyholders may receive an offer of coverage from Security First Insurance, they are not required to use the carrier.

"Nationwide is making some difficult choices today that will better position the company to deal with the many challenges posed by the Florida insurance market," said Jeff Rommel, regional vice president of Florida Operations. "We have an obligation to act responsibly to ensure long-term stability for Nationwide’s customers, agents and associates."

The company will continue to carry 176,000 homeowners policies in the state.


"Write a letter to the editor about a story."


<< Go back to Index September 5

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper