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City to give merchants brighter outlook
More wattage, new solar lights proposed for the historic district.

BRADENTON BEACH – The merchants on Bridge Street have been trying to get more light on their front yards for the safety of their customers and it looks like it will soon happen.

The Bradenton Beach City Commission voted last Thursday to have Public Works Director tom Woodard ask Florida Power and Light (FPL) to install higher wattage bulbs in the streetlights there while he also looks at solar lights for the street.

Woodard, who already discussed the lighting improvements to the Bridge Street Merchant’s Association, brought two options to the commissioners before the meeting. The first was to replace the 70-watt bulbs to 200-watt ones and upgrade the rusty light heads and arms as part of routine maintenance. The only cost to the city would be an increase in the monthly electric bill of approximately $15 per light. There are five lights on Bridge Street.

The second option would be to have FPL install two or three additional poles and 70-watt lights on the north side of the street to spread out the coverage. The city would not incur any charge for materials or installation, just the $15 monthly increase in the power bill.

That’s when Commissioner John Chappie brought another idea.

"Did you discuss the possibility of solar lights?"

Woodard said no, but he felt that the city would probably incur a materials and installation charge of around $2,000 per light to install solar equivalent to a regular 70-watt bulb.

"We could still cover our costs in a couple of years," Chappie said, comparing those charged from the monthly electric charges.

"They would have to put up solar panels about three feet by three feet," Mayor Michael Pierce said. "It wouldn’t do much for the ambience."

"These lights are for safety," Chappie said. "They wouldn’t be decorative."

When asked how the merchants felt about the options, Woodard said they would like some input on where the lights go.

Commissioner John Shaughnessy suggested that Woodard investigate the solar option and bring it back to the commission, but Chappie took it a step farther, moving to upgrade the existing bulbs and look further into the solar option. Commissioner Janie Robertson seconded it and the commission voted unanimously for the motion.

Cancer cooking class brings profound changes
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO/ELLEN JAFFE JONES
Corkie Carlson is radiant after losing 120 pounds and learning
that her cancer markers decreased when she switched to a vegan
diet after taking the Cancer Project’s Food for Life cooking
class at the Community Center.

Corkie Carlson has a new zest for life after taking the Cancer Project’s Food for Life cooking class at the Island Community Center two years ago.

"I was diagnosed with cancer (multiple myeloma) and when that happens, you start looking for anything to help you," Carlson explained. "A neighbor told me about the class and she and I went. After the first class, I thought, ‘I can do this.’

"Eight months into it I had lost 120 pounds. I wasn’t trying to lose weight; it just melted off. My cancer markers have decreased and there have been no changes in the bone since I started on the vegan diet."

The Cancer Project is a group of physicians, researchers and nutritionists who educate people on how a healthy diet can help prevent cancer or help them regain their health once cancer is diagnosed. The Cancer Project sponsors the cooking classes and provides the food.

Each of the eight sessions is stand-alone and they focus on low-fat foods, fiber, dairy alternatives, replacing meat, planning healthy meals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, immune-boosting foods, and maintaining a healthy weight. The low-fat, plant-based diet contains no dairy, meat or fish.

"All my friends asked how I lost weight and I told them about the class," Carlson said. "They all wanted to come, so I brought 15 people into the class. Now people come up to me after class and tell me how much weight they’ve lost."

Carlson said more than half the members of the current class have lost weight and some have lost more than 10 pounds each. Instructor Ellen Jaffe Jones said she lost 25 pounds when she first began eating vegan.

Jaffe Jones pointed out, "I’ve never done anything as rewarding as this, where for so little effort, you see such incredible huge results. I wonder how many doctors ever see their patients achieve the kind of changes I’ve seen?

  "Inconvenient to change your diet, some may ask. Having your chest cracked open, taking daily shots, losing a limb or eye to diabetes and chemotherapy, now that’s inconvenient."

  "I’ve never felt better in my life," Carlson exclaimed. "People ask me about it all the time and I get excited telling them. Being vegan has been a lot of fun. I experiment with food and I’m eating a lot of things I thought I’d never eat."

  Carlson said she’s taken the series of classes several times and learns something new each time.

  "Ellen makes the class so easy to understand, and she makes meals that are so quick and simple. The way she presents to food – there’s so many colors on the plate and it is so tasty and filing."

  When she first became vegan, Carlson said she had to cook two meals, one for her and one for her husband. Now he has begun eating vegan. She said she cooks vegan meals for dinner parties and church socials and no one knows they’re eating vegan.

  "My husband said since I’ve started this, our house has a swinging door," Carlson said. "Neighbors and friends come over to swap recipes and ask how to cook things. You learn as you go.

  "I have begun developing my own recipes. My head is so full of ideas. I get so excited about what I can do. People need to know what a plant-based diet can do for them and take the class while it is still free."

The final series of classes for the season begins Tuesday, March 18, and this may be the last time they will be offered for free. See the accompanying article for further information.

Bagpipers, Hobbits and elephants, oh my!

HOLMES BEACH – Once again, the Beach Bistro is holding its St. Patrick’s Day parade and this year it promises to have an elephant there, a risky endeavor in an election year unless it’s a pink one.

  The parade will be held on March 16, which is Palm Sunday – a consequence of this year’s early Easter -– and the day before St. Paddy’s Day. It will leave from Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, at 4 p.m. If you want to participate, just show up by 2 p.m.

  The parade will leave city hall and travel north on Marina Drive to Palm and Gulf drives, stopping at 79th St. so they won’t disturb traffic flow.

  Jim Gabaree, a WWII veteran who participated in D-Day at Pont du Hoc landing, will serve as parade marshall of honor and Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger will lead the parade. Others scheduled to appear include The Bagpipers from Dunedin, Manatee High School Fiddlers, the Lakewood Ranch High Drum Line Band, the Braden River High Marching Band, The Island Hobbits and Howie Banfield. Lephrechauns are welcome to join the fun.

For more information, please call Beach Bistro at 778-6444.

Rain shortens first Friday Fest
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Below, Crowds gathered early to
set up for the entertainment.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CINDY THOMPSON

ANNA MARIA – The weather was ominous all day Friday and it appeared that a cold front with possibly dangerous storms would be passing through the area during the first Island Music Festival. Despite that, some 1,000 people showed up to eat, drink, shop and celebrate the beginning of the weekend with live music before the skies opened around 7:30 p.m., forcing them to flee for cover.

Organizer Cindy Thompson was impressed with the turnout and undaunted in her efforts to make this a regular event.

"I think the people and vendors who showed up deserve a lot of credit," she said. "I would like to try for another one in Anna Maria in April."

Thompson, who planned on having one festival in each of the three Island cities, she said would like to add another one because the weather shortened the one last week and she feels that the Anna Maria location is a good one.

The reggae fusion band Bootleg entertained on the county-owned portable stage until the storm came. The Anna Maria Island Community Center sold soda and water. The Chamber sold beer, wine and mixed drinks and food vendors included Skinny’s serving burgers, a hot dog booth and a group selling bourbon chicken on rice. Thompson said that only eight of the 18 vendors who signed on showed up because of the weather.

"I already have vendors wanting to sign up for the next one," she said. We’re talking with a band out of Sarasota to provide the entertainment for the April festival, if we can put it together."

The event was hosted by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, of which Thompson is president-elect this year. The Anna Maria Island Sun was the sponsor.

Big honor for local charity
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO PROVIDED
Nominating members of the Eagle Summit,
local real estate broker Betsy Hills and her sister,
Promote It founder Barbie Gummin, with Ron and
Diane Stanchfield and Stephanie Slavin,
chairman of the Eagle Laureate committe.

The 2008 Eagle Laureate has been presented to Ron and Diane Stanchfield, of KIDS’ Miracle Partners, a non-profit organization that helps relieve the emotional and financial stress for families when their child has a critical illness.

Based on Anna Maria Island, this innovative concept evolved from the dying wish of the Stanchfield’s grandson. Nine year old Mitch Chepokas, who had osteosarcoma, generously shared money given to him by putting it into dozens of envelopes that he would quietly slide under the doors of other critically ill children in the hospital. When he knew he wouldn’t live to carry on the work, his father and family promised to carry on for him and continue helping children and families in desperate need. His story is told by his mother and grandfather in the book, "Good-bye, Mitch."

KIDS’ Miracle Partners (www.kidsmiraclepartners.org) is unique because it responds to a request within 48 hours and will assist a family multiple times. KMP funds uninsured needs, provides emergency rent and mortgage payments, gives an evening out to hospital-weary parents, offers gas cards and car repairs and responds to other projects approved by the foundation’s executive committee. Children and families are nominated by hospital social workers who hope to keep families and their finances from disintegrating while they tend to their critically ill children.

The fifth Eagle Laureate was presented Feb. 23 at the Eagle Summit, held in Newport Beach, Cal. The national award is presented once every 18 months to an individual who has created an organization that is "improving the human condition," and can be replicated to expand the benefit to other cities and countries.

The Eagle Laureate was conceived in 1999 by three members of the 50-person Eagle Summit Master Mind group founded by Tom Hill, Ph.D., of St. Louis, Mo. Dr. Hill is an author, former educator and business owner who believes that powerful synergy arises from bringing together like-minded individuals.

Teacher speaks on man’s place in Earth’s history
Human beings have been on Earth during a very small fraction of the earth’s 4 1/2 billion years
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
Biology teacher Joe Kerata stands in front of a timeline,
which corresponds to the earth’s age of 4 1/2 billion years.
Man has been on earth 1/10 of 1 millimeter
of the 4 1/2-meter-long timeline.

ANNA MARIA – Biology teacher Joe Kerata spoke to a full house at The Studio at Gulf and Pine in a recent USF lecture.

Speaking on mans’ place in the history of the earth, Kerata unveiled a timeline of earth’s history that was 4 1/2 meters long and corresponded to the earth’s age of 4 1/2 billion years.

"I marked off a few pretty major events," he explained. "Six hundred million year ago the first multi-cellular organisms appeared; 450 million years ago, the first land animals; 360 million years ago, the first vertebrates; 225 million years ago, the first dinosaur; 65 million years ago, the last dinosaur."

He then had the audience members open a paper clip and imagine one prong sliced lengthwise into 10 equal parts. One slice, or one 10th of 1 millimeter, is the width on the timeline that anatomically modern human beings have been on earth.

"Key points we can get from the timeline are animal and plant forms have changed considerably over time, the time span of life on earth is absolutely immense and the environments everywhere on the planet have changed," he said.

Extinction

"The last fact is that the fate of almost every living organism on this planet is extinction," he pointed out. "More than 99 percent of all species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct. It’s part of the process."

He said there are two types of extinction. Natural extinction occurs without anything catastrophic causing it to happen. This happens to two to five families of organisms every million years.

Mass extinctions occur due to catastrophic events such as changes in ocean levels or climate, volcanic activity and asteroids hitting the planet.

"During mass extinctions, about 19 families go extinct in a million years," he pointed out. "During one that occurred 250 million years ago, 90 percent of all species on earth became extinct. During one that occurred 65 million years ago, 65 percent of all species became extinct."

In 1980, a man and his son discovered a layer of rock that corresponded with the extinction that occurred 65 million years ago. It contained iridium, which is rare on earth but common in asteroids. In 1990s, an immense 65-million-year old crater was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.

"They believe that two asteroids hit the earth at that time, contributing to the mass extinction," he said. "The one in the Yucatan had a diameter of six miles. When it hit the earth there would have been a huge explosion and it would have kicked up an enormous cloud of dust."

The dust would have been in the atmosphere for years and blocked out sunlight, causing plants to die and animals to lose their food source. About half of the marine life was wiped out as well as many plant and animal species, including the dinosaurs.

Adapting

"Whatever survived the blast took advantage of the situation," he continued. "Some of those critters were mammals. Bad luck of dinosaurs eventually was good luck for us."

He said the average lifespan of a mammalian species is 2 1/2 million years and not longer than 5 to 5 1/2 million years.

"Do we have anything to worry about?" he asked. "We’ve been around for 130,000 years, so time’s on our side. We’re in no imminent danger, but I have no doubt that human beings won’t be around some day. We’re part of the natural process like everything else."

He said humans have altered the natural selection process, which includes disease, predators and lack of food and water.

"Our success is that we’ve managed to bypass a lot of those environmental things that normally do the picking and choosing. What we have to remember is that we’re not the center of the universe or the planet, we’re part of it," he concluded.

Board seeks facelift for traffic islands at city entrance
The board also is hoping the city will fund a pocket park at Manatee and Fourth avenues.

HOLMES BEACH – Three members of the beautification board have developed a plan for revitalizing the traffic islands at East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue with native plants.

Members Fred Heger, Melissa Snyder and Maureen Hirthler recommended removing the poinsettias, purple queen gazania and lantana, replacing the pine bark with maleleuca mulch, calibrating the sprinklers and minimizing the turf. They suggested planting beach sunflower, gaillardia and gold lantana.

Chair John Molyneux said he spoke to management at Publix supermarket on East Bay Drive about sponsoring the islands and noted, "Publix is quite interested in looking at what we’re asking, but they haven’t made a commitment."

Molyneux told board members that two of the trolley shelter locations they recommended for East Bay Drive are on a state road and Florida Department of Transportation officials said they must be 23 feet back from the center of the road.

"One would be in the marsh on one side and the other would be in the mangroves," Molyneux remarked.

He made the following alternate recommendations: Marina Drive and 63rd Street; Palm Drive and 85th Street, 75th Street 74th Street or 71st Street; and Gulf and Harbor drives.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino, the board’s liaison, said the city should construct three trolley shelters and use the remainder of the money to develop a pocket park with a pavilion at Manatee and Fourth avenues between LaPensee Plumbing and Skinny’s Place.

Molyneux and Heger said they would make a sketch and present it to the mayor.

In other business board members are:

• In discussions with Jeb Stewart regarding sponsoring several of the city’s traffic islands.

• Working with the Church of the Annunciation to landscape the area along the Manatee Avenue side of the church.

• Planning to plant two foxtail palms in the traffic island in front of Jessie’s Island Store and a yellow tababouia in the traffic island at Key Royale and Marina drives near the metal sculpture on National Arbor Day, April 25.

Charter Review Commission puzzles over voting on comp plan changes

ANNA MARIA – Should the comp plan only be changed by a super majority vote of the city commission?

Members of the Charter Review Commission (CRC) debated that question and whether or not it would hamstring future commissions to impose the change.

"The super majority vote has mired Longboat Key down," said Chair Tom Aposporos. "I've been asked to help them get out of this dilemma, and I can tell you, I'd hate to see that here."

Aposporos said he believes in a representative form of government where elected officials make the decisions they were elected to make.

After much discussion, City Commissioner Dale Woodland, who was in the audience at the meeting, explained to members of the CRC that the change the city commission was looking for involved requiring a super majority vote on only changes to the Land Use Element of the comp plan.

"It's just that part of the charter," Woodland said. "It's not the whole thing. It's to make it harder for some commission in the future to change the density requirements or the height restrictions with only three votes."

Woodland said he could envision a pro-development commission changing the current single-family residential quality of the community where structures can be no taller than 37 feet from the crown of the road to a community that Anna Maria residents clearly do not want.

Members of the CRC appeared to be more in favor of requiring the super majority vote to changes in the Future Land Use element of the comp plan once they were clear that the entire plan was not involved.

The CRC is reviewing the current plan, which was revised five years ago and approved by the voters in a referendum.

It was prior to that referendum that the city government was in turmoil. The mayor had always been a voting member of the city commission, and the mayor set the agenda and chaired commission meetings.

The seated commission was bogged down in acrimony, and at one point, one commissioner found a portion of the charter that he interpreted to mean that the vice mayor was to chair commission meetings.

Meetings regularly went until midnight, and there was open warfare.

Mady Iseman attended several meetings back then.

"I was appalled at the incivility," she said. "I decided to do something about it."

Iseman got a copy of the charter, read it, and learned that she could institute a petition, collect signatures and force a review of the existing document.

"I stood at the post office and collected signatures," she said. "Some people didn't understand that I wasn't taking sides, but most people got it."

Iseman presented her petition to the commission, and a CRC was established. Iseman and Aposporos served on that body.

There was significant change. The charter mandated a separation of powers into a clear legislative body with five commissioners and the mayor, who was to serve as the chief administrative officer of the city. The mayor, as administrator, no longer had a vote.

That system was instituted and appears to be working well. The current charter mandated a review in five years.

It's that review that the group is now conducting. In addition to Aposporos and Iseman, Suzanne Douglas, Norm Mansour and Sherry Oehler serve on the CRC.

The next meeting is Thursday, April 9 at 6 p.m.

Trial date set for Sorg lawsuit
William and Diane Sorg sued the city of Holmes Beach over a code enforcement board action.

HOLMES BEACH – A trial date has been set for Nov. 14 in the lawsuit brought by William and Diane Sorg against the city of Holmes Beach over a code enforcement board action taken more than three years ago.

Both parties have agreed to try mediation, which could eliminate the need for the jury trial.

In October 2004, the code enforcement board found the Sorgs, of 3707 Gulf Drive, in violation for making repairs on a balcony without a building permit and levied a fine of $30 per day.

When the fine was not paid within the 30-day period, it was recorded with the county, creating a lien on the property. The fine reached $28,000 before the couple came into compliance in May 2007. However, the fine still stands.

In the lawsuit filed in December 2007, the Sorgs asked the city to remove the lien and allow them to build a quadraplex. The city maintains that the structure is a duplex. The Sorgs also maintained that they do not owe the fine imposed by the code enforcement board.

On Jan. 14, the city filed a counter claim maintaining that the Sorgs did not attend the code enforcement board hearing and did not attempted to appeal the board’s order or the fine. It asked the court to uphold the lien and require the Sorgs to pay the fine or sell the property to satisfy the fine.

The Sorgs filed a demand for a jury trial on Jan. 21. The same day, they filed a response to the counter claim maintaining that they came into compliance within 30 days and do not owe a fine, that there is no statute of limitations on appealing the board’s order, that the city failed to properly inspect the property and find them in compliance and that whether or not there was a permit for the repairs does not negate compliance with the board’s order.

On Feb. 5, the Sorgs filed an amended complaint asking that damages include rent they claim they lost over the three-year period.


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