The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 49 - August 27, 2008


Pins fly as bowlers raise money
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Let’s bowl! Tony “Flash” Tucker (left),
an “out-of-uniform” member of the
Anna Maria Island Privateers hams it up
with Privateer John Hallahan, whose pirate’s
outfit clashed slightly with his red and white
bowling shoes. SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT

Approximately 250 Island Community Center supporters took to the mainland last Saturday to put on socks and bowling shoes and raise money for the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

It was the 18th Annual O’Connor Bowling Challenge, hosted by twins Billy and George O’Connor and sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun and it was a big success both on the alleys and off.

The event grossed $10,552 for the Center, up from last year’s $10,167. Community Center Business Manager Sandee Pruett said that it was phenominal considering the beating our economy has been taking.

Volunteers signed up bowlers at the door, as they have in the past and others sold raffle tickets for prizes including a big screen television sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun.

When the action ended, many bowlers came to the after-the-games gathering at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar to hear who bowled the best and the worst and see if they won a raffle prize.

The highest woman’s score, 190, belonged to Kelly Jordan as did the high series, a 507. Leah Best had the lowest woman’s score, a 34.

Jimmy Weaver topped the men with a 221 and Jim Stufflebean bowled a 542 series to take that trophy. Billy Nye had the lowest men’s score of 58.

Cindy Jennis won the big screen television. Dozens of other prizes, including restaurant packages, liquor and lots of Anna Maria Island Sun T-shirts, were awarded to lucky ticket holders.

It was another year of bowling for many of the Island residents who will remember the evening as they rub liniment into their aching muscles, but it will mean a lot to the kids who participate in the programs at the Center.

Community Center Director Pierette Kelly thanked everyone who turned out, and she gave plaques to Billy and George O’Connor for their ongoing support.

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‘Safe haven’ off limits to fishing boats
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Harbour Landings Estates property
owners have invested in expensive yachts and docks and
are concerned that commercial fishing boats tied up
during a storm could damage their property.

CORTEZ – Residents of Harbour Landings Estates say the canals bordering the development are off limits to commercial fishermen, who have used the well-protected spot to store their boats during storms for decades.

Harbour Landings Estates is one of several newer residential boating communities on the north side of Cortez Road. The historic fishing village of Cortez, a residential neighborhood and working waterfront, is on the south side. They share the Intracoastal Waterway for recreational boating and fishing and commercial fishing.

Most commercial fishermen left their boats exposed to the elements at the docks in Cortez last week during Tropical Storm Fay.

"We didn’t move very many boats this time," Cortez commercial fisherman Glen Brooks said, except for a few fishermen who took them to friends’ docks.

Brooks was the only one to tie his boats up in the canal behind Harbour Landings, but it was with the permission of an adjacent property owner, another commercial fisherman, he said.

"We used to use all the canals back there before the million dollar homes were in there," Brooks said. "I guess they feel like they bought that canal too."

Fishermen used the canal as a safe harbor, believing the state owned the bay bottom and the waterway, according to Brooks.

"But we can’t just anchor on the bottom, we have to tie up," he said, which is prohibited by the owners.

"We’re private property," Harbour Landings Estates Homeowners Association Secretary Debbie Lansing said. "It’s a gated community with no outside access to our docks by the public. Once you enter our canal, it’s private property. We’re not a public navigable waterway."

Many of the Harbour Landings boats are on lifts, Lansing said, stored there by owners before they leave for the summer months.

Empty docks abounded in the canal last Monday afternoon as the storm rolled in.

"One guy went to pull in there and someone came out and told him it’s private," Brooks said. "He said he just spent $200,000 rebuilding the dock."

Dock builders in Cortez village are mostly fishermen who have voluntarily replaced pilings and docks that were damaged in past storms because their boats were docked there, according to Brooks.

"If we ever broke anything, we’d fix it," said Karen Bell of A.P. Bell Fish Co., a commercial fish house in the village. "We don’t want to fight with our neighbors."

While Bell said she understands the association’s concerns about protecting owners’ docks and recreational boats, commercial fishermen are out of business without their boats.

"It’s a hurricane. You should look after your neighbor," she said.

Harbour Landings property owners hired Orlando attorney Ronald Sikes three years ago to research whether they could prohibit fishermen from using the canals in a storm.

Based on state statutes and case law, "…it is our opinion that the subject man-made canal leading into Harbour Landings and the basin located within Harbour Landings is a non-navigable water body privately owned by Harbour Landings Estates Association," Sikes wrote the association, adding that trespassers are subject to arrest for a criminal misdemeanor.

"Whether at their home docks (also located in the Cortez area) or other commercial marinas (such as the nearby Bradenton Beach Marina), the availability to the commercial fishing vessels of suitable dockage elsewhere cannot be denied," he wrote.

Not so, according to Brooks.

Commercial fishermen have limited options because the Cortez docks are exposed to the weather, as are the nearby Seafood Shack and the Bradenton Beach Marina just across the Intracoastal Waterway.

"When a storm comes through, those docks get slammed," he said.

Tropical Storm Fay didn’t turn into a hurricane over Cortez, and didn’t do much damage to the fleet, he said.

"But that might not be the case next time."

Rosedale Cottage part of Pine Ave. project
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Project principal Michael Coleman talks to Leslie Vandenberg,
left, Patty Hunt and Historical Society Administrator Sissy Quinn,
dressed in period costume. SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY

ANNA MARIA — Hopes are high that Rosedale Cottage can be one of the centerpieces of the Pine Avenue Restoration Project (PAR).

The restoration group now owns the building, which is located at 503 Pine Avenue. It was the scene for an event billed as a conversation among neighbors on August 19.

The cottage straddles a portion of the property line of three side-by side, 50 by 150-foot lots. They form a portion of the vision for Pine Avenue.

Michael Coleman, one of the PAR principals, hopes that the planning and zoning board and city commission will share his vision for this part of the project.

"We’d like to keep the cottage as the center of this section of the project," Coleman said. "We’d put small, single-story shops on either side and then put the two-story shops or offices across the back of the lot. It will depend on getting our site plan approved."

The cottage was built in 1913 and played a role of the very beginnings of the Island community.

The cottage’s first tenants were the son of George Bean and his wife. Bean was one of the founders of the Anna Maria community.

"The home was owned at one time by the Widow Bean," said Anna Maria Island Historical Society Administrator Sissy Quinn. "She made a notation on a picture we have at the museum that Mr. Roser (of Roser Church) and Mr. Bean cheated her out of the house."

Quinn said there was a divorce, and the Beans went their separate ways.

"Mr. Bean, Jr. was quite a dandy, quite a ladies man," Quinn said.

The Rosedale family purchased the cottage and lived there for many years, according to Quinn.

Ed Chiles, who is another PAR principal, said one of the goals of the project is to preserve as much of the small and historic parts of the district as possible.

"We want to save this building. This cottage was built from Sears and Roebuck block," said Chiles. "There was a rock machine that pressed out the blocks and then the buildings were built of that block."

Chiles said there are other examples of Sears block around, including Roser Chapel and many of the buildings in the Village on the north end of Longboat Key.

Anna Maria residents Leslie Vandenberg and Patty Hunt came to the event with some serious reservations about the entire project. They live on Spring Avenue at Tarpon, just south of the restoration area.

"We don’t want our privacy sacrificed," Vandenberg said to Coleman. "We have a swimming pool in our backyard, and we don’t want to think of people on the second floor of these buildings to be looking at us."

Coleman explained that there would be a six-foot fence across the entire back of the property and there will be landscaping planted along the fence.

"There will be trees and bushes buffering the project from the neighboring residential areas," Coleman said.

Both Vandenberg and Hunt said they felt a little better about the project after talking with Coleman.

"Something will be built there," Vandenberg said. "It’s inevitable. This is probably better than some of the things that could be built there."

New info in Beard slaying

HOLMES BEACH – Almost eight months after her body was found on the beach, items that belonged to Carla Beard have been found a few blocks to the north in the rocks on the beach behind the Martinique condominiums.

Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson confirmed that the items found last Friday belonged to Beard and had been on the beach since tourists renting a house near the beach at 50th Street found her body Dec. 1, 2007. Police said at that time that it appeared she died from a blunt trauma to the head.

Stephenson did not specify what was found, but he said they are sure it belonged to her.

"It was the property we had been looking for," he said.

The murder investigation stalled due to a lack of evidence. Beard’s body was badly decomposed when it was found. Police had no suspects in the case and Stephenson said this new property did not yield any immediate suspects.

"We’re going to take a good look at this property and see if it leads us in any direction," he said.

Court records show that 29-year-old Beard was arrested on April 5, 2001, for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. According to the on-line records, she was again arrested May 3, 2001, on a bench warrant for failing to appear on the possession case. On Oct. 27, 2006, she was again arrested on a charge of possessing paraphernalia.

Beard, who lived on and off with her grandmother in Sarasota, was last seen Nov. 26, 2007, when she left First Step, a drug treatment facility in Sarasota.

The Gold Key Club of Manatee County, a group formed to support police investigations, is offering $5,000 for information that would lead to an arrest and conviction in the woman’s murder. Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $1,000 reward. Anybody with any knowledge of Beard is asked to contact Holmes Beach Police at 708-5800 or contact Manatee County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477).

Shooter retracts treatment claim
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Mark Koenigs

Mark Koenigs, the man convicted Aug. 8 of shooting Island Mail and More owner Sue Normand on Dec. 5, 2007, admitted to having a psychiatric past in a letter to Circuit Court Judge Diane Moreland dated Aug. 5.

The letter contradicts what Koenigs told the judge during his trial when she questioned him about his decision not to testify on his behalf. Moreland asked him if he had had psychiatric problems in the past and if he was on any medication for psychiatric problems. He said no to both questions.

The letter reads:

I apologize. I told you wrong. I have seen psychyatrists (sic) and have taken medication a psychyatrist (sic) may give. The medication was for a toxic problem working in the U.S.A.F. paint barn. Most military people became ill. I was not found to have a mental health problem. They joked and said, "’I was a little strange but not strange enough.’" The prison has me on some stuff.

Ferrous sulfate (red iron pill); vitamin E gel tablets; Panelaw – deaden the nerve; HCTZ, blood pressure medicine.

Sorry for the inconvenience, Mark W. Koenigs

Prosecuting attorney Lauren Berns did not return a call to comment on the letter.

Water to be shut off if storm surge expected

When a serious storm is bearing down on the Island, Manatee County officials plan to shut off the water to the Island.

It is not being done to force people off the Island, as some speculated when they watched county officials discuss the possibility during an emergency meeting on Tropical Storm Fay recently.

"It’s to protect the water supply," John Zimmerman, county utilities manager, explained. "A storm would wash out the pipes on the Island resulting in an uncontrolled flow of water and create an excessive demand on the system. It would cause a loss of pressure on the mainland."

Zimmerman said the plan is to be implemented in a higher category of storm than Tropical Storm Fay when a major storm surge is expected and he noted, "With Fay, we did not see any surge forecast."

The decision to shut the water off would be based on several factors, including the size and intensity of the storm, which is why utilities operations officials take guidance from officials in the county’s Emergency Operations Center. The plan would be implemented after EOC officials call for a mandatory evacuation, but not until people have evacuated.

Another question on the minds of long-time Island residents is: Why is this being done now when it was never done in the past?

"The first time we turned off the water to the Island was during Hurricane Charley," Zimmerman said, "because we saw it happen (pipes washing out) with other storms in Florida."

The plan also includes shutting off water to trailer parks because when the trailers are blown away, the pipes burst and create an effect like a sprinkler system gone awry, Zimmerman said.

$5.8 million fire budget OK’d

HOLMES BEACH – West Manatee fire commissioners last week approved the 2008-09 budget, which increased from $5.3 million in 2007-08 to $5.8 million in 2008-09.

The fire district’s income is from assessment rather than ad valorem taxes. However, it is only allowed to increase assessments by the five-year average of the Florida personal income growth, which this fiscal year is 6.35 percent. This only allows the district to maintain staffing and service levels in place since 2005-06.

Fire Chief Andy Price pointed out in his budget message, "Since our fire assessments are not based on the taxable value of properties, we were not directly affected by tax rollbacks. When the bubble of skyrocketed property values began several years ago and local governments were seeing double digit increases in property tax income, we did not share in those revenues."

Income includes taxes and fees, $5,378,981; interest, $145,000; and reimbursement, $319,600. The reimbursement income increased by $210,000 for additional staffing during the Anna Maria Island Bridge closure. This will be reimbursed by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Expenses include $4,764,462 in wages and benefits, $144,000 in maintenance, $60,000 in insurance, $42,000 in training, $11,500 in office expenses, $26,500 in supplies, $131,600 in utilities, $15,000 in fire prevention, $95,000 in capital/replacement, $222,951 in special services, $300,000 in debt service and $30,569 in miscellaneous.

Calendar set for Bridging the Gap

The momentum is growing for Bridging the Gap, the series of weekend events and festivals that is designed to lure people out to the Island for a day or a weekend of fun while the Anna Maria Island Bridge is closed for six weeks for repairs starting Monday, Sept. 29.

The group of event chairs met at Ginny’s and Jane E’s in Anna Maria on Thursday, Aug. 21, to go over the calendar and nail down the dates each event will be held. That full-page calendar is printed on Page 9 in this week’s Sun newspaper and will run each to advertise the events.

Bridging the Gap began when Ginny’s owner Ginny Dutton and Anna Maria Island Sun Sales Manager Chantelle Lewin started talking about ways to help businesses that will experience a drop in commerce when the bridge closes.

More than $1500.00 in prizes will be given away in a trolley scavenger hunt to be held on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. There is no pre-registration, just show up between 9 and 11:30 a.m. at the Sandbar restaurant’s overflow parking lot on Gulf Drive at the North end of Anna Maria Island across from Ginny’s and Jane E’s at the Old IGA.

The fee for the Scavenger Hunt is $5 per team, which also gets each team a canvas bag in which to collect scavenger hunt items. Each team can purchase as many bags as they like. Refreshments will be served at the prize giveaway at the end of the hunt at the same location as registration. For more information call Caryn Hodge at 941-713-3105.

In addition, one of the sponsors of the events is offering service for Island residents and businesses when the bridge closes. The UPS Store at Beachway Plaza at 75th Street and Manatee Avenue West in Bradenton will be doing pickups and printing and delivering to the Island twice a week during the closure. Customer will be able to e-mail them a file and tell them when and what they need and they will print it and deliver it. For more details, call Laura McAdams at 792-6366.

Upcoming ‘Gap’ events

• Bayfest and music festivals, Cindy Thompson, 761-4766
• Tennis tournament, Kip Lalosh, 778-5446
• Realtor progressive open house, Sandy Rich, 778-0426
• Dog costume contest, The Sun newspaper, 778-3986
• Sandcastle tournament, Pam Fortenberry, 778-0436
• Skim Board Bash, Ronee Brady, 778-1001
• ArtsHOP Weekend, Joyce Karp, 778-2099
• 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 scavenger hunt, 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
• Open air market, Ginny Dutton, 778-7370
• Concert in the Park, Mark Kimball, 518-6329 and Steve Bark, 720-3200
• Haleyween party, Sabine Musil, 778-5405
• Pickleball, Robert Taylor, 778-6465
• Wing eating contest and karaoke contest, Tom Siwa, 419-341-1035.
• Softball tournament, Jeff Levine, 744-6883.
• Kayak tournament, Irene Pearman, 518-8906.
• Pot luck dinner and movie, AMI Community Center, Sandy Pruett, 778-1908.
• Bridge Street Market, Nancy Ambrose, 518-4431.

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