The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 26 - March 31, 2010


Talent show brings out a crowd

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND The talent and enthusiasm
of Chandler McClung and Marissa Fry doing baton and
dance routines at the Community Center’s Got Talent show.

An enthusiastic audience enjoyed the Community Center’s second annual Got Talent show Saturday and cheered the following winners in vocal, dance and instrumental categories.

Vocal: Jillian Polk, first place; Moriah Haley, second place; and Katie Rose Dell, third place.

Instrumental: Island Rockers, first place and Syk Lyks Band, second place.

Dance: Chandler McClung and Marissa Fry, first place and Jessica Perez-Maqueda, second place.

Winners of the drawing for a trip to Orlando to view a live taping of “America’s Got Talent” were Amy Modderman, Sandee Pruett, Katie Krokroskia, Geri Cannon, Sylvia Manion and Rania Lardas.

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Furor over e-mails heats up

ANNA MARIA — As the e-mails from Harry Stoltzfus continued to be produced in response to a public records request, the furor over the embattled first-term commissioner’s communications continued to heat up.

“We ought to do something to see if this is all true,” said Jennifer Cascardo, a resident of the city. “A lot of the people in my neighborhood are elderly. They voted for him (Stoltzfus) and they are horrified to think that he offered to contribute to a lawsuit against the city if he could keep his name out of it.”

The lawsuit referred to by Cascardo’s neighbors is referenced in an e-mail from Stoltzfus to Nicky Hunt about a pending lawsuit William and Barbara Nally were considering filing against the city.

“I’m willing to throw some money away on this one, but don’t feel it would be wise to be named as one of the persons in the litigation,” Stoltzfus said in an e-mail dated Feb. 26 to attorney Jeremy Anderson, of Lobeck and Hanson.

“I believe you e-mailed me by mistake,” Anderson said in a return e-mail that same day. “If you do in fact wish to participate in an action, it is possible that you not be named and that your name not be disclosed.”

There is no evidence that Stoltzfus ever followed through.

The lawsuit, which was lodged by William and Barbara Nally, challenges the city’s approval of a site plan at 216 Pine Ave.

The contention is that the site plan violates the city’s comprehensive plan by exceeding the density allowed.

The matter is now in the hands of the Circuit Court.

Mike Barfield, a legal consultant who declined to name his client, has charged that there is a group of people who are running a “shadow government” in the city of Anna Maria.

Stoltzfus says Barfield was convicted of lying to a federal judge and an Assistant U.S. Attorney and pled guilty to felony charges.

Barfield acknowledges the charges and says he served his time and learned his lesson.

Since then, he’s worked as a legal consultant on issues dealing with the Sunshine Laws also known as the open government laws.

Barfield further points out that anyone could make the public records requests he made of Stoltzfus and also planning and zoning board member Jim Conoly.

“In fact, anyone can request a copy of any public record,” Barfield said. “You can request public records anonymously if you want to, and no one has to give a reason.”

Barfield was a party to a successful lawsuit in the city of Venice where several commissioners were accused of conspiring through their personal e-mails to stop a developer.

His share of the take in that lawsuit was over $100,000.

Barfield notes as of March 29, Stoltzfus has still not transmitted the e-mails in the format requested, something that he’s required to do under the law.

Stoltzfus has also not yet produced the records from his i-Phone, saying he’s never used it to conduct city business and he doesn’t use it for e-mails or phone calls at all.

At a special city commission meeting March 24, Sandy Mattick questioned whether any votes taken by this commission would be subject to challenge.

“If the commissioners accused did, in fact break the law, it seems to me that any vote they took on any matter could be challenged,” she said.

Commission Chair John Quam said that Mattick was only supposed to address items on the agenda for that meeting.

At the regular commission meeting on March 25, Gene Aubry stood up at the end of the meeting during the public comment portion of the agenda.

He said he’d read the accounts of elected officials and appointed members of boards engaging in alleged violations of the Sunshine Laws.

“I then took it upon myself to read just a portion of those e-mails (all public records) and was appalled!” Aubry said. “I, as a citizen of the city, request of the mayor, working with the commission if they so choose, our legal attorney, Jim Dye, and the Attorney General of the State of Florida to review all of the e-mail data that has been turned in by those from whom it was requested.

“I ask that, if determined by those people, if laws have in fact been violated and the results be given to the Anna Maria city government with any penalties to be given out according to state laws.”

After the meeting, Mayor Fran Barford said that it wasn’t in her power to do what Aubry asked.

“I would suggest that the electors need to do what they need to do to deal with this situation,” she said.

There is a recall procedure allowed under the city charter and state statute. That information is available online through the city of Anna Maria.

And it’s one of the duties of the city clerk to provide that information to anyone who seeks it.

The e-mails in question are also available through the clerk’s office.

Stoltzfus has written a letter to the editor, which is available in today’s edition of The Sun.

Police prepare for Easter beach crowd

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
FILE PHOTO Sheriff's deputies search a car after making a
stop at Coquina Beach parking lot last Easter.

BRADENTON BEACH – Easter generally signals the end of our busiest part of the tourist season and, up until recently, it has proven to be a holiday that could produce violence at the public beaches.

After a gang-related shooting that wounded three on Easter weekend 2007, Manatee County Parks and Recreation embarked on a redesign of the huge Coquina Beach parking lot to make it impossible to cruise around, as gang members had done in the past.

In addition, Bradenton Beach police and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office recruited extra help from the Multi-Agency Gang Task Force, law enforcement personnel from other agencies and even federal Immigration and Naturalization Service officers who were very visible. Whenever a vehicle showed up that looks like it might have gang members, officers would tail it and the driver would usually head for the nearest exit and off the Island.

The word then was gang violence was not welcome on the county’s family beaches and that message will continue again on this Easter holiday, according to Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale.

“We will have a full contingency out for this holiday plus agents and officers from other departments,” Speciale said. “We will be very visible again, and we want the bad guys to know that if they try anything, we will catch them.”

Speciale said that a lot of families expressed gratitude last year for the police presence because it made them feel safer. For years, families have been coming from all around the area to spend the day at the beach. Many of them come from as far as Lakeland, and they get here early enough to get a picnic table in the shade, fix a meal on a grill and enjoy the day.

“We want people to know we will do what it takes to ensure that our public beaches will be safe for families over the Easter holiday and into the future,” Speciale said.

Pier project to proceed

ANNA MARIA — The pier boardwalk project will become a reality.

City Commissioners last week voted unanimously to go forward with the Florida Department of Transportation grant and construct a boardwalk at the base of the city pier. As the vote came in, City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick burst into tears.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” she said. “We’ve worked so hard on this, and I’m so happy!”

Mayor Fran Barford handed a tissue to Mattick, who dried her eyes, but kept on smiling as Barford dabbed at her own eyes with a smile.

Before she was elected to the city commission, Mattick wrote a grant application to FDOT. Ultimately, the city grant came in at about $350,000 that was to be used to improve the transportation corridor in the residential/office/retail and commercial districts.

A committee was formed that worked with FDOT Community Liaison Manon Lavoie. The committee fine tuned its plan in open meetings once a month and reported to the city commission several times.

“I’ve never worked with a city that started its plan so early in the process,” Lavoie said. “Usually, cities rush to put something together at the last minute just before the money is available. You guys are doing it right.”

It looked as though plans for the boardwalk, trolley shelters, picnic tables and benches was not going to all be possible with the $350,000, so the committee was about to begin work downsizing their ideas.

Then the economic climate changed. The cost of materials came way down. Several FDOT projects came in under bid, so there was extra money in the pot.

“My boss asked if anyone had a project ready to go,” Lavoie recalled. “I did! I knew the Anna Maria project was ready to go. You had worked out your plans."

Lavoie contacted Mattick and advised her that the additional funds would be available. The committee met and decided to go forward with the original plan.

Commission debates

In January, Mattick again brought the full plan to commissioners. Mattick needed the commission’s OK to put out a request for proposals for the design/build phase of the plan.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he thought there hadn’t been enough opportunity for public input.

“I said at the January meeting there had been numerous opportunities for public participation as all of the TEG meetings have been open and advertised,” Mattick reminded commissioners. “In addition, we made a formal presentation of the boardwalk project by Tim Eiseler in January 2009.”

Mattick noted that not one objection has been raised.

At a January meeting this year Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus said he was of the opinion that since this was a design/build project, there would be no plans available, and the city would have no idea what was going to be constructed.

“As can be seen from the project boards (with detailed drawings of the project) on display, as well as our most recent meetings and discussions with FDOT, that has not proven to be the case,” Mattick said.

Restaurant issues

There have been some issues raised by the tenant at the City Pier Restaurant.

Manager Dave Sork said he thought that the project work would cut into his business.

Restaurant owner Mario Schoenfelder sent a letter to the city raising concerns that “anticipated pier construction will negatively impact his business.”

Schoenfelder’s attorney, Roger Conley, said his client is especially concerned with the impact of the construction at the entrance to the pier.

In the letter, Schoenfelder asks for a reduction of $1,000 to $1,500 each week the project is under construction.

During the meeting, Mattick noted that FDOT has agreed that only one side of the pier will be worked on at any given time.

“The entrance will be open at all times, and Ed Chiles and Mike Coleman have promised that the empty space across from the post office can be used for pier parking as long as nothing’s being built there at that time,” she said.

Public comment

Members of the public were invited to comment.

“I worked on this committee, because during the last years of my husband’s life, we had to sit in the car at the pier because I couldn’t push his wheelchair through the sand to get onto the pier,” said Nancy Colcord, who served on the committee that designed the project.

Betty Yanger said she also worked on the committee, and she feels that the low-key, old Florida look of the design will blend in well with the look of the street and the city.

The request for proposals will go out at the end of March.

Island churches celebrate Easter
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

FILE PHOTO Island pastors celebrate
together at Easter sunrise service.

Easter signals the end of the high tourist season each year as well as being one of Christianity’s holiest holidays and the churches on the Island are ready to serve the faithful both individually and collectively.

As has been the custom for the past 45 years, the churches will celebrate a sunrise Easter service together at Manatee County Public Beach starting around 6:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 4. Officials from all six churches will contribute as the sponsor, the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island, takes the collection and later distributes the money evenly to the churches.

As for individual church services, here is a listing for the week.

• CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 778-0719, Rev. Robert Allen.
Easter Sunday, April 4: 10 a.m., Easter service.

• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1638, Pastor Harry Parsell.
Holy Thursday, April 1: no morning Eucharist; 7 p.m., Eucharist, Foot Washing and Stripping of the Altar; 8-10 p.m., Vigil in the Garden;
Good Friday, April 2: offices closed; noon, Good Friday Liturgy; 7 p.m., Stations of the Cross; 8 p.m. – midnight, Vigil in the Garden;
Easter Sunday, April 4: 7:30 a.m., Easter Eucharist; 9 a.m., Family Eucharist with Music; 11 a.m., Solemn High Eucharist.

• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1813, Reverend Rosemary Backer.
Maundy Thursday, April 1, no women’s Bible study; 7 p.m., Worship with Holy Communion, Stripping of the Altar;
Good Friday, April 2: noon and 7 p.m., Tenebrae Worship
Saturday, April 3: 5 p.m., Celebrate Worship;
Easter Sunday, April 4: 8 and 10:30 a.m., Festival Worship.

• Harvey Memorial Community Church, 300 Church St., Bradenton Beach, 779-1912, Rev. Stephen King.

Easter Sunday, April 4: 9 a.m., Easter service.
• Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 778-0414, Rev. Gary Batey.
Holy Thursday, April 1: 7 p.m. service;
Easter Sunday, April 4: 9 and 11 a.m., Easter service.

• St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-4769, Father Robert Mongiello.
Holy Thursday, April 1: no morning Mass; 7 p.m. Mass of the Last Supper;
Good Friday, April 2: no morning Mass; noon, Stations of the Cross; 3 p.m. Celebration of the Lord's Passion;
Holy Saturday, April 3: 11 a.m. Traditional Blessing of the Food; 8:00 p.m. Easter Vigil Mass;

Easter Sunday, April 4: Masses at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon.

Heated debate over Amendment Four

HOLMES BEACH – According to Women’s League of Voters official Rosalee Schafer, voters this November will decide whether to pass an amendment that would either fix a broken system that has allowed runaway development in Florida or clog the system so that much-needed land use laws cannot be easily adapted.

Those are the two points of view about the voter initiative, which is nicknamed Hometown Democracy because it requires all changes to the comprehensive plans that are the backbones of city and county governments to be approved by the voters, not by elected officials as they are now.

About 30 people attended the debate sponsored by Save Anna Maria (SAM) at the Island Branch Library last Saturday between St. Petersburg City Commissioner Karl Nurse and Hometown Democracy Coordinator Janet Stanko.

According to Nurse, the amendment would require voters to decide many changes that would have nothing to do with land use or the future land use map of a city or state, which would be where most of the changes would be sought in relation to development. He said that if it passed, the amendment would slow a government’s ability to react to needed changes and he pointed out the high-speed light rail line between Tampa and Orlando, another voter initiative that passed two years ago, as an example.

“Most of the governments along that line will want to change their land use laws to allow more development near the light rail stops,” he said. “Right now, a lot of them are making plans to make sure future development would be near there so that people would use it more.”

Nurse said that St. Petersburg Beach adopted a provision like amendment four and when the value of land skyrocketed, a lot of hotels and motels were hit by higher property taxes and could not get changes to allow them to expand to make enough money to pay them. He said they closed their doors instead, lowering the value of surrounding homes and businesses. He said the city voted out the provision later.

He also said that the governments would likely put all their comprehensive plan changes into one ballot issue, which violated the state’s one-issue law requiring each ballot question to address just one issue.

Nurse said that the measure would put a stick in the wheels of development.

“In the biggest recession of our lifetimes, I don’t think we need to beat the carcass,” he said. “The question is, how much do you want to hurt your local economy?”

Nurse said that with governments watching their economic resources shrink, having to put these changes on the ballot would cost them more money and they would likely put them on an already establish election, like the national primary or November elections. He pointed out that the majority of buildings in Florida were constructed before modern energy savings methods were used or modern hurricane standards and slowing new construction would restrict replacing them with new ones.

Stanko questioned some of Nurse’s arguments saying the amendment would only require a vote on land use changes, not on every change made in a comprehensive plan or land use code. She said primarily, the amendment would give the people more of a voice in a process that seems to have been lost on them.

“How many of you had a vote on the Seven Shores project in Perico or the Riviera Dunes on the Manatee River or the Altman Tract that would allow mining along a tributary of the Peace River or that large resort on Longboat Key along the beach that would limit access and views of the Gulf,” she asked. “There was plenty of opposition but when it came down to the vote, the elected officials said yes.”

She said it would force developers to do one of two things; develop within the law on land where it is allowed or convince a majority of the voters to support a zoning change. She pointed out that there are two types of businesspeople interested in the amendment – developers and speculators.

“Not all developers are bad and many of them contribute to their communities,” she said. “Speculators buy land when it is cheap and get the governments to rezone so it can be developed and then make a huge profit when they sell. They usually don’t stick around and they don’t care what happens to the community after they make their money.”

In rebuttal, Nurse said his side feels the amendment would make voters decide all amendments, whether they pertain to development issues or not. He also warned that developers would outspend the other side to make sure they win in an election just as they have spent more than those opposed to development when elected officials vote on an issue.

Amendment four supporter Joe Kane asked Nurse if he trusted the voters who put him into office and when Nurse said he did, Kane asked him why he didn’t trust those same voters to vote his way on development.

“Under the current plan, the citizens have plenty of opportunity to have their say in public hearings and commission vote, but few do,” he answered.

SAM Secretary Nancy Deal argued that the people are not heard by the elected officials.

“It’s hard to attend all those meetings when you work for a living," she said. “A lot of us are just trying to make a living while others are trying to make a killing.”

SAM President Katie Pierola, a former Bradenton Beach mayor, said that she remembered in 2000 when there was a lot of public sentiment against the trend to build and convert resorts into condominiums. She said she convinced the city commission to put a non-binding question on the ballot about the issue and 55 percent of the electorate voted no to more condos.

“That was our hometown democracy and I’m for it now,” she said. “I think it’s time voters had a say about development.”

It’s a buffet of Buffett

HOLMES BEACH – We all know that Jimmy Buffett is the leader of the “Parrot Head Nation” and that would include just about any place in Florida, so a big part of the three-day Real Florida Festival will be the Parrot Head Dance on Saturday, April 17, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The dance brings together some familiar flavors and sounds that make this place so special. Admission is $10 per person or you can reserve a table for eight people for $70. Tickets are on sale now at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Featured in this event are raffle items including resort accommodations on the Island, restaurant gift certificates, golf lessons, horseback riding, gift baskets and more. You can purchase raffle tickets at the Community Center or at the dance. The cost is $1 for one ticket, $5 for six tickets or $10 for 13.

Local restaurants will be donating the Island cuisine and the sponsors will be selling “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” for $2. There will be a cash bar offering beer, wine, margaritas and soda.

Local DJ and singer Mike Sales will play some Buffett music plus reggae and other Island sounds, with the help of other local entertainers. The winners of the Island Idol contest will also be there to entertain.

Enjoy keeping the trolleys fare-less for another year as well as an evening in Margaritaville. Bring your dance partner and show them how it's done in our little Island paradise.

For more information, call Chamber Special Events Coordinator Susanne Arbanas at 778-1541 or log onto

Center prepares for Affaire
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

FILE PHOTO Stewart and Trudy Moon were honored by
Community Center Director Pierrette Kelly (center)
during last year's Affaire to Remember.

ANNA MARIA – With chairman Trudy Moon back at the helm, Island Community Center officials are excited about this year’s Affaire to Remember, set for Saturday, April 24, at the Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

“This is our biggest event of the year,” Executive Director Pierrette Kelly said. “It enables us to serve the community and provide programs and services for children, youths and adults.

“It was a critical part of our being able to build the new Center. Anything we raise above our operating budget will help us pay the mortgage.”

The Affaire began in 1984 as a dinner auction with food booths by local restaurants. People donated used items to be auctioned and attended in shorts and T-shirts.

After Moon took over the event in 1993, it began to evolve into the Island’s premier social event of the season. In 1990, it raised $5,000, and by 1999, it broke the $100,000 mark. Last year’s event raised $125,000.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and the silent auction. Harry’s Continental Kitchens will cater the dinner, which will be followed by the live auction. The evening concludes with an after gala dance.

Center officials are seeking sponsors and donations for the live and silent auctions. Sponsorships include Bronze, $1,000; Silver, $2,500; Gold, $5,000; and Diamond, $10,000.

Tickets are $150 per person; tables of eight are available. For tickets or to donate or be a sponsor, call Sharon at 778-1908, ext. 9203.

Record manatee deaths continue

The bad news is that more Florida manatees died last year than ever before – 429.

The worse news is that only three months into 2010, that record has been broken.

At least 431 manatees are dead, most due to manatee cold stress syndrome, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Cold stress accounts for 222 documented manatee carcasses, according to researchers, who also say it is likely the cold also contributed to many of the 108 deaths in the “undetermined” category and the 64 deaths in the “unrecovered” category.

Prolonged record low temperatures this winter caused the record deaths, which represent about 8.5 percent of the 5,067 endangered marine mammals counted in last year’s one-day statewide survey.

What can be done?

Be careful while boating, report sick or injured manatees, buy a manatee license plate or adopt a manatee.

As spring warms up, boaters will be out in force, according to Dr. Katie Tripp, the Save the Manatee Club’s director of science and conservation.

“Boaters will be heading back out to enjoy Florida’s waters just as manatees will be venturing out from warm water sites around the state. These manatees are going to be very hungry and vulnerable after the events of this winter, so extra vigilance will be imperative from the boating community to watch out for manatees and report any manatees that appear unhealthy or injured to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922),” she said.

A record number of watercraft-related manatee deaths in 2009 – 97, higher than the five-year average of 81 – makes it even more imperative for boaters to slow down and watch for manatees, she said. Five of those deaths occurred in Manatee County.

FWC staff and partners have rescued 48 manatees from across the state and continue to respond to reports of distressed manatees.

With water temperatures still lagging behind warming air temperatures, “A number of manatees are still in need of rescue for cold stress, but all three critical care facilities are at or near capacity,” Tripp said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to help by taking in recovering manatees from the critical care facilities and housing them in its pool. The Save the Manatee Club is providing the funding to heat the pool and ensure veterinary care for the transferred manatees for up to two months.

“I hope this disastrous winter will serve as a strong reminder to state legislators that Florida’s critical care program for manatees is absolutely vital to the survival of the species, and that the funding for this crucial program must be maintained,” club Executive Director Patrick Rose said.

You can help manatees by purchasing a Save the Manatee license plate. The money you contribute will be used to rescue injured manatees and to help scientists learn more about the causes of manatee mortality. For more information, go to

The Save the Manatee Club is asking people to adopt manatees for Easter for $25 each, which includes a plush manatee toy, an adoption certificate, color photo and biography of your manatee, membership handbook, newsletter and e-newsletter. For more information, call 800-432-JOIN (5646) or visit

Easter fun set for Saturday
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The Easter Bunny rests up in
Bradenton Beach for his big day.

The Sandbar restaurant will again host the Anna Maria Island Sun Easter Egg Hunt starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 3. Kids of all ages will hunt for Easter eggs on the beach behind the restaurant with surprises inside planted by the Easter bunny that morning. The egg hunt is free and open to all. Please bring bags or baskets for your children to carry their eggs.

Later, the Pine Avenue businesses in Anna Maria will host their first Easter Parade and Easter Egg Roll down Pine Avenue. Parents and children can join the Easter Bunny as he leads the parade down Pine Avenue for the Easter Egg Roll.

Pine Avenue Restoration, Anna Maria Accommodations and The Olive Oil Outpost are some of the businesses that will be providing treats for the adults and surprises for the kids.

The newly renovated Pine Avenue General Store will be incorporating a Cuban theme with free Cuban sandwich samples, music and introducing their new line of fresh orange juice and lemonade direct from Mixon’s Fruit Farms, a Manatee County business for 76 years whose owners are residents of Anna Maria Island. Children will also be able to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny. For more information on the Pine Avenue Easter Egg Roll, call Tina Fusaro at 941-518-8491.

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