The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 52 - September 17, 2008


Soaked and Soggy
Hurricane Ike chews up Island beaches and leaves streets and yards flooded from its powerful storm surge
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This yard on North Shore Drive in Anna Maria was inundated by the storm surge.

On its way to landfall in Galveston, Hurricane Ike left an impression on Anna Maria Island in the form of flooded streets, dead landscaping and damaged seawalls last week.

The main culprit was Ike’s tremendous size and power, which increased the tidal surge above the Island’s elevation on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

The flooding was serious along Marina Drive north from the intersection with Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach and out toward the boat docks where Marina sprouts off to the east. Streets in northern Anna Maria were flooded as were streets in northern Bradenton Beach and south along Bay Drive.

Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay said crews blocked off North Shore Drive north of North Bay Boulevard where high water came over the seawall and onto the street. Another seawall collapsed near where one fell during rough weather a week earlier caused by Hurricane Gustav. Other flooded areas included the intersection in front of Bay View Plaza and several streets along South Bay Boulevard where canals overflowed dumping saltwater into the road.

The Rod and Reel Pier lost two docks and its fish cleaning station, which was in the parking lot on Wednesday. Some boards on the main deck and the sewer pipe also came loose. The surrounding neighborhood, which floods easily, was inundated by the high tide. Several homes on North Bay Boulevard, North Shore Drive and Alamanda Road were flooded, and water remained in some parts of the streets until Friday morning.

On Thursday, high tide caused flooding again in northern Bradenton Beach, along Marina Drive and, of course, parts of Anna Maria. Fran Barford called Waste Management to have offiicials ask their trash truck drivers to go slow in the flooded streets because their wakes were pushing more water into homes along the roads.

Barford said city hall was inundated with calls from residents complaining that the new drainage system wasn’t working.

"The flooding we saw from Ike was from tidal surge," Barford said. "While we sympathize and certainly understand everyone’s concern about their property, the drainage system wasn’t designed to handle tidal flooding. This is a barrier island, and there’s just no way to combat an event like this."

Barford said city staff was doing all it could.

"George McKay and Gary (Thorpe) were out there 24/7 doing what they could – helping with sandbags and digging out where needed," Barford said. "People thought the storm drains were clogged, but they were clear. This was a storm event. It’s hard to get people to understand that."

Holmes Beach Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes said that the high tide was too much for the city’s stormwater management system.

"It backed up the storm drains and swales," he said. "When the drainage system works, it’s great, but when the tide is higher than the natural elevation, it backs up into yards and the street."

A couple of days after all that saltwater flooding, the formerly green grass at the side of the roads and in the swales was turning brown.

Meanwhile, the beaches suffered erosion in many areas up and down the Island. Erosion was bad along Coquina Beach, which is scheduled for renourishment next year. Manatee County Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker said the erosion on those beaches is to be expected.

"Those beaches have never been renourished," he said. "That is why we are planning to renourish them in the spring or fall of next year, depending on whether we can get the permitting and a contractor before turtle season."

The upcoming renourishment covers Coquina Beach to the south and Anna Maria beaches that had originally been nourished in 2002 and were scheduled to be renourished in 2005, but were not because the contractor was unable to complete the project.

Hunsicker said that renourished beaches are built to better withstand erosion from storms, and he thinks that the upcoming renourishment will better protect the uplands on the Island.

Kick off ‘the Gap’ with music
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN FILE PHOTO The Dr. Dave Band will be one of the featured
acts at the Concert in the Park on Saturday, Oct.4, from
noon to 7 p.m. in the park north of Holmes Beach City Hall.

HOLMES BEACH – That first weekend without the Anna Maria Bridge is likely to be a rough one. Try to get over the withdrawal with some live music.

Concert in the Park helps kick off Bridging the Gap on Saturday, Oct.4, from noon to 7 p.m. in the park north of Holmes Beach City Hall.

There will be music, food, refreshment, raffles and music from the Dr. Dave Band, the Billy Rice Band, Koko Ray, Eric von Hahmann and Yesterdayze. In addition, comedian Brian Hamilton will emcee and entertain between the musical acts.

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably caught Dr. Dave’s energetic act. If an instrument has a string on it, he knows how to play it. He refers to his music as "CountryGassRock" and the band has been a fixture on the nightclub scene, at music festivals and at fairs for years. He had the crowd rocking during an Island Music Festival on Pine Avenue in April.

The Billy Rice Band is also well known to locals, especially those who enjoy Get Down Downtown in Bradenton. Rice has been performing since he was 14, and his band performs "a little bit country and a whole lot rock n roll." It’s a treat when they come to town, so come on out and get ready to rock.

Born in Chicago, Koko Ray began his professional career in Las Vegas when he was 15. He majored in music education in college and has mastered most woodwind instruments and also plays a number of string and percussion instruments. He is known for picking up two saxophones and playing them at the same time while holding a Marlboro in one hand. He played the Monterey Jazz Festival three years in a row and his repertoire ranges from jazz to rock.

Cortez native Eric von Hahmann began playing the guitar when he was 12 and became a professional when he was 14. Most everyone who has been to a festival out here has heard him. He writes his own music, which he performs when he’s not covering an oldie or country hit and he recently opened for Kenny Chesney in the Ford Ampitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

Let’s kick off Bridging the Gap with some music, food and fun. Take the free trolley and forget about finding a parking spot. If you live on the mainland, MCAT will provide shuttle service to and from the Island. You might want to book a room and spend the weekend.

For more information on Concert in the Park, call Mark Kimball at 518-6329 or Steve Bark at 720-3200.

See you there.

Click to view Adobe PDF of Calendar of Events Click to download the Adobe Free Reader

Food Network to feature local chef
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Chef Andrea Spring will be on a Food Network special to air Sunday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.

BRADENTON – A TV special, featuring Andrea Spring and filmed at the Crisco National Pie Championships and the Sign of the Mermaid, will air on Sunday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. on the Food Network.

"I’m excited and nervous," Spring said last week, while finishing the lunch rush at her new restaurant, Southern Belle Bakery and Café.

The special is the result of Spring’s victories in the Crisco National Pie Championships over the past two years, including best overall, three first places and an honorable mention.

During the contest in April, four contestants were followed and filmed for the special. Then in July additional footage was filmed at the Sign of the Mermaid restaurant in Anna Maria, which is owned by Spring and her husband, Ed.

"I think it will be really good," Spring said. "I don’t know what to expect. Ed is very excited about it. They usually play it several times."

Spring said she is planning to compete in the pie championships again in April 2009.

"I love doing the competition," she said. "As soon as it was over this year, I began planning for the next one. It is so much fun.

"I love the other competitors. It’s like a family. These people are from all over the U.S., and we’ve all gotten to be good friends."

Meanwhile, Spring and her sister, Dawn Dugger, continue to serve a full house at breakfast and lunch at Southern Belle, which opened Sept. 2 in the Manatee West Shopping Center at Manatee Avenue and 75th Street in Bradenton.

Funding OK’d for extra shuttle during bridge closure
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This beachside building of the Beach Inn includes two- and three-bedroom units.
Room service will be provided by the Beach Bistro next door.

HOLMES BEACH – The final public meeting before the Anna Maria Island Bridge is shut down for 45 days promises to be an informative one.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which is sponsoring the meeting on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Bernard Catholic Church, wants to go over what will occur when the bridge closes to automobile traffic on Monday, Sept. 29.

That closure will cut the bridge access to the mainland by 50 percent, and it appears that FDOT has responded to pleas from Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore. The Sun newspaper and Bridging the Gap organizers to provide shuttle service to and from the mainland seven days a week.

Whitmore and FDOT confirmed last week that extra funding had been found to give to Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) to pay for the shuttle service. MCAT Director Ralf Heseler is expected to make the announcement with details of how it will occur at the meeting.

Bridging the Gap organizers requested shuttle service because the events planned to entice people onto the Island would mainly occur on weekends. They would like to give mainland residents the option of taking a shuttle instead of driving their vehicles over the Cortez Bridge, which many expect will be the scene of traffic jams during certain times of the day.

"I am thrilled that FDOT and MCAT are doing this," said Anna Maria Island Sun Sales Manager and Bridging the Gap Organizer Chantelle Lewin. "We hope to draw a lot of people onto the Island with the shuttle where they can then use the free trolley to get around the Island."

The public is urged to attend the meeting, especially if they have any questions. The Sun will run information in next week’s paper about what to expect when the bridge closes.

Trial set for beating suspects
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story  Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Gambuzza                Drescher

Judge Janette Dunnigan has set a Jan. 20, 2009, jury trial date for two men accused of forcing their way into an Anna Maria house on April 17 of this year and beating former City Commissioner Linda Cramer.

The suspects, Michael Gambuzza and Christopher Drescher, both of Bradenton, were arrested at a Days Inn motel on May 3, after a man who allowed the suspects to live in his home at the time of the invasion told authorities he believed they were guilty. Manatee Sheriff’s Office deputies found items taken from Cramer at the motel where they were staying.

According to the affidavit, the man with whom Cramer was living, Joseph Pandolph, got a call from an individual who wanted him to look at some orange groves east of Bradenton. He owns an orange packing company and was told to be there at 3:30 p.m.

Around 4 p.m., a man called the residence and asked Cramer if Pandolph was there and she told him no. Shortly after, a white van pulled up and two men came to the door carrying a large box. When Cramer answered the door, the men forced their way inside, punched her in the face, covered her face with a rug, tied her up and ransacked the house, taking severeal items.

The two have been in jail since their arrest. Bond was set at $175,000.

Firefighters dedicate 9/11 memorial
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND West Manatee Fire Rescue Battalion
Chief Barry Brooks welcomes everyone to the memorial dedication
ceremony as Fire Chief Andy Price listens.

HOLMES BEACH – Firefighters from the West Manatee Fire Rescue District gathered on the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks to dedicate a memorial to firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center.

The memorial at Station 1 includes three standing stones. Two depicting the Twin Towers will have the names of 343 fallen firefighters engraved in granite plaques mounted on them. In front of the third stone is a piece of the World Trade Center donated by Dennis Doran, a retired captain from the Jersey City Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Barry Brooks said the monument was built around Doran’s piece.

"I wanted the piece to have respect and be honored," Doran told the crowd. "It will be next to 343 names. You can’t give it any more respect than that."

A third stone will contain the words: Greater love hath no man that this that he lay down his life for his brothers. We will never forget our fallen brothers. Sept. 11, 2001.

"The events of 9/11 changed the fire service, the country, the world," said Brooks, who with firefighter Carlo Valente coordinated the memorial’s construction. "Everybody was sad beyond belief, but those guys did not die in vain. They changed the way the fire service operates. No one in the fire service will ever forget."

Tim Fitzpatrick, a retired NYC firefighter, recalled, "When it happened, I was so sad, but also so proud that these guys did what they were trained to do."

Brooks thanked all those in the community who gave time and money to build the memorial, including firefighters, who worked on their days off; the people who donated the block, the stuccowork and the stone; Eurostone, which donated the granite; and Helms Vault, which donated a portion of the engraving.

"It was a long time coming, but it was worth it," Brooks said.

Surfer Shaun Tomson visits Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO PROVIDED Former world champion surfer Shaun Tomson,
left, visits with Island friend Giorgio Gomez and Giorgio’s
grandfather, Jim Brady, at Brady’s West Coast Surf Shop
in Holmes Beach.

Most high school crushes don’t last much past senior prom, but most guys aren’t Shaun Tomson.

With his sunstreaked hair, movie star smile and graceful surf style on the cover of Surfer magazine, he won hearts during my senior year, as well as the International Professional Surfers World Championship.

Three decades later, he’s still got it all, plus a dozen major surf contest wins, a dozen film credits playing himself and fictional characters, a book, “The Surfer’s Code,” and an environmental conscience that helps guide the Surfrider Foundation.

Now, he’s taken the plunge as executive film producer with Bustin’ Down the Door, which was screened on Sept. 10 to a packed house at the historic Beach Theatre in St. Petersburg Beach.

It had been such an unusually good surf day, thanks to Hurricane Ike, that guys walked into the theatre still wet from surfing Upham Beach a few blocks away, putting on their T-shirts as they scouted for Tomson.

The South African native, now 53, signed autographs and chatted in his charming Aussie accent about where he might go surfing the next day. A hopeful reporter’s suggestion to visit Anna Maria Island turned into the unexpected treat of paddling out with him the next day to christen my short-lived career as a surf photographer.

Tomson was right – he had warned me I wouldn’t get any good shots of him, maybe because by his big wave standards, the overhead surf wasn’t impressive enough, but more probably because he predicted I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him.

Not many can. He’s one of the 25 most influential surfers of the century according to Surfer magazine, and one of the 16 greatest surfers of all time, says Surfing magazine.

“Bustin’ Down the Door” puts it all in context.

Tomson and his cousin, Mike Tomson, with buddies Rabbit "Bugs" Bartholomew, Ian Cairns, Peter Townend and Mark Richards, document their 1970s invasion of Hawaii’s North Shore, which transformed surfing from its counterculture surf bum image into a professional sport with commensurate pay.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival earlier this year, gets its name from a chest-pounding magazine article written by Bartholomew that insulted Hawaiian surfers and escalated tensions between the Hawaiians and the newcomers to the point that Tomson and friends bought shotguns for protection.

“Bustin’ Down the Door” offers more than big surf, big egos and driving music - there are tears, fears, righteous anger, edgy sarcasm and the true-story success of a Hawaiian surfer-mediator who employed the aloha spirit to make the North Shore safe to surf.

Tomson now has a triumphant film production credit to add to his impressive resume.

But to me, his finest achievement is inspiring generations of surfers who hung his picture on their locker doors and dreamed of taking a free ride on a perfect wave.

Property tax amendment removed from ballot

The Florida Supreme Court has removed a constitutional amendment from Florida's Nov. 4 ballot that would have cut property taxes, leaving three other property-related amendments for voters to decide.

Amendment 5, removed from the ballot, would have replaced property taxes allocated for school revenue with an increase in the state sales tax.

"We’re very, very disappointed in the Supreme Court’s action," said Don Schroder, president of the Anna Maria Island-based Coalition Against Runaway Taxation (CART). "We feel it was not in the best interest of citizens. They are legislating from the bench."

CART is refocusing on alternative initiatives, he said, including the 1.35 percent property tax cap amendment, not yet on the ballot, which would cap all property taxes except those approved by voters at 1.35 percent of the highest taxable value of the property while preserving Save Our Homes and homestead exemptions.

Three other proposed property tax reforms remain on the ballot for Florida voters to decide.

Amendment 3 would allow the Legislature to prohibit property tax assessors from considering two factors in determining a residential property's value - improvements that increase wind resistance and installation of renewable energy source devices.

Amendment 4 would establish a property tax exemption for private land held in perpetuity for conservation purposes beginning in 2010.

Amendment 6 would require that commercial fishing facilities, marinas, boat storage and launch facilities and marine manufacturing and repair plants be assessed on their use instead of their potential market value.

The amendments were proposed by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which meets every 20 years to suggest constitutional revisions.

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