Vol 8 No. 22 - February 20, 2008


Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper City to county: Let’s do lunch

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Unique items await bidders at Affaire

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Causeway boat ramp awaits OK

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Road work won’t close Cortez lanes

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Report it, record it and remove it.

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Sheriff's office to aid in fireworks education

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Community Center events to be easier to plan

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Miller’s election talk fascinates crowd




City to county: Let’s do lunch

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – It looks like the city of Anna Maria will work with the county to get more sand for its beaches, even if it means replacing some of its "no parking" signs with ones that say "park here."

Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Director Charlie Hunsicker and Rick Spadoni, of Coastal Planning and Engineering, the county’s beach engineering contractor, spoke with city commission on Tuesday, Feb. 12. After explaining plans for renourishment projects this year and in 2011, Hunsicker suggested the city commission plan on meeting with the county commission to work out problems over beach access parking.

The controversy began on Jan. 22, when Hunsicker and Spadoni told the county commission in a special meeting that the city needs to come up with 38 more parking spaces for beach-goers to get $359,449 in state funding for the project planned for 2011. This $7 million project would begin just north of where the 2002 renourishment left off and end a block or two short of the Rod & Reel Pier. Bean Point, and areas where there is a lot of sand, would be excluded. It would be paid for by the state and the county.

Commissioners became critical of the city’s parking situation, saying some of the parking spaces they claimed were not close enough to the beach, although they fit state criteria. County Commission Chair Jane von Hahmann stopped them, saying they should change their requirements before criticizing what had already been approved.

The commissioners were also wary of spending county money to match state funds to renourish the beaches in Anna Maria where there are fewer resorts compared to the rest of the Island. Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford and Public Works Director George McKay were present at that meeting and the city commission reportedly reacted negatively to the county’s threats and criticism at a subsequent meeting, Hunsicker gingerly approached the city commission last week. He talked of county and city expectations and said that the county has a lot of hurdles to jump before the projects can proceed, including permitting and getting permission of beachfront landowners to allow construction equipment on their property to level out the sand.

Spadoni then addressed the mechanics of the parking situation, saying that McKay and Coastal Planning and Engineering’s Beau Suthard has gone through the city and found the parking spaces they needed.

"The problem is, they need some kind of signage," Spadoni said. He also told the city that they need the state official to come down and approve the new spaces.

Hunsicker said it is up to the city to make the next move. The commission listened, but did not vote on what it would do to make sure the county knows they want the renourishment to happen on their shores

Unique items await bidders at Affaire

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – With days remaining, there are only a few tickets left to the Island Community Center’s premier fund-raiser Affaire to Remember to be held on Saturday, Feb. 23.

The event features some unique live auction items not available anywhere else. These include:

• Enjoy luxury at the Trop when the big hitters of the Tampa Bay Rays invite 25 guests to enjoy a 2008 regular season game in the owner’s suite located behind home plate on the main street level. This private luxury box suite is not for sale to the public.

This chance of a lifetime 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 for food and drinks from Centerplate Catering. The package is subject to availability and mutually agreeable date; no weekends or holidays.

• Two racing enthusiasts will have the time of their lives at the Daytona International Speedway. They will spend two days at the race with full access pit passes, attend the pre-race drivers’ meeting and take a hot lap in the pace car. After each day’s events are over, they will chill for three days and two nights at the luxurious Daytona Beach Plaza Resort and Spa.

• The tropical vest, which was first auctioned as a joke at the Community Center’s 23rd annual Affaire to Remember in 2001, is coming back to the live auction to await its eighth owner. Joe Miller was the lucky bidder last year. The vest has raised $11,000 over the past seven years.

The Affaire begins at 5 p.m. with the silent auction, champagne reception, open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Dinner begins at 6:15 and the live auction kicks off at 7:30. The cash out begins at 9 p.m. and an after party will feature the sounds of Shaman for your dancing pleasure.

Tickets are $150 per person and are available from Center board members or at the Center.

Causeway boat ramp awaits OK

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON - Manatee County Commissioners last week approved an agreement with the city of Bradenton to construct the small boat ramp on the south side of the Palma Sola Causeway.

The agreement will go to the Bradenton Planning Commission for a recommendation on Feb. 20 and the city council for approval and a public hearing on Feb. 27.

"In terms of breaking bread, this is a nice move between the city council and the county commission," Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county’s Conservation Lands Management Department, told the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee. "Neither party could afford to do the whole picture. We can combine our talents and resources to make this possible."

Ramp construction, near the location of the former Bongo’s restaurant, is planned for March 5 through 7 due to the winter tides. The county will maintain the ramp and the city will maintain the parking lot.

"It’s been a great movement by this committee for the past three years that brought improvements to the Causeway that have been really needed for the past 10 years," Hunsicker said.

Landscape architect Beverly Burdette reported on the trees being planted along the Causeway.

"Primarily we focused on the larger amount of trees first and the median in front of Perico," she explained. "We’re making field adjustments at the restrooms and picnic area.

"We eliminated the palms at the pavilion because of the power line and grills. We want to put a few around the rest rooms and the rest somewhere else."

Ingrid McClellan, of Keep Manatee Beautiful, announced that a ribbon cutting for the landscaping is planned for National Arbor Day, April 25, at 11 a.m. She said she applied for a $1,000 grant from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program to purchase paint for a mural of Palma Sola Village to be painted on the restroom wall.

She also reported that the Bradenton Code Enforcement Department had removed the newspaper boxes along the roadway, and Bradenton Herald will install a condo-style newspaper box at the restrooms.


Road work won’t close Cortez lanes

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – If you’ve driven onto the Island via Cortez Road lately, you’ve no doubt seen a variable message sign saying that there would be road work on Cortez Road between March 3 and 10.

While it will affect traffic on Cortez Road, it is not a state project; it is a county utility project. It is the completion of a water main installation that has been going on for a year. The county had an eight-inch main installed under the bay and this final step is tying it in with the system. The point of the tie-in is the westbound through lane, according to Florida Department of Transportation public information officer Cindy Clemmons-Adente, who spoke with the county about it.

The project will require the westbound traffic to be shifted into the dual left turn lane in the area between 124th and 125th St. W. Two lanes of traffic on Cortez Road will be open at all times. Left turns will be restricted in that area.

Clemmons-Adente said the Cortez Bridge would not be closed during the construction. She said the project would be finished well ahead of the closure of the Anna Maria Island Bridge starting Sept. 29.

"We agreed that no other road or bridge construction projects would be allowed while that bridge is closed," she said.


Report it, record it and remove it.

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

That’s the message of a new program called Graffiti Hurts, launched this month by Keep Manatee Beautiful in cooperation with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

With graffiti showing up on street signs, beach walkovers and picnic tables on Anna Maria Island, officials recommend nipping the crime in the bud with the easy to remember formula.

First, report graffiti to law enforcement officials, calling 911 if the crime is in progress. Otherwise, call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Graffiti Abatement Hotline at 744-3768 or 747-3011, ext. 2596. Record the location and let officers and community leaders know about it, and remove the graffiti by cleaning it or painting over it.

Officers also recommend installing motion sensor lights and planting shrubs next to buildings to make them harder to access.

Graffiti is not a big problem on the Island, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow, adding that most is drawn by gang "wannabes," not gang members.

Still, anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on traffic signs and pavement last October in Holmes Beach. So far this year, unidentified kids have scratched up the paint on picnic tables at Herb Dolan Park, Bradenton Beach Police Sgt. Lenard Diaz said, and graffiti was found on a beach walkover at Bean Point, on the back of some stop signs and on a building on Pine Avenue, said George McKay, public works director for the City of Anna Maria.

While the lettering was "fairly artistic," he said, he couldn’t decipher the letters or their meaning.

"It wasn’t gang-related graffiti, just kids trying to be recognized," Anna Maria Dep. Gary Sellitto said. "It’s just a few incidences pretty well isolated."

A graffiti paint out day is scheduled for March 8. To volunteer, call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 747-3011 ext. 2300.


Sheriff's office to aid in fireworks education
MSO will produce a 30-second ad for television and a three-minute segment for its TV program.

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA - Dave Bristow, public information officer for the Manatee Sheriffís Office, offered the department’s help to the Island Fireworks Task Force in educating the public about illegal fireworks.

"We can do a PSA (public service announcement) and distribute it through Bright House, Verizon and Channel 40," he said. "The problem with a PSA is the timing. You get what they give you. With something like this, I believe they’ll put it in a decent spot."

Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford who heads the task force, said they hoped to begin the educational effort on Memorial Day weekend to let people know that fireworks are illegal and won’t be tolerated on the Island.

Bristow said MSO could produce the 30-second ad in-house and suggested that they select one spokesperson. He said MSO could also do a three-minute segment for its TV program.

The message

"What is the message going to be?" he asked. "There’s two kinds - get tough and educational."

"If we get real tough and have to come out and enforce it, it could be a problem," Sgt. John Kenney, who heads MSO’s substation in Anna Maria, replied.

"The other approach is educational: This is what you can and cannot do and if you don’t do what we’re asking, enforcement may be necessary," West Manatee Deputy Fire Chief Brett Pollock offered.

"But we have to back it up," Kenney stressed.

Bristow offered to develop a concept for the TV program and said they should combine it with newspaper coverage.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said they should decide what they want to say on the message boards at the beaches and along the roadways.

"Develop standard verbiage and we’ll get it set up and programmed," Manatee County Public Safety Director Bill Hutchison told them.

"Our dilemma is that we’re trying to get people to be safe with the ones that are legal, but also get the word out that the illegal ones are the problem," Speciale pointed out.

Pollock said he and Deputy Fire Marshall Kurt Lathrop have been working on some examples.

Confiscating fireworks

"When it comes to the day of the event, we can get into the confiscation message," Speciale said. "Once they’re coming out to the Island, they should know they shouldn’t do them.

"Then we’ll get into the enforcement part of it, but once we take it what are we going to do with them? I’m not taking them back to the PD or city garage. We have to get into the practical side."

Kenney said they could ask MSO to bring its bomb disposal unit, but they have to develop a tactical plan and have enough deputies to confiscate the fireworks.

"The other thing you have to consider is that once you cite people, and the state attorney’s office gets a rush of notices to appear, the judge will tell us to settle down," Speciale pointed out.

Pollock said after the holiday, they should send a press release stating how many fireworks were confiscated and how many people were arrested.



Community Center events to be easier to plan

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — The Island Community Center will likely be exempt from applying for special event permits except for things like the Affaire to Remember and the annual Tour of Homes.

"We’re going to get an ordinance in place that puts the Community Center in the PRA district (public recreation area) which is where the Future Land Use map has it now anyway," said Mayor Fran Barford.

The proposed ordinance establishes a definition for the Community Center — something that is not in place at this point.

"Community Center means a building or group of buildings and associated playfields where members of a community may gather for group activities relative to social, cultural and recreational functions," the ordinance written by City Attorney Jim Dye reads.

"It basically establishes the uses of what the Community Center is already doing every day with its soccer, baseball and classes," Dye told city commissioners at their Feb. 12 meeting.

Barford pointed out that the definition for a special event is something that is out of the ordinary and not in the usual course of what goes on.

"The day-to-day things that happen at the Community Center would not require a special event permit," Barford said. "Those things aren’t unusual for the Center. It’s what they do."

Barford said that the Center and the city would be working together to see that what requires a special event permit is properly handled as well.

"We’re going to working together," she said. "They’ll come to us and we’ll decide together whether a permit is needed."

"We will continue to be good neighbors," Center Executive Director Pierrette Kelly said. "We have always been a good neighbor."

The way the special events ordinance is set up, the public works director makes the determination of whether or not a special permit is necessary for any given event.

Some commissioners were reluctant to support the ordinance, including Commissioner JoAnn Mattick.

"I’m not sure we should be giving them carte blanche," Mattick said. "We have to maintain some kind of control over what goes on over there. It is in a residential neighborhood."

Commissioner Chris Tollette, who serves as the commission’s liaison to the Center said everything in the definition and in the proposed placement of the Center in the PRA district is exactly what’s happening right now anyway.
"They’re already having baseball and soccer and classes," Tollette said. "That’s what a Community Center does."

Commissioners decided to proceed with the ordinance and will be discussing it further at their March 13 work session.


Miller’s election talk fascinates crowd

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA - Former U.S. Representative Dan Miller last week gave his thoughts on the 2008 election to a rapt crowd at the Island Community Center as part of USF’s speaker series.

Miller first spoke about the primary process and explained, "We have an electoral college and each state gets a number of electoral votes based on the number of members of Congress. The system is in the Constitution and whether we like it or not, it’s there and has worked for over 200 years. It’s essentially a winner take all system."

He said there is no federal law governing the primary process. The two political parties control the process, and each state sets its own rules under the guidelines of the national party.

"Iowa and New Hampshire claim to be the first in the nation," he continued. "They are not a cross section of America, so this year, the Democrats added Nevada and South Carolina and said this makes it more fair. They said anybody can have a primary on Feb. 5 or later, but only those four can go first. The Republicans said the same thing.

"Florida and Michigan decided to go early, and Florida Republicans got punished by losing half their delegates. The Democrats said if you don’t follow the rules, we’re cutting you out of the whole system, so the Democrats in Florida have no delegates."

Who will win?

He said there is a high probability that the Democrats will win because rarely is one party in the White House for three elections in a row.

"People want change and because they’re the party out of power, the Democrats have the greatest appeal for the change issue," he noted. "Look at the energy level and the money level; it’s overwhelming. Both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have raised over $100 million.

"My opinion is that the momentum is so major for Obama that he’s going to win. Yesterday’s (Feb. 12) results are starting to show Obama making inroads into Clinton’s territory."

In the primaries, the issues are not a deciding factor, but personalities are, he pointed out. He said he uses the beer drinking theory ñ who would you like to have a beer with? People are affected by the likeability of the candidate, and Obama is a likeable person.

Regarding the Republicans, he said Gov. Mike Huckabee’s win in Iowa, where there is a large evangelical base, gave him credibility. Huckabee staying in the race is a good thing for McCain because if he drops out, McCain will get very little coverage in the press. All the focus will be on Clinton and Obama.

Miller explained that there are 796 super delegates, but all of them haven’t been identified yet. Super delegates include important people in the Democratic party, distinguished leaders, former presidents, governors, members of Congress and activists who helped campaign and raise money.
"The Clintons have been very important within the Democratic party for 15 years, so they have a lot of IOUs in this crowd," he said. "Clinton has 80 or 90 more committed, but they can change their minds."

He pointed out that this is the first election since 1952 that there’s not a vice president on the ballot, but there is only one time in modern history that it made a difference ñ Kenney/Johnson in 1960.

Miller represented the Manatee-Sarasota area in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years before retiring in 2003. Currently he teaches at colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He was a Harvard Fellow in 2003 and is developing the Manasota Institute of Public Policy and Leadership at the Sarasota campus of USF.


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