The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 33 - May 19, 2010


Oil suspends Anna Maria fishing tourneys

ANNA MARIA – Two Memorial Day weekend fishing tournaments based at Anna Maria’s Galati Yacht Sales have been indefinitely postponed due to oil from the Deepwater Horizon.

Organizers made the decision as oil, still gushing from the April 20 accident at the offshore rig, entered the Gulf of Mexico loop current, the fishing grounds for the tournaments.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has closed 19 percent - 45,728 square miles - of federal Gulf waters to fishing because of spreading oil, the latest section on May 18.

“In anticipation of further closures, and in the best interest of anglers, we will look at a later date,” said Tom Verdensky, president of the Old Salt Fishing Foundation and coordinator of the Loop All Release Billfish Tournament and the Mike Alstott Family Foundation Inshore/Offshore Shootout. “Old Salt” stands for “Operation Loop Development – Suncoast Angler’s Loop Tournament,” which began 32 years ago as a partnership between scientists and fishermen investigating the loop current.

The economic impact of the four-day event to Anna Maria Island is significant, organizers say.

The contest had attracted recreational fishermen from the Bahamas, Illinois, Texas, Jacksonville and Pensacola - where fishing closures also canceled contests - with an estimated 90 inshore boats and 60 offshore boats entered in the Alstott division and 40 boats entered in the Loop division, Verdensky said. Entry fees range from $55 per angler to $2,000 per boat.

“These guys spent months preparing and thousands of dollars to get here, then spent money to enter the event,” he said, adding that All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg would have benefited from the Alstott division proceeds.

A dozen of the boats are from Galati Yacht, the host marina for the event, which had also planned Loop Fest 2010, a free event featuring three days of live music, food, kids’ games and a personal appearance by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott.

The company spent more than $100,000 on the event, which also was postponed, Chris Galati said, adding that families that were planning to rent motels on the beach for the holiday weekend may change their plans.

Last year’s Loop tournament winner, Danny Veid, and his party of eight anglers already have decided to cancel their reservations at Mainsail Beach Inn in Anna Maria.

“I do like the oil rigs; you catch fish around them,” said the Tarpon Springs resident, who normally fishes off Louisiana in the summer. “But this is our worst nightmare.”

The group plans to go fishing instead in the Bahamas, which is in the path of the loop current, but quite a distance from where the oil is located.

The loop current is the Gulf segment of a larger current that starts as the Yucatan Current, which comes from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf through the Yucatan Strait, then heads down through the Florida Strait as the Florida Current, then up the Atlantic coast as the Gulf Stream.

The oil may never make it to Anna Maria Island, because the current and the continental shelf may keep it 100 miles offshore, Galati said, adding, “Anna Maria Island won’t be dealing with this like Miami will.”

Manatee County tourism officials emphasize that local beaches are unaffected by the spill and are “open for business.”


Gulf beaches not top spill prioity
Sensitive estuaries rate higher on the Coast Guard's list of areas to be protected.

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
In the above graphic, areas to be protected with booms are rated
with one to three diamonds. The yellow lines show where the booms would be
placed to soak up any spilled oil and prevent it from moving into the areas..

Anna Maria Island’s Gulf beaches are not the highest priority areas for protection should oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig reach Manatee County shores.

That’s because semi-solid tar balls on sandy beaches are easier to clean than oil on mangroves and seagrass in bays and estuaries, according to Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Department of Natural Resources.

Top priority areas in the U.S. Coast Guard Area Response Plan in the immediate vicinity of Anna Maria Island include Perico Bayou, Palma Sola Bay, Longboat Pass, Longboat Key, Jewfish Key, Sister Keys, Leffis Key and Cortez Key. Also on the “A” list are DeSoto National Monument, Snead Island and Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge.

Anna Maria Island as a whole ranks second in priority, with Anna Maria Island Marina (Galati Marine) ranking third.

Cortez Key, just offshore from the FISH Preserve, is a top priority area, which is fitting, according to Richard Culbreath, president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH).

“It’s all mangroves and it’s a bird sanctuary,” he said of the area on Sarasota Bay, known as the kitchen.

“On a beach you can scoop up the tar balls. If that oil gets into the mangroves, it’s going to be a disaster,” he said. “This is where they should be focusing on – the bird and fish habitats.”

“We need to keep the oil away from estuaries and bays,” agreed Glenn Compton of local conservation group ManaSota-88, adding that while it’s difficult to choose one most important area to protect, Anna Maria Sound ranks high on his list.

While birds have begun nesting on the beach at the north end of Anna Maria Island, no sea turtles had nested on the Island as of Monday, and the beaches were not threatened by oil, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shore Bird Monitoring director Suzi Fox. Sea turtle nesting season began on May 1.

“We’re doing nothing extra on Manatee County beaches until we get the heads up, ” she said.

Jessica Grace, marketing director for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, was unaware that the beaches were not on the top priority list, but said that so far, they remain unaffected.

Oil cleanup efforts will continue this week, including draining oil from the leak into a tanker, conducting four controlled burns, offshore skimming of floating oil and using dispersants both on and under the water, according to U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry.

As of Monday, May 17 at 3 p.m., no oil had entered the loop current, which sweeps past the Florida Keys, she said.

BP intends to pump mud into the well later this week to seal the leak, which could “bring this incident to a close,” BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said on Monday.

See more photos here

Officials: Leave oil cleanup to experts

Do-it-yourselfers planning to use booms made of hair or fur to soak up oil should leave cleanup operations to the experts if oil reaches Anna Maria Island’s shores, according to local officials.

Once the booms are soaked with oil, they are considered hazardous materials and must be disposed of by BP, which is coordinating the Deepwater Horizon oil cleanup, according to Manatee County Public Safety Marine Rescue Chief Jay Moyles, adding that individuals who buy cleanup materials must coordinate with BP to be reimbursed.

Absorbent booms would be of little use on tar balls, the form the oil will likely take if it reaches the beaches, he said, adding that booms are effective only on liquid oil.

In addition, nylon used in homemade booms can rip, allowing oil-soaked material to escape and leaving wildlife vulnerable to swallowing nylon.

“I think it’s a fabulous thing that people want to do something,” Moyles said, suggesting that volunteers mobilize beach litter cleanups, contact wildlife centers about getting training to rescue wildlife and begin to prepare for hurricane season.

Cafe attorney files protest

BRADENTON –The attorney for Café on the Beach filed a protest with the county the day after county commissioners awarded the Manatee Beach concession contract to United Park Services.

“There is a protest provision in the bid process,” Stavros Tingirdes explained. “I did it at the 11th hour to put the brakes on the process in order to explore all the remedies. I was disturbed by the process; it was unfair.”

Tingirdes was referring to the RFP (request for proposal) process in which the owners of UPS were given the opportunity to negotiate their compensation to the county.

UPS’ initial offer was an annual base payment of $180,000, 15 percent of the total gross sales of alcoholic beverages, a percentage of other sales up to $1,000,000 and a percentage of other sales over $1,000,000. Café’s offer was an annual fee of $326,400 plus a percentage of the total gross sales of alcoholic beverages. UPS’ negotiated offer was $342,000 annually plus 4 percent of gross sales over $2.5 million.

“If their initial bid was similar to their final contract, we wouldn’t have a problem,” Tingirdes said, “but they changed it. If UPS was going to change their bid dramatically, the county should have gone to the #2 bidder to see what they could offer.”

Tingirdes said on April 16, he sent a letter to the county’s purchasing department offering to negotiate, but received a response indicating that it “was an illegal suggestion.”

However, Deputy County Attorney Robert Eschenfelder was not so sure the protest met the criteria in the code.

“The version that I saw does not appear to be a complete protest,” he explained. “It doesn’t contain the specifics listed in the code, and it may not meet the time frame of seven days.”

According to county code, “Protests shall be made in writing to the board, in duplicate, and shall be filed and stamped as received by the board’s administrative offices within seven calendar days after the protester knows or should have known the facts giving rise thereto, but no later than seven days after the purchasing official provides actual or electronic notice of intent to award. Protests received after the seven days shall not be considered.”

The code also details the specific form in which the protest is to be made and the required information to be submitted.

Eschenfelder said the decision on the protest will be made by the county administrator and there is no time frame for him to act.

Regarding the process in which UPS was allowed to negotiate a new offer, Eschenfelder pointed out, “This is how we do all our RFPs. If you do round robin negotiations, it’s not businesslike. Where would we go with that kind of process?”

Tingirdes said his only other recourse is for the county commission to reconsider the vote.

Concessions contract goes to Tampa firm
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO/ UNITED PARK SERVICES This artist’s rendering shows
improvements to the interior of the dining room at Manatee
Public Beach that are planned by United Park Services. However,
the furniture will be different from that depicted in the rendering.

BRADENTON – Following a long and emotional meeting, Manatee County Commissioners last week awarded the Manatee Beach concession contract to United Park Services of Tampa.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to take over the concession,” said Alan Kahana, president of UPS. “We’re sure we’ll do a good job and earn the respect of the community.

“We intend to keep the character of the concession the same and continue with the music and all you can eat specials. We intend to beautify the facility and work with the city and the Chamber to do what’s best for the county and the facility.”

The selection process

The meeting began with Deputy County Attorney Robert Eschenfelder explaining the process that led up to the decision by a committee of three to recommend UPS over the current concessionaire, Café on the Beach. He pointed out that while Dee and Gene Schaefer had the concession contract since the 1990s, they subcontracted it to Tom Vayias and John Menihtas, of Café on the Beach, in 2004 for $650,000.

Cindy Turner director of the county’s parks and recreation department and a committee member, said the committee spent hours in interviews with representatives of the four companies chosen as finalists, researched their finances and history and did site visits on locations that they operate.

“We asked that several key elements be included in the proposals – to maintain the traditional feel of a coastal community, community involvement, commitment to customer service and quality food and beverages and environmental sustainability,” Turner explained.

“United Park Services has a well thought out business plan that offers Manatee County and all of its citizens the highest and best use of Manatee Beach concession. They offered us the highest compensation package.”

Cheers for Café

More than 25 residents, including several employees of the Cafe, spoke in favor of keeping it as the concessionaire, pointing out that the owners have done an excellent job managing the facility and the food is good and reasonably priced. They also said they do not want change.

Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino said more than 1,800 people signed petitions to keep the Café and noted, “The biggest complaint I hear is that the government doesn’t listen.”

Café attorney Stavros Tingrides said the Café operators were not given the same opportunity to negotiate as the owners of UPS.
UPS’ initial offer was an annual base payment of $180,000, 15 percent of the total gross sales of alcoholic beverages, a percentage of other sales up to $1,000,000 and a percentage of other sales over $1,000,000. Café’s offer was an annual fee of $326,400 plus a percentage of the total gross sales of alcoholic beverages. UPS’ negotiated offer was $342,000 annually plus 4 percent of gross sales over $2.5 million.

“Please don’t turn this area into a honky tonk situation,” Katie Pierola implored. "We didn’t save our beaches to do this.”

Barbara Hines submitted photos she said showed unsanitary conditions at Ft. De Soto and claimed, “I wouldn’t eat there if it was free.”

“I feel very humble because of the outpouring of obvious love from many of our customers,” Gene Schaefer said. “We’ve tried to represent the county in the best possible way.

“We thought you knew what we were doing and liked what we were doing. We hope you’ll give us consideration in this contract.’

UPS supporters speak

Bob Browning, a 20-year supervisor of the Pinellas County Recreation Department who retired last year, spoke highly of UPS. He said the company took over the facility at Ft. De Soto on a July 4 weekend and “jumped in and made the transition without skipping a beat and made good on all their promises to improve the facility and the services that they would provide.”

He said they purchased new kayaks and bicycles, added rentals of fishing gear and fire rings for campers, worked closely with the county, retained previous employees, maintained the facility and are very cooperative.

Another speaker said UPS has greatly improved the facility at Ft. De Soto and that it’s very family friendly, and an employee vouched for the company.

“I visited Ft. De Soto before and after UPS took over and they made huge improvements,” restaurant consultant Perry Thomas said. “I haven’t seen a hotel out there, Disney things dancing around or a honky tonk.”

Kahana said they plan to add an ice cream parlor and coffee shop to the dining area with umbrella tables outside, healthy options to the menu, WiFi service and accept credit cards.

“I want to assure the commission that we will be good stewards of the Manatee Beach concession and abide by the conditions of the contract,” Kahana stressed.

“We’ll maintain an open door policy relative to the use of the facility by local civic organizations. We will support local artists and provide fundraising opportunities.”

Robert Smith, of Green Latitude Consulting, said his company works with business to improve their efficiencies and recycling, and he will work with UPS to help reduce their impact on the community.

Commission comments

“I feel I’m qualified to know the character of the Island and Holmes Beach,” Commissioner Carol Whitmore declared. “People like the old Florida, family oriented, funky look. It’s my responsibility to vote for the most responsive bidder and that’s Café on the Beach.”

She made the motion to deny staff’s recommendation and negotiate with the owners of the Cafe. Commissioner John Chappie seconded it.

Commissioner Joe McClash questioned why a local vendor was not given preference, why there were no Island representatives on the selection committee and why the committee did not negotiate with the Café.

“We market the uniqueness of the Island, and I’m not ready to break the system that’s working today,” McClash pointed out.

“You can’t buy soul. People that come here say this is something unique. Don’t screw it up. Why would you take that risk?”

Commissioner Ron Getman said it’s a business decision and “if they remove emotion, UPS is the best choice,” but did admit he had mixed emotions.

“This is about the way of life, the character, the uniqueness of Anna Maria Island and what we have here in Manatee County,” Chappie declared. “The people at the Café provide the quality service that we want out there and we want that to continue.”

Commission Chair Donna Hayes said if she does not choose the best financial offer she has let down the taxpayers and noted, “We are here to make responsible business decisions. This is a no-brainer.”

Commissioner Gwen Brown made no comment, and Commissioner Larry Bustle said he would vote against the motion.

Process questioned

Bustle asked about insinuations that the process was tainted.

“From a procurement law standpoint, the RFP process is not black and white like you’re going to buy widgets and you pick the lowest price,” Deputy County Attorney Robert Eschenfelder explained. “It would be highly uncommon not to have a contract that has terms and conditions that do not mirror what was put in the RFP.”

As an example, he pointed to the kayak and bicycle rentals in the original proposal that were removed after discussions with Holmes Beach officials.

“A lawful process was followed,” he continued. “There was noting about that RFP and the evaluation process that occurred that was inconsistent with purchasing law and policy.”

Rob Cuthbert, county purchasing division manager concurred and noted, “We followed policy.”

Whitmore called the question, and the motion was denied 4/3.

Getman made a motion to adopt the agreement with UPS, and Bustle seconded it. The motion was approved 4/3. The company will take over operations at Manatee Beach on July 21.

After the vote, Gene Schaefer said, “So we move on to the next venture. Business is business; sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

Know the rules for replanting

Those who want to remove trees that died during our unusually long and cold winter should know what the rules are in each Island city.

In Anna Maria, you can plant anything except prohibited invasive exotics, and a permit is not necessary, according to Code Enforcement Officer Gerry Rathvon.

“We recommend that they select natives from our plant list because they are drought tolerant, hardy to cold and heat and last longer,” Rathvon said.

In Bradenton Beach, residents are asked to come to city hall for a no cost permit before removing dead trees, said Planning and Code Enforcement Technician Wendy Chabot.

“If it’s a native tree, you have to replace it with a native,” Chabot explained. “If it’s an exotic or non-native, you don’t have to replace it.

“If the only tree on the property is an exotic and you remove it, you are asked to notify Building Official Steve Gilbert so he can make a site visit and recommend a replacement tree.”

In Holmes Beach, there are no regulations or permits required to replace trees, but residents cannot plant invasive exotics.

Prohibited invasive exotics in all three cities are Australian pine, Brazilian pepper, punk, ear and Chinaberry. In Anna Maria, the list includes carrotwood, bowstring hemp and paper mulberry and seaward of the coastal construction control line, asparagus fern, beach naupaka, sisal hemp and wedelia. In Bradenton Beach the list includes cajeput, eucalyptus, ficus and silk oak. In Holmes Beach, the list includes scrub palmetto and paper mulberry.

Copies of each city’s landscape ordinance are available at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive; Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.; and Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive. Anna Maria’s ordinance also includes a native plant list.

Stoltzfus recall election a step closer
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Terry Hartle, of Family Fun Ink,
gives a temporary airbrushed tattoo to Trevon Morales on
Friday at the arts andcrafts fair in Holmes Beach, part
of the Anna Maria Island Real Florida Festival.

ANNA MARIA — The committee to recall City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus has turned in its petition to the city.

Bob Carter, chairman of the recall committee, turned over the petition and a baggie with dimes to cover the cost of verifying the signatures, to City Clerk Alice Baird on Friday, May 14.

“It costs 10 cents to verify each signature, so we asked each person who signed the petition to pay for their own signature,” Carter said.

There were 247 signatures on 46 different sheets that were collected by going door-to-door, manning a booth at the post office and holding Saturday signing events on Pine Avenue.

Stoltzfus came under fire when legal consultant Michael Barfield, working for the Pine Avenue Restoration project, made a public records request asking for all of the e-mail dealing with city business sent or received from Stoltzfus’ private e-mail account.

The request resulted in a barrage of e-mails that had never been turned in to the city clerk, as the commissioner and other city officials were advised to do when City Attorney Jim Dye gave a training seminar on Florida Sunshine and public records laws.

“I read the e-mails,” Carter said. “When I saw that he (Stoltzfus) had offered to help fund a lawsuit against the city if his involvement could be kept secret, and when I saw the comments he made against the city’s position to DCA (Department of Community Affairs,) I felt I had to get involved.”

The city charter provides for recall elections that are to be run according to Florida Statutes.

Under the rules, a petition containing the signatures of at least 10 percent of the 1,365, or 137 registered voters in the city must be turned in 30 days after the first signature was obtained.

Then the Supervisor of Elections has 30 days to verify the signatures.

“We’re busy now with qualifying, but I doubt it’ll take us the full 30 days to do the verifications,” said Deputy Supervisor of Elections Nancy Bignell.

If at least 137 of the 247 signatures are verified, then Stoltzfus will have five days to come up with a 200-word statement answering the charge in the petition.

Carter then has 60 days to come up with the signatures of 205, or 15 percent of the registered voters in the city.

If enough of those signatures are verified, a recall election date will be set no sooner than 30 days and no later than 60 days after a five-day notification period.

Galati hosts two tournaments at once

ANNA MARIA – Memorial Day weekend will be a busy one on the Island’s north end as Galati Yacht Sales hosts two nationally recognized fishing tournaments from Thursday through Sunday.

The 39th Annual loop Tournament, sponsored by Galati and the Old Salt Fishing Foundation, is the older of the two contests with the Mike Alstott Family Foundation Inshore/Offshore Shootout, also sponsored by the Old Salt Fishing Foundation and Galati, offers fun for all kinds of anglers. It benefits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ legendary fullback’s charity whose mission is to “uplift the minds, hearts and spirits of families and children on their way to realizing their full potential through various events, assistance programs and celebrations,” according to, the official Web site of the foundation.

Since forming the foundation, the Alstott family has been involved in numerous community events including making frequent visits to patients at All-Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, hosting the Celebrity Outdoor Weekend to benefit the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa, hosting a Sports Buddies Day for those in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas program and working with other agencies in the Tampa Bay area for the benefit of families and children.

According to Chris Galati, they worked with the city of Anna Maria and other agencies to make sure the tournaments proceed with minimal intrusion in the city.

“We have offsite parking at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, the lot where they hold the Bayfest at Pine Avenue and Bay Boulevard and CrossPointe Fellowship with shuttle service by the Community Center’s buses,” he said. “The Manatee County Sheriff’s Department will provide security and traffic enforcement.”

Galati said that it took a little effort, but they have all the bases covered to make sure both tournaments run smoothly by staggering the captains’ meetings and weigh-ins.

The Loop Tournament has a billfish division plus fun fish like tuna, dolphin and wahoo. The captain’s meeting is 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, and boats can leave port anytime after midnight.

The Alstott tournament captain’s meeting is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 27. There are inshore and offshore divisions.

“It’s open to the public,” he said. “We’ll have vendors and we encourage the public to ride their bicycles down and watch the action.

For information on the Loop tournament, call Tom Verdansky, 727-439-7945, or Jill Foraker, 727-422-6420, with the Old Salt Fishing Foundation.

For information on the Mike Alstott tourney, call the Old Salt Line at 727-216-6601. Galati Yacht sales’ phone number is 778-0755.

Annual blood drive to benefit charities

HOLMES BEACH – When the doors open at the St. Bernard Catholic Church Activity Center, 248 S. Harbor Drive for the Island Blood Drive on Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the blood donors will be doing a big favor two ways.

“They will be donating blood at a time when blood supplies are normally low,” said Wanda Read-Burke, of Florida Blood Services and organizer of the annual event. “They will also be responsible for a $100 donation to one or a combination of five non-profit organizations to help them continue their good work.”

Here’s a brief look at those non-profits.

• The Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia, Anna Maria, is celebrating 50 years of serving Island children, families and seniors with outstanding cultural, educational, family support, recreational and sports programs. All money raised this year will go toward keeping their program fees affordable and to continue providing scholarships for those who qualify for financial assistance. Contact the Center at 778-1908.

• The Anna Maria Island Privateers have been sailing the Island since 1971 and their mission statement is “Pirates for Children and Community.” The annual blood drive donations provide money for scholarships for high school graduates who need assistance in career development and have shown community involvement. These crusty sailors and their ladies are famous for their parades, mullet smokes, thieves markets, business captures and golf tournament. Look for their parade ship on the side of Manatee Avenue the days of the blood drive. To inquire about the Privateers, call Alice Domey at 941-896-8109 or visit their Web site at

• The Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island has been serving the Island community and Manatee County through monetary donations and hands-on service projects for more than 40 years. The club, which is composed of business, professional and community leaders, also donates funds to Rotary International humanitarian projects to promote world understanding and peace. Money from the blood drive will be used to further these projects both here and abroad. To contact the Rotary Club, call 941-448-5500.

• Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation, Inc., in Bradenton Beach, is a volunteer organization providing treatment and care for injured and orphaned wildlife with the goal of returning all native species back to the environment. It also provides classes for schools and civic organizations to heighten environmental awareness. Donations from the blood drive will help this group continue its work. Call 778-6324 to contact the organization.

• The West Manatee Fire Rescue Auxiliary raises funds for projects that benefit district firefighters and preserve some of the past in the form of the Bradenton Beach Historic Fire Hall built in the 1950s and the county’s first ladder truck, which is used for parades and children’s visits. The money from the blood drive will help the members provide more support. Call the auxiliary at 778-8678.

Sponsors for the 10th Annual Island Blood Drive are The Anna Maria Island Sun, Dominos Pizza, the BeachHouse restaurant, Tropicana, The Bradenton Herald and Florida Blood Services.

To register to give blood, call 1-800-68-BLOOD (25663) or online at Use the code MTFF0 (zero). Free event T-shirts go to the first 250 donors. Blood donors need to bring an ID.

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