The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 41 - July 2, 2008

headlines


New fee could hit music fest hard
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT Jason Oransky, visiting from Atlanta,
joined his friend, Kelley Burdette, owner of the Shabby
Caterpillar Hand-painted Inspirations, at her booth at
the Friday Music Festival.

ANNA MARIA – After two previous bouts with rain, the Anna Maria Island Music Festival came off without a hitch, or a drop of rain, last Friday, but a new permit fee by the city of Anna Maria caused some grief for the sponsor.

The permit fee, initiated by the city this past year, is $500 for outdoor events serve alcohol. Festival organizer Cindy Thompson said she needs input to decide if people want to continue them through the summer or wait until January.

"These events don’t make enough money to cover expenses and the fee during the summer," she said. "We’re already planning Bayfest for Oct. 18, and it makes enough money from vendor fees and beer sales so that the fee wouldn’t be a problem."

Thompson said she would like to hear what people have to say. You can e-mail her at islandfestival@aol.com.

Thompson said locations in the other two cities are problematic because they sell beer, wine and mixed drinks at the event.

"The city of Holmes Beach won’t allow alcohol sales in the field next to city hall," she said. "I’ve been told that the county won’t allow alcohol sales in their parks, such as Manatee County Beach and Coquina Beach."

Thompson said she’s inclined to drop the festivals through the remainder of the summer, get through Bayfest which is traditionally the first big festival of the season and resume the Friday Music Festivals in January and on through tourist season.

Meanwhile, she estimates around 3,000 people attended last Friday’s festival. Thompson said she noticed a lot of families attended.

"There were a lot of children in the crowd and a lot of people were dancing," she said. "We want this to be a family event and it appears that’s what it is."

The Anna Maria Island Sun is a sponsor of the Friday Music Festivals.

Parade, fireworks to highlight Island Fourth
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Sparklers such as these are fun and still legal.
SUN FILE PHOTO/CHRIS MIKULA

Enjoy fireworks as spectators, not users.

That’s the word from authorities regarding pyrotechnics on the beach.

There will only be one professional display on the beach this holiday as opposed to two in years past. The BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, will host a show starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 3. The only show on the Fourth of July will be off the Green Bridge between Bradenton and Palmetto as the Sandbar restaurant bowed to the will of Anna Maria City officials. They asked that there be no show on the beach there this year so police can deal with those who fire illegal devices. The word is they will confiscate illegal fireworks, but will not make arrests unless the owners resist.

Meanwhile, those who purchase admission to the party at the BeachHouse will enjoy live music, dancing and food before taking a close-up seat to the fireworks display. However, everyone can still watch for free from the beach. Because of the expected crowds, officials recommend Island residents and visitors take the trolley to avoid having to find a parking spot.

Captain Mark also offers a water taxi cruise from the Cortez Kitchen to the Historic Bridge Street Pier to watch the fireworks. After the cruise, you will be returned to your vehicle in Cortez for the drive home ahead of the crowds. Call 941-228-3504.

Meanwhile, the daytime celebration on Friday, July 4, will be the Privateers’ parade that starts at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach at 10 a.m. and ends at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria. Everyone is welcome to join the parade, as long as they have a ride. Groups are welcome and they can put a banner on their rides to identify who they represent, as long as it isn’t a political message.

Following the parade, the Privateers will gather at the Café on the Beach to present their annual scholarships to local students headed for college. A total of $27,000 will be given this year, the highest amount in the history of the scholarships. The winners are Austin Easton, Kimberly Kuizon, Elise Mundy, Claire Ingram, Ashley Bishop, Chris Chawi, Nicholas Gotts, Angela Jackson, Dion Shorey, Eric Whitley, Ashley Stinton, Elizabeth Aguilar, Josie Cockerham, Charlie Green, Lupita Perales, Ashley Petersen, Kelsey Taylor, April White and Sean Price.

For more information about the parade, call 941-780-1668 or log onto www.amiprivateers.org.

‘Bridging the Gap’ gains momentum

Closing your business while the Anna Maria Island Bridge is shut down for repairs this fall is a bad idea.

That’s the message the Island’s business community is giving as many of them band together to produce "Bridging the Gap," a six-week-long series of weekend events to draw people out to the Island despite the bridge’s closure. The contractor for the bridge rehabilitation project will close the structure to automobile traffic for a month and a half starting Sept. 29 to rebuilt portions of the moveable drawbridge bascule. During that time, the only direct access to the mainland will be the Cortez Bridge.

The group met last Thursday at Ginny’s and Jane E’s to decide which events to put on and seek volunteers to organize and run them.

"We’re taking a negative situation and turning it into a positive," said Ginny Dutton, owner of Ginny’s and Jane E’s. "We’re taking lemons and making lemonade."

There were a few surprises, such as Mark Kimball and Steve Bark volunteering to produce a battle of the bands and an exuberant Robert Taylor, from the Anna Maria Island Community Center’s pickle ball league, volunteering players to give demonstrations and hold tournaments. Another surprise was the Key Royale Golf Club’s announcement that would allow non-members to participate in a golf tournament. Proceeds from that tournament would go to a charitable organization.

Earlier, some of the organizers met with members of the Manatee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, including director Larry White, and Insight, the agency hired by the bureau to market the county. They expressed support for “Bridging the Gap” and said they would like to market it as an annual event during the late fall. Organizers said they would wait to see how this year’s event turns out before committing to it every year.

One message that prevailed this past week was to limit the number of events from the outpouring of ideas that the business leaders had. Larry White told them to pick only the events they thought were the best ideas and do them well.

‘Bridging the Gap’ events listed

Here’s a preliminary list of events for “Bridging the Gap” along with event chairs and their phone numbers. Volunteers are welcome.

• Tennis tournament, Kip Lalosh, 778-5446
• Realtor progressive open house, Sandy Rich, 778-0426
• Dog costume contest, The Sun newspaper, 778-3986
• Anna Maria block party, Ed Spring, 778-9399
• Sand castle tournament, Pam Fortenberry, 778-0436
• Skim Board Bash, Ronee Brady, 778-1001
• Artwalk, Nancy Ambrose, 518-4431
• Fishing tournament, Jake Spooner and Dana Snell, 778-3400
• Mini-golf tournament, Jake Spooner and Dana Snell, 778-3400
• Progressive raffle, Sandy Rich, 778-0426
• Trolley poker run and October Festival, Linda Haack, 779-2545, ext. 1130, and Caryn Hodge, 778-8705
• Key Royale Golf Tournament, Tom Tollette, 779-1888
• Bicycle tour, Lauren Sato, 352-514-6545
• Motorcycle run, Laura McAdams, 792-6366
• Five-Mile Flea Market, Ginny Dutton, 778-7370
• Battle of the Bands, Mark Kimball, 518-6329 and Steve Bark, 720-3200
• Holly Trolly, Sabine Musil, 778-5405
• Pickleball, Robert Taylor, 778-6465
• Three-mile Run/Walk, Irene Pearman, 518-9806
• Wing Eating Contest and Karaoke Contest, Doreen Russell, 778-1604

TECO begins work on gas line
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND TECO’s bright yellow gas lines and equipment
are being stored at the Manatee Public Beach until installation.

TECO People’s Gas Company began work installing a natural gas line along Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach last week.

The company recently approached city commissions in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach about the project. The company plans to install a 4-inch plastic gas line from 75th Street in Bradenton to the Island and then north 6,900 feet into Holmes Beach and south through Bradenton Beach.

Commissioners in both cities expressed surprise when company representatives made their request and said they felt they should have informed the cities much sooner in the process. Commissioners said they wanted more information before the company proceeds and that they require franchise agreements.

Division Manager Tom Lucas said the company started the project on the state road because it has a permit from the Florida Department of Transportation.

"To work in the cities, we need franchise agreements," Lucas acknowledged. "They have been finalized and are being sent to the city attorneys. We plan to be on the agenda at each city’s next meeting.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said the company has been put on notice that the franchise agreement must be complete before any work begins in the city.

"Franchise agreements usually require some negotiation," Bohnenberger pointed out. "The company also must meet with our police chief about traffic control when they work on our streets."

Lucas said the company started work in Bradenton Beach in order to get through the Gulf Drive/Cortez Road intersection before planned intersection improvements begin. The intersection improvements are part of the Anna Maria Island Bridge rehabilitation project.

The company must have its work complete before the planned bridge closure on Sept. 29.

Fireworks task force spreads message
Officers will be out in force July 4 and plan to confiscate any illegal fireworks they find.
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND A selection of legal fireworks commonly
found in local stores were on display at the press conference.

ANNA MARIA – With television news cameras rolling, the Island Fireworks Task Force broadcast its message of education and confiscation at a press conference last week.

Task force members, including law enforcement and fire district personnel from the three Island cities and Longboat Key, have been meeting since February to work on ways to discourage the use of illegal fireworks on the Island on July 4.

"This has been a real collaborative effort on trying to manage the issue," Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford explained. "I feel the health safety and welfare of the residents of this island are much better protected because of our efforts.

Deputy Chief Brett Pollock, of West Manatee Fire & Rescue, said in the past, displays of illegal fireworks have been rampant on the Island’s beaches during the holiday and there have been serious injuries. Deputy Fire Marshall Kurt Lathrop said legal fireworks include sparklers and fountains and illegal fireworks are those that go airborne and those that explode.

"What we’re going to do this year is educate the public on what is legal and illegal," Pollock said. "We want to keep our community safe and make sure everybody enjoys the holiday while they are here."

Lathrop said some people try to take advantage of an exemption offered for agricultural uses such as keeping birds away.

"It’s hard to control because there’s no mechanism to verify their claim and what they want to use it for," Lathrop explained. "If they’re on the beach shooting off fireworks and they say they’ve got a waiver, we know they’re not strawberry farming."

Sgt. John Kenney, of the Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation, said officers would be out in force and plan to confiscate any illegal fireworks they find. The confiscated fireworks will be picked up by the bomb squad and destroyed.

"The fireworks that go off are unbelievable and it’s gotten to the point that it’s a safety hazard," he said. ‘If education and confiscation don’t work, we’ll take it to the next level."

He said officers do not plan to arrest people with illegal fireworks unless they get out of hand. The penalty for possessing illegal fireworks is up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

For further information, go to the task force Web site at www.wmfr.org/fireworks/index.html.

Anglers raise more than $10,000 for one of their own
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Mark Anderson braved the smoke to turn the burgers.
SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT

HOLMES BEACH – An estimated 180 fishermen and women in 50 boats raised more than $10,000 for Wes Jackson, a 32-year-old angler who suffered brain damage in a freak accident at home.

The Wes Jackson Fishing Tournament, out of Catcher’s Marina, was sponsored by Island Discount Tackle, 5503 Marina Drive, at the marina. The event ended with a cookout in the parking lot last Saturday that drew hundreds of people and caught the attention of motorists and passers-by.

The winners for total number of inches of six fish were: first place, John Reid, 195 total inches; second place, Dale Conlon, 180 total inches; third place, Scott Ryan, 153 total inches.

Other prizes included largest snook, Larry Martin, 36 inches; largest redfish, tie between Joe Fisher and John Reid, 33 inches; largest trout, Brad Tharp, 22 inches; largest ladyfish, tie between Scott Ryan and Galen Brown, 23 inches; largest catfish, Larry Martin, 26 inches; and largest jack, Larry Martin, 32 inches.

Don Sopak and Jason Angersoll tied for the Most Honest Fisherman (least inches) award with eight inches each. Some one-of-a-kind wood carvings by Holmes Beach resident Dick Motzer were auctioned.

On Thanksgiving morning last year, Wes Jackson tripped over the family dog and fell backwards down the steps in his home, landing on his head, He sustained a very serious brain injury and was in a coma for a long time at Bayfront Medical Center.

He finally came out of coma and is now at home with some improvement. He is attending rehab three days a week in Sarasota. Rehab is vital with these kinds of injuries, but is very expensive.

Like many other families that work in construction, Wes had no comprehensive medical insurance. His father, Dan Jackson; Dan's partner, Dale Conlon; and Island Discount Tackle owners Jennifer and Bill Lowman organized the tourney as a fund-raiser to help pay for rehab and other pressing family expenses.

Milt and Brenda May, owners of Catcher's Marina, agreed to allow them to have the event there.

Drought persists; watering restrictions extended
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
This sign at Holmes Beach City Hall urges people to conserve water.

The governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swfwmd) last week extended the once-a-week watering restrictions through Sept. 30. It extended the restrictions because impacts from the two-year drought continue despite the start of the annual rainy season.

Although the District’s 16-county region has received about five inches of rain so far this month, this represents only 67 percent of the normal amount for June. For the 24-month period of June 2006 through May 2008, the district-wide rainfall deficit is 17.2 inches.

"We need people to continue to be vigilant," said David Moore, Swfwmd executive director. "We appreciate their efforts to conserve through the dry season and we need them to continue. Now is the time to try and help our water resources recover."

One way residents can help is by reducing their lawn watering during the summer rainy season. Residents are encouraged to skip their watering day if they’ve recently received rain.

Watering schedule

The schedule is as follows:

• Addresses with house numbers ending in 0 or 1: Monday;
• Addresses with house numbers ending in 2 or 3: Tuesday;
• Addresses with house numbers ending in 4 or 5: Wednesday;
• Addresses with house numbers ending in 6 or 7: Thursday;
• Addresses with house numbers ending in 8 or 9: Friday.

If property is less than two acres, irrigation hours are before 8 a.m. to after 6 p.m. If property is more than two acres, irrigation hours are before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

This schedule applies to all water usage from public or private water utilities and all well or other surface water sources, including ponds or rivers.

Hand watering or micro-irrigation of non-lawn landscape is allowed. Certain exemptions are available, such as allowances for new plant material. Call Marcia Brown at the Manatee County phone number below for guidelines on new plant establishment.

Fountains and other aesthetic-only water features may only operate eight hours per day. Car washing is limited to once per week; however, fundraiser events are still allowed. No driveway or sidewalk washing is allowed at any time.

For information, call Manatee County Water Conservation at 792-8811, ext. 5327, or Swfwmd’s water restriction hotline at 1-800-848-0499.

City’s four-day work week draws media interest
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY Michelle Reig, a reporter with the ABC
Channel 7 Sarasota, interviews Administrative Assistant AnnMarie Thorpe.

ANNA MARIA — This week, city employees are coming to their offices in city hall only four of the five days the city will be open. It’s a change that had local media coming out in force to cover the story.

‘It’s been amazing out here," Mayor Fran Barford said. "I can’t believe this has drawn so much interest."

Barford announced two weeks ago that city staff members would work four 10-hour days (Island Sun, June 18.)

"I thought it would be better for the staff," she said. "Almost everyone lives off the Island, and it just makes sense in this time of high gas prices to cut down the number of times they have to come onto the Island."

Barford and other staff members have been interviewed and have appeared on Channel 11, the ABC Tampa affiliate, and on Channel 7, the ABC Sarasota affiliate.

The Bradenton Herald also ran a story about the four-day work week on the front page of its Sunday local section.

"We all think this a good thing," Administrative Assistant AnnMarie Thorpe said, while being interviewed by Channel 7 reporter Michelle Rieg. "And with the bridge closing coming up, it’s going to be better not to have to sit in that traffic while coming and going from work."

Thorpe said she and another city employee live very close to each other and to staff members from the other Island cities.

"We’re talking about car pooling," she said. "That won’t work every day, because we sometimes have to cover night meetings. But it will help.

Thorpe said she’s checking the bus schedule to see if it would be feasible for her to take an MCAT bus onto the Island and then hop onto the free trolley for the rest of the trip to city hall.

"I could just put on my iPod and not have to even think about being stalled in all that traffic."

The new schedule affects eight of the city staff members. City hall will still be open from 8 to 4 Monday through Friday.

"There will be no change in service," the mayor said. "This will just be better for everyone."

The change in employee hours will last at least until the Anna Maria Island Bridge closing is finished. The bridge is scheduled to close for 45 days beginning Sept. 29.


AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper