The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 52 - September 23, 2009


County balks at 700-foot beach pier
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This artist rendering shows what a 700-foot pier
might look like at Manatee Public Beach.

BRADENTON ­– Manatee County commissioners said they could not justify the additional $1 million to build a 700-foot pier at Manatee Public Beach versus a 312-foot pier.

“On June 9, you directed us to develop a permit and construction plan for the Manatee Beach Pier at 312 feet,” Charlie Hunsicker, natural resources administrator, explained. “When we looked at the footprint of the aerial view and the scale and size of the pier relative to the gently sloping Gulf Beach, we became concerned about the visual effect.”He said a 700-fot pier would be more appropriate in relation to the slope of the beach, however, the expansion would add $1 million to the cost. A 312-foot pier would cost $1.45 million, while a 700-foot pier would cost $2.765 million.

He said the money would come from Tourist Development Council (TDC) funds, and he would develop a financing plan and bring it back to the board in October.

“It looks very nice and probably makes sense, but I can’t see where we’re going to get the money,” Commissioner Carol Whitmore responded.

Commissioner Joe McClash said the long pier is out of character for Holmes Beach and that spending tourist development dollars should produce the biggest benefit for the community. He said the money might be better used helping Bradenton Beach or Anna Maria with their piers.

“If you want to look at an economic impact for tourism, the city of Anna Maria pier draws more people, has more fishing, has a restaurant and may be a more appropriate use of these funds.

“It may need upgrades that the city can’t afford. I guarantee you that will bring more vitality and economics to this community than this pier.”

Whitmore added that the Anna Maria City Pier has been publicized all over the world to market the Island.

However, Commissioner Larry Bustle said the long pier would be a great asset and open up fishing possibilities.

Commissioner John Chappie called it “a want not a need” and commissioner Donna Hayes said spending the extra money is out of the question.

Commissioner Ron Getman said they should not commit TDC funds without its approval.

Chair Dr. Gwen Brown asked why commissioners should make a decision before seeing the financing plan. Hunsicker said it would take about 1½ years to demolish the existing pier and build a new one, and further deliberations would add more time.

McClash made a motion to present the two Manatee Beach pier options to the TDC, ask members to look at the needs of the Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach piers, develop a priority list and report back to the board. It was approved.

Following the meeting, Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford expressed surprise that the board might help fund repairs to the city pier and stressed, “We won’t turn down any money.”

Library use surges as economy sputters
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Library patrons at the Island Branch Library take advantage
of the computers available during business hours.

The economy may be in the tank but business is booming at the Island’s two libraries.

In fact, library use has surged because of the recession, according to library officials.

“Oh gosh! More and more people are flocking to the library even during the off season, and we are making do with less – less money, fewer resources, less staffing to serve all these people,” said Ava Ehde, chief librarian at the Island Branch Library.

Ehde said a lot of people are coming in to use the computers that are available free of charge.

“They are working on their resumes or filling out applications for jobs or food stamps or other services on line,” she said. “We don’t have the staff to help everyone out. Some of them have never used a computer before, but people are helping each other.”

Ehde said it’s not unusual this summer to have someone they’ve never seen in the library before come in to apply for a card.

“They’ll say they’ve lived on the Island for 13 years, but they’ve never bothered to get a library card before. They realize that we can provide cheap entertainment.”

Patrons can check out up to six movies at a time and go home and enjoy them without spending an arm and a leg, according to Ehde.

“And they can borrow audio books or traditional books,” she said, adding that newspapers and magazines also are available.

As people cut back on their spending, it just makes sense to use the library, Ehde added.

“Another area where we’ve seen a tremendous increase in library use is in the do-it-yourself section,” she said. “People are checking out more and more books on plumbing, carpentry, jewelry making, quilting, and they’re doing some of their own building. What’s nice about this is that it brings people back to home and heart.”

Unfortunately, as people tighten their belts, cut expenses in their own budgets and use the library more, the same thing is happening with governmental budgets.

“The county has cut back funding in order to balance its own budget,” Ehde said. “Tax revenues are down, so government spending has to go down.”

Staffing levels have gone down at all the libraries in the county, Ehde said.

“We have one less staff member than we had in the past, and we have an employee going out on maternity leave,” she added. “We won’t be able to replace her, so we’ll just have to do the same amount of work or more with fewer people.”

Though staff morale remains high, Ehde said that with fewer people, the Island Branch Library has had to find areas to make cuts.

“It’s hit the program area,” she said. “We just don’t have the staff to continue the tradition of the children’s and teen programs that we’ve offered in the past.”

The Friends of the Library will continue their lecture and travel series during season,

Tingley memberships up

The Island community is unusual in that there are two libraries for residents and visitors to use.

In addition to the Island Branch Library, which is located in Holmes Beach, there’s the Tingley Memorial Library in Bradenton Beach.

Tingley was built with a $600,000 bequest from the estate of Beulah Rebecca Hooks Hannah Tingley. It’s maintained through the city of Bradenton Beach without the use of any tax dollars. Staffing consists of one librarian and many volunteers.

Membership costs $3 a year.

Tingley has traditionally experienced a slow time in the summer and especially in September.

“That’s not the case this year,” said Librarian Eveann Adams. “I haven’t actually had time to look at the numbers, but the library is definitely busier this year. We rarely have people signing up for memberships in the off-season, but this summer, we’ve seen quite an increase in membership.”

The library has wireless Internet access, and Adams said that’s a draw for patrons. Additionally, there is a large selection of magazines, books, audio books, music and videos that can be checked out.

“We have quite a collection of books by Florida authors and books about Florida, particularly this area,” Adams said. “I see lots of people come in and head right over to that section.”

There’s a conference room off to the side where a large collection of cookbooks resides.

Another popular section at Tingley is the current fiction area.

“We get quite a selection of books that are on the best seller lists, and lots of patrons head there first to check out the new arrivals before heading into the stacks,” Adams noted.

The library hosts a book club on the first Wednesday of every month at 3 p.m. Anyone interested can read the selection of the month and just show up at the book club, which is lead by Twink Brown.

The club is reading “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse for the Oct. 7 discussion.

“I think that it only makes sense for people who are readers and who are interested in their surroundings and their world to take advantage of libraries,” Adams said. “It’s a bargain in tough economic times.”

Island Branch Library

5701 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach
Phone: 778-6341
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, noon to 8 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tingley Memorial Library

111 Second St.,
Bradenton Beach, (just behind city hall)
Phone: 779-1208
Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday – June, July, August and September – 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Saturday – October through May – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

Skim Bash set for Oct. 4

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
SUN FILE PHOTO John Gray, of Seminole, won second place in the
senior men’s division at last year’s Skim Bash.

BRADENTON BEACH – Skimboarders will slice up the shallows at the Beach House Skim Board Bash on Sunday, Oct. 4, at the BeachHouse restaurant.

Sponsored by the West Coat Surf Shop, the annual event raises money for red tide research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

The amateur contest will feature beginners scooting across the flats and experienced riders heading into the waves to perform skateboard-style tricks.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with the contest beginning at 8:30 a.m. The entry fee is $30 before Oct. 2 with a $10 late fee. All entrants will receive a T-shirt, goodie bag, lunch and one raffle ticket.

Trophies sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun will be awarded to the top three competitors in all divisions and prizes will be awarded to the top four places in all divisions.

Categories are minis (8 and under), menehunes (9-11), boys (12-14), junior men (15-17), men (18-21), senior men (22 and up), girls (14 and under) and women (15 and up).

Sponsors include the BeachHouse restaurant, The Sun, Zap Skim’ers, Manatee Apparel Graphics, Lost, Australian Gold, Oakley, Rusty, Arnette, Roxy, Quiksilver, Volcom, Dakine, Smith Optics, Raisins and Anarchy/Angel.

To register for the Skim Bash, call the West Coast Surf Shop at 778-1001 or stop by at 3902 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

Goodwill opens on Island
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT LuAnne Kirschner is Goodwill Manasota's
public relations and marketing manager.

HOLMES BEACH – If you’ve got some unwanted items around your home and you don’t want to go through the hassle of a garage sale, there will soon be an answer and it’s one that will help other people get a hand up.

Goodwill is opening its first donation center on Anna Maria Island on Oct. 1 at 3614 East Bay Drive, next to Ocean Star restaurant. Donations of usable good and clothing can be dropped off seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those who can’t get those items to the new center can call 351-8946 for home pickup.

This new center adds to the local economy, according to Goodwill Manasota Public Relations and Marketing Manager LuAnne Kirschner.

“It is projected to serve 10,000 people annually and it adds three jobs,” she said. “Its principal purpose is to make it convenient and it is part of our green initiative to have a center within seven minutes of donors.”

This center is the third one opened by Goodwill in the two-county territory this year and it is part of a much larger effort to improve the lives of people

“Goodwill has eight different missions,” Kirschner said. “One thing we do is to help people find jobs both at Goodwill and with other businesses.”

Goodwill calls itself the “Hand up” organization because it helps people improve their lives not with a hand out, but with a hand helping them go up. Kirschner said.

“We employ people that others won’t because of handicaps, past work histories or records,” she said.

The other missions are Supported Jobs Plus, providing long-term supported employment to individuals with physical, developmental and psychiatric disabilities; and Goodwillworks, to provide employment for welfare recipients, single parents, recent immigrants, high school dropouts and other with a history of chronic unemployment.

Its Job Connection mission provides job placement outside Goodwill; Goodhomes builds and develops affordable homes through community partnerships; Beneva Oaks Apartments offers barrier-free living for people with physical disabilities and low income; HomeBuyers’ Club is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency; and GoodNeighbor Connection provides human-service programs to meet the needs of the community through alliances with local volunteer groups.

The recession has changed Goodwill’s focus as far as donations and sales. Kirschner said donations are down and sales are up as people who are living on reduced incomes save more of what they would normally donate and others shop at Goodwill instead of department stores.

Kirschner said that employees look forward to meeting and serving their new neighbors on the Island.

“Come on in and drop off your donation and say hi,” she said. “We hope to get to know you.”

The phone number at the new donation center is 778-1082.

Bayfest to feature Kidsfest

ANNA MARIA – Bayfest, the something for everybody, start-of-the-season festival on Pine Avenue, presents another bigger and better feature at this year’s event on Saturday, Oct. 17.

It’s called Kidsfest and it’s being put together by Island Dojo’s Kevin Berquist.

“The theme is Kids Helping Kids and it’s really big,” he said. “All the money raised goes toward helping at-risk and abused kids.”

Bergquist is involved with Oasis Middle School in Bradenton, which is a special facility for at-risk and abused kids, and those kids will be raising money with a new book they put out.

“It’s a book of their life stories, and I guarantee that you won’t be able to read more than a few before it will get to you,” he said, “The money goes for their drama group.”

This year, there is an entry fee of $5 per child or adult to get into Kidsfest, but Berquist said it’s worth the money.

“We’ll have a live tiger, a 40-foot inflatable obstacle course, wet and dry slides, a bouncy house, games, water balloon tosses, a dunk tank and martial arts demonstrations every half hour,” he said. “Top black belts will demonstrate their skills and grand master Jack ‘Pappa San’ Stern, who founded the World Organization of Martial Arts in 1960, will be there.”

Berquist said five students will get their black belts at the fest and there will be dance troupes, face painting, clowns and fun food for sale for the kids. He also said kids would be introduced to foreign cultures.

“We’ll have origami, sumi painting and we might have a bonsai class,” he said. “There will be lots of vendors, Bridge Street Bazaar will have items for sale and the Privateers will be there, too.”

Finally, the Kidsfest is looking for T-shirt sponsors. For $100 or more, your business logo will be on the back of the official T-shirts for sale at the event and Berquist will show your ad on his Web site.

For more information, call him at 807-1734.

Bayfest also will have arts and crafts and food vendors, live music, a car show and much more, plus a Friday evening celebration from 5 to 10 p.m. with vendors and music. As always, there will be refreshments of all types.

Bayfest is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and the Anna Maria Island Sun is the media sponsor.

Board adds bridge to Kingfish annexation

BRADENTON – Much to the surprise of Holmes Beach officials, Manatee County commissioners added the Anna Maria Island Bridge to the city’s request to annex Kingfish Ramp last week.

The discussion began with a resolution to indicate the county’s interest in negotiating an agreement with the city to annex the boat ramp area up to the bridge. The city asked to annex the area so its police department can patrol it.

Deputy County Attorney Maureen Sikora said the county has 60 days to take action, and Commissioner Joe McClash made a motion to adopt the resolution.

“I’d support it if they would annex all the way to the Bradenton city limits (on the east side of the bridge),” Commissioner Ron Getman said, amending the motion.

“I thought we were here to respond to a request from Holmes Beach and now you’re expanding that request.” McClash protested. “It’s not right to include something that wasn’t part of the original discussion.”

He said he couldn’t support the additional request without the city’s approval and Commissioner Carol Whitmore agreed.

“It allows them to do it but doesn’t require them to do it,” Commissioner Larry Bustle pointed out.

‘We’re giving them prior authorization to do more if they want,” Getman added.

Sikora said if the city and county could not agree on the new boundary, it would go back to the original boundary on the west side of the bridge.

The board approved Getman’s amended motion.

Following the meeting, Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said, “It’s up to the city and county commissions to decide the next move. It’s expanded liability for the city to annex both Kingfish and the bridge. It sounds like a move to discourage the process.”

Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said, “Adding the bridge would increase our responsibility because the bridge would be in our jurisdiction. We’ll do whatever the elected officials feel is prudent to do. We’ll police whatever we’re asked to police.”

Holmes Beach Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said the commission would discuss the issue at the Sept. 22 work session.

City arms itself against Swine Flu

BRADENTON BEACH – With the H1N1 swine flu still in the headlines, one city has taken steps to ensure anybody with flu-like symptoms doesn’t share them in the workplace.

City department heads met with Mayor Michael Pierce a week earlier to go over a resolution that City Attorney Ricinda Perry drew up addressing communicable diseases and the city commission passed it Thursday.

The clerk’s office came up with the idea when two public works employees with school-age children expressed concern over the spread of Swine Flu, which began earlier this year and continued throughout the summer,

Swine Flu is different from seasonal flu because it is spread all year, not just in the colder weather months. While health officials say the mortality rate is lower than the normal seasonal flu, officials are concerned because there have been some deaths nationwide and several in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The resolution gives the mayor or any supervisor the power to order any city board or committee member, volunteer, independent contractor or city employee to go home if that person reports or shows signs or symptoms of a communicable disease.

That person will not be allowed to return to city facilities until he or she can furnish proof or certification from a doctor, hospital or clinic that there is no threat of a communicable disease.

Employees sent home will use sick time until that is exhausted, and then they may use vacation or personal days. The mayor is charged with having city facilities that are exposed to the sick employee cleaned and disinfected.

After it was passed, the resolution became part of the personnel policies and procedure employee handbook.

In other action, the City Commission instructed the city attorney to draw up an ordinance mirroring the county’s on solicitation or panhandling. It makes aggressive solicitation illegal if the solicitor makes an oral request for money using threats, repeating the request after being turned down or blocking the way of the person being asked money.

The ordinance is in effect in unincorporated Manatee County and at county facilities, including Coquina Beach.

There was some concern whether this would preclude the annual Muscular Dystrophy collection by West Manatee Fire Rescue at the intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road. West Manatee firefighter Chris O’Kelly, who coordinates the event, said that a state law, known as the Iris Roberts Act passed in 2007 allows non-profits to collect along roads up to a total of 10 days per year.

“They passed the act a year after the county enacted their panhandling ordinance, and we were unable to collect,” he said, “MD collected about $4 million less that year than it normally gets.”

Island Rockers charm talent scouts
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE From left to right, the Island Rockers
are Brandon Mills, Ethan Bertrand and Jacob Castro,
all Anna Maria Elementary School students.

PALMETTO – The Island Rockers took the Gulf Coast Talent and Film Expo by storm on Saturday afternoon, drawing a crowd with “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Johnny B. Goode” and their original song, “Let’s Go.”

The three Anna Maria Elementary School students lacked their older bandmate from Edison Academy, Matt Robec, 15, but still brought down the house with a driving beat from drummer Ethan Bertrand, 9, Brandon Mills, 9, on guitar and Jacob Castro, 8, on guitar and vocals.

The boys appeared at ease in front of the gathering crowd, listening to their music teacher, Island resident Scott Achor, giving direction from the wings. Achor, who teaches at Edison and offers private lessons, once had a recording contract, and knows what it’s like to perform on stage.

“This is really great for them,” he said of the experience.

When event promoters heard the group, they suggested that the Island Rockers enter the talent contest, which will be held online.

The band is no stranger to contests – they won first place in the Anna Maria Island Community Center talent show in April, said Achor, who advocates students playing in bands rather than taking traditional lessons.

“They feel the energy and flow and timing of being in a group,” he said. “Once that happens, they’re hooked, and that motivates them to practice even more.”

The event drew talented hopefuls from southwest Florida to the Manatee Convention and Civic Center to show their stuff before talent scouts and agents.

Performances ranged from a country soloist to a violin quartet playing Scott Joplin to a 1950s-style congo player and singer.

Mark Ibasfalean and Bryan Ibasfalean, of Cortez, organized the event, inviting representatives from film studios, music recording studios, book and script publishers, karaoke competitions, improv contests and other talent scouts. Proceeds will go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters and area Boys and Girls Clubs.

Videotaped performances from the event will be posted soon for viewing and voting at

You can also see the Island Rockers at Bayfest in Anna Maria on Oct. 17, and on

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