The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 42 - July 9, 2008


A first for the fourth
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Floats in the Island’s Fourth of July Parade came in all shapes and sizes,
including this colorful one by local business owner James G. Annis.

They came from small condos and trailer parks and from large cities. They rode cars, scooters, boats and floats. One thing is for sure - the 2008 Anna Maria Fourth of July Parade was a big one. Maybe the biggest ever.

The celebrants gathered at Coquina Beach and wound their way north. There were classic cars, homemade floats on trailers, electric cars and even a Winn Dixie semi-tractor trailer.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers, who sponsored the parade, reported 589 people signed up to participate in 98 vehicles of all types, including scooters and bikes.

The Sandpiper Mobile Home Resort brought its homemade red, white and blue float, complete with people in back throwing candy and beaded necklaces. There were floats for D Coy Ducks, Cortez Yacht Club, Bridge Street Interiors and Sun Trust Bank. The Privateers led the parade with their ship and there were ships from four other crewes in the Tampa Bay area.

The crowds that gathered were not disappointed. Some left the scene swathed in necklaces with hands full of candy, small toys, cup coozies and small inflated beach balls.

It was just big enough to make for an entertaining morning. It was just small enough for this little barrier Island, where the unusual is often the order of the day.

View the pdfAdobe PDF logo of more photos from the Fourth of July parade.

Fewer ‘bombs bursting in air’ this year
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Police seized several hundred pounds of illegal fireworks on the Island.

For some the July 4 holiday was the "Sounds of Silence" and for others it was "War."

A concerted effort by the Island Fireworks Task Force to educate residents and visitors about illegal fireworks and their plans to confiscate them throughout the holiday weekend had mixed success.

"There were a lot less fireworks in the city," Sgt. John Kenney, of the Sheriff’s Office in Anna Maria reported. "It was a lot safer and quieter and there were no injuries or arrests."

However, he said there were a few close calls and several creative individuals.

"People were getting mad because we were taking their illegal fireworks. These are normally law-abiding citizens. We almost had to arrest someone. Some people would run out on the beach and light their fireworks and then run away."

He said deputies found a large foam raft at the end of Mangrove Avenue that was filled with fireworks. The fuse got wet and only half the fireworks exploded. Deputies confiscated the raft and the remainder of the explosives.

He also told of coming upon a troupe of professional fire dancers hired by a resident to perform on the beach in the area of Tuna and Cypress streets.

"It was amazing," he said. "It was well contained and a very nice display."

Residents at the north end of the city, which has been described as a war zone on past July 4 holidays, reported hearing very few private fireworks.

Kinney said the elimination of the public fireworks display at the Sandbar on July 5 had a major impact on traffic in the city.

"It usually takes an hour to get off the Island," he said, "but on Friday, there was absolutely no traffic."

Business owners in the city had mixed reviews about the impact on their businesses.

"I was busier this year than last year," said Ed Chiles, owner of the Sandbar. "I wouldn’t have thought that, but we had a great weekend. The weather was fabulous."

Waterfront owner Jason Suzor said his business also was better this July 4 than last year, while Ed Spring, of the Sign of the Mermaid, said his business that night was off about 40 people from the last couple years.

Kinney praised Mayor Fran Barford for establishing the task force several months ago to confront the issue.

"The mayor did a great job of putting together this task force for the citizens," Kinney said. "She put up with a lot of complaints."

"Education was a big component," Barford explained. "People saw it on the TV, on Web sites and on the signs. I really appreciate what Ed (Chiles) did at the Sandbar. It really helped with traffic control."

In Holmes Beach, officers reported confiscating fireworks on the beach in the 5300 block of Gulf Drive on July 3 and on the beach from the 4000 to the 7000 block on July 4.

"Officers (Michael) Leonard, (Joel) Pierce and I seized many illegal fireworks from the beach in all areas of the city," Officer Stanley House wrote in his report on July 4. "The fireworks were of the type that either shot a projectile into the air or exploded.

"There were many complaints about the illegal fireworks and every effort was made to address the specific complaints, however, it was not feasible to seize all of the fireworks."

Residents in the south of the city reported that their Gulf beach was a “war zone” and one described it as "the best year ever for fireworks."

Bradenton Beach Officer John Tsakairi reported that there were a great deal fewer fireworks being exploded by residents and visitors than in past years. He said police did not confiscate many fireworks.

Lt. Gary Sammons, of the Sheriff’s Office bomb squad, said Island officers collected a total of a couple hundred pounds of fireworks.

"They filled the back of a truck and the front seat and the passenger seat," he said. "We’ll burn them; it won’t take long for them to go up."

Bridging the Gap to start on Bridge St.

When the Anna Maria Island Bridge closes Monday, Sept. 29, for six weeks of rehabilitation and repair, we’ll be on our own. Left with one direct link (the Cortez Bridge) to the mainland, access will be limited.

That’s when Bridging the Gap kicks in, offering festivities every weekend to draw people from the mainland who would normally avoid the beach due to the bridge closure. It also offers something for our Island residents and visitors.

The first events planned will be held on Saturday, Oct. 4, on Bridge Street, just south of the Cortez Bridge. The Fish Hole will host a mini-golf tournament and the Bridge Street Market will be held that morning in the open lot across the street from BridgeWalk.

The market offers arts and crafts, fresh produce and edibles for lunch plus household items and live floral displays. The market, held the first and third Saturday of each month through July, quickly became a popular event. The Fish Hole, which opened last spring, offers challenging mini golf set in lush landscaping and architecture reminiscent of an old fishing village.

On Sunday, Oct. 5, The action turns to the BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., with the Skimbash skimboard competition organized by West Coast Surf Shop’s Ronee Brady and a sandcastle building competition sponsored by Pam Fortenberry. The Island Sun also will be a sponsor of the Skimbash.

Bridging the Gap is a product of Ginny’s and Jane E’s owner Ginny Dutton and Sun Advertising Director Chantelle Lewin, who felt a grass-roots movement by the business community would attract people to the Island during the weekends.

The Sun will run a full-page color ad each week to promote Bridging the Gap by listing the upcoming events.

Other events planned include pickle ball demonstrations and tournaments at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, a dog costume contest sponsored and hosted by The Sun; a fishing tournament on the Historic Bridge Street Pier and a battle of the bands.

According to Dutton, there are still details to be worked out and when all the events are confirmed, The Sun will print a final schedule.

Volunteers are also needed for some of the events. If you see something in the listings below that interests you, call the person or people in charge to find out if you can help.

Bridging the Gap event list grows

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, Ronnie 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
- Pickle Ball, Robert Taylor, 778-6465
- Three-mile Run/Walk, Irene Pearman, 518-9806
- Wing Eating Contest and Karaoke Contest, Tom Siwa, 419-341-1035.

Fulfords fill Cortez for reunion
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO/MARK GREEN Cortez Native Blue Fulford, Carol Kio Green and
Jimmy Guthrie fry mullet for the dinner.

CORTEZ – More than 140 people visited Cortez over the weekend with one thing in common – the Fulford family name.

The Fulford Family Reunion was a sort of birthday gift to Mary Fulford Green, who recently turned 83 years old. She said there were Fulfords there that she never knew existed.

"David Fulford, of Tampa, was the son of Dave, who came to Cortez after a hurricane in the 1920s," she said. "Dave moved to Tampa and David is his son."

The Fulfords were one of several fishing families who moved to Cortez from Carteret County, North Carolina, during that time.

For Mary, it was a time to catch up on family and catch the family up on what she knew.

"One of the men came with his girlfriend," she said. "I made sure she knew he wasn’t the first girlfriend he had brought."

The family all gathered Saturday night for a fish fry.

"We served more than a hundred mullet," Mary said. " I brought some home and it’s in my freezer."

Of interest was the genealogy project, where family members will be able to give a sample for DNA testing to see which other Fulford families across the country might be related.

Mary said one family member, who was related by marriage, was hoping he was not a blood relative also.

Roger Allen, who heads the Florida Maritime Museum, hailed from Carteret County and he noted that the families in Cortez had the same last names as those in North Carolina. There were the Taylors, the Lewises, Guthries, Bells and the Fulfords.

"They were smart to migrate to Cortez after suffering from hurricanes in the Carolinas," he said. "They settled in an area (Cortez) where there was access to the water and relatively little history of hurricanes."

Mary’s son, Mark Green, attended the reunion and said that earlier DNA tests showed that the Cortez Fulfords were related to clans from Georgia.

"I think everybody had a good time," Mary said. "It was good to have so many of them back."

Asked if she would like to hold another reunion, Mary said, "Mark said he would like to do another one, maybe in two years."

August 26 primary to decide some races

Several of the races on the Aug. 26 primary ballot will be deciding races. Since only Republicans have qualified in a number of contests, including the one for the county commission district that includes the Island, Cortez, a portion of Longboat Key and a large section of Bradenton, they have been declared universal primaries.

Usually in a primary election only Republicans select from among republican candidates and Democrats select from among Democratic candidates.

In the case of the race between current County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann and challenger John Chappie, both are Republicans running for the District 3 seat.

“There are no democrats running in that race,” Nancy Bignell, assistant supervisor of elections said. “So thatís a universal race.”

That means that voters registered as Republican, Democrat, Independent, which is a registered political party, and people with no party affiliation will all cast ballots, and the representative from District 3 will be decided on Aug. 26.

In the District 1 County Commission race, Incumbent Amy Stein and challengers Larry Bustle and Felicia Tappan will run in a universal race. All are Republicans, and there were no Democratic challengers.

The District 5 race is a closed Republican primary.

“Thereís a write-in candidate in that race, so only Republicans vote in the primary to determine who will face the write-in candidate in November,” Bignell said.

Incumbent Donna Hayes will face Bob Henderson and Benwayne Morrison on Aug. 26. The winner will face write-in candidate Scott Carlson in November.

The at large District 7 candidate will be selected in August in an open primary. Incumbent Joe McClash and Greg Witham will be on the ballot, and the winner will serve on the county commission.

Island voters will also be casting ballots in August for the District 2 representative for the school board. The candidates in that non-partisan race are Harry Kinnan, the incumbent, and Dave “Watchdog” Miner.

The deadline to register to vote in the August primary is July 28. Voters can pick up registration papers at libraries, most city halls or the elections office. You can also register online at

FDOT finishes boat-bridge height study

If the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) were to replace the current drawbridge with a 65-foot-tall, fixed-span structure, only a small number of boats would not fit under it.

According to a study conducted from March 13 through June 3, only three of the 1,090 boats that used the channel were more than 65 feet tall. The results were printed in a newsletter distributed by FDOT last week.

FDOT conducted the survey as part of its study on the future of the bridge, which is undergoing a $9.14 million rehabilitation. The study came as a result of public pressure to forego the rehabilitation and replace the bridge.

The study was conducted by bridge tenders who contacted the boat captains by radio and asked them their mast heights. FDOT engineers told a public meeting earlier that if a significant number of boats using the current route were taller than 65 feet, it would weigh its recommendations toward either a drawbridge or a fixed span bridge taller than the normal 65-foot height.

The survey showed that the highest percentage of boats that used the channel (25.3 percent, 276 boats) were between 55.1 and 65 feet tall. The second highest percentage (18.3 percent, 199 boats, were between 50.1 and 55 feet tall. The rest were: 45.1-50 feet tall, 17.6 percent and 192 boats; 40.1-45 feet tall, 14.1 percent and 154 boats; 30.1-40 feet tall, 11.9 percent and 130 boats; 21.5-30 feet tall, 12.5 percent and 136 boats.

The engineers said in previous public meetings that they would consider replacing the current 17-foot-tall drawbridge with one of similar height, a drawbridge at 45 feet tall or the fixed-span, 65-foot-tall structure.

While money for the design, right-of-way and construction phases of the bridge replacement are not yet budgeted, FDOT has begun the study at the request of elected officials including Island city mayors and state representatives.

Relay for Life raises $30,000
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Best Campsite Runner Up Barry Gould; Laura McAdams holding the AME team’s
Rookie of the Year award; Larry Hibbs/ServPro, Top Overall Fundraising Team;
Nancy Ambrose, Top Fundraising Individual; Kimberly Borsheim holding Pat Zalo's
Top On-line Fundraiser award

The 2008 Relay for Life held in May raised more than $30,000 for the American Cancer Society, $10,000 more than last year’s event.

Seventeen teams, more than twice the number from 2007’s relay, camped overnight at Coquina Beach and held a 24-hour relay walk around an oval track lighted with luminarias to honor cancer survivors and commemorate cancer victims.

Money raised by the teams funds cancer research, early detection and prevention education, advocacy efforts and patient services.

Fundraising awards were presented to the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island and ServPro (silver award - over $5,000) and MHS TSA and the Privateers (bronze award - over $2,500).

Awards also were presented to the following teams: Best Campsite, Ellen Aquilina/SunTrust Bank; Runner-up Best Campsite, Barry Gould and Judy Rup; Spirit Award, Privateers; Top On-line Fundraiser, Pat Zalo/MHS; Top Individual Overall Fundraiser, Nancy Ambrose $3,536.10; Top Fundraising Team, ServPro $8,496; True Spirit of Relay Award, Nancy Ambrose.

Fun prizes were awarded to the following: Flying Ace – Annamarie Reithmiller/MetLife,; Handy Heroes – Kristi Knight/MHS Signing Canes; Smallest Team –; Benevolent Babes – Faith Cuyler/Curves; Tender Hearted Teenyboppers – Ashley Sanders-McAdams/Teen Trotters; Mavens of Manatee High – Vera Pendergraft/MHS TSA; Track Star Award – Ruth Ann Szymanski/AME; Super Citizen –Sarah Shealy/Privateers; Honorary Committee Members – Adam and Andrew Jenkins; Passion for Purple – Debbie Wagner and Lynn Zemmer/Walk of Faith; Marvelously Mammoth Moneymaker – Cindy Thompson/AMI Chamber; Shooting Stars – Larry Hibbs/ServPro; Cool as a Cucumber - Jennifer Mongeau/AM Oyster Bar and Fantasy Travel; Rookie Team - Anna Maria Elementary; Salesman of the Year – Jeff Darwin/AMI Community Center; Rebels that Relay by the Rules – Tim Thompson/ Privateers; Ned Flanders Philanthropic Family – Officer Lannon’s Super Friends and Family.

Sponsors were Teitelbaum Developers, Chiles Group, Star Fish Company and Wal-Mart.

Referendum language settled

ANNA MARIA – How do you change a city’s comprehensive plan?

Come November, the city’s registered voters will be asked to answer that question. Residents will decide in a referendum whether or not they want a super majority vote of the commission to determine whether changes can be made to the land use element of the comp plan.

Usually to pass a motion, a vote of three of the five commissioners is required. In a super majority vote, four of the five commissioners must vote in favor of a motion.

"We have worked for four-plus years on the comp plan, and if we get three commissioners backed by development interests, our hopes of keeping our quality of life could be gone," said Commissioner Duke Miller.

Commissioner Chris Tollette, who has said that she feels that the citizens elect city commissioners to make this kind of decision, does not back the super majority referendum and said there is no need for a super majority vote.

At the June 26 commission meeting the vote was 3-1 to approve the proposed language for the referendum question. Tollette voted against the measure. She said it was a protest vote, because she is opposed to the referendum. Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, by prior arrangement, wasn’t present at that meeting. She had said earlier that she doesn’t think a super majority vote is necessary, but she had no problem with letting the voters decide the issue.

The language that will appear on the ballot is as follows:

"Shall the City of Anna Maria Charter be amended as described in Ordinance 08-688, by establishing a requirement that any amendment to the Future Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan shall not be valid unless adopted by the affirmative vote of 4 or more of the Commissioners?"

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