The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 11 - December 3, 2008

Breaking News

Blood in stolen car matches missing woman’s

HOLMES BEACH – Blood found in missing hotelier Sabine Musil-Buehler’s stolen car is hers, according to test results confirmed by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s her blood. We’re not surprised by that,” MCSO spokesman Dave Bristow said, adding that the homicide investigation is continuing, along with a state investigation into a possible arson at her Holmes Beach motel.

It’s been a month since Musil-Buehler, 49, was last seen on Nov. 4 by her boyfriend, William J. Cumber, 39, after an argument. The missing woman, who is separated from her husband and business partner, Tom Buehler, was living with Cumber at the time of her disappearance. Buehler was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. Cumber has been questioned in both Musil-Buehler’s disappearance and in the Nov. 16 fire of a duplex at Haley’s Motel, 8104 Gulf Drive.

On Tuesday, Manatee Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan ordered Cumber to pay $3,629 to cover the cost of investigating a 2005 arson that he pleaded guilty to in 2006. Cumber is serving three years probation for setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s house; he was released from prison on Sept. 13. At a hearing to modify the terms of his probation, Cumber said he has no money, is unemployed and expected to be evicted from his Anna Maria apartment.

Cumber reportedly left his apartment voluntarily on Dec. 2 and is staying at the Salvation Army in Bradenton, according to local authorities. If Cumber does not begin making payments, he could violate his probation and be sent back to prison.

The man found driving Musil-Buehler’s car, Robert Corona, was arrested for grand theft. He originally stated that the missing woman had been in the car with him, then later stated that he found the car unoccupied, according to the sheriff’s office. To report information on the disappearance or the fire, call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 747-3011 or the West Manatee Fire Rescue District at 741-3900.

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Residents claim twister hit trailers
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Larry Albert gets a little help from his friends Tuesday morning as he
checks the roof of a home he owns in the Sandpiper Mobile Resort in
Bradenton Beach. SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY

BRADENTON BEACH — The leading edge of a cold front took residents of Sandpiper Mobile Resort by surprise early Tuesday morning.

"I was sleeping," said Colleen Wisotzke, a resident of the park. "I heard heavy rain and wind and went to the door to put down my sun umbrella when the wind just picked up all my porch furniture and blew it away."

The storm hit at about 2 a.m. and no one was injured, according to West Manatee Fire and Rescue Captain Tom Sousa.

"There was damage to some of the homes, and power lines were down, but we have no reports of injuries," Sousa said. "Most of the damage occurred on 2nd Street."

Denise Young, who lives on 5th, said she didn’t have any damage at her home.

"I went out to check," Young said. "I heard there was a tornado. Two guys who live close to the park came over and said they saw a tornado touch down, go up and touch down again."

Several other residents said they had also heard that the damage was caused by a tornado, but Anthony Reyes, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Ruskin, said the damage was most likely caused by storm winds and not a tornado.

"Judging by the history we have from radar and satellite reports, the damage was caused by winds," Reyes said. "There was no significant structural damage, and when you have a tornado touch down in a mobile home park, you get significant damage."

Reyes said the storm likely brought strong straight-line winds.

"The damage sounds like it was winds, or it could have been a ‘gust-nado,’ which is not a tornado, but a turbulence at the surface that swirls around and causes some damage."

Reyes also noted that it’s very difficult to actually see a funnel cloud when it’s dark out.

Most of the damage at the resort will not be covered by insurance.

"You can’t get insurance on most of the homes in here," said Linda Raines. "You can get liability, but that’s it."

Raines and Barbara McNally, the treasurer for the resort’s board, noted that a lot of the owners have not yet arrived for the season. Other residents were out taking photographs to send to them.

Whatever blew through Sandpiper early Tuesday morning, it brought the residents of the park out in force to check up on each other and to help clean up.

By dawn on Tuesday, residents were up and walking through the park; neighbor was checking on neighbor, damage was being assessed and cleaned up.

"And here we thought hurricane season was over," one resident said and then rode away on his bicycle.

Pine Avenue project pitched to community
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Developer Michael Coleman explains the Pine Avenue Restoration
project to real estate professionals. SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT

ANNA MARIA – The Pine Avenue Restoration Project has been in the news for the past year, but the movers and shakers have not had the opportunity to tell their story to the people who would be instrumental in selling it – the real estate professionals on the Island.

That’s why they invited those professionals to a party on Thursday, Nov. 25, at one of the buildings that serves as an office for Island Real Estate, the main agency handling the development.

Plans call for a number of two-story structures boasting "uniquely Anna Maria" style with residential space atop commercial.

Island Real Estate agents David Teitelbaum and Alan Galletto are handling the sales of the units, and Teitelbaum spoke of the design.

"The residential areas measure 2,000 square feet and the commercial areas are 2,500 square feet," he said, "The economics of making this work called for such an arrangement and the ideal client would be someone who can live over their store or office."

Sandbar restaurant owner Ed Chiles, who gathered together the people who set the wheels in motion on the project, talked about the philosophy of it.

"The most important fabric of a community is its commercial area," he said. "Without that, you become a suburb, a bedroom community."

Chiles said that the project takes the commercial area of Anna Maria and improves on it.

"We don’t want to make any more commercial property," he said. "We just don’t want to lose what we have."

Chiles compared the project with the early days of Anna Maria.

"When the Anna Maria Development Company tried to market the Island to tourists, they all came by ship and landed at the Anna Maria Pier," he said "The pier became this city’s front door and they all promenaded down Pine Avenue."

Chiles said their goal is to have this project finished and sold by 2011, the 100th anniversary of the development company. He also talked about the scale of what they have planned.

"There’s nothing big box here," he said. "It’s a mix of mom and pops, a mix of professionals and boutiques."

Chiles said they could have put two stories of residential over the commercial, but it would have made the buildings too large for the look they wanted. He said it was absolutely the right thing to do. He said they got Island architect Gene Aubrey to design the buildings, because he seemed to know what they wanted.

"He showed us a rendering for one of the properties and said, ‘that’s got a Sears and Roebuck catalogue house on it,’" Chiles said. "When he said that, we said, ‘That’s it; he’s got it.’"

Chiles said he and the group of backers are passionate about the project because it is the future of the city’s business district. Then he talked about the lifestyle in the city.

"The thing I love about Anna Maria is the same thing I hated about it when I was 15," he said, "It’s slow. It’s easy going."

Project manager Mike Coleman credited his wife, Jane, for seeing the need for the project. He said he didn’t have the kind of money to finance it, but that somehow Ed Chiles got wind of it.

"Ed had a meeting with us and found the people to back it," he said. "It has really been a labor of love. It needs to be done right because it’s a legacy project."

Coleman showed off a Styrofoam form that will serve as a mould for concrete walls that will make up the structures. He said they also offer special windows and ceilings to make each home a "thermos bottle that will be able to withstand any storm that comes to the Island."

Chiles introduced Ted LaRoche, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., who has gathered the financial backing for the project.

"I come from an area of historic communities," LaRoche said. "Our courthouse was built in 1857 and it still has musket holes and cannon holes in it from the Civil War."

He compared Murfreesboro to Franklin, a similar sized town nearby.

"We got a grant, bought up our historic district and restored it and Franklin didn’t," he said. "Today, people come to our town to revisit the past and Franklin is just a suburb of Nashville."

Cumber ordered to pay costs of arson

BRADENTON – A judge has ordered Anna Maria resident William J. Cumber to pay $3,629 to cover the cost of investigating a 2005 arson that he pleaded guilty to in 2006.

Cumber has been questioned in the Nov. 4 disappearance of his girlfriend, Haley’s Motel co-owner Sabine Musil-Buehler, and the Nov. 16 fire of a duplex at Haley’s, 8104 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach. The fire is being investigated as an arson.

Cumber is serving three years probation for setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s house in 2005. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison with credit for time served, and was released on Sept. 13, 2008.

At a probation hearing on Tuesday, his 39th birthday, Cumber told Manatee Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan that he has no money, is unemployed, lost his woodworking business and is about to be evicted from his rental apartment.

"I’m in a triangle of problems right now," he said, requesting that the judge modify his probation terms to waive the costs.

"I think you need to make some effort to pay," Dunnigan said, upholding the condition of his probation requiring him to repay the cost of investigating the fire. She waived another condition requiring payment of more than $1,000 for the cost of his supervision while on probation. Violations typically result in the probationer’s return to prison.

Musil-Buehler is separated from her husband and business partner, Tom Buehler, who reported his wife missing after her car was found on Nov. 6 near 12th Street West in Bradenton. The driver was Robert Corona, who was arrested for grand theft. Blood was discovered in the car.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Dave Bristow confirmed that lab results have been completed on the blood, but declined to comment until an arrest is made.

To report information on the disappearance or the fire, call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 747-3011 or the West Manatee Fire Rescue District at 741-3900.

City wants residents to stick around

BRADENTON BEACH – When you’re a small city with relatively few permanent residents, you want to hang on to as many as you can.

Bradenton Beach, with a population of around 1,200 and fewer than a thousand registered voters, is looking for ways to do that.

Bradenton Beach Projects and Programs Manager Lisa Marie Phillips has hooked up with a group that can help the city make itself more livable for residents as they grow older. Communities for a Lifetime, from the Department of Elder Affairs, sent its community relations manager, Janine Rogers-Harris, to town to speak before about a dozen residents on Wednesday, Nov. 19. West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging Vice President of Development Patricia Suarez joined her to show what the city could expect if it joins the group. What they had to offer were education materials, contacts with other governmental and private agencies and information on how to take advantage of them.

"I’m 47 and people ask me why I give my age," Rogers-Harris said. "I tell them I‘m trying to dispel negative ideas about age."

She talked about Florida’s changing demographics, which show there are more baby boomers around who are facing ages that require them to change their lifestyles.

"The Associated Press had a story recently that said only a small percentage of cities are preparing for an aging population," she said.

Rogers-Harris commended Phillips for her interest in the program. "One hundred and eighty-seven of the state’s 431 communities have signed up for the program," she said. "You might want to partner with Holmes Beach, Longboat Key or Manatee County."

Rogers-Harris said their program provides information on housing, employment, health and wellness, volunteerism and transportation for the elderly, and she gave them a checklist showing them how to get involved.

The first step is to pass a proclamation of resolution of support for the program, form a senior advisory committee or task force, create a community inventory or needs assessment, create a senior survey and needs assessment, develop a community vision or action plan, initiate partnerships and develop a maintenance plan, Phillips asked attendees who want to join the task force to sign up.

Suarez said that her department could serve as a one-stop shop for needs of elderly. She said her group answers calls on its hotline, 1-800-963-5337.

"Sometimes it’s somebody from out of the state who has an elderly relative who is getting out of the hospital and needs a ride home or somebody to help take of her," she said. "We help with meals, accessibility, insurance, choosing the right Medicare plan and other details. Our mission is to help the elderly stay in their homes independently, safely and with dignity, Those who want to get involved should contact Phillips at 778-4619. There are Web sites, too. They include www.communitiesforalifetime.org and www.agingflorida.com.

TV pilot filmed at Sign of the Mermaid
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Ed Spring, chef/owner of the Sign of the Mermaid, talks with Michael James,
who was trying out to be a host for the television show 3 Hungry Men,
while a cameraman from Marketing Online Video films a pilot for
the show. SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND

ANNA MARIA – Lights, camera, action were once again the words of the day at the Sign of the Mermaid when a production crew came to the popular restaurant on Nov. 17 to film a pilot for a television show.

"We’re shooting a demo to show our sponsors what our format will look like," Executive Producer Kathy Robinson, of Marketing Online Video, explained. "We’ll feature locally owned restaurants in Bradenton, Sarasota, Ellenton, Palmetto, Venice and Englewood.

"Right now, this is a vision. We can’t produce it until we get sponsors. We’ll be seeking sponsors through the month of December."

Each show will have three segments, each featuring a different restaurant. The restaurants will be in three different locations and serve different types of food.

"The viewer will see what kind of food the restaurant serves, the ambiance and interviews with diners," Robinson said. "It will allow the viewer to experience the restaurant by watching the segment.

"We wanted to create a show that boost the economy. It will help increase tourism and patronage and help people decide where to eat."

The show will be called 3 Hungry Men and plans are to begin airing it in January on ABC Channel 7 at noon on Sundays.

Island officers to patrol nation’s capital

When Barack Obama takes the oath on the mall in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, there may be as many as four million people in the street.

Guarding the new president is a daunting process left up to the U.S. Secret Service, but keeping that many people in order was too much for the D.C. police.

They sent out a call for police from across the nation to join them, and two officers from the Holmes Beach Police Department, Mike Leonard and Stan House, will join 49 others from police departments in Bradenton, Palmetto and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in beefing up the patrol.

"The D.C. police made the request through the Law Enforcement Council and Mike and Stan said they wanted to go," said Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine. "This is a good opportunity for them and it’s something they will probably never have the chance to be a part of again."

Romine said the experience will not cost the city of Holmes Beach anything, as it is paid for by the District of Columbia.

Leonard and House will fly to Washington Jan. 18, train Jan. 19, work the inauguration Jan. 20 and fly home the next day. Romine said they would wear their dress uniforms, but there is one problem.

"They don’t have a lot of cold weather gear and it’s bound to be cold up there," he said, "We’re going to see if we can’t get them something warm to wear."

The chief said the two would not be packing the shorts they wear here in the summer.

Kingfish Ramp parking plan still in the works

BRADENTON – Manatee County continues to work with the Florida Department of Transportation on improvements to the parking lot at Kingfish Ramp, but construction could be six months away.

Bill O’Shea, of the county’s Natural Resources Department, told members of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee recently that the county’s public works department has been working with DOT on a design.

"One of the biggest problems is that we’ll lose a lot of the parking because there’s a 24-foot recovery zone and most of the cars are parked right up to the pavement," O’Shea said.

He said public works officials proposed a curb and gutter section from the base of bridge to West Bay Cove’s driveway, which would allow parking closer to the right of way, but DOT officials nixed the idea.

"They really only want it immediately adjacent to the parking," he said. ‘So, when you come over the bridge, you’ll have that 24-foot recovery zone, then the parking, then once you get past the Welcome to Holmes Beach sign it will go back to 24 feet.

He said the county is working on a lease agreement with DOT on the ramp area, which is DOT right of way.

"Public works was focusing their efforts on the relocation of the pedestrian trail and the parking lot configuration," O’Shea pointed out, "They weren’t addressing any of the landscaping, which we talked about moving over to the other side of the street, or relocating the irrigation lines.

"We’ll have to find a consultant to deal with the landscaping issues and recognize the fact that those trees can’t go away because they were purchased with grant money."

He said the county has not dealt with the illegal parking issue on the south side of the street and may be limited in how it can be resolved.

"We’re still probably six months away from doing any of the parking lot improvements," he said. "We want to do the landscaping, parking and sidewalk at one time.

"Once that work is done, there will be another phase. The seawalls are in very, very bad shape and we’ll probably need to replace them as well. It will probably be a half- or three-quarter-million-dollar project."

Committee Chair Seth Kohn reported that the contractor replaced 72 palms, which had died due to disease or the inability to establish, that were planted along the Causeway in the early part of the year.

He also reported that people are stealing the rope that connects the bollards and noted, "A pretty substantial amount is missing."

Kohn said he is waiting for a lease agreement with the DOT in order to complete the parking lot of the new boat ramp, and the old boat ramp would be left in place until the new parking lot is done. He said pet waste stations would be installed along the Causeway by the end of November.

Kohn asked Holmes Beach Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes about extending the scenic highway from East Bay Drive to the Manatee County Public Beach. Duennes said he would have to take the request to the commission.

Bob Herrington, of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the commission would have to submit a letter to the Florida Scenic Highway Program asking to have it included.

Barb Jaeger decorates house for Entre Nous tour
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND Above, Barb Jaeger shows a holiday
decoration available in her Holmes Beach shop, The White Egret.

HOLMES BEACH – Bradenton’s Entre Nous Tour of Homes has Island flair this year with Barb Jaeger decorating one of the largest and most stunning homes ever secured for the annual event.

Jaeger, who with her husband, John, owns The Egret’s Landing in Holmes Beach and The Egret’s Nest and White Egret in Anna Maria, said she is honored to be chosen to be one of the decorators.

"I’m really excited about doing it," she said. "It’s one of the largest homes they’ve ever had on the tour. They said 5,000 people took the tour last year."

Jaeger said she has been working since September with her team, Sue and Melody, designing and making the Christmas decorations that are a feature of the tour. She used merchandise from all three stores in addition to taking a trip to Atlanta to buy items.

"Everything is themed and color coordinated," she explained. There are seven Christmas trees, including a 10-foot tree and two smaller trees in the formal living room, a 12-foot family tree in the great room and two trees to match the bedding in the master bedroom.

"The house is embellished with more than 25 floral arrangements, candles, Christmas themed pillows and throws and 100 poinsettias. The den includes all German ornaments and the fireplace features swags with poinsettias and garlands.

Jaeger said she met the home’s owners, Bill and Rosita Greer, when she was asked to decorate one of the units in the Greer’s Gulffront development, La Casa Costiera, former site of the Island Plantation, in Holmes Beach.

"I ended up decorating seven of the units," she recalled. "He had a celebration at his home at the completion of the project and asked how I would decorate it."

The Greer house, the former home of major league baseball player Bobby Bonilla, sits on the Manatee River with a magnificent view of the river, Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway.

"We decorated the entire interior," she said. "They don’t treat it as a mansion; they treat it as their home and we decorated accordingly with their family life and style in mind.

"Some might have wanted a more grandiose home, but we listened to what they said and what they wanted. It took a year to complete the project."

Jaeger said all the holiday decorations viewed on the tour would be available at the White Egret after the tour. Custom decorations are also available.

The tour will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 and 7, from noon to 6 p.m. Homes include the Greer residence, 2418 90th S. W.; the Kocher residence, 114 25th St. W.; the Cavaluzzi residence, 3216 Ave. A W.; and the Tinsworth residence, 704 51st St. N.W. All are in Bradenton.

A Sweet Shoppe in the Greer residence will offer desserts and refreshments prepared by Entre Nous members and lite bites will be available at the Tinsworth home.

Tickets for the tour are available at all three Egret stores and are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For ticket information, call 748-8579.


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