The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 3 - October 8, 2008


Week one ends with a blast
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD Community Center Teen Scene members
Richard Hynds, Julian Botero, Jonah Caster and Sarah Howard
sit in a sculpted sand couch at the Concert in the Park
in Holmes Beach.

BRADENTON BEACH – The first of six weeks without use of the Anna Maria Island Bridge went relatively well with no major problems, but all eyes in the business community were on the upcoming weekend – the first featuring Bridging the Gap activities.

Some businesses were up and some were down, but the major affect might be in the way people, both on and off the Island, perceive the situation.

It all began with the Bridge Street Market in Bradenton Beach. Organizer Nancy Ambrose said it was a success.

"We had a great turnout," she said, "The vendors were pretty much full and I think they all did well. They were pleased and talked about coming back to the next one."

Ambrose said that one of the 32 vendors sold honey-smoked mullet. She said there were a lot of locals there who she thinks will remember the market every other Saturday morning as the holiday season approaches.

"One vendor, Orban Nursery, said they would be bringing poinsettias to sell at future markets," she said.

Ambrose said in addition to the locals, they had people from as far as Tampa who had heard about Bridging the Gap and the Bridge Street Market from TV news.

"I talked with the owner of Art Attack, next door to us, who said he was really pleased at the turnout and the business he was doing," she said. "He said it had been really slow up until then."

Teeing it up

And then, just down the street, the Fish Hole Mini Golf Course held its golf tournament. Course manager Dana Snell said they were very pleased with the crowd.

"We had 36 people registered and the majority of the people were from the mainland," he said. "The players were all competing for some pretty nice prizes."

The first place winner was Jeff Cavanaugh, who took home $200. Steve LaParl took second place after a sudden death playoff and won $100 cash.

"We’re hoping to have more tournaments in the future," Snell said. "I’d also like to form some leagues."

Next came pickleball at the Anna Maria Island Community Center where players from the Center’s league demonstrated this popular new game to people who were interested.

Concert in the Park

The weekend’s activities ended with the Concert in the Park next to Holmes Beach City Hall, where Karen LaPensee and her husband, Mike, had a blast.

"It’s such a positive thing, people coming together for the Island," she said. "We were fortunate with the weather, the band changeovers were done quickly, we heard some music we had never heard before and we stayed to the bitter end."

Paulie Hoffmann, owner of Hurricane Hank’s, had praise for music festival organizer Mark Kimball.

‘Mark did a great job," he said. "Everyone had a great time."

The only disappointment might have come from those who wanted the music to go later than 7 p.m., but there was a glitch.

"There aren’t any lights in the field," said Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger. "They would have been playing in the dark."

Bohnenberger said neighbors might have gotten upset also.

"We had only five complaints," he said. "One to me, one to Billie Martini and three to the police."

Melinda Benson, who drove in from Bradenton, said, “It was a breeze getting to the Island. I love it out here and nothing is going to stop me from my weekends at the beach.”

As the afternoon wore on and a nice breeze blew through, crowds continued to gather and people got into the Island spirit.

“I heard the music from my house (on Key Royale) and jumped in my car to get down here,” said Peggy Vidas. “This is just great.”

Marcia Neumayer, of Holmes Beach, added, “It was fun to see everybody you know. I liked the Billy Rice Band and I definitely would attend if they do this again next year.”

Police ask FDOT to retime stoplight

BRADENTON BEACH – Those extensive plans to keep traffic moving on the south end of the Island during the Anna Maria Island Bridge closure seem to be working, except for one location.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said Monday that he is asking the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to retime the light at 119th Street in Cortez.

"We’ve had more trouble with traffic being tied up at that location," he said.

Speciale said that aside from that problem, traffic has flowed smoothly most of the time. FDOT paid Bradenton Beach to put a police officer at the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends with the stipulation that Speciale assess the situation after the first week. If the 12-hour patrol were not needed, he would drop the hours to 7 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays.

"I have decided that we need that patrolman there for 12 hours," Speciale said. "We need someone to clear cars from the intersection sometimes when long semi trucks, which would have normally gotten on the Island via the Manatee Avenue bridge, turn onto Gulf Drive from Cortez Road."

Speciale said there was a lot of traffic over the weekend.

"We had all those (Bridging the Gap) events and the beaches were full," he said. "Sunday, we had an accident at 17th Street N. and Gulf Drive and it tied up traffic all the way back past 119th Street in Cortez."

Meanwhile, the Holmes Beach Police Department has taken away its patrolman who sat at the intersection of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue the first week. Lieutenant Dale Stephenson said that he wasn’t needed.

"Everything worked out well this first week," he said. "We had that music festival and there were no incidents."

Despite the smooth start to the six-week bridge closure, Special had a warning.

"Don’t get complacent because traffic will pick up," he said. "It was good to be able to get any bugs ironed out so that we can deal with the increase of traffic when the seasonal residents start coming back."

Weekend good, but too early to tell bridge effect

If this past weekend is any indication, business on the Island has not been slowed much by the closing of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

In fact, several owners said their volume was more than a typical weekend for this time of year, but say it is too early to know if there will be more of an impact in coming weeks.

They pointed out that this is the slowest time of the year, and traditionally, business doesn’t begin to pick up until mid-October. The faltering economy also is having an effect.

Paulie Hoffmann, of Hurricane Hank’s in Holmes Beach said his weekend was very good, while Polli Stroup of Duffy’s Tavern said theirs was "pretty much normal."

Jackie Estes, of Paradise Café in Holmes Beach, said she business was slow the first of the week, then picked up and she had a "very good Saturday and Sunday. She thinks some people stayed away from the Island for fear there would be traffic jams.

"Honestly, I haven’t noticed any difference yet," Dave Sorg, of the City Pier Restaurant in Anna Maria, said. "The jury’s still out."

Dave Russell, of Rotten Ralph’s in Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach, said he hasn’t noticed any effect on traffic.

"I can watch the Cortez Bridge from my restaurant on the pier (Bradenton Beach City Pier) and there are no traffic jams and no backups. Some people may be staying away because they think there will be a lot of traffic, but once they realize there is no problem, they’ll come back."

Ed Spring, of the Sign of the Mermaid in Anna Maria, said he thinks business has been better.

"I’m seeing more locals that support us year ‘round come in more frequently," Spring said. "Everyone needs to stick together and let people know that the businesses are still open."

Spring said none of his employees who come from town have complained about the drive, but he will add 60 to 100 extra miles to his weekly travels. He praised officials for changes in the timing of the traffic lights and the extra turn lanes, which expedite the drive.

Sean Murphy, of the Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach, said he has a problem with people who say "the" bridge is closed.

"Tell people they don’t have to swim to get here. There are two other bridges to the Island, and it’s only 2.2 miles across 75th Street. Our customers are still coming from town."

Jason Suzor, of the Waterfront Restaurant in Anna Maria, said he did the same amount of business in the first three days the bridge was closed.

Dave Cochran, of the Rod and Reel Pier in Anna Maria, said the bulk of his business is on weekends, but currently, business is about the same as last year.

Going the other direction, Dawn Dugger, of Southern Belle Bakery and Café in the Albertson’s Plaza in Bradenton, which draws a lot of Island customers, said, "Monday and Tuesday were slower, but I’m not sure if it was the bridge or the stock market because Wednesday and Thursday we were slammed."

Island businesses coping with bridge closing

Weekday business on the Island has slowed as it usually does during the off season, but owners say they’re not convinced it’s because of the closing of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

"I’d say this is typical for us, though we do have more Island people shopping," said Ginny Possehl, of the Sand Dollar on Marina Drive.

At the Two Sides of Nature stores on Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach and at Bayview Plaza in Anna Maria, clerks said the slowdown is typical for this time of year. This weekend, however, was busier and pumped some life into the stores.

"We’ve had a lot of people in the store today because of the Bridge Street Market and the music festival," said Trish Gregory, an employee at one of the Bridge Street Two Sides of Nature. "They’re not necessarily buying, but they’re coming in."

Bill La Row at Whistle Stop in Holmes Beach said the season is poor, but not that much different from other years.

"I don’t expect to see things pick up until mid-October when the snowbirds come back," he said. "Then we’ll see what effect the bridge closing will have. It’s a little early to tell until we get that influx of people."

Several businesses were closed for vacation during the first week of the bridge shutdown but were scheduled to reopen this week.

Other Island businesses have special sales and activities planned to stimulate traffic into their stores.

"We’re going to be offering a discount on spa services," said Danielle Sewall, owner of Body and Sol, a day spa in the upstairs of the old IGA store in Anna Maria. "Bring in sales receipts from any five Island business and we’ll give you a 40 percent discount."

Sewall said she hopes this promotional idea will also help the rest of the business community generate sales.

And Possehl said plans for a promotion at Sand Dollar are in the works.

"We’re still tossing around ideas, but we’re thinking of doing something around a Christmas theme, something that would encourage Island residents to get their Christmas shopping done while it’s quiet here."

Most people felt that it’s still too soon to exactly what impact the bridge closing will have.

The DOT based the timing of the closure on the wishes of the business community who asked that it coincide with the usual seasonal slowdown.

"We’ll have to see if they get it back up and running by the middle of November as they promised," La Row said. "That’s when we’ll have our winter visitors and Snow Birds. A lot of them stay off-Island. We’ll have to see what happens then."

Jennings cites changes needed for country
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


BRADENTON BEACH – There are three ways to handle the budget deficit: make more money, spend less or a combination of both.

U.S. House of Representatives candidate Christine Jennings said she prefers the third suggestion, although she hinted that the only tax increase she would like to see would come in the form of lifting the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of the people.

Jennings, a Democrat and a former banker, addressed members of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon at the Sun House restaurant on Wednesday, Oct. 1. She said the United States has suffered from a lack of leadership and financial restraint for the past eight years.

"Today (Oct. 1) is the first day of the new fiscal year in the government and we begin it with a budget deficit of more than $400 billion," she said. "What we’re preparing to do to the next generation is leave them a mess far worse than was left to any other generation."

Jennings said that the new leaders after the November election would best serve the nation by looking over the system, eliminating tax loopholes for industries, businesses and individuals. She talked about a forgotten financial practice of controlling spending called pay as you go.

"Pay as you go started with the George H. Bush administration and continued with the Clinton administration," she said. "It stopped during the fifth month of George W. Bush’s administration."

Jennings said that for the last eight years, we have been coasting without leadership.

"You have got to have leadership to tell the people of this country what this bailout is all about," she said. "Our country runs on consumer spending and right now, we’re in hurricane mode."

On health care, Jennings said there are about 300 million people in America and 47 million have no insurance coverage.

"That’s shameful, it’s wrong and it has got to be corrected," she said. "I am not for free health care, but there are things we can do to help those who are not insured."

Jennings said improving coverage for preventative health care is one way to reduce costs. She then spoke about the attitude of some people that has resulted from the Bush years.

"I am so tired of the lack of respect for scholars," she said. "Jimmy Carter back in the 1970s knew we needed alternative forms of energy and people laughed at him. The same goes for Hillary Clinton on health care and Al Gore, who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

"We have got to elevate the education in this country," she said. "Florida should have been a leader in solar energy a long time ago. I want to see it happen and I want to see more green jobs created."

On the banking crisis, as the House and Senate worked on a bailout bill, Jennings said the problem is due to a lack of regulation and oversight.

"As a banker, if we had had no regulation, we would have been under so much pressure to earn more profit," she said.

Water to be shut off Wed. night, Oct. 8
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

is where the water will be shut off from 11 p.m. Wednesday,
Oct. 8, to 6 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 9.

There will be a planned water shutoff in the city of Anna Maria Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 9. The shutoff will affect residents and businesses from Peppertree Lane to the North end of the Island.

After the water is turned back on, there will be a precautionary boil water notice in effect for 24 to 48 hours. A rolling boil for one minute will be sufficient, according to Manatee County Utilities Operations. Residents are supposed to be notified by the reverse 911 system of the shutoff, the boil water precaution and again when the boil water notice is lifted.

During the shutoff, the newly laid potable water pipe that has had Gulf Drive torn up since June, will be hooked into the existing water system.

Repaving of Gulf Drive is scheduled to begin on Monday, Oct. 13. The job is expected to take up to four days, with one lane being kept open.

Manatee County is paying for paving the east side of the road where its project has been installed from Crosspointe Fellowship on the south to Willow Avenue on the north.

The city of Anna Maria is paying for the paving of west side of Gulf Drive where a city drainage project has been installed.

Bayfest visitors get taste of Island

ANNA MARIA – When the crowd starts to gather for Bayfest on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the aroma of local food will start to waft up Pine Avenue.

Bayfest is where local restaurants serve the food that has kept people coming back for eight years. Some of those restaurants are Paradise Café, where Jackie Estes serves great food; The Sun House, where Chef Darrell Mizel offers the best of Floribbean; The Sandbar, offering tasty seafood dishes on the beach; The Waterfront in Anna Maria; Moveable Feast; Skinny’s burgers and Melinda’s Cafe and Catering, to name a few.

The food court will be located off of Pine Avenue toward Bay Boulevard and within listening distance of the stage. There will be two dining tents, bathrooms and hand washing stations. The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce will be serving soda, water, beer, wine and rum runners.

Children will have several activities including the rock wall, bounce houses, a race track and a balloon game. In addition, Thompson Preschool and Kids Club (TPKC) will be holding a Fall Festival to preschool kids with proceeds going to Texas hurricane victims.

Enjoy music all day long from local favorites The Blues Alternators, Koko Ray and the Soul Providers, Kettle Fish and the Doctor Dave Band on the big stage provided by Manatee County.

In addition, there will be a motorcycle show in the afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. and their usual car show, featuring antique, classic and modified cars and trucks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The vehicles will be judged and trophies will be awarded in the afternoon. Local classic car owner Bill Mergens is the organizer and he has invited a disc jockey to spin records from the days when many of those vehicles were new.

Come shop the arts and crafts booths and get informed from several not-for-profit booths including Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, the Island Community Center, the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island and Anna Maria’s Environmental Education and Enhancement Committee.

Admission is free and there is parking nearby or take the trolley and forget about parking. Bring your reusable bag to carry what you purchase and make it a "green" time.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and the Anna Maria Island Sun are Bayfest sponsors. Call organizer Cindy Thompson at 761-4766 for other sponsorship opportunities.

Bridging the Gap Briefs
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Spreading the word Anna Maria Island Sun Advertising Director
Chantelle Lewin (right) talks with WWSB TVNews reporter
Linda Carson about Bridging the Gap for a news story the
station aired last week.

Potluck dinner at the Center

The Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, is hosting the Gap’s potluck dinner and movie night on Friday, Oct. 10 from 6 until 9 p.m. Bring a covered dish to share. The Center will offer concessions for a minimal fee.

Bring your friends and neighbors, blankets and beach chairs and stay for the featured family movie, "Seabiscuit," a heartwarming true story about a magnificent racing horse.

Have fun at trolley scavenger hunt

For lots of fun and great prizes, join the Gap’s trolley scavenger hunt on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No pre-registration is necessary. Just come to the Sandbar parking lot on Gulf Drive in Anna Maria next to Green Real Estate.

For $5, which goes onto a fund for Island families in need, you’ll get a list of 40 items to collect, a goodie bag for your items and a map. Then jump on the trolley and start the hunt. At 3 p.m., you’ll return to the parking lot for prizes, refreshments and music.

The $1,500 in prizes includes overnight stays at local resorts, a scooter rental, dinner certificates and a parasail ride. There will be special prizes for first, second and third place, but everyone will get a prize.

For information or to donate a prize, call Caryn Hodge at 713-3105.

Help decide whose wings are Island’s best

If you’re a wing aficionado, don’t miss the Gap’s Wing Ding at Rotten Ralph’s on the Bradenton Beach City Pier on Saturday, Oct. 11, at noon. Local restaurants will submit their best wings to be judged by the public.

The plates of wings will be numbered and members of the public will sample them and submit their votes. A representative of Bridge Street Bazaar will count the votes, and the winner will receive a plaque.

To participate, call Ed Lyon at 201-5436.

Play in softball tourneys

The Gap’s softball tournaments are set for Sunday, Oct. 12 and 26, at 2 p.m. There is no fee to play.

At the Oct. 12 games, the most valuable player will win a free massage at Body and Sol Spa and Wellness and at the Oct. 26 games, all members of the highest scoring team from both days of play will win a one-month health club membership and three personal training sessions with Levine.

The Center’s teens will be cooking burgers and dogs and banking the funds for their upcoming ski trip. The teens, joined by massage therapists and instructors from Body and Sol, will also lead the stands in cheering for their teams. Any donations of money and equipment will go to the Center’s youth programs.

To sign up a team or for information, call Jeff Levine at 744-6883.

Bridge Street Market continues

The popular Bridge Street Market in Bradenton Beach continues on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors will offer fresh produce and flowers, flower arrangements and plants arts and crafts T-shirts and clothing, jewelry and more. For information, call Nancy Ambrose at 518-4431.

Sell your wares at flea market

The Gap’s open-air flea market is set for Saturday, Oct. 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the field next to Holmes Beach City Hall. Shop for fresh produce, great food and fabulous finds.

A 12-foot by 12-foot booth spaces are $50 with a $25 deposit with registration. Funds minus expenses will go onto a fund for Island families in need. Registration forms are available at Ginny and Jane E’s at the Old IGA, 9807 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

Golf tourney at Key Royale

The Gap’s family golf tournament will be held at the Key Royale Golf Club on Saturday, Nov. 15. It is open to all players, including juniors 10 years old and older who own their own clubs.

Registration starts at 11 a.m. and the tournament begins at noon. There will be gift bags, team and individual prizes and optional games of chance.

The tournament is limited to the first 72 players and applications with the entry fee of $18 must be submitted to the Key Royale Golf Club, 700 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, or the Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, by Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Find application forms at the Key Royale Club, the Community Center, The Sun, 9801 Gulf Drive , Anna Maria and the AMI Chamber, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. All proceeds will be donated to the Center’s Bud Stokes Junior Golf Program.

Center seeking vendors for concert

The Island Community Center is seeking vendors to sell food, drinks and crafts at its Concert on the Green on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 1 until 4 p.m. The concert will celebrate the re-opening of the Anna Maria Bridge and the first anniversary of the new Center.

The free concert will take place on the Center’s field, so bring your lawn chairs and beach blankets. The featured band is Yesterdayze, a high-energy, six-piece band with great vocals, re-creating your favorite songs from the 60s. There will be food, beer, sodas and water for sale.

In order to be able to offer a free concert, the Center also is seeking individuals and organizations to underwrite the cost of the band. Sponsorships are $50 and up and the booth fee is $50.

If you are interested in being an event sponsor or a vendor, call Sandee at 941-778-1908, ext. 0.

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