The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 22 - March 10, 2010


Heritage Fest delights all ages

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
Snowbird, aka Mady Iseman, puts a red nose
on Camden Dempsy at the Historical Society's
Heritage Day Festival Saturday.


ANNA MARIA – Hundreds of visitors took advantage of the first bright, sunny day in weeks on Saturday to enjoy the Historical Society’s annual Heritage Day Festival.

“We had fabulous weather and an overwhelming crowd,” AMIHS Director Betty Yanger said. “We are ecstatic.”

Visitors roamed the grounds of the museum complex to visit booths featuring artwork, woodcarvings, antiques and collectibles and jewelry. Volunteers at the AMIHS booth selling museum gifts shop items such as T-shirts, mugs, jewelry, Early Settler’s Bread and Carolyne Norwood’s Island history, “The Early Days,” reported that they “flew off the shelves.”

Clowns Snowbird and Sparky, aka Mady Iseman and Betty Palsgrove, were one of the most the most popular attractions of the day as they walked through the crowd blowing bubbles, putting red noses on people’s faces, making balloon animals for children and leaving broad smiles in their wake.

Rangers from De Soto National Memorial were kept busy telling about the park and its offerings and its Junior Ranger program, through which kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge by completing a list of activities in the park. Crowds watched as Betsy Smith showed how to weave palm fronds and make pine needle baskets.

Barry and Dantia Gould, of the Island’s Rotary Club, explained the Rotary’s Wheel of Hope to those passing through the Belle Haven garden. The purchase of a $50 space on the wheel will give the donor a chance to win the use of a vacation home outside of Key West for seven days, while the money will purchase 700 meals for those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti.

Booths offering kettle corn, ice cream, zucchini fritters, zepple, hot dogs and boiled peanuts were popular with festival-goers and many stopped to purchase tickets to win the Community Center’s Tour of Homes quilt.

The Historical Society did a brisk business at its raffle booth offering two baskets loaded with gift certificates from Island businesses and restaurants and gifts from the Historical Society’s gift shop. The lucky winners were Donna Misner and Margie Thompson.

Heritage Day chair Melissa Williams reported that the Historical Society made nearly $4,000 on the event, which will be used to further its mission of preserving Island history.

Moratorium meeting set for Thursday

ANNA MARIA — The city is another step closer to imposing a moratorium on new mixed-use construction.

At a meeting last week, three members of the City Commission said they’d be in favor of imposing such a moratorium to buy some time to revise the parking regulations in the residential/office/retail district, which runs the length of Pine Avenue and includes a few blocks of Gulf Drive south of Pine.

Commissioners John Quam, Harry Stoltzfus and Dale Woodland all said they were leaning in that direction, while Commissioners Jo Ann Mattick and Chuck Webb stated that they thought taking that step was going to be very expensive.

“If there’s a challenge, and I think there will be, it will end up being very costly in the end,” Webb said.

Stoltzfus, who has been fighting for a moratorium for months, suggested that the city has made some serious mistakes by approving previous site plans in the ROR district.

“We need to resolve what is a driveway,” he said. “You can’t cross a sidewalk, and if you can’t cross a sidewalk, we have been approving illegal parking areas.”

All of the mixed-use buildings constructed in the last couple of years have had the required parking in the front of the buildings. That configuration developed when a group of residents along Spring Avenue, just to the south of Pine, complained long and loudly about rear parking, saying their ability to enjoy their back yards would be severely diminished if the mixed-use structures had their parking in the rear abutting the back yards of the houses on Spring Avenue, which is in the residential district.

During a discussion on the legality of the moratorium, City Attorney Jim Dye said he’d prepared a memo at the request of Mattick.

“A moratorium prohibits specific actions,” Dye said. “Typically, when used in a zoning or land use context, it is relied upon when a local government comes to a realization that the actions governed by the moratorium should stop while the local government addresses some deficiency in its governance.”

Dye cited a Florida case, WCI Communities v. City of Coral Springs, in which the city’s nine-month moratorium on a site plan was challenged. The trial court found in favor of the city, which was upheld after an appeal.

“The court noted in passing, several traditional grounds used to enact a moratorium,” Dye said. “These include effects of development on traffic, on congestion, on surrounding property values, on demand for city services, and on other aspects of the general welfare.”

When asked what the time frame for the moratorium might be, Quam said he was thinking in terms of 90 days.

Stoltzfus wanted to begin the process, but Quam wanted Dye to prepare an ordinance for first reading.

Dye said he needed more direction from the commission, saying he has to have enough information to at least have a working title for the ordinance. He also pointed out that any such ordinance must first go to the Planning and Zoning Board for an advertised hearing before it comes before the City Commission for an advertised first reading and then an advertised second reading.

The commissioners will take a formal vote as to whether or not they want to impose a moratorium at a special meeting on March 11 at 6 p.m., prior to their 7 p.m. work session.

If You Go

Anna Maria City Commission special meeting
When: March 11, 6 p.m.
Where: Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Dr., Anna Maria

Green's the color at this weekend's parade

The Beach Bistro’s 14th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest one south of Savannah returns on Sunday March 14, at 4 p.m. in Holmes Beach.

The parade will proceed from the former Tidemark property at 54th Street and Marina Drive north along Marina and Palm Drives to 79th Street in Holmes Beach. It will feature high school bands, three pipe bands and players from the Pittsburg Pirates – an associate sponsor of the Parade.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and World War II Veteran Jim Gabaree will lead the parade. Gabaree is a former Ranger decorated for his bravery in the capture of Pont du Hoc on D-Day.

The star of the parade will be Judy, the retired circus elephant, and Bones, her trainer of 37 years.

As in all great things Irish, the idea for the parade was hatched in a bar. Bistro owner Sean Murphy and Bradenton Herald columnist Vin Mannix were toasting St. Patrick’s parades of their ill-spent youth and they resolved to have a parade of their very own. The Beach Bistro Parade is now the biggest St. Patrick’s Day Parade south and east of Savannah, Ga., according to Murphy. It may also be the only St. Patrick’s Parade south and east of Savannah.

When questioned about his motivation for creating and continuing the parade Murphy responded,

“I did it for my kids when they were little. It was great fun for the family to have its own parade. Now we do it for all the kids and all the families. It might be the only thing that gets me into heaven.”

No solutions for Pine Avenue parking problems

ANNA MARIA — How cars should park in the city’s residential/office retail district has been a topic of contentious conversation since last November.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission met for the fourth time on March 4 to seek solutions to the present situation, which has cars entering and exiting parking spaces across the sidewalk.

For the fourth time, they were unable to come to any sort of consensus or compromise.

At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus asked Chairman John Quam to exclude the P&Z Board from the discussions.

“This subject is too important to allow a non-elected body to make decisions,” Stoltzfus said.

Quam declined to remove the P&Z Board members from the talks.

Currently, cars cross the sidewalk to enter and leave parking spaces in front of the new buildings going up along Pine Avenue – something that some feel is a danger to pedestrians and bicyclists, while others point out it is standard practice in cities and towns across the country.

A Parking Safety Committee was appointed, met four times, then presented its findings to city commissioners and members of the P&Z Board. The presentation itself drew controversy when Larry Albert, the chair of the Parking Safety Committee, and member Tom Aposporos differed on just what the committee’s recommendations were.

Gene Aubry, also a member of the committee, created a drawing that showed a plan for the entire length of Pine Avenue, which he presented at the meeting last week.

Under Aubry’s plans, the sidewalks would be moved closer to the buildings so no cars would be crossing sidewalks as they come and go from the businesses.

The plan still hangs on a wall in the city commission chambers for people to see.

Terry Schaefer, another member of the committee, presented drawings of a different parking proposal, which he’d worked out with Bob Hunt. This plan would mandate that all parking be located on the property of each business with cars coming and going through driveways.

In the Schaefer-Hunt plan, the size of the buildings that could be constructed on site is substantially smaller than what would be allowed under the Aubry plan. In some cases, the small size of allowed buildings on 50-by-100-foot lots in the Schaefer-Hunt plan would exclude any residential use, since code requires that residential spaces be at least 900 square feet.

After nearly three hours of discussion with no consensus, Randall Stover, chairman of the P&Z Board, requested that the matter be sent to the his board for study, since under the city charter, that board is where changes to the building codes are supposed to begin. The P&Z Board then makes recommendations to the city commission, which has the final say. Stover said the P&Z Board would attempt to come up with a 20-year traffic flow and parking plan for the ROR district, develop code for that plan, develop new codes for traffic flow in the residential district and review and establish the definitions that are currently lacking in the land development regulations that govern the city.

There was consensus to pass the discussion back to the P&Z Board for recommendations.

No specific date was set for that meeting.

Springfest this weekend
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO PROVIDED Celeste Theodore's pottery will be
among the works on display at Springfest this
weekend at Holmes Beach City Hall Park.

Celebrate Spring this weekend at the Anna Maria Island Art League’s 22nd Annual Springfest: Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Festival at the Holmes Beach City Hall park.

The two-day outdoor festival will feature original artwork by local, regional and national artists, including paintings, glass, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, fiber arts, photography, wood and more.

Take in the sights while enjoying the Cajun rhythms of the Gumbo Boogie Band, the Anna Maria String Band’s bluegrass sounds and jazz by Koko Ray and the Hurricanes.

Kids can make any of three art projects at the free, hands-on activity area. The Young at Art exhibit of artworks by local students also will be on display.

Hungry art and music lovers will enjoy smoked mullet, fish tacos, fried green tomatoes and barbeque.

Festival-goers may purchase prize drawing tickets for 50 art works created and donated by festival artists. Proceeds will benefit the Art League’s scholarship program.

T-shirts designed by artist Margaret Bayalis also will be available for purchase.

Festival hours on March 13 and 14 are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

Winterfest and Springfest are the primary funding sources for the Art League and its community programs. For more information, call 778-2099 or visit

Live blue; love the ocean
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PROGRAM On March 1, Mote Marine Laboratory
researchers and veterinarians freed a
nine-month-old Sarasota Bay dolphin calf
from plastic that was wound around her body.

CITY ISLAND – Now that the world is focused on living green, it’s time to expand that vision into living blue.

That’s the message in the blue marbles that Dr. Wallace J. Nichols passed out to the audience who came to hear him speak on the oceans last week at Mote Marine Laboratory.

“When the time is right, give it to someone and tell them what you love about the ocean,” he told them.

Spreading oceanophilia, or a love of the ocean, will help save it, said the sea turtle researcher at the California Academy of Sciences and founder of Ocean Revolution, a program designed to inspire, involve and mentor the next generation of ocean conservation leaders.

The ocean is fragile and finite, he said, with too much going into it, too much being taken from it and too much happening along its edges.

What’s going in? Among other things, chemical pollution, sound pollution that disorients marine mammals and plastic, like the monofilament line found wrapped around a nine-month-old Sarasota Bay dolphin calf freed by researchers at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program staff on March 1.

The ocean cannot magically wash away all the junk that makes its way into it, he said, citing non-biodegradable plastic that has been found in dead albatrosses and sea turtles that feed in floating garbage patches near Midway Island in the middle of the ocean.

What’s being taken out? Improved technology allows fishermen to catch more of their targeted species, but also increases the bycatch of unwanted species such as sea turtles, marine mammals and others, he said.

Since the series of Jaws films beginning in 1975, sharks have been taken out of the oceans in large quantities for their fins without much public outcry, he said.

Shrimp have become overfished, thanks to the all-you-can-eat mentality, he said, adding that in Indonesia, where he recently visited, the only profitable thing left to catch is jellyfish.

What’s happening on the edges?

“The coastline is filling in with us,” he said, adding that by 2025, nearly 75 percent of Americans are expected to live in coastal communities.

The solution is to use available information – from crittercams, radio transmitters, weather buoys, satellite observation of fishing and oil drilling operations and other scientific data – to inform people about the state of the oceans, Nichols said, adding that from there, it’s a small step to eating blue, shopping blue, voting blue and living blue.

For more information on Nichols’ work, visit

Bootleg hits the Florida trail
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left to right, drummer Mike Fender, vocalist and
guitarist Mark Pelham and bass player Robin Tingen will
be touring Florida over spring break with the fourth
member of Bootleg, Juanja Montero.

They came close to their first national tour, but it wasn’t in the cards yet, so they’re going to hit the Florida trail during spring break to reconnect with their fans.

Bootleg, a favorite Island band, played at the first Friday Music Festival in Anna Maria on Feb. 19. The word at that time was they were going to tour the West and along the East Coast of the nation after the festival – one of those tours that would make it or break it for a band trying to break into the big time – but they had to turn it down, according to band manager Robin Tingen.

“We had to do what made sense,” he said. “It wasn’t the best money or exposure.”

Instead, he said, they will be touring Florida before spring break crowds to promote their new single, “Ready for Change.”

“We came out with ‘Ready for Change’ in limited release in December, and we’ll be re-releasing it with four new songs soon,” Tingen said. “We feel like we’ve gotten out of touch with our fans. That’s why we’re going out over spring break.”

Their Florida tour includes March 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. They will travel to Siesta Key on March 27 for Gilligan’s Spring Break Party in the daytime and D Coy Ducks that evening. Other stops include Vero Beach, Daytona Beach, South Beach Miami and Indian Rocks Beach.

“We’ll be appearing with the Aggrolites in St. Petersburg and after that, we’ll hit as many places as possible,” he said.

The band consists of Tingen on bass, Mark Pelham on guitar and vocals, Mike Fender on drums and Juanja Montero on horns and keyboards. Tingen said that they’re always recording and working to promote themselves, and they would love to make that big tour when the time is right.

“We want to go out West and we’re working with colleges and radio stations so we can do it right,” he said. “Every day, we’re working harder and harder to get it done.”

Tingen said that they make their own flyers and T-shirts so they can have total control over how they look. He said they don’t want to look as if they came from a mold.

“Our music is a mixture of rock, Reggae, blues and some jazz,” he said. “One thing we have been able to do is not pigeonhole ourselves. It’s great to develop your creativity.”

He said they had offers to sell out for more money, but their music is more important than that. As for being from Anna Maria Island, they are most happy about that.

“Anna Maria Island is a close-knit group of people,” he said, “We’re really proud of being from there.”

FISH nets $80,000 for preserve
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

People enjoy fresh seafood and the magnificent view
from the dock at Star Fish Company.

CORTEZ – The 28th annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival netted about $80,000 in February, money that will fund restoration and expansion efforts in the FISH Preserve.

The annual festival, organized by community volunteers, has funded the acquisition, piece by piece, of the 95-acre preserve that provides a buffer between the fishing village and development to the east.

Restoration has included cleanups, the removal of non-native vegetation and the planting of native vegetation, as well as opening up kayak paths that connect to Sarasota Bay, known as the kitchen to generations of Cortezians who have found food there.

The preserve is fringed by protected mangroves, which provide a nursery for juvenile fish, necessary to maintain healthy fish populations.

Nearly 25,000 people attended the festival, slightly more than last year, and probably the most the small fishing village can accommodate for the annual two-day event, FISH Treasurer Karen Bell told Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board members last week.

Admission fees are $2, which the board has been reluctant to increase.

In other business:

• Richard Culbreath is interim president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, replacing Allen Garner, who will be working on the FISH Preserve as a paid consultant.

• The board learned that commercial fishing has been difficult this winter due to unusually prolonged cold weather, causing an abbreviated mullet season and sticky stone crab meat.

• Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court Chips Shore reported that a county project to dispose of unused rights of way could affect FISH property boundaries.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper