The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 28 - April 14, 2010


Cafe loses bid for beach concession

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
United Park Services proposes to make over
the dining area at Manatee Public Beach
with a Key West color combo, foliage,
new furniture and historic photos. Bicycle
and kayak rentals would be up to the city
of Holmes Beach.

BRADENTON – A committee of three has recommended United Park Services (UPS) to provide concessions at both Manatee and Coquina public beaches with Café on the Beach as the second choice for Manatee Beach.

“I have vacationed on Anna Maria Island all my life,” Alan Kahana,

president of UPS, said. “You have a beautiful community with an easy-going lifestyle, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

“We’re very excited about starting operations there,” added Mark Enoch, chief financial officer of UPS. “My wife and I are looking forward to moving to the community.”

Café on the Beach/P.S. Beach Associates has operated both beach concessions since 1992 and the Beach Shop, a gift shop, since 1989. Tom Vayias and John Menihtas, of Café on the Beach, lease the concessions from Dee Percifield Schaefer and her husband, Gene, of P.S. Beach Associates, and had hoped to continue that operation.

“We were disappointed,” said Vayias. “We love it here, and we want to continue what everybody has liked for 20 years. We have a lot of customer support; generations have come through here. We’ll continue to fight – there’s still the county commission.

‘We were completely surprised and disappointed,” Percifield Schaefer said. “I told them I think they made a terrible mistake. I feel so sad.”

Committee decides

Committee members were Cindy Turner, director of the parks and recreation department; Melissa Assha, contract and buying manager; and Elliott Falicone, of the convention and visitor’s bureau.

Blue Wave, a division of Sunrise Sunset Concessions; and Loggerheads LLC at Holmes Beach were the other two bidders for Manatee Beach. For Coquina Beach, there were three – all listed previously except Café on the Beach/P.S. Beach Associates.

In March, the bidders made presentations to the committee, and last week the committee discussed the presentations and ranked the bidders.

“We need to consider everything that we’ve read and heard and come to a decision that’s in the best interest of the county,” Assha told committee members.

Creative ideas

Committee members said they liked United Park Services’ creative ideas, vision, marketing plan, proposed events and compensation package for Manatee Beach.

“I thought that they gave a very thought out presentation and shared their vision,” Turner said. “They had an excellent diverse package.”

“They had good creative ideas to bring families to the beach and bring them back,” Assha added.

“They were impressive; they covered all the corners,” Falicone said. “They brought uniqueness to the table.”

They did express concern about rentals of bicycles and kayaks there as proposed by the company, but noted that the city of Holmes Beach would make that decision.

Presentation lacking

What they liked about Café on the Beach was the proven experience, consistency, quality of the food, and reliability but they said they were disappointed in the lack of ideas.

“The compensation package was fair, but I was disappointed with the presentation,” Turner said.

“We wanted to invite ideas, we wanted concepts,” Assha pointed out. “We didn’t get that much from the proposal, but we got willingness.”

“The quality of the food and the passion is there, but the aesthetics of the presentation wasn’t there,” Falicone said. “We wanted to see more creativity.”

“We have to take emotion from the decision. These people are loved, but we have to separate ourselves from that. We’re paid to make the best decision for our community.”

They ranked Loggerheads number 3 and Blue Wave number 4.

However, after the decision, Vayias pointed out, “This place has it’s own beauty; you focus on the food and the beauty of the beach, not special events. We don’t have enough parking for our beachgoers now.

Percifield Schaefer added, “To say we were not enthusiastic; I wonder what 20 years means. We thought we did what people wanted.”

Coquina Beach

At Coquina Beach, a new concession stand will be built in the same footprint as the current one. The county will provide the shell and the bidder will finish the inside.

For this beach, committee members were impressed by United’s floor plan for the concession stand, which included retail space; vision; special events package and rental plan. However, they pointed out that the city of Bradenton Beach would have the final decision on rentals.

They ranked Loggerheads number 2 and Blue Wave number 3.

Assha said she will give the recommendations to County Administrator Ed Hunzeker and he can enter into negotiations with United or take the recommendation to the county commission for approval.

“I’m very disappointed that it didn’t go to a local vendor,” County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said. “I’ll make sure it comes to the county commission.”.

PAR involved in records lawsuit

ANN AMARIA — Pine Avenue Restoration (PAR) officials said Monday that the development company is, in fact, the entity behind the lawsuit against City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus and planning and zoning board member Jim Conoly. It also is responsible for the public records request to former City Commissioner Duke Miller, Robin Wall, Nicky Hunt and Cathy Stoltzfus, the wife of the commissioner.

Micheal Coleman, PAR’s managing partner, made the announcement in a statement.

“We became increasingly uncomfortable with what appeared to be a targeting of PAR’s efforts behind the scenes and out of the Sunshine,” Coleman said in his statement. “Our legal counsel, who we retained to preserve the record as well as our rights during this process, subsequently retained public records expert Michael Barfield. Michael Barfield is the recognized expert in uncovering public records – hidden or otherwise.

“Attempts by Commissioner Stoltzfus to attack the messenger in order to distort the message are the latest example of his practice of hiding his real agenda behind a manufactured one,” the statement read. “The record speaks for itself.”

Attorneys Ricinda Perry and Valarie Fernandez represent PAR.

Barfield is a legal consultant whose background was the subject of questioning several weeks ago when it was learned that he has a criminal record and spent time in prison more than a decade ago.

“It is the right of every citizen to request copies of the public record, regardless of their background,” Barfield said in response to those questions.

Records request in court

Late last week, Barfield filed suit against Stoltzfus and Conoly, asking 12th Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas to hold an emergency hearing to order the Clerk of Court “to take possession of all computers, laptops or other electronic devices utilized by (Stoltzfus and Conoly) and to preserve such equipment pending further order of the court.”

Barfield said he became increasingly concerned when, on four separate occasions after his original request of Stoltzfus, the commissioner stated he had completed turning over his records and then later found more records that he was required to produce under the public records laws.

On the last occasion, the commissioner said he found some deleted records that he was able to recover.

In Conoly’s case, he told the city attorney he has a new computer, and his old computer was in a landfill.

He later said he was joking and he had given the computer to the Salvation Army. He said he donated the old computer to the charity after the original request for his records from Barfield.

Judge Nicholas is expected to hear the case later this week.

Shadow government

Barfield told The Sun after first securing some of Stoltzfus' records that he’s convinced there’s a shadow government operating in Anna Maria.

“A small group of citizens has communicated out of the public view and in at least one case, Stoltzfus asked resident Nicky Hunt to ask Commissioner John Quam a question and report back to Stoltzfus,” Barfield said.

Under the Sunshine Laws, that could constitute a violation. Members of a board or committee are not allowed to discuss city business outside of an advertised, public meeting. Doing so through a conduit is specifically prohibited under the law.

That incident is in the first batch of e-mails released by Stoltzfus.

There is no evidence Quam had knowledge that Hunt was asking him the question at Stoltzfus’s request.

Many of the e-mails were sent to, received from or copied to the e-mail addresses of Miller, Hunt, Wall and Cathy Stoltzfus, as well as other private citizens.

Attorney hired

After receiving Barfield’s request for her e-mail records, Wall retained Tampa Attorney Richard A. Harrison of the Allen Dell law firm. Harrison practices government law and has extensive experience in Sunshine and public records laws.

“My client (Wall) is a private citizen, and as such, her e-mail records are private and not subject to the public records law,” Harrison said.

Harrison also represents Stoltzfus and Miller. All have declined to comment and have referred any questions to Harrison.

Harrison and Barfield were also on opposite sides of an open records case involving the city of Venice. In that case, Barfield ultimately prevailed against Venice and a fine of more $1 million was imposed on the city.

Barfield vs. Harrison

Barfield, on the other hand, cites a ruling out of the First District Court of Appeals in NCAA v. Associated Press 18 So.3d 1201 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009):

“The plain meaning of this statute is that the public records law can be enforced against any person who has custody of public records, whether that person is employed by the public agency creating or receiving the records, or not. It makes no difference that the records in questions are in the hands of a private party. If they are public records, they are subject to compelled disclosure under the law.”

Barfield said that in the past, if a citizen wrote a letter to his or her elected official in Florida concerning a governmental matter, that letter automatically became part of the public record.

“Now, with electronic mail being so widely used, the electronic record has been recognized in court rulings to be part of the public record,” Barfield said.


Real Florida Festival this weekend

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
SUN FILE PHOTO Local entertainer Koko Ray, shown here on the sax
with his band, the Soul Providers, will play solo on Friday at the Real Florida Festival.

Anna Maria Island celebrates this weekend with three days of arts and crafts, food, refreshment and activities aimed at raising money to keep the Island trolleys free and helping non-profit agencies.

The first ever Real Florida Festival begins with the Holmes Beach Founders Day program on Friday, April 16, at Holmes Beach City Hall from 9 to 10 a.m. with a meet and greet, followed by the city’s 60th anniversary celebration until 11 a.m. That event, sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, includes the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra, posting of the colors, recognition of outstanding citizens, historical photographs and displays and free coffee and pastries.

Outdoor festival

In the field next to city hall, the first of several outdoor festivals will begin around 5 p.m. Friday featuring an Island food court, soft drinks, beer, wine, rum drinks, a huge arts and crafts fair and live music with local performers. From 5 to 7 p.m., entertainers Koko Ray, Larry Wilhelm and Chuck Caudill will perform and from 7 to 8 p.m., the finalists in the Privateers’ Island Idol contest will vie for the honor of playing at the Parrothead Dance on Saturday night. From 8 to 10 p.m., the Gumbo Boogie Band and Mike Sales will perform.

Festivites continue

On Saturday, the Founders Day activities continue at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, and at the skate park northwest of city hall with the skateboard competition and demonstration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Call 778-1001 for more information.

At 9:30, the festival in the field north of city hall reconvenes with more local food, refreshments, arts and crafts and music with the Island Rockers, Reflections, Half Dub and Bootleg performing live. Island DJ Chris Grumley will emcee the music makers. That goes on until 5 p.m.

The celebration heads north for the Parrothead Dance at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia in Anna Maria, from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost is $10 per person or $70 for a reserved table for eight. Mike Sales and surprise guest entertainers will perform as will the male and female winners of the Island Idol contest. There will be raffles for locally provided goodies and free heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Cheeseburgers in paradise will be on sale for $2.

Bradenton Beach will host Sunday’s activities with an eco theme. It begins with beach yoga from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. just south of the BeachHouse restaurant with instructor Onika Tamisiea. A donation is requested from those who attend.

Make sure you sign up for the Save the Trolley Walk/Run from 9:30 to 10 a.m. at the beach entrance west of Bridge Street. There will be six categories for walkers and six for runners: men and women, youth adult and senior. The run starts at 10 a.m., and prizes will be awarded for first and second place in each level at 11:15 a.m. at the stage in the empty lot at 106 Bridge Street.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., celebrate Earth Day, learn what’s new in green resources, learn about kayaking local waters from dealers and shop for everything from gifts to fresh produce at the Bridge Street Market special edition.

The go green booths will be lined up along Bay Drive from Church to Bridge streets plus the kayak vendors will be giving demonstrations along Bay Drive to the south of Bridge Street.

There will be a Jet Ski program by champions in the Intracoastal Waterway with shows at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Larry Wilhelm will perform at the Bridge Street Pier from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In the Drift In parking lot, John Mohner Steel Drums will perform from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by Hammers and Adams from 1 to 5 p.m.

Mike Sales will entertain at the stage at the Bridge Street Market until 11:30 a.m., when HWY 41 takes over until 1:30 p.m. Blues Pig performs from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be lots of fun for everyone.

Experts predict more storms than normal without El Nino

Look for more storms this hurricane season with more days when named storms are nearby when El Nino goes away.

That’s the prediction made by Phillip Klotzbach and William Gray, two Colorado State University meteorologists who make predictions every year.

The prediction, released April 7, calls for 15 named storms (average is 9.6) and 75 days when named storms are alive in the Atlantic Basin (average is 49.1). They expect eight of those storms (average is 5.9) to turn into hurricanes, which will be churning a total of 35 days (average 24.5). Four of them will turn into major hurricanes measured at Category 3 or higher (average is 2.3) and they will be around for between 10 days (average is 5).

In addition, they predict a 69 percent chance (average is 52 percent) for at least one major Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane to strike the U.S. coastline. The U.S. East Coast, including Florida, has a 45 percent chance (average is 31 percent) of such a strike and the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownville, Tex., has a 44 percent chance (average is 30 percent).

The report admits that the influence of El Nino conditions, where the sea surface temperature is warmer than normal in the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is a main factor in their predictions.

While it is still present at this time, they expect the current moderate El Nino conditions to transition to neutral conditions by the time hurricane season starts. This, combined with a warming of sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, is the main reason for the dire prediction.

During the past two years, the number of storms that threatened Florida was reduced by the presence of El Nino, which allowed upper level winds in the Atlantic tear apart any storms headed our way.

Rezoning proposed in corner of FISH Preserve
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

is outlined in yellow; the northeastern corner lot
proposed for development borders Cortez Road and
the Paradise Bay Trailer Park.

CORTEZ - A half-acre lot in the northeast corner of the FISH Preserve may be rezoned from residential to small professional on April 27, which would allow an office or retail store up to 3,000 square feet to be built.

The undeveloped land, which the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage had hoped to purchase, was sold in 2006 to the present owner, Andrew Wills, of Westport, Ind., for more than the not-for-profit FISH could afford – $80,000, according to Manatee County Property Appraiser’s office records.

“We’re concerned about the impact,” FISH President Richard Culbreath said, pointing out that seabirds nest nearby, including wood storks, a state endangered species, and herons, cranes and pelicans.

If the rezoning is approved, any application to build on the land would have to meet setback criteria, including a 30-50 foot buffer from wetlands, county planner Stephanie Moreland said. The preserve is bordered on the south by mangrove wetlands and Sarasota Bay.

Paradise Bay Trailer Park, 10315 Cortez Road W., which borders the lot to the east, has not taken a position on the proposal, park manager Lucille Pouris said.

Most people think the lot is within the FISH Preserve, Culbreath said, although a few parcels in and near the preserve belong to private owners, including Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash and Iris LeMasters, who has applied for permits to build a private home on her land inside the preserve.

The proposal is scheduled for a public hearing sometime during the Manatee County Commission meeting on Tuesday, April 27, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Manatee County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton.

Cortez boat festival this weekend
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

FILE PHOTO Traditional handmade wooden boats will be
on display and in the water for “messing about”
this weekend in Cortez.

The Fifth Annual Great Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival will be held April 16, 17 and 18 in Cortez.

Activities will include sailing, paddling, racing and "messing about" in traditional types of small sailboats, rowboats, canoes and kayaks.

Boatbuilding exhibits, children’s activities, a nautical flea market, sea shanty singing, food and an awards presentation also are on the schedule.

The Florida Maritime Museum will be open for tours and offer maritime books and small craft magazines for sale.

The featured speaker is Peter Vermilya, former small craft specialist/watercraft curator at Mystic Seaport Maritime Museum, who will discuss the evolution of traditional small craft with particular emphasis on the catboat and the sharpie.

A post-festival gunk hole camping trip around Tampa Bay also is scheduled. The festival is hosted by the Florida Gulf Coast Traditional Small Craft Association, the Bayside Banquet Hall, the N. E. Taylor Boatworks and the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez.

For more information, visit

Holmes Beach history began with Cobb family
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A plane comes in for a landing at the Holmes Beach airport built
in 1946 by John E. “Jack” Holmes and now the site of the city hall
and ball fields. Catcher’s Marina now stands where the cars are parked
on the left side of the photo.

HOLMES BEACH – The history of this Island city began when Sam and Annie Cobb homesteaded 160 acres from the Gulf to the bay in 1896, including a bayou with a harbor for small boats.

They built Cobb’s Marine Ways at the end of 52nd Street, the first commercial establishment on the Island. Their daughter Anna Maria Cobb was the first non-native child born on the Island.

Capt. John Jones, the city’s third settler, occupied the land south of Cobb’s now known as Sportsman’s Harbor and captained boats between Tampa and Cuba. Jose Cansanas, a fisherman from the Canary Islands, followed Jones.

In 1904, the Island’s first post office was established in the Cobb’s house and remained there until it was moved to Anna Maria in 1913. Residents no longer had to row across the bay to Perico Island for their mail.

In 1910, John E. “Jack” Holmes first visited the Island. He returned in 1919 and then he and his wife Maud bought a home in 1924. His business began with fixing up homes and renting them.

In the late 30s and 40s, Holmes began developing Island property. At various times, he partnered with Frank Giles, Karl Karel and Peder Mickelson, building hundreds of homes and businesses. In 1946, Holmes built an airstrip where the city hall and ball fields are now.

The city incorporated in 1950. The Holmes, Karel, Giles and Mickelson families donated the airport and surrounding land to the city and the first city offices were built. The city maintained and operated the airport before closing it in 1973.

In 1950, the Anna Maria Elementary School was built, and in 1952, Holmes built the Island’s first shopping center, the Island Shopping Center. Dr.Edgar Huth built the Island Medical Center in 1953, now the Anna Maria Island Art league.

Holmes built the Yacht Club restaurant, which later became the famous Pete Reynard’s, in 1954. It is now the Mainsail Lodge and Marina development. The Manatee Avenue Bridge was completed in 1957 as a toll bridge. The toll ended in 1964.

In the 1960s came Seaside Gardens, under Holmes’ direction; the Island Bank, now Wachovia Bank; and Key Royale, under the direction of Mickelson, Bill Lee and Howard Adams. The Island’s first and last high-rise, the Martinique, was built in 1970.

Auditor sees improvement in procedures

BRADENTON BEACH – City Clerk Nora Idso was wearing a smile after Ed Leonard briefed the city commission on his latest audit.

The report showed improvement in the way budget figures are entered and the only downside was something Idso’s office had little control over – an increase in property owners not paying their sanitation or stormwater utility bills.

Leonard, who got caught in the tail end of seasonal traffic on Tuesday, April 6, arrived a little late but wasted no time in starting his assessment. He said the clerk’s office did its job which made it easy for him to do his.

“I did not notice any entries made with a lack of authority,” he said.

Leonard noted the increase in delinquent stormwater and sanitation accounts and his recommendation was to increase efforts to collect the money. The city is already ahead of him and is looking for a debt collection agency to do just that.

As for the city’s financial stability, he was positive.

“The city is in good condition,” Leonard said. “Last year, revenues were way down and the city did less, but still came out well.”

When City Commissioner Gay Breuler complimented Leonard for the audit, he deferred to the city.

“You ought to be saying that to Nora,” he said.

After Leonard was finished, Idso asked if the city commission needed another budget briefing like the one it already got. The briefings came at the request of Commissioner Janie Robertson, who said they needed to make some deep cuts this year to make up for the loss of income due to lower property values.

The commissioners said they did not need another meeting, but Robertson said she still had some decisions to consider.

“I would like to look at some very large issues,” she said. “I would like to have a meeting to discuss sanitation.”

Robertson said that she wanted the commissioners to consider hiring a company to handle sanitation. Bradenton Beach is the only city on the Island that has its own sanitation department and over the years, there have been attempts to do away with it. Public opinion has always been that the benefits from having local service outweighed any cost disadvantage.

Robertson asked that Public Works Assistant Director Char Patterson get some figures on how much it would cost to hire a company to handle it.

Crime statistics up for Island

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement report on crime in 2009 shows a drop in crime in the major law enforcement agency districts, but Island cities took a hit.

While the number of homicides more than doubled last year, the crime rate overall in the county dropped 11.3 percent, according to the FDLE’s numbers. There were no homicides on the Island. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Department’s crime rate dropped 12.1 percent, Bradenton’s was down 4.7 percent and Palmetto saw a 21.2 percent drop.

The rate for Bradenton Beach went up 75.2 percent, however, and the Holmes Beach rate rose 43.2 percent. Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said that the figures are misleading because his city’s number of crimes is so low, and crimes committed tend to be non-violent.

“We had 89 total larcenies this year compared to 45 last year,” Speciale said. “That’s an increase of almost 90 percent.”

Speciale said that the number of burglaries rose 70 percent, from 10 to 17, and the number of burglaries to automobiles at the Coquina Beach parking lot also rose 70 percent from 24 to 41.

Speciale said that while burglaries and larcenies are considered non-violent crimes, it is safe to assume people are committing more of them because of the economy.

“More people are taking valuables that people leave out due to carelessness,” he said. “A lot of people are taking valuables because they have no money and they are hungry.”

Speciale said that the police force is committed to protecting the people, but crimes such as burglary at the beach are often the result of people being careless.

“Don’t leave valuables in sight in your car and don’t store your valuables in the trunk while you’re at the parking lot because the bad guys are sitting in the lot watching,” he said. “Your best bet is to leave your valuables locked up at your resort or at home.”

Speciale said that the three police agencies on the Island work together whenever there is a violent crime because they don’t want people to be afraid of enjoying the Island.

“Despite the crime we do have, I feel that Bradenton Beach is a place where you can still walk the beaches at night and not worry about somebody attacking you,” he said. “Of course, everyone should exercise a certain level of caution everywhere.”

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