The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 40 - June 24, 2009


Trolley plan gains support

The Anna Maria Island business community may get one year to prove that it can raise enough money to keep the free trolley from becoming the $1-a-day trolley, and community leaders are confident they can do it.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker recommended Thursday night that Manatee County commissioners consider the Save Our Trolley plan as an alternative to his original county budget-cutting proposal, a $1-a-day trolley fee.

Save Our Trolley, a cooperative effort among businesses, residents, tourists and governments, would raise funds with a two-day festival patterned after the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, said David Teitelbaum, Island hotelier, vice chairman of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC) and an Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce director.

"We’re good at festivals at the Chamber. We can have a two-day blowout," he said. "The trolley is extremely important to us. It’s for people who work there. It keeps the cars off the road. The tourists love it."

Funds also could be raised through donation boxes on the trolleys, recognition of large donors and sponsorship opportunities to name the trolleys for a year.

"I think their proposal is an excellent proposal," Hunzeker said.

"This is an excellent start and possibly a finish to this problem," Manatee County Commissioner and former Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie agreed.

Funding sources

The trolley costs $900,000 a year to operate, $800,000 of which is funded by grants, leaving a $100,000 annual deficit, Hunzeker said. Manatee County’s transit department pays $50,000, the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau pays $26,000 from tourist tax funds, and the cities of Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach pay $8,000 each.

Commissioners should keep the current allocations in place for a year to give Save Our Trolley a chance to raise its portion of the $100,000 that could have been generated by a $1-a-day fee, he said.

Its portion would be based on ridership, splitting the $100,000 between the Island community and the CVB based on how many residents and tourists ride the trolley.

Current estimates are that 60 percent of riders are residents and 40 percent are tourists, which would leave the Island with $60,000 to raise and the CVB with $40,000 to pay. New passenger surveys would have to be averaged over a year to determine the exact percentage each would pay, Hunzeker said.

For fiscal year 2010, the county would pay its $50,000 share and the CVB would pay its $26,000 share, although it has already deleted it from its proposed budget. The three Island cities also would have to agree to continue paying their $8,000 apiece, Hunzeker said, adding that he would contact the mayors himself about the plan.

If the commission decides against both the Save Our Trolley and the $1-a-day options, tourist tax marketing funds would have to cover the $100,000, Hunzeker said, predicting that the TDC would not recommend that the commission reduce the CVB’s marketing budget to subsidize Island residents who ride the trolley.

An extra penny was added to the tourist tax on June 1, much of it allocated for marketing.

Spending tourist tax marketing funds on the trolley would be appropriate, as the trolley is a marketing tool, Manatee County Commission Joe McClash said, adding, "Without the trolley, what happens to the marketing program?"

Longline gear banned to save loggerheads
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A new rule will ground longline fishing boats at the docks this
week at A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez. The longline gear will
be banned in deep water in the Gulf until the end of October
and possibly six months after that. SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE

CORTEZ – To Cortez commercial fishermen, it feels like the net ban all over again.

Beginning June 27, bottom longline fishing gear used to catch reef fish, including grouper, will be banned in deep water in the Gulf until the end of October, and possibly for another six months afterwards. The gear has been prohibited in shallow water since May 18.

The short-term emergency rule by the National Marine Fisheries Service is a response to hotly-debated studies that the gear is causing more unintended loggerhead sea turtle deaths than allowed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Loggerheads are federally listed as a threatened species, one step under endangered.

Until mortality studies can be confirmed, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, which requested the rule, decided last week to table its plan for long-term protective measures until at least August.

But even the short-term longline ban could put fishermen in unemployment lines, according to testimony at recent hearings on the new rule, which reminds opponents of the 1995 state Constitutional amendment that banned gill nets used for mullet.

With mullet gear severely curtailed, "It’s almost like we’ve been regulated into this box where we’re dependent on grouper," said Karen Bell, of A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, one of Florida’s few remaining fish processors. "When they take away grouper, I don’t know what will happen."

"How would you like to lose a job for a year?" asked Blue Fulford, Cortez native, fishermen and netmaker.

"This won’t hurt net fishermen ‘cause they’ve already been hurt, but it’s gonna hurt the rest of them," he said. "I’m in sympathy with them."

The fishermen can’t easily switch to another type of fishing gear, Bell said, adding that changing from the horizontal longlines to vertical lines would drastically reduce the grouper catch.

"This place is expensive to run, and we can’t operate with boats catching only 1,000 pounds. What are they thinking when the economy is like it is, when people are out of work?" she said. "I don’t want them to go extinct, but people are at least as important as turtles."

Switching gear would take time and money, said Robert Spaeth, director of the Southern Offshore Fishing Association and owner of Madeira Beach Seafood.

There would also be a steep learning curve, he said, adding, "It’s like switching a basketball player to a football team."

The prohibition will affect 2,500 jobs from Key West through the Panhandle, including fishermen, fish houses and restaurants, Spaeth said.

But the impact will ripple beyond the commercial fishing industry to tourists and residents who won’t be able to find grouper at restaurants, he said.

"When they stop longlining, you are going to see 50 percent less reef fish on the market," including grouper, he said.

Turtle numbers in question

While fishermen say the longline prohibition will endanger their livelihoods, turtle activists say it will save the lives of sea turtles, a threatened species.

Florida is one of two significant loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas in the world, with 31 percent of the world’s nests; Oman accounts for 65 percent of loggerhead nesting.

On the nesting front, numbers look promising. While nesting in Florida is down from a decade ago, short term trends are up, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Loggerheads laid 61,459 nests in Florida in 2008, up from about 40,000 in 2007, but down from about 80,000 in 1998.

On Anna Maria Island, 74 nests have been laid since nesting season began on May 1, a large increase over the past three years, with 40, 26 and 41 nests respectively, said Suzi Fox, of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch.

But it’s fishing-related mortality numbers that have been questioned by fishermen and are being re-examined by state and federal agencies, that aim to reduce sea turtle bycatch by 60 to 70 percent with long-term rules later this year.

"They wouldn’t be catching so many turtles if there weren’t so many turtles out there," Fulford said. "Doesn’t that make sense?"

It’s unfair to target fishermen for turtle deaths, Spaeth said, when red tide, habitat modification by beach renourishment, beach lights, recreational boat propellers and other factors also kill turtles.

At a recent hearing, fishermen and their families described the hardships the ban would cause, Fox said, recalling a mother whose daughter would not be able to have ballet lessons or braces.

"I could hear the fear," she said. "I’m saddened that there isn’t a compromise that can keep these guys in business. I am absolutely heartbroken for them. But you can’t lose an endangered species for braces."

Perhaps a fisherman will propose a substitute bait or invent a modification of longline gear that would reduce turtle bycatch, she said, such as the Turtle Excluder Devices, or TEDs, that allow sea turtles to escape shrimp nets.

To encourage such innovation, the National Marine Fisheries Service awarded a $364,000 grant to the World Wildlife Fund earlier this month for the 2009 Smart Gear Competition, which awards prizes for gear designs that reduce fisheries bycatch.

Meanwhile in Cortez, which prides itself on surviving the Great Depression by feeding itself without government handouts, spirits remain low.

"We’re getting to the point where nobody appreciates the producers," Bell said. "It’s the one thing this country does is feed ourselves. I feel like saying, ‘Take care of yourself, we’ll have mullet to eat here.’ "

Scouts pay a visit to injured pooch

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
The scouts from Troop 590, check on Isabella, a Chihuahua
that was hit by a car. From left to right are, Amanda Bosch-Nyberg,
Sarah Quattromani, Rebecca Victor-Hinds and Julia Ware.

Four members of Girl Scout Troop 590 recently found their hearts engaged by a tiny brown Chihuahua named Isabella.

"Oh, look," Amanda Bosch-Nyberg said, as she and fellow scouts Sarah Quattromani, Julia Ware and Rebecca Victor-Hinds visited Isabella at the Humane Society Saturday. "She’s wagging her tail."

The tail wagging brought smiles from the four girls, all recent graduates of Anna Maria Elementary School.

"She can’t move around, because her hips are broken, we think from being hit by a car," said Denise Deisler, the Humane Society of Manatee’s executive director. "We are keeping her comfortable, but she can’t walk, and we don’t want her to move around, or she might injure herself more."

With looks of concern, the four Scouts listened as Deisler told them that Isabella would be resting for the next six weeks as she heals as much as she can.

"Then she’ll have some surgery here in our clinic with our vet," Deisler told the girls. "After that, she has to go to a specialist vet for more complicated surgery. Our vet can do the surgery, but we don’t have the equipment."

"Will she be OK?" asked Sarah.

Deisler assured the Scouts that ultimately Isabella should be able to lead a normal happy Chihuahua life.

It was Quattromani who first got interested in stray and abandoned pets.

"My brother adopted a dog from a shelter," she said.

When the Scouts, four of an eight member troop led by Liza Morrow, learned more about how many pets are abandoned or whose owners are unable to continue caring for them, they decided to donate their share of the proceeds they raised from the sale of Girl Scout cookies.

Instead of a trip to Sea World, a pizza party and movies for themselves, they thought the money would be better spent caring for homeless animals.

With $410 in hand, they went to the Humane Society earlier in June to hand over their profits.

Then last weekend, they went back to the Humane Society to check on little Isabella, who had won their hearts.

"She’s so tiny," Julia said.

"Oh, look how cute," Sarah said.

Deisler took the Scouts on a tour of the entire clinic and surgical area so they would have a better idea of how their money would be used.

They saw animals that had just come in that were pretty dirty with matted hair.

"These dogs are healthy," Deisler said. "They just need to be cleaned up, and we have to make sure they are OK, but then they can go to new homes."

Deisler told the girls that a lot more animals are coming into the shelter now because of the tough economic times.

"Sometimes people can’t continue to take care of their animals," she said. "Maybe they’ve lost their jobs and had their homes foreclosed on."

As the Scouts listened intently with a look of concern, Deisler explained a new way the shelter has to help people keep their pets.

"People can come in and pick up food for their pets," she said. "One man said his whole family was down to eating Ramen noodles, but the cat wouldn’t eat them, so he swallowed his pride and came in to get food for his cat."

The girls took a stack of information on the Humane Society’s low cost spay and neuter program, so that there won’t be more unwanted pets.

"You girls will never really know how much your donation helped," Deisler told them. "We rely entirely on grants and donations from people like you."

Then she added more thanks and had one more thing to say: "I sure hope someone takes you girls to Sea World one day soon."

Seashells by the seashore
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Collectors are limited to two live starfish per day.
If starfish have flexible arms, they’re alive. The
Bahama starfish, at right, is one of the prizes that
shell collectors are not allowed to take in Florida.

Those iridescent, irresistible gems of the Gulf that we call shells not only make great home decorations, they actually are, or once were, homes themselves to a variety of sea creatures.

Coquina Beach, at the south end of Anna Maria Island, is named after a local favorite – coquinas, also known as periwinkles. You’ll find these tiny clams burrowing into the sand in the tidal zone after waves wash over them. With deep violet, pearly pink, cobalt blue, sunny yellow and other bright colors, they are popular finds and are collectible.

However, there are strict limits on collecting most other kinds of live shells – those serving as homes for living things.

In Manatee County, you may not harvest or possess more than two shells containing live organisms of any single species except for coquinas, oysters, hard clams and sunray venus clams. Taking shells containing living organisms requires a Florida recreational saltwater fishing license, resident or non-resident, whichever is applicable.

In general, you may collect as many seashell souvenirs as you like, as long as they aren’t providing homes for live creatures and are not living creatures themselves, like sand dollars and starfish.

You may only collect two live echinoderms each day, which includes sand dollars and starfish. If sand dollars are brown and fuzzy or if starfish have flexible arms, they’re alive.

It is illegal to harvest any live bay scallops, Bahama starfish and queen conchs, but it is not unlawful to possess queen conch shells as long as they do not contain a living queen conch at the time of collection, and as long as a living queen conch was not killed, mutilated or removed from its shell prior to collection.

Women celebrate life after 50
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

For Holmes Beach resident Jean Peelen and friends Renee Fisher and Joyce Kramer, "Saving the Best for Last" is the second book they’ve written.

The first book, "The Secret Lives of Women Over 50," sold extremely well and won several awards. Even Betty Friedan, author of "The Feminine Mystique," had words of praise for that first work:

"For these three brave women, life began at 50 years of age when they made a decision to be honest about themselves. Thankfully, they have shared their stories with us."

The second book deepens the knowledge that comes with seeking personal growth and self-acceptance and invites the reader to undertake her own personal exploration.

The three authors speak candidly about faith and spirituality, loss, relationships with mothers and sisters, friendship, dating, sexuality, memories, money and just generally taking a good look at where they’ve been and where they are going as they re-invent themselves and make choices as they celebrate the freedom that comes with age.

All three writers have impressive resumes. Island resident Peelen spend her first career as a civil rights attorney with the federal government. Then she decided to be a model and actually did it.

Fisher, an award-winning writer, has written fiction and poetry since childhood. She was a special education teacher and artist in Washington, D.C. Currently, she’s a top Realtor in the Northern Virginia Society of Realtors. She started the first non-denominational speed dating company.

Kramer was a teacher in inner city Baltimore for 25 years. After she retired from teaching she became the director of volunteer services and later director of development and public relations for the first major community-based HIV/AIDS organization in Maryland.

A reader could be excused for thinking that the three authors, with their impressive resumes, might write a good book, but it wouldn’t be something that would be beneficial to the average reader. Not so. And the authors would argue, and do in the book, that there’s no such thing as average.

They have each celebrated and examined each aspect of their lives, the good and the not so good and sometimes the downright painful.

In their first book, they shared this self-examination with readers. In this second book, "Saving the Best for Last," they invite readers to undertake a similar journey.

Readers can approach the reading experience in any way they choose. They can open the book to any chapter and start reading.

At the end of each chapter, there are exercises that are designed to help readers uncover possibilities in their own lives.

Some readers have opted to read the book in groups and share the exercises at the end of the chapters. Some are undertaking the reading and exercises on their own.

Still others are just reading the book and skipping or selectively choosing which exercises they feel will help them grow and expand their self-knowledge.

Self-help and personal growth writing is a genre that is growing by leaps and bounds in the publishing world, and this book is right up there with the best of them.

The book is about sharing the experience of being over 50 and letting the awareness that this can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life seep into your entire being.

"Saving the Best for Last" is available locally at Ginny’s and Jane E.’s at the Old IGA in Anna Maria. You can order it from, from iUniverse. The cover price is $18.95. Amazon is charging 15.95 plus $1 shipping, or you can order a signed copy directly from Peelen by e-mailing her at

Author Peelen in paradise on Island
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

of Holmes Beach, just released her new book
"Saving the Best for Last," the second book
she has written with two friends.

HOLMES BEACH — As she approached the age of 50, Jean Peelen and two of her friends began to notice that they were becoming sort of invisible.

"We noticed that we weren’t being noticed," she said. " We were invisible to men on the street. Even at the cosmetics counter at Nordstrom’s, the clerks didn’t see us."

So Peelen and her friends, Renee Fisher and Joyce Kramer treated themselves to a "fabulous women’s dinner" and discussed how they were going to handle this new phenomenon in their lives.

"We realized that it happens to all women as they approach 50, so we decided to explore how it was happening to us and what we could do about it."

What they did about it was write a book that they hoped would be helpful to other women facing 50.

"What we realized was that this invisibility, which at first was disturbing, was a good thing. It allows us to fly under the radar," she noted.

One of the things Peelen did was relocate herself.

She fell in love with the Island, bought a charming ground-level cottage in Holmes Beach and moved here full time about two years ago.

"This is the perfect place for me at this stage in my life," she said. "It allows me the opportunity to just what I want to be doing."

One of the things she’s doing is establishing a women’s Island retreat.

"We’re offering our homes free of charge to women who need a time away from all the stresses of their lives," she said. "We don’t charge. We just offer a place for women from all over the country to be quiet and reflect for a week."

She said that so far, the experience has been wonderful for the women who come here.

"It’s also been a great experience for those of us who are offering a room in our homes," she said.

Peelen’s books, ""Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50" and the just-released "Saving the Best for Last: Creating our Lives After 50" and her interest in women’s rights and needs come as no surprise.

She put her self through law school while raising her two daughters after a divorce.

She served as chief of staff of a federal agency in Washington as a civil rights attorney. She’s the author of federal policy documents on subjects including the rights of women and girls in sports, the desegregation of public schools and sexual harassment in schools and colleges.

She’s also the author of several management articles in "The Public Manager," such as "How to Fire a Federal Employee and Stay Sane."

This attractive, intelligent woman, who fosters rescued dogs in addition to women, is determined in an amazingly laid back way.

After she retired from the federal government, she decided she wanted to be a model.

"I was sure there must be models my age," she said. "So I got myself an agent and started getting jobs."

Most of Peelen’s modeling jobs were in pharmaceutical ads for things like osteoporosis medications.

She also worked as a model for the QVC home shopping channel, where she continues to work occasionally to this day.

When she came to Anna Maria Island on a brief vacation, she fell in love with the Island and its life style. She sold her log cabin in Alexandria, Va., and moved herself into a little historic cottage here on the Island.

Since then, this retired civil rights attorney, model and writer has brought out her second book and started the women’s Island retreat getaway.

She works as a life coach with select clients and conducts personal growth workshops.

Then there’s the beach.

"I love the beach here," Peelen said. "I try to find time to take a walk every day. It’s just a place for wonderful reflection and growth."

Sgt. Kenney honored at reception
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY Kenney chats with Nancy Colcord and
Rick Doll at the reception hosted by the city staff and elected officials.

ANNA MARIA — Residents and business owners turned out to say thanks to Sgt. John Kenney, who is retiring after serving seven years as commander of the Anna Maria substation of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

"We’re going to miss him," said Mayor Fran Barford. "He’s done a wonderful job for us here."

Kenney, who has had a 30-year career in law enforcement, opted for an early retirement buy out five years ago.

"The five years went so fast," he said. "And now here I am."

Kenney said he’ll miss his job, and he’s not sure what his next step will be.

"I’m still young and I’m healthy," he said. "For now, I’m volunteering with the sheriff’s auxiliary."

As Kenney transitions into civilian life, he was willing to take a look back at his career.

"I worked with a violent crimes task force with FDLE and other law enforcement agencies," he recalled. "When that was over, I was ready for something a little less stressful, so the Anna Maria job looked good to me."

Kenney said he planned to stay for just a little while and then go back to something more exciting.

"But I got to really liking it out here," he said. "This is community policing, and it works here. I like the residents. I like the business community, and so I never applied for a move back to town."

One of Kenney’s favorite memories is when he and Deputy Brian Cherry helped save a dolphin off the beach.


"That felt really good to be able to help a dolphin," he said.

It was on the beach searching for a lost child that Kenney realized the full polyester uniforms the deputies were required to wear were not appropriate for Island wear.

"I thought I was going to have heat stroke," he recalled. "I knew we needed to do something."

Kenney and then-Mayor SueLynn worked hard to convince the powers that be that law enforcement Island-style is no less professional than it is other places, but a more relaxed uniform would be better for deputies who spend a lot of time outdoors in the Florida heat and humidity.

Kenney and SueLynn prevailed, and now Anna Maria substation deputies wear cotton shirts and shorts or khaki slacks at work.

Kenney’s last day is June 30. He and Sgt. Dave Turner, who is taking over, will be working together for these last few days

Cell tower plans up to city

BRADENTON BEACH – City commissioners started off last week listening to prospective cellular telephone tower builders and ended the week knowing that they were more in control than they thought.

The commissioners scheduled a work session for Monday, June 15, to go over a proposal by Alpha Omega Communications and Ridan Industries presented earlier in the month to build a tower just south of the city’s public works building. However Collier Enterprises II signed on to make a presentation on a distributive antenna system that would not require a tower. Also present was Longboat Key City Commissioner Gene Jaleski, who spoke as a citizen, not an elected officials. He spoke at the first meeting also and he favors the distributive antenna approach.

When the commissioner gathered again for their regular daytime meeting on Thursday, June 18, the issue of a "wireless telecommunications cell tower resolution" was on the agenda.

Commissioner Janey Robertson requested the issue and was told by city attorney Ricinda Perry that the matter would be better handled by an ordinance.

"Resolutions set policy," she said. "Ordinances are the law."

Robertson said she was looking to call a moratorium on more cell tower requests to give the city time to study the issue, but Perry said that there are requirements for moratoriums such as giving adequate notice and they would have to prove there is an emergency.

"This would give us 90 days to clean up our code," Robertson argued. "Right now we have three, maybe four applications and it costs $8,500 each to process them. How can we stop them from applying?"

Perry said that the city should start making changes to retain control of the process.

"If you want changes, you should direct staff to make them and bring them to the next meeting," Perry said.

"If somebody applies between now and then, what would we do?" Robertson asked.

"There is a law that if you apply while the city is making changes, the applicant would have to comply with those changes," Perry answered.

Following a short intermission, Perry produced a set of rules addressing cell phone towers in the city’s land development code.

"The comprehensive plan (land development code section) says that cell towers can only be on public property," she said. "If you don’t want to see cell phone towers, you don’t have to accept applications. If you want a cell phone tower, you will have to put it out to bid."

Perry said the biggest problem is the cost to the city. The cost assigned to a tower is $2,000, but the city could also require the applicant to pay any other costs the city would otherwise have to pay.

"There are other areas in the code you could beef up, but otherwise, we’re covered," Perry said.

"I want to go on record as saying this city commission is in the process of rewriting its telecommunications code and anyone who comes to the city would have to comply," Robertson said.

"Remember, you don’t have to accept applications until you put it out to bid," Perry said.

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