The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 18 - January 27, 2010

Breaking headlines

Suspected counterfeiters cornered

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach
police converged Saturday on the Anna Maria Island Inn in
Bradenton Beach, where they tracked down a group of
suspected counterfeiters from Polk County.

View More Photos

BRADENTON BEACH – A man and two women were arrested on Saturday at the Anna Maria Island Inn after a clerk at CVS in Holmes Beach tipped police about receiving counterfeit money.

The clerk told police that a woman bought products with a counterfeit $100 bill, according to Bradenton Beach Police Department Lt. John Cosby.

The clerk followed the customer to the parking lot, got a description of her vehicle, and reported it to Holmes Beach police, who found the vehicle at the Anna Maria Island Inn, 2305 Gulf Drive N., he said.

At the inn, the clerk identified the woman, who was arrested along with another woman found to have an outstanding warrant in Polk County for uttering a forged instrument, he said. Their names were not available Saturday afternoon.

A man later identified as Roy Lee Carrol gave a false name – the name of his son – and was arrested for obstruction of justice after police found his driver license in a trash can in the motel room, Cosby said. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance in handcuffs after complaining of chest pain.

Five children also were in the group.

Police confiscated $340 in counterfeit bills, a printer, and a substance believed to be methamphetamine along with pipe paraphernalia, Cosby said.

The group may have been washing ink off $5 bills and printing them as $20 and $100 bills, he said. Counterfeit pens show the money as real because the paper is authentic, but alert clerks who hold a counterfeit bill up to the light can see that the watermark picture of the president on the fake bill does not match the printed picture.

The group may have been spending the counterfeit money on Anna Maria Island to exchange it for real cash, he said, adding that clerks should look for bills that feel rough to the touch and have mismatched printed and watermarked president’s pictures.

The U.S. Secret Service, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department, has been called in on the case, he said.

County approves trolley contract

BRADENTON BEACH – Those green trolleys that roll from one end of the Island to the other are free for now, and the Manatee County Commission has now endorsed businessman David Teitelbaum’s plans to keep them that way.

The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a contract between the county and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce that will allow the Chamber to collect and pass money from fund-raisers later this year to the county to repay money that the county fronted to pay for the –fare-free trolleys.

Teitelbaum, who operates out of an office in Bradenton Beach at Old Bridge Village, which he developed several years ago, also runs Seaside Inn Beach Resort, Tortuga Inn Beach Resort and Tradewinds Resort, all in Bradenton Beach. He is a member of the Manatee County Tourist Development Board and the Economic Development Council and he feels keeping the fare boxes off the trolleys is important to the area’s largest industry – tourism.

“Aside from the beaches, the trolleys are the heart and soul of our tourist industry,” he said. “They make it easy to vacation here without ever having to drive anywhere.”

When Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) announced last fall that it no longer could afford to operate the trolleys on the Island without collecting a fare, Teitelbaum convinced the county to let it operate one more fiscal year while he came up with a plan to raise that money through grassroots efforts. Each city chipped in $8,000 and the county made up the rest, to the tune of $60,000.

Teitelbaum’s plan includes putting advertising on the exterior and interior of the six trolleys that form the system. He has already drawn up the dimensions and pricing and he feels that the interior ads are the best bargain. They measure two-feet wide by nine-inches tall.

“We want to also offer them to non-profits like the Anna Maria Island Community Center,” he said, “Those agencies might be able to get a sponsor to pay for the ads and we will discount them from $50 per month.”

Teitelbaum said an earlier effort to advertise on the trolleys via a scrolling sign on each vehicle fell through because it was too hard to read. He said that they have asked MCAT to use them to publicize upcoming events.

“Non-profits who sponsor fund-raisers and festivals would contact the Island Chamber to get their announcement on the scrolling signs,” Teitelbaum said. “Every week, the Chamber would send new announcements into the county to put on the signs.”

Another way to raise the money is to ask for it, in the form of donation boxes on the trolleys. He is hoping those locals and tourists who feel that free trolley rides are “too good to be true” would be compelled to donate a dollar or more to those boxes to help keep them free.

The highlight of Teitelbaum’s plan is the Real Florida Festival planned for April 16 – 18 this year and which will become an annual event. The festival will be held in each of the three cities.

It will coincide with Holmes Beach’s Founder’s Day celebration on Friday and Saturday, April 16 and 17. There will be a festival in the field next to city hall.

On Saturday night, there will be what he calls the first of many Parrothead dances at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, in the city of Anna Maria. The dances will have a Jimmy Buffet Parrothead theme. He pointed out that this would be the first ever joint venture between the Chamber and the Community Center.

The final event, on Sunday, April 18, will be an outdoor festival on Bridge Street with a scavenger hunt and outdoor experiences on display.

Stay tuned for more details and meanwhile, keep stuffing those coins and bills inside those donation boxes on the trolleys, Teitelbaum said.



AMISUN News Robbery Banker
PHOTO/JAMES MILBERY The Miami-based yacht "Sir Winston",
lists to its port side after getting stuck on a shoal
west of Longboat Pass.


BRADENTON BEACH – Seven people were rescued with no injuries from a luxury yacht that ran aground west of Longboat Pass early Saturday morning.

The 120-foot, four-deck Miami-based “Sir Winston” was freed from a sand shoal overnight Sunday by Taylor Boat Works in Cortez. No fuel was spilled, and one of the two main engines and a generator was saved, Taylor’s John Banyas said, adding that the boat was towed to Tampa for repairs.

Captained by its owner, South Florida businessman Winston Knauss, the yacht went aground in the fog, taking breaking waves over the port side that broke several windows, according to U.S. Coast Guard public affairs Petty Officer Robert Simpson.

The yacht was taking on water when the Coast Guard pulled seven uninjured people from it around 5 a.m. on Saturday, he said.

Knauss declined to comment on the incident when reached by telephone on Saturday afternoon.

The vessel was not a hazard to navigation because it was outside the main channel, Simpson said.

Still, late Saturday afternoon, an onlooker’s fishing boat flipped upside down as a wave hit while the captain and two passengers watched Banyas attempt to free the yacht.

“They were looking at a salvage operation and became a salvage operation,” Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Dep. Bill McBride said.

Architectural and landscape drawings labeled “Winston Island Woods, Indianapolis, Indiana,” washed up on Coquina Beach on Saturday, presumably from the yacht.

Knauss is an Indianapolis boat designer and builder who founded and owned Winston Development Corp., AAA Wrecking Co., Winston Yacht and Country Club and a number of hotels, according to the Sir Winston Luxury Yacht Charters website.

The yacht seats up to 230 people for dinner, charging between $95 and $135 per person for a four-hour dinner cruise.

Sparks fly at special meeting

ANNA MARIA — Emotions ran high at a special meeting of the city commission last week. Under the city charter, any sitting commissioner can call a special meeting with 24-hour notice. Last Wednesday, Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus called a special meeting for the next day, Thursday, Jan. 21, raising the ire of at least one commissioner and the mayor.

Stoltzfus said he called the meeting to address the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists on Pine Avenue where he says they are in danger from vehicle traffic, which must cross sidewalks to enter and exit parking spaces.

Stoltzfus wanted to see the city expedite the reworking of the parking and site plan regulations for the residential/office/retail district.

“We dodged a bullet the other night when the site plan presented to P&Z was disapproved,” Stoltzfus said.

He was referring to the site plan for 216 Pine Avenue, which was continued until next month after a hearing at the Jan. 19 planning and zoning board meeting.

Fran Barford, speaking for the city administration as mayor and city manager, said she wanted to make her position clear.

She said she and the administration are encouraged on the work the staff, planning and zoning board and city commissioners are doing to clarify language and definitions in the city codes and ordinances so everyone will get fair and equal treatment.

Barford defended the staff’s work to date in “administering the codes and ordinances and administering the will of the commission as they intended and directed by the laws they created.”

Barford said she met with Stoltzfus on Tuesday of last week and agreed with him that many of the city’s codes and ordinances need to be clarified and that the city staff is committed and willing to work with elected officials to make those changes.

“I want to point out and remind the commissioners that we have a very small staff and it is troublesome to stop in mid-week on Wednesday, and interrupt our regular work in order to have a special meeting on Thursday on short notice,” Barford read from a prepared statement. “This is very cumbersome and time consuming on the staff and, in my opinion as the mayor/city manager, this agenda doesn’t seem to be an emergency item.”

Commissioner Chuck Webb objected strongly to the special meeting, calling it ridiculous.

“I don’t know why we’re having this meeting with short notice at this time of day,” he said. “I think it’s rude and discourteous to the other commissioners.”

With that, Webb moved to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner JoAnn Mattick seconded that motion, but the motion was voted down by a vote of 2-3 with only Webb and Mattick voting to shut the meeting down.

At that point, Webb, a practicing attorney, left the commission chambers, calling Stoltzfus’ action in calling the special meeting obscene and stating that he had appointments that he hadn’t been able to reschedule because of the short notice for the meeting and the time of day.

Stoltzfus has worked to change the parking regulations and site plan process since before he was elected to the commission last November.

Shortly after his election, he established a parking safety committee that was disbanded at the request of the mayor, since the usual procedure for forming committees was not followed.

At the first and only meeting of that committee, the city attorney, the building official, the administrative assistant and the commanding officer of the Anna Maria substation of the Sheriff’s Office were all on the payroll and present at the meeting. The city attorney’s fee is $145 an hour.

Subsequently, a parking safety committee was formed with one member proposed by each commissioner and the mayor. It has held one meeting to date to work on its charge of coming up with recommendations to make the parking in the ROR district safer.

That committee is slated to meet again on Jan. 29.

The commission and the P&Z board have already held one meeting to discuss parking and site plan regulations in the district. At that meeting, there was consensus to return final approval of all site plans to the city commission. The city attorney is at work on the documents to make that happen.

The committee is also beginning to consider action to address safety concerns with the parking regulations. It is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 11.

The city attorney, who was on the payroll and present at the special meeting, reminded Stoltzfus that ordinances take some time. First and second readings are required as well as proper advertising.

Stoltzfus contends that the city staff is not interpreting the codes correctly and that the land development regulations and comprehensive plan are not in agreement.

He made a motion for the immediate removal of Planner Alan Garrett from the city’s employ. That motion died for lack of a second.

Several members of the audience, including Tom Turner, Jim Conoly, Robin Wall and Robert Hunt agreed with Stoltzfus.

Ricinda Perry, an attorney representing the Pine Avenue Restoration Project whose site plans are a problem for Stoltzfus, had some comments.

She objected to Stoltzfus’ move to change the regulations mid-stream in her client’s plans. She also stated that the codes should be applied uniformly and without a personal vendetta.

“I hate to bring this up, but, unfortunately, we have been forced to seek court intervention on this problem,” Perry said.

A court reporter working for Perry and PAR was on hand to make a verbatim transcript of the special meeting.

In the end, the commission voted to continue to work on the issues in the way that’s already underway.

That vote was 3-1 with Stoltzfus voting no.

Relief effort continues

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT Father Jean-Woady Louise shows
off his new haircut from Lori Hegele (center) and
customer Marita Nunen at Cut and Color 2 Dye 4. Hegele
raised more than $2,000 for haitian relief.

Island businesses continue to collect money and items to send to the Haitian relief effort.

Bridge Street Jewelers, 129 Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, is donating all proceeds from any form of jewelry repair on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29 and 30. Owner Brad Smith said he was inspired to help while watching a young Haitian boy meet his adoptive partive parents in America after his own parents were killed in the earthquake. Smith urges everyone to bring in his or her jewelry needing repair on those two days.

On Saturday, Jan. 23, Lorie Hegele, owner of Cut and Color 2 Dye 4, 5386 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, held a hair cutting and styling marathon, donating more than $1,000 to the American Red Cross for Haitian relief. Twenty people came to get their hair styled or cut.

Hegele, a member of St. Bernard Catholic Church, invited Father Jean-Woady Louise, a Haitian citizen who preaches at St. Bernard, to come and get his haircut and he did, arriving around 9:30 a.m.

When he got there, Hegele was working on another customer so he sat in the waiting room, watching Nancy Tacco, who volunteered to cut hair, work on Joseph Houdart.

Gwen Houdart, Joseph’s wife, sat next to Father Woady. The couple is here on vacation and they are impressed with Father Woadie and the church, which they attended while they are here.

“He’s wonderful,” she said about the priest. “I’m impressed with what he does and what the church does.”

When Tacco finished with Joseph Houdart, Marita Nunen took his place in the chair. She is from Massachusetts and recently moved here. While waiting his turn, Father Woady talked about his parish and family in Haiti.

“I found out that two of my cousins were killed in the earthquake when their house collapsed,” he said, “The rest of my family is living in a tent in Port A Prince.”

Hegele came into the waiting room to get Father Woady and he headed to the front room, where she had her chair set up.

As he sat down, she joked that since his hair was already short, she was going to give him a number two cut, which is just a basic trim.

“No,” he answered, “Make it a number one.”

That is the maximum and it includes a head shave after the cutting.

Hegele started with the electric trimmer, which took it down to the length of a day’s growth for a beard.

Then she got out the close shaver to finish the job.

After that, she trimmed his eyebrows and then his beard. Father Woady remarked that this is his first haircut from a woman.

“You are the second woman to ever touch my head,” he said. “My mother was the first.”

As Hegele put her tools away, Father Woady got up and handed her some money.

“I ask that everybody try to help,” he said, thanking everyone who helped make this a special event.

In addition to the haircuts and styles, Denise Lehocki, owner of Body & Mind Massage, offered 15-minute stress reduction massages for $15, which would also go toward the relief.

Sign of the Mermaid restaurant at 9707 Gulf Drive in Anna Maria, continues to collect items to send to Haiti. Please bring non-perishable foods, clothing, blankets and toiletries to the restaurant. See the ad on Page 2 of The Sun for hoursit is open.

Record manatee count follows record death count

Researchers counted a record 5,067 manatees in a one-day, statewide survey of the endangered marine mammals on Jan. 11.

The number, up from 3,807 in 2009, is primarily due to record cold weather that caused manatees to congregate at shallow warm water sites such as power plant discharge areas, where they are easy to find, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Manatee mortality also is at an all-time high, with the latest casualty washing up at Key Royale on Saturday morning – a 4.5-foot-long male, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit Dep. Bill McBride.

In 2009, 429 manatees died in Florida waters, 80 more than the five-year average of 349, and 12 more than the worst year in Florida history – 2006 – with 417 deaths, according to the FWC. Previously, the worst year for manatee mortality was 1996 with 415 deaths, in part due to red tide, which was not a significant factor in 2009.

Last year’s record mortality includes 97 watercraft related deaths, higher than the five-year average of 81, and 56 cold-related deaths, higher than the five-year average of 30.

Cold-related deaths are expected to be higher this year due to the nearly two weeks of record cold temperatures that dipped into the 20s earlier this month.

The cold weather and unusually clear water on the day of the count aided this year’s survey volunteers, according to the FWC. The 21 observers from 10 organizations counted 2,779 manatees on Florida’s east coast and 2,288 on the west coast.

“Ironically, the very weather conditions that brought us such good news about the size of the manatee population is set to have dramatic fatal consequences for dozens more individual manatees,” said Patrick Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee Club. “Just as the manatee’s need to stay warm has allowed us to better count them, we must ensure that these warm-water refuge sites remain available in Florida or the population could suffer in catastrophic proportions.

Until last year, state synoptic surveys of manatees had steadily declined from an all-time high of 3,300 in 2001 to 2,817 in 2007.

The survey provides researchers with a minimum number of manatees in Florida waters at the time of the survey, but is not a population estimate and is not used to assess trends. The numbers are used to monitor the species and as a basis for law enforcement measures such as speed zones.

To report a dead or injured manatee, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Cancellation causes controversy

ANNA MARIA — The parking safety committee chairman’s decision to cancel a meeting scheduled for Jan. 22 caused some members of the committee to question the act.

When Chairman Larry Albert learned that the minutes of the previous meeting wouldn’t be ready in time for the meeting, he postponed the meeting until Jan. 29, stating that the availability of the minutes was crucial.

When they learned of the cancellation, several members of the committee e-mailed AnnMarie Thorpe, an administrative assistant in the clerk’s office, expressing their unhappiness with Albert’s decision.

“I agree completely with the chair’s assessment of the importance of this meeting as scheduled,” committee member Micheal Coleman said in an e-mail. “Given that, I am certain the chair has a very significant basis for his decision, and I believe, again, respectfully, that those who have allocated time and energy to this are entitled to know what it is. Absent a compelling reason, other than the ‘minutes’ issue so forcefully addressed by the chair in his note, please advise as to whether committee members have the same right as a commissioner to call for a special meeting as commission members do.”

(Coleman was referring to a special city commission meeting to discuss the parking safety issue that Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus called for Jan.21.)

Coleman also expressed frustration that the cancellation meant that the safety committee would not hold a meeting before the Jan. 28 city commission meeting.

Thorpe contacted City Attorney Jim Dye to check out Coleman’s request and to determine how to respond to the e-mails of committee members on the subject of the cancelled meeting.

Dye informed Thorpe that she could supply committee members with any documents, including e-mails that she had, though she had to be careful about passing messages from one committee member to another, as that could be seen as acting as a conduit between members of the same committee.

“That’s a possible Sunshine issue,” Dye wrote in a memo to Thorpe. “If committee members want to ask the chair about why the meeting was postponed, they’ll need to do so in a noticed meeting.”

As to Coleman’s question on calling special meetings, Dye said the city charter only addresses the issue of commission meetings. Dye said he knows of no procedural rules for the parking committee that would allow for a member to call a special meeting.

The parking safety committee was appointed by the mayor, with each city commissioner plus the mayor suggesting the name of one person to serve on the committee.

The committee is charged with coming up with suggestions for making parking in the residential/office/retail district along Pine Avenue and a section of Gulf Drive safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Jan. 29 at city hall.

Pier project progressing with extra funds
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY Members of the Transportation
Enhancement Grant Committee explain the plans they have
for the pier in a meeting with representatives of FDOT
last week. From left to right are Sissy Quinn, engineer
David Panlilio, Nancy Colcord, Chair JoAnn Mattick,
Betty Yanger (partially concealed), landscape architect
Michael Grosswirth, and FDOT Community Liaison Manon Lavoie.

ANNA MARIA — The addition of more than $600,000 to a $350,000 transportation enhancement grant brought Florida Department of Transportation officials to town last week to meet with the committee that’s been working on a project to add a boardwalk, picnic areas and a covered trolley shelter to the base of the city pier.

JoAnn Mattick initially wrote the grant request before she was elected to the city commission.

“At the time, the maximum you could apply for was $300,000,” Mattick said.

When word came that the grant application had been approved, a committee was formed to come up with plans, though the money wouldn’t be available for nearly four years.

"You guys own this project,” FDOT Community Liaison Manon Lavoie said at a meeting that started at the city pier and then continued at city hall Jan. 19.

Lavoie said usually communities have to make plans at the last minute rather than planning well in advance of getting the actual funding.

Then several projects in the district were completed for much less than had been projected, so there was additional money available.

“When they (FDOT officials) came to me and asked if I had any projects that were ready to go that could use this funding, I immediately thought of this project,” Lavoie said.

Now with a total of $959,624 available, the planning is beginning in earnest.

Two FDOT consultants, David Panlilio, an engineer with Jacobs Engineering in Bartow, and Michael Grosswith, a landscape architect with Jacobs, saw first hand the plans and designs that the committee has created.

Professional planning starts

The two professionals will take the ideas and drawings back to their office and come up with drawings and plans to scale that will reflect what the committee has envisioned and what will actually be built.

“We need to get going, because the city will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the pier in April of 2011,” Lavoie told Grosswith and Panlilio.

The two said that they would create a timeline for the project beginning with a goal of coming back to the city with drawings by July 1 of this year.

The committee, the city commission and the public will have several opportunities to discuss and give input to the plans as the process goes on.

Stoltzfus objects

City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus registered several objections to the project.

“I don’t mean to burst any bubbles, but I don’t see this working out,” Stoltzfus told members of the committee.

The commissioner said that he didn’t think there was enough room to establish a proper loading zone for delivery vehicles like the Budweiser truck.

“I think you’ll have to eliminate most of the boardwalk to have a loading zone which our regulations require,” he said referring to the plan as a re-development.

Mattick disagreed with Stoltzfus’s assessment, pointing out that the base of the pier is zoned PRA (public recreation area) and thus will not require such things as loading zones.

“That pier’s been around for 100 years without a loading zone,” Mattick said. “We aren’t doing a commercial project in ROR or the commercial zone. We don’t need a loading zone.”

Commission to hear plans

Mattick will present the plan to city commissioners at their Jan. 28 meeting. Lavoie plans to be on hand to answer any questions from commissioners.

Staff mistake leads to continuance of site plan

ANNA MARIA — A mistake on the part of the city staff has let to the postponement of a ruling on a site plan for one of the Pine Avenue Restoration mixed-use structures on Pine Avenue.

The planning and zoning board was to consider whether or not to grant approval to the plan for the property at 216 Pine, a double lot on the northwest corner of Pine Avenue and North Shore Drive.

Chairman Frank Pytel opened the site plan hearing with a question about whether the board would be the final authority on the site plan since the city has begun the process of returning final approval of all site plans back to the city commission.

“We need to discuss whether the board decision is a final decision or an advisory decision,” Pytel stated.

At a joint meeting of P&Z and the city commission earlier this month, there was consensus that the final authority on site plan applications would return to the city commission. However, that legislation is not yet enacted.

Bob Barlow, a member of the board, said he’d like to hear what the city attorney had to say.

Dye didn’t specifically answer Barlow’s question, but he did imply that site plan applications currently in the pipeline should be considered under the existing rules, which would mean that final approval, approval with conditions or denial would rest with the P&Z board.

“I do think the applicant has a right to a decision on the application,” Dye said.

With that question resolved, Pytel noted some concerns he had with the setbacks shown on the drawings for the site plan.

“There are a variety of questions I have about this site plan,” Pytel said. “My first issue is it bothers me when I don’t see specific side setbacks.”

“I share some of the same concerns,” said board member Mike Yetter.

Hearing questioned

As the hearing was opened up to public comment, City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus came forward.

“I question the legitimacy of the hearing at all,” he said. “I think this hearing was scheduled before the site plan was complete.”

He noted he also had concerns about the completeness of the staff review and the compliance with city comprehensive plan and land development regulations.

Dye indicated that additional information could be submitted right up to and including during the hearing.

“As to the legitimacy of the hearing, it is my understanding that the notice to the public was done appropriately and in a timely manner.”

Jeremy Anderson, an attorney with Lobeck and Hanson, who represents Barbara and William Nally at most city hearings, said he thought the hearing should not go forward.

Problems uncovered

Problems arose and the meeting was continued until next month when Planner Alan Garrett said he had overlooked some problems with the site plan application.

“When you spend hours and hours going over a plan, sometimes you miss something,” Garrett said.

The staff had overlooked the fact that the building itself straddles the two parcels. This is allowed under the codes, but when a building is built across a lot line, the setbacks that would have been between two buildings on adjoining lots must be added to the sides of the building – something that was not done in this case.

Hearing continued

PAR’s Managing Partner, Micheal Coleman, said he’d split the building and include the six-foot setbacks required between the buildings on the two lots as he had done with two other sites along Pine Avenue.

However, members of the P&Z board indicated they felt they couldn’t act on the site plan until they saw a drawing depicting the actual configuration of the two buildings on the two lots showing all the setbacks and other particulars.

The vote to continue the hearing until Feb. 23 was unanimous.

Community Center prepares for Affaire

ANNA MARIA – With Chairman Trudy Moon back as chair, the Community Center is making plans for its 26th annual Affaire to Remember.

“I’ve been with the Affaire to Remember for 19 years, and I chaired it for 16 years.” Moon told the board. “I’ve seen it grow over the years, and it’s been a very exciting time. We are the only live auction left around town. That puts us in a strong position.”

She said the event is set for April 24, and the theme will be “All That Jazz.” Harry’s Continental Kitchen will cater the sit down dinner, and there will be an open bar. The cost is $150 per person or $1,200 per table.

“This is the board’s primary event,” Executive Director Pierrette Kelly added. “It is the event that sustains us, and it helped us build this building.”

Assistant Director Scott Dell said 89 cents of every dollar is used to provide programs and services for the community and that 853 youths and 2,932 adults participate in those programs. Sixty-five percent of the youths received scholarships, and 95 percent of families in therapy received scholarships or reduced fees.

“This is the social event of Manatee and Sarasota counties,” Dell said. “Go out there and spread the word. We’re working on our corporate sponsors, and we would like to sell out at 320 people.”

Burn the mortgage

Kelly said the Center has started a Burn the Mortgage campaign and explained, “Our goal is to raise $900,000. Nothing is worse that having a mortgage and not knowing where the next mortgage payment is coming from. “An appeal begun in December by Trudy and Stewart Moon has resulted in $50,000 so far for the campaign. Treasurer Bill Ford reported that December was a good month for the Center and noted, “We had the benefit of the Lester Challenge, so donations were up substantially. The match part is $37,694.”

Charles and JoAnn Lester, of Holmes Beach, offered to match up to $50,000 in donations made to the Center by Dec. 30. However, Kelly said that deadline has been extended to Jan. 31.

Ford said there were a couple of differences in the budget. One was that city and county funding that normally comes in December, came in January. Another was that that the auditors asked to be paid in full in December instead of spreading it out over six months.

Upcoming events

Dell told the board that upcoming events include the Kiwanis Valentine Dance on Feb. 11, the Island Wedding Festival on Feb. 28, the Flag Football Super Bowl and All Star games on March 6, the Kathy Joyce Memorial Oscar Party tentatively set for March 7, the Tour of Homes on March 20 and the Real Florida Festival Parrot Head Dance on April 17.

“We’re feeling very optimistic for the next six months of our organization,” Dell said. “We just went through our slow period and now we’re gearing up.

“We’ve streamlined everything as much as we possibly can, and we had to let a few people go. We’re doing more than we did last year with half the staff.”

Ford said to fully staff the Center, they would need to raise another $500,000 per year.

In other business board members welcomed new member Blair Schlossberg and approved new member Angela Rodocker.

Robinson addition in negotiations
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Manatee County is negotiating to purchase a 200-acre parcel
approved for a golf course and clubhouse east of the
Robinson Preserve (in red) and west of the
Geraldson Community Farm (in green).
View Larger Photo

BRADENTON – A planned golf course in northwest Bradenton could become Manatee County’s newest preserve.

Adjoining the 487-acre Robinson Preserve to the east, the 200-acre parcel is slated for development as an 18-hole golf course with clubhouse, pool and recreational fields by developer Bill Robinson, according to Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department.

The county has begun informal negotiations with Robinson – the founder of Robby’s Sporting Goods – and his partners to purchase the land, he told participants at a Sarasota Bay Watch meeting last week in Longboat Key, eliciting applause.

Funding will be difficult in the current economic environment, Hunsicker said, adding that citizens interested in seeing the preserve expanded should spread the word and contact their elected officials.

The county already has approved the golf course, clubhouse and pool for the 200 acres, which includes five in wetlands and 195 in uplands. 20 home sites adjoining the property to the east also have been approved, and probably would be developed whether or not the golf course is built, he said.

“The concept is to extend further into the property the type of diversity we already have over the existing preserve,” he said.

Passive recreation areas, tropical forest and an environmental classroom also are possibilities.

The county purchased Robinson Preserve in 2003 from Robinson for $16.4 million, but paid only $3.9 million after a $6.4 million discount from the seller and a $6.1 million grant from the Florida Communities Trust.

The county restored the former farm into coastal and wetland habitats with an additional $6 million in grants, and opened it in 2008. It has become a popular recreational facility for hikers, kayakers, bikers, rollerbladers, walkers and anglers, and features an observation tower that offers expansive views of Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the St. Petersburg and Tampa skylines. The preserve is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.

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