The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 12 - December 16, 2009


Nearly $1 million earmarked for city pier

ANNA MARIA — The city pier project got a huge increase in funding Monday as the Metropolitan Planning Organization voted unanimously to approve more than a half-million dollars in additional funding.

The additional funding of $588,999 will be added to the $371,025 that had already been granted for a transportation enhancement grant the city had coming as the result of a grant application written by JoAnn Mattick before she became a city commissioner.

“This is thrilling news,” Mattick said after the vote. “Now we’ll be able to do everything we want to do at the pier.”

Mattick and the transportation committee have been working for more than two years to come up with a design for the project that is supposed to enhance the transportation system in the city’s business district.

The committee determined that the money could best be spent placing a boardwalk along the base of the pier and reconfiguring the parking there so that traffic goes in one driveway and out another.

Benches will be installed along the ADA-accessible boardwalk so that visitors can sit for a while and look out over the bay.

All native plantings will be installed along with a picnic pavilion, which will double as a trolley shelter.

As the planning phase of the project was being completed, committee members realized that their dreams for the area were going to outstrip the original $371,025 grant, so they were resigned to scaling down the scope of the project.

“We thought we’d have to have a shorter boardwalk, and fewer benches, for example,” Mattick said. “Now it looks like we can do the whole thing!”

Mattick has also written a grant for the installation of turtle-friendly lighting along the pier. None of the transportation enhancement grant money can be used to repair the pier, which is in need of about $200,000 worth of work.

“The grant doesn’t cover infrastructure,” Mattick said. “It must be used to enhance the transportation corridor.”

Mattick said the next step for the project would be for the committee to meet with representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation sometime toward the end of January.

FDOT Community Liaison Manon LaVoie has expressed enthusiasm in the past about the Anna Maria project.

“I’ve never seen a city start planning so early and so effectively,” she said earlier. “You guys are really doing this right.”

Surfers lament 'twin piers' wipeout
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE A surfer checks the horizon for
waves recently at twin piers in Bradenton Beach.

Comment on this story

BRADENTON BEACH – Surfers from Clearwater to Naples expressed anger, sorrow and disgust last week after learning in The Sun that the popular “twin piers” surf spot is likely to be wiped out in 2014.

“Why are we spending taxpayer money to take them down? Aren’t there more important things to do?” asked a frustrated Mark Pelham, of Bradenton-based NXTC Surfboards and frontman for the Anna Maria Island band Bootleg. “It hasn’t caused any problems in my lifetime. It’s our playground.”

Regarded as one of the better surf breaks on Anna Maria Island, twin piers and a third erosion control structure nearby will be scrutinized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) when Manatee County applies in 2013 for a permit for a 2014 beach renourishment project.

The permit will likely require the structures to be removed, according to Charlie Hunsicker, director of Manatee County’s Natural Resources Department, who plans to fight to keep at least one in place to protect Gulf Drive in the event of a storm.

To save any of the structures, Manatee County will have to demonstrate that they help hold the beach together, he said, adding that the state department of transportation may support saving the piers to save Gulf Drive.

The surf Web site is crawling with comments on the piers.

“Why…do they want to take them down when it’s so completely obvious even to an idiot they are keeping the sand there?” asked one Gulfster member. “There is substantial evidence to prove that a rock, cement or wooden structure protruding from the beach does and will keep the sand there, not to mention its other function, which is breaking the power of the wave prior to it hitting the shoreline, another reason waves break good nearer outcroppings, the energy of the wave is dispersed further from shore and where you’re surfing.”

A member known as “Buffalosurfer” who once lived across Gulf Drive from twin piers, wrote that the rationale for removing the piers could be to ensure future beach renourishment contracts for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Another member agreed, writing, “Seems that the good old dredge and fill Army Corps want to secure the next couple decades of million dollar beach renourishments that still don’t work.”

One surfer said the spot’s name should be changed to “tres tears” for three tears, one shed for each pier.

“Those piers hold a lot of memories for me, and I will miss them. C'est la vie, three piers.”

“You figure half of the best waves in the world are made from man’s activities, and the other half we are trying to keep man’s activities from ruining,” another surfer wrote.

Some surfers criticized Surfrider Foundation, an international surfing activist group, for not taking a position on the issue. The group’s Suncoast chapter adopted twin piers several years ago as its cleanup project for the annual Great American Cleanup.

“We’re taking no stance yet,” Surfrider Foundation Suncoast Chapter Chair Jessica Respondek said, adding that a regional representative is researching the issue. “Surfrider is against coastal armories, but in this case it conflicts with it being a surf spot.”

Rocky rationale

When DEP issues a joint coastal permit for beach renourishment, it’s common to require the removal of any erosion control groins within the project area for public safety, said Cliff Truitt, technical advisor for beaches for the Town of Longboat Key, where thousands of tons of such structures have been removed.

“They can be partially submerged and pose a hidden danger to swimmers,” he said, making the state liable for injuries on its sovereign submerged lands.

“DEP shouldn’t remove them just because they’re doing a permit,” said Dr. Murf Klauber of the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key, who successfully litigated against the state to preserve the Colony’s erosion control groins, which saved the swimming pool from merging with the Gulf of Mexico.

DEP will not make the sole determination on the fate of twin piers, but will weigh in on the Corps’ decision, spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said.

“It doesn’t do any harm to keep them,” Klauber said. “When they’re putting sand in there they should just go around them. People use them. They are wonderful.”

Cindy Lane can be reached at

Lighted Boat Parade Saturday

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
PHOTO/LAURA RITTER Peter Robinson, of Holmes Beach, gets
his boat ready for this Saturday's Lighted Boat Parade.

CORTEZ – Twinkling boats will celebrate a Florida-style Christmas at the Sixth Annual Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 19, sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun and the Cortez Yacht Club.

All boats are welcome to join the free event and compete for a $500 grand prize for the best-decorated boat.

The parade will begin at dusk – around 6:15 to 6:30 p.m. – on the south side of the Cortez Bridge, head to Longboat Pass, turn north and go north to the Sandpiper Mobile Home Park, then turn south and finish at the Seafood Shack Marina and Grill.

Spectators can enjoy the parade from the Seafood Shack, the Old Florida Grill and Bait Shop and Annie’s Bait and Tackle, all on the east side of the Cortez Bridge, the Cortez Bridge itself, street ends in Bradenton Beach along the Intracoastal Waterway, Coquina Bayside Park, the Longboat Pass bridge and the Bridge Street Pier.

The skippers’ meeting for participants will be Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Seafood Shack.

To register for the competition, call Laura Ritter at 780-3547.

Roser Food Pantry feeds Island hungry
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY David Marshall and Michael Pierce
check in some of the donations to the Roser Food Pantry at the
Moose Club while Brenda Huelsman looks on.

The need is increasing, and the Roser Food Bank is getting requests for 20 to 30 bags of food a week, according to Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce.

“We are hoping things get better as the season picks up and people go back to work in the restaurants and hotels, but there are still a lot of people struggling,” Pierce said.

The Food Pantry at Roser Church is the one place on the Island where people experiencing financial hardship can come for free groceries.

The food is packaged in one single brown grocery bag, and it’s intended to feed one person for several days. Families with children receive additional bags and a small gift card to help purchase milk and other perishable foods.

The contents of the bags vary, but an average bag will contain a box of cereal, two complete dinners (macaroni and cheese or canned spaghetti,) two cans of soup, two cans of vegetables, a can of fruit, two cans of meat (tuna, spam, chicken) a pack of rice or potatoes and juice, snacks or desserts as available. Additionally, there can be a few tea bags or cocoa in the bag.

With the high demand, the Roser Food Pantry relies heavily on donations.

The churches are a reliable source of donations, according to Pierce.

“Most of the churches have a basket so people can bring their non-perishables to church with them,” he said. “Cash is always a huge help.”

Another reliable source of food is the Kiwanis Club.

“People bring caned goods, boxes of spaghetti and other things with them to the meetings,” Pierce said. “We take several good boxes of things to Roser every two weeks.”

The Moose Club has also been a reliable source for donations. “People are real generous, especially during season,” said Brenda Huels man, who has worked at the Moose for 20 years. “We get a good box full every week or two.”

A donation box for Roser Food Pantry has also been placed in the Walgreen’s on the Island, so people shopping there can leave a donation.

Beginning this week, there’ll also be a drop off site at the Anna Maria Island Sun office at the corner of Gulf Drive and Palm Avenue.

“Island people are good people,” Pierce said. “It’s hard to think that some of our neighbors may be going hungry, though. We just don’t think it can happen on our Island, but it does.”

Pierce said he hopes everyone will be moved to help out, especially with the holidays upon us.

Dozens join Bethlehem Walk
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT Linda and Larry Scott played
Joseph and Mary at the Roser Bethlehem Walk.

ANNA MARIA – It is one of the most genuine events of the Island Christmas experience.

A crowd of well over 50 people joined in the Roser Church Bethlehem Walk, an annual event that takes Mary and Joseph around the block, stopping at several inns and asking for a room. At the last stop, the innkeeper always says he has no room because of the recent census, but he has a place out back with the animals that they may use. He walks them to the door of Roser Memorial Community Church.

Roser Pastor Gary Batey led the crowd that trailed Joseph and Mary in Christmas hymns as they walked. Some of the crowd dressed in period clothes. Animals from a farm in east county were brought in, and if a child was lucky, he or she got to carry a baby lamb. There were a llama, goats and a donkey that went with Mary and Joseph.

This year, stand-ins played Mary and Joseph. Linda and Larry Scott filled in for Julia and Shawn Duytschaver. Linda is Shawn’s mother.

The outdoors crowd at the Waterfront restaurant watched in awe as the people in this small community acted out the true story of Christmas on the sidewalks and streets. Something that many of those visiting the Island will tell their friends and relatives about when they get home.

Area churches offer holiday prayers

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, there’s a church on the Island that can accommodate your needs during the holidays. Here’s a listing of the services.

• CrossPointe Fellowship (Baptist), 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 778-0719
Thursday, Dec. 24., 7:30,p.m., worship service.

• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1638
Thursday, Dec. 24, 10:30 p.m., family service and holy Eucharist; 11 p.m., singing of carols.
Friday, Dec. 25, 10 a.m., holy Eucharist.

• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1813
Sunday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m., Christmas caroling.
Thursday, Dec. 24, 6:30 p.m., special music, 7 p.m., candlelight service; 10 p.m. special music, 10:30 p.m., candlelight service.
Friday, Dec. 25, 9:30 a.m., Christmas worship

• Harvey Memorial Community Church, 300 Church St., Bradenton Beach, 779-1912
No special services.

• Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 778-0414
Thursday, Dec. 24, 5:30 & 9 p.m., Christmas Eve services.
Friday, Dec. 25, 10 a.m., Christmas service.

• St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-4769
Thursday, Dec. 24, 4 p.m. family Mass; 9:30 p.m., choir with caroling, 10 p.m. midnight Mass.
Friday, Dec. 25, 8 & 10 a.m., Christmas Mass.
Saturday, Dec. 26, 4 p.m., Mass, feast of the Holy Family.
Sunday, Dec. 27, 8 & 10 a.m., Mass.

Restaurants win recognition

Three area restaurants have earned accolades from Zagat and Fodor's restaurant reviews and Florida Trend magazine.

Beach Bistro was selected as the Top Restaurant for Food in the west coast region of Florida in Zagat Restaurant Guide's "Top Restaurants in America" 2010 edition. The restaurant also led the state for highest food rankings for the second year in a row.

Owned and operated by Sean Murphy and his wife, Susan Timmins, the restaurant was invited to create a James Beard Foundation Dinner at the Beard House in New York in 2005.

Earlier this year, the Bistro began offering Gulf-front seating, beachfront cocktail service and weddings.

The restaurant is opening a second locale this winter at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, rated the Best New Golf Course in America by Golf Digest.

Euphemia Haye restaurant on Longboat Key was recognized as a Fodor's Choice 2009 selection for being a leader in the field of service, quality and value. The National Restaurant Association also awarded the restaurant the Florida Restaurant Neighbor award in recognition of its community service.

Mattison's, founded and operated by Chef Paul Mattison, earned a new honor from Florida Trend magazine as a Golden Brand - one of the best restaurant brands in the state.

Mattison's operates three restaurants, including Mattison's Riverside in Bradenton, a catering business, a culinary travel company and custom kitchen design center.

Beach Bistro, Euphemia Haye and Mattison's have all received numerous Florida Golden Spoon awards from Florida Trend recognizing the top 20 restaurants in the state, and Beach Bistro and Euphemia Haye also have been inducted into the Golden Spoon Hall of Fame.

Community Center honors supporters
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Anna Maria Island Community Center Executive Director Pierette Kelly
(right) reads from his plaque, outgoing board chairman Tom Breiter
(center) watches. Incoming chairman Andy Price holds the marbles they
gave to Breiter signifying that he still has all his marbles.

ANNA MARIA – The Anna Maria Island Community Center thanked those who kept it on course this past year and those who especially helped steer it around the obstacles set out by the uncertainty of the recession.

It was an evening of cocktails, delicious snacks by the Anna Maria Oyster Bar and networking between private and public supporters.

Tom Breiter, who is stepping down as chairman of the Chamber board, was honored with a bag of marbles and a plaque. The bag signified that he still has all his marbles.

Longtime board member John Horne, owner of the Anna Maria Oyster Bars, also was honored because he is stepping down from the board for a while.

West Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Andy Price is the incoming board chairman. He has served in that capacity in the past and Community Center Assistant Executive Director Scott Dell welcomed him back. Then Dell had a special presentation.

“I have spent 17 years working with this individual, and we would not be here if not for her,” he said as he looked at Executive Director Pierette Kelly. “Everything she’s done is for this place and I would say she is the heartbeat of this whole Island.”

Dell then gave her a bouquet a flowers.

After the audience applauded, Dell reminded her that this is her 20th anniversary at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

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