The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 10 - December 2, 2009


Tempers flare at parking safety meeting

ANNA MARIA — Before the first meeting of Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus’ committee on parking safety in the city’s Residential/Office/Retail district was called to order, questions about the legitimacy of the group flew fast and furious.

The meeting was held last week and was supposed to address concerns about parking along Pine Avenue. But the safety issues initially took a back seat to questions raised about the formation of the committee itself and the conduct of the meeting. There was initial discussion, and then a comment, from Commissioner JoAnn Mattick, who was concerned that the meeting had not officially been called to order and thus was off the record. Florida’s Sunshine Law requires that meetings be officially opened so that all discussion takes place on the record.

“I’d suggest that you convene the meeting and get this on the record,” Commissioner Mattick said.

“We aren’t necessarily on the record yet,” Commissioner Stoltzfus replied.

At that point, City Attorney Jim Dye entered the commission chambers and the discussion was halted and the meeting officially convened.

There were further objections about the makeup of the committee, which consisted of residents Charlie Daniel, Larry Albert and Carl Pearman, Sgt. Dave Turner of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Anna Maria Building Official Bob Welch.

Pine Avenue Restoration’s Managing Partner Micheal Coleman questioned the composition of the committee, saying he thought a cross section of the community would be more effective.

Stoltzfus responded that there was not going to be any public comment allowed at the meeting, a position reiterated several times during the session as members of the audience attempted to participate in the discussion.

When Coleman took further exception, committee member Daniel confronted him then walked out of the room.

City tradition

More questions came from Commission Chair John Quam, who pointed out that the practice of the commission in forming committees has been for each commissioner to suggest a member to the mayor, who makes the selection with the commission having the right of final approval.

“Most formal processes are set up by the commission,” said Dye. “The charter sets up the composition of formal committees and boards like P&Z and the charter review commission. I’m not sure about an informal committee.”

Dye also said that under the law, the public does have a right to speak in a public hearing (in quasi-judicial matters), but not necessarily at other public meetings.

“There’s a difference between a requirement and a tradition,” he added. “The commission never adopted a formal set of procedures, but here in Anna Maria, there’s a tradition for allowing public speaking.”

Safety issues

The chief safety concern for Stoltzfus and others is the fact that parked cars and trucks back out across a sidewalk to join traffic on Pine Avenue.

There was some discussion of moving the sidewalks closer to the buildings so that cars don’t have to cross it to get in and out of parking spaces.

Dye suggested that that would take major changes to city code, and Stoltzfus said he didn’t see moving sidewalks as a solution anyway.

As the discussion continued among the four remaining committee members, some of the ideas tossed around included putting stop signs along Pine Avenue at all the cross streets.

That was something that everyone appeared to agree would slow down traffic on the street and be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

When Stoltzfus asked for comment from other members of his committee, Pearman expressed some concerns about the tone of the meeting.

“I’m concerned about the atmosphere I’m seeing here,” he said. “I don’t know that I want to be part of it. I like to see the people involved sit down and work things out. There’s an adversarial air in here that I don’t want to be part of.”

Pearman resigned from the committee, but remained until the session concluded.

Stoltzfus then said there was time for public comment after all.

“I’m going to back off,” he said. “In my defense, I think I’ve got a target painted on me.”

Stoltzfus said there has to be attention paid to safety issues, and he didn’t want his committee to get bogged down.

A second meeting of the committee that was scheduled for Dec. 1 has been cancelled.

The issue is also slated for full discussion at the city commission work session on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.

Economy generating creative marketing

Anna Maria Island businesses are adapting to the tight economy with a variety of creative approaches, from exclusively selling local products to staying open on holidays to forming alliances with other businesses to boost commerce.

Several tourist accommodations are offering free room nights – a third night free at Bridgewalk, Dawg Daze Villa and the SilverSurf Gulf Beach Resort, a fourth night free at Bungalow Beach Resort, Seaside Inn Beach Resort, Tortuga Inn Beach Resort and Tradewinds Resort, and a seventh night free at some Island Real Estate rentals.

Anna Maria Island Cultural Connections drew art, music and theater lovers to a weekend full of ArtsHOP events last month by coordinating art gallery exhibits and demonstrations, plays and concerts at Island Gallery West, the Anna Maria Island Art League, the Artists’ Guild of Anna Maria Island, Emerson Quillin, The Tide & Moon Jewelry Shop and Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra in Holmes Beach; Ginny & Jane E's, The Studio at Gulf and Pine, the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum and the Island Players in Anna Maria; and Front of the Back Alley in Bradenton Beach.

Little extras

Some restaurants and retailers are using individual approaches.

More than 100 people made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Paradise Café, 3210 East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach, in part because the eatery takes special orders, such as white meat only, extra gizzards and potatoes made without milk to accommodate dairy allergies, Jackie Estes said. Offering a sit-down dinner instead of a buffet, which is hard on older customers, also drew diners, she said, and staying open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, when many other restaurants are closed, is another draw.

“We only close for mandatory hurricane evacuations,” she said.

At the Sign of the Mermaid, 9707 Gulf Drive in Anna Maria, wine tastings – such as one scheduled for Dec. 2 – bring people in the door.

Low prices are the key for Rotten Ralph’s, 902 S. Bay Blvd. in Anna Maria and 200 Bridge St. in Bradenton Beach, which is offering “free lunches for seniors for $4.99,” laughed Ken Davis (this from the restaurant that offers free beer tomorrow), and low priced all-you-can-eat specials, including breakfast for $4.99 and dinner for $9.99.

Hurricane Hanks, 5346 Gulf Dr. in Holmes Beach, hasn’t raised food prices in more than a year, and Two Scoops, 101 S. Bay Blvd. in Holmes Beach, is rolling back prices to yesteryear with $1.75 hot dogs and a soda and a bag of chips for $1 extra.

Just like home

Some retailers are trying to add value to customers’ visits with free wireless Internet connections, including those at Holy Cow, 3234 E. Bay Drive in Holmes Beach, the Flip Flop Shop, 315 Pine St. in Anna Maria and Ginny and Jane E’s, 9807 Gulf Drive in Anna Maria.

Others rely on personal service. At Irene’s, 5308 Marine Drive in Holmes Beach, “Service is why we have people coming back as repeat visitors,” Nanette Almeter said. “We know some of them like family.”

At Raders Reef, 5508 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, Beverly Chouinard tries to anticipate her customer’s needs, such as winter visitors missing their family Christmas tree. She’s making condo-sized, artificial shell-themed trees for a Florida Christmas.

She also has joined the Sandbar restaurant and several other businesses, including photographers, florists, caterers and musicians, who are working with the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce to attract wedding parties to the Island. Raders Reef supplies shell napkin rings, place cards and party favors.

Going local

Local talent is the big draw at Island Flea, 5704 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, where Nicole Heslop said she accepts only Island vendors in her flea market.

“If we support local artists, then maybe local people will come,” she said.

Staying involved in sponsoring local charities keeps Island Scooter Rentals, 1301 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach, in the public eye, owner Victoria Sweeney said.

So does the unique marketing approach she takes when things are really slow – she hops on a scooter and rides up and down Gulf Drive to drum up business.

State questions collections

BRADENTON BEACH – The Florida Attorney General’s (AG) office wants the city to explain how it intends to collect delinquent sanitation and stormwater utility bills using a professional collection agency.

City Attorney Ricinda Perry updated the situation at the Thursday, Nov. 19, citycommission meeting.

“The AG’s office asked me to send them our goals and an interpretation of what the city’s rights are,” she said. “That’s after I asked the AG’s office for its opinion.”

Perry said that in Florida, the city’s hands are tied when it comes to collecting for those services. It can’t withhold sanitation because it is essential to the safety and welfare of the city and if it places a lien on the property, it won’t get any money until the property is sold. A lot of the properties on the list of delinquencies are foreclosed and currently owned by banks and lending agencies, she said.

The city also proposed to withhold or revoke business permits of business owners who are delinquent, but that only amounts to a small percentage of the late payers.

Commissioners agreed to have Perry send a memorandum to the AG’s office, but will wait to send a request for proposals for collection professionals to try to collect the money. Perry said that the city has had some success in collecting from the banks that own foreclosed properties.

This was the first night for newly-elected commissioner Gay Breuler, who asked how they would advertise for collection professionals.

“We used to advertise in newspapers, but that’s expensive,” Perry said. “There is a Web site for professionals that runs ads for their services for free.”

In other action, the commission approved banners on the beach at the end of Cortez Road for the Bridge Street Merchants’ Christmas on Bridge Street on Dec. 19 from 4 to 8 p.m. and for the Manatee County annual household hazardous waste/e-scrap collection at Coquina Beach on Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They approved a special event request to hold a wedding rehearsal at Katie Pierola Park on Dec. 4 and adoption of a resolution voicing employer support for the National Guard and Reserve personnel who leave their employment to serve overseas and expect to have a job when they return.

Island restaurants repeat as wedding champs

Two of the Chiles Group restaurants, the BeachHouse and the Sandbar, have again been selected as the 2009 picks for The Knot’s Best of Weddings magazine, a coast-to-coast guide to top wedding-related businesses. New York based, The Knot Web site is recognized as the number one wedding Web site and The Knot magazine, published in more than 40 key cities across the United States, is the most trusted wedding resource for brides to be.

This is the second year the BeachHouse in Bradenton Beach has received this prestigious honor and the third year the Sandbar in Anna Maria has been recognized. According to magazine representatives, no other company in this area has ever received this award more than once.

“We are proud to announce that our event staffs have been rated by recently married brides and voted The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2009 picks for top ceremony and reception sites,” owner Ed Chiles said. “We believe we have the best venues for beach weddings but to have the brides themselves bestow this honor upon us solidifies that we are providing the best wedding experience for our brides.”

The Knot conducted its survey of more than 24,000 recent newlyweds for detailed feedback on every business that couples hired for their wedding celebration. Florida’s west coast newlyweds contributed their raves and reviews on the area’s wedding professionals. The newlyweds were asked to rate their vendors on multiple criteria, from creativity to professionalism, and to comment on their experiences. The resulting ratings and detailed feedback were aggregated by the editors of The Knot to create this one-of-a-kind publication highlighting the best wedding resources in each region, according to local brides. The survey was administered by Harris Interactive.

“The Sandbar event staff is extremely proud of this award and to win three years in a row tells us that we are providing our brides with the wedding of their dreams,” said Sandbar Event Coordinator Patti McKee.

“We take great pride in making our brides’ dreams come true on what is one of the most important days of their lives.” BeachHouse Event Coordinator Shawn Rhoton said. “We are thrilled to receive this accolade and will continue to serve our brides with professionalism and enthusiasm.”

The Sandbar and BeachHouse will be participating again in the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Wedding Festival on Feb. 28. For more information on the festival, contact Caryn Hodge at or 778-8705. For more information on weddings, call the Sandbar at 778-8709 or the BeachHouse at 778-8718.

Center identifies top 10 critical needs on the Island

ANNA MARIA – Assistant Director Scott Dell reported to board members the results of the Island Community Center’s critical needs assessment.

He said the Center surveyed community leaders to determine the following top 10 list of needs:

• Free child care so parents can look for work or go to work;
• Food;
• Money for rent, electric, phone and water bills;
• Medical and mental health care;
• Christmas gifts for kids;
• Tutoring/mentoring services;
• Resume writing and help;
• Transportation, especially for the elderly;
• Fun, free family activities;
• Job training.

“We are trying to implement programs to deal with these needs,” he said. “When there’s a critical need, it’s a chance for the Community Center to shine.”

Program report

In a program report, Dell said teen programs are offered five nights a week, and there are 16 to 20 regular members. He said that number swells to 30 on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“On Mondays, we do Wisdom Circles and talk about current issues they’re going through,” he explained. “We handle a lot of the pressures of being a teenager on the Island. It’s good group setting.

“On Tuesdays, there’s a sixth-grade group only. We’re trying to build up a strong younger group, so we can keep them flowing and stay with us as they grow older.”

Wednesdays are for individual boys’ and girls’ groups with a special curriculum, Thursdays are for crafts and games and Fridays are for movies and pizza.

He said 40 to 42 youngsters participate in the TLC After School program, 197 youths played the soccer season and NFL flag football season is coming. He said adult snowbirds are returning earlier than last year.

Dell said the hours of part-time employees have been cut from 30 to 35 hours per week to 25 to 30 because of the economy, and the Center is recruiting volunteers to fill in the gaps.

‘”We’re doing everything we can to tighten our belts,” he said. “We’re relying heavily on volunteers. There is a push now for people who are out of jobs to volunteer, and they can put that on their resume.”

Financial report

Treasurer Bill Ford reported that the Center received revenue from two golf tournaments, the Center’s and the Anna Maria Oyster Bar’s, which helped boost the revenue.

“We’ll get $10,000 from the Oyster Bar tournament, which is wonderful,” Ford said. “It really helps us because we had budgeted much less than that.

“If you take into account that $10,000 that didn’t get in the budget and another $7,000 in expenses that did get in, we’re really on budget, and it indicates the budget is in line with what we had anticipated.”

He said the Center continues to be tight on cash, but if it does well with the Lester Challenge, it will help the cash flow. After the first of the year, it can resume major fundraisers, which are suspended while United Way is having its annual fundraising campaign.

Bradenton Beach to host Waterfronts Florida managers

BRADENTON BEACH – For the second time since its certification as a Waterfronts Florida city, managers of the state-run program to promote and protect waterfront access will meet in this southernmost city of the Island.

The Florida Department of Community Affairs has promised Bradenton Beach Projects and Programs Manager Lisa Marie Phillips a good turnout for this quarterly meeting on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 7 and 8 after the first one held here drew a small crowd.

Phillips told the Scenic Waves Partnership a few months ago that she was disappointed because the people who did not attend missed a great opportunity to see what was going on in this area of the state because of the Waterfronts Florida program.

This time, the village of Cortez will also be participating. Cortez was the original local entity to become a Waterfronts Florida community. Manatee County helped win the designation for the village, which is an unincorporated area of the county, in the mid-1990s.

At that time, the residents of the historic fishing village asked for help in defining their community and developing standards for the residents who want to continue to encourage commercial fishing there, even though a state law banning certain types of net fishing has deeply hurt the industry.

The county hired a person to help villagers define their community and develop laws that the county could adopt to make sure that Cortez remains the way it has always been. Waterfronts Florida gave the county grants to hold hearings, pay the salary of the person helping the village and build a bronze memorial to local commercial fishermen.

Later, Bradenton Beach applied for Waterfronts Florida designation, thanks to the perseverance of Phillips who was then serving as a city commissioner. The city held hearings to help define its waterfronts and what it wanted them to become. After several years, the state de-activated the Waterfronts Florida effort in Bradenton Beach and the city combined it with the Scenic Highway group to become the Scenic Waves Partnership.

The schedule for the program managers meeting begins with a tour of the Florida Maritime Museum and the Cortez waterfront on Monday, Dec. 7, at 11 a.m. followed by a lunch at Star Fish Company. At 12:30 p.m., the group will register and get an update about the waterfront in Bradenton Beach at the BeachHouse restaurant.

The afternoon will be spent in meetings and conferences and the group will leave for a tour of Bradenton Beach by foot and trolley at 5 p.m. Dinner will be held at 7 p.m. at the BeachHouse.

The next morning, the group will meet again at the BeachHouse and hear and introduction from Elisabeth Salinas, of the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Janine Harris, of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, will discuss Communities for a Lifetime and Sara Peatrowsky, of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, will discuss environmental stewardship.

At 10:30 a.m., officials from the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and local Scenic Highway groups will update the managers. The meeting will end at noon.

SHARE a holiday meal with those in need
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND From left, Olga Ippedico,
Rein Mueller, Trudy Horrigan and Priscilla Seewald
assemble SHARE holiday meal packages for
distribution to those in need.

SHARE’s holiday meal campaign is seeking donors to purchase Christmas meal packages for those in need on the Island. Holiday packages available for purchase are:

• Ham holiday package: $26, six pounds average, boneless honey smoked ham, nine-inch baked cream pie (various flavors), one-ounce tub whipped topping, one pound frozen green beans, eight-ounce Jiffy Biscuit Mix, one pound winter blend frozen vegetables, one pound frozen blueberries, plus a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Turkey holiday package, $27.50, 10- to 14-pound average turkey, six-ounce turkey stuffing mix, turkey gravy mix, 16-ounce cranberry sauce, eight-ounce Jiffy buttermilk biscuit mix, 10-inch pre-baked pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie, plus an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Spiral sliced ham $21.25, nine and a half pounds average weight, wrapped in gold foil with black netting.

Please bring cash to the Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, prior to Dec. 4 in order to make the deadline for the food order.

SHARE holiday and monthly food packages are also available to anyone. A basic SHARE package costs $18 (cash only) and consists of frozen meats, fresh produce and grocery items.

For more information, call Sandee at 778-1908, ext. 9204, or visit

Neighbors open art show
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO Cheryl Jorgensen, left, and Marlane Wurzbach prepare for their
two-artist "Island Colors" Show at the Anna Maria Island Art League. A free,
public reception on Friday, Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. opens the show.

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island artists and neighbors Cheryl Jorgensen and Marlane Wurzbach will launch their two-artist show, "Island Colors," at the Anna Maria Island Art League on Friday, Dec. 4 with a free public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. "Island Colors" runs through Dec. 20.

Jorgensen resides in Holmes Beach, where she teaches watercolor at the Art League and is a member of the Artists' Guild of Anna Maria Island.

"I like to describe my life as well as my paintings as a mixture of cultures and a medley of subjects, from tropical flowers to birds and houses. I am constantly changing my focus and this is what keeps me energized,” she said.

She began experimenting in oils when she married a Dane and moved to Denmark in 1981 and began painting in watercolors when she moved to Florida 10 years later.

Jorgensen has had numerous exhibits in Florida and Trinidad, and has work on display in Barbados. Her Web site is

Wurzbach, a Connecticut native, moved to Holmes Beach in 2005 and has been a member of Island Gallery West since 2007.

A self-taught artist, she has enjoyed a diverse career in varied creative pursuits including interior design, window dressing, dessert catering, magazine layout, graphic design and feature writing for The Nutmegger magazine and editor of Parents Together Primer and Parents Together newsletters.

She has painted interior wall murals, worked with mosaics and specializes in painting island scenes, people and vegetation in acrylics.

Her work is on exhibit regularly at Island Gallery West, the Art League and in numerous Island, Virginia and Connecticut private homes. You can view her work at

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