The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 1 - October 6, 2010


Sunday morning WIPEOUT

Harry Stoltzfus
Above, crews from Florida Power & Light and the city and
county work to restore water and electricity Sunday morning
after a car hit a fire hydrant and a power pole. Below, the
top of the pole dangles from electrical lines.


HOLMES BEACH - Residents on the northern half of Anna Maria Island were greeted with a rude awakening Sunday morning - no water to make coffee and none for bathing. Worse still, some also were without power.

The cause? A 3 a.m. accident in which a Holmes Beach motorist ran over a fire hydrant and hit a power pole at 73rd Street and Gulf Drive.

Homes and businesses north of 40th Street on the Island had to endure a water outage for much of Sunday and even after the hydrant was capped, the county utilities department issued a boil notice for homeowners and businesses, warning them to bring any water to be consumed to a boil for at least a minute to kill any germs. The county was worried that the integrity of the drinking water supply to the northern half of the Island might have been breached.

Restaurants were hard hit by the lack of water, especially since food preparers were unable to wash their hands or their work areas and utensils. In addition, toilets were rendered unusable after the first flush until water service was resumed.

As a result of the vehicle hitting the electrical pole, power to nearby homes also was lost for a while.

At the accident site, water spewed from what was left of the fire hydrant into the air, hitting electrical wires that threw sparks.

Bond left the scene of the accident, but showed up at the Holmes Beach police station around 1 p.m., looking for his car. He claimed he had fallen asleep while driving and left the scene of the accident after it happened because he had become confused.

Bond received a ticket for careless driving and another for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. The cost of the fire hydrant was estimated at $5,000 and the damage to the utility pole is estimated at $10,000. In addition, Bond ran down two mailboxes that were estimated to cost $100, according to a police report. Stephenson said the expense of replacing everything would have to be paid by Bond, or his insurance company.

"The damage will probably total around $35,000," he said. "In my 24 years on the force, this is the worst water outage I have ever seen as the result of an auto accident."

Officials cleared in Sunshine inquiry
Carol WhitmoreJohn Chappie

Whitmore                             Chappie

HOLMES BEACH – The Holmes Beach Police Department has closed its investigation of alleged Sunshine Law violations against Manatee County Commissioners Carol Whitmore and John Chappie and Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, calling the accusations “unfounded.”

In a press release, Chief Jay Romine said the investigation was closed for lack of evidence after all parties gave sworn statements about a Sept. 15 gathering at the Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island.

The Manatee State Attorney’s Office concurred with the decision to decline prosecution, according to Romine.

Holmes Beach resident Nancy R. Deal, a member of Save Anna Maria (SAM), filed a complaint with the police department on Sept. 19, saying she overheard Whitmore say either “builders” or “developers” as she sat at the bar of the Beach Bistro with her husband near where Whitmore, her husband, Andre Renard, Chappie and Hunzeker were seated the evening of Sept. 15.

“From the minute I heard it, I knew the charges were not true,” said Whitmore, a former Holmes Beach mayor. “I knew it was an organization on the Island that never has supported me and it was a malicious and vindictive attempt to derail my election.”

Deal also stated that she heard Hunzeker say either “not alarm the public” or “not inform the public,” and asked him what he meant, mentioning a possible Sunshine law violation to the group.

“It is apparent after taking sworn statements of all parties involved that these individuals met for a social gathering but there is no evidence or statements to confirm that any county business was discussed or conducted,” according to Romine’s statement. “Someone overhearing what might have been ‘builder’ or ‘developers’ does not rise to the level of a Sunshine law violation.”

Deal said she had no comment about the decision to drop the case. Katie Pierola, president of SAM, said she knows nothing about any plans to pursue the charges elsewhere.

Under the state’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law, two or more elected officials may not discuss any business that could come before them as decision makers without required notice of a public meeting.

Chappie, a former Bradenton Beach mayor, was not available for comment on Friday. Both commissioners and Hunzeker, as well as Teitelbaum, who joined the group later that evening, have consistently denied the charges.

New film studio may benefit AMI

A new film studio in Sarasota County could mean business for Anna Maria Island, said Debbie Meihls, executive manager of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

Sanborn Studios, with offices in Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, is now hiring, and is planning to begin production next month on the pilot of a television series, ‘Miami 24/7.’

“They’re going to want to use this area as a backdrop,” which means increased catering orders, hotel room nights and the need for transportation, Meihls said. She added that the studio could become for this area what ‘CSI Miami’ is to Dade County.

“We stand to gain a lot,” Meihls said, including celebrity visits, with their fans and entertainment magazines in tow. “It’s a great impression for the destination.”

Staff members at the CVB will be responding to any requests for assistance from Sanborn Studios, since the county’s part-time film commissioner position expired on Sept. 30.

“We’ll bring it in house,” Meihls said, adding that if the need arises, funding the position may be revisited.

Kelly Fores, who has held the film commissioner position since 2008, is especially disappointed that the position is ending just as the studio opens.

“We’ve done a lot of work to bring awareness of Manatee County to the film industry,” she said. “I only hope that people who have learned about the county will come back.”

Fores has worked on finding locations, crew, talent, housing, caterers, transportation and permits for commercials, music videos, catalog shoots and film student projects. Her largest project was with L.A.-based production company Collaboration Factory, which filmed a hit music video, “Second Chance,” by the band Shinedown on Anna Maria Island and Cortez in 2008, using local talent.

She also has worked locally with the Fila sportswear catalog on Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, with Sweetbay stores on a commercial and with national TV shows including “Obsessed.’

The Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Office has scheduled a presentation by Ken Sanborn and Karinne Behr of Sanborn Studios on Oct. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Lakewood Ranch, 6231 Lake Osprey Drive in Sarasota.

Boogie to Bootleg at Bayfest

Bayfest band Bootleg
The popular local band Bootleg, will perform at the kickoff
party for the 2010 Bayfest celebration Friday, Oct. 15
from 8 to 10 p.m. The stage area is located at the corner
of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria.

ANNA MARIA – Get ready to rock and roll at Bayfest on Friday, Oct. 15 and Saturday, Oct. 16 with a lineup of bands to appeal to every musical taste.

On Friday, the kickoff party will be held in the lot at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard with DJ Mike Sales, the Dr. Dave Band from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and Bootleg from 8 to 10 p.m.

The Dr. Dave Band with its ever-popular country, grass, rock sound will get you up dancing, followed by Bootleg’s surf/reggae/ska/rock to keep you in motion for an evening of fun by the bay with fine food and refreshing drinks.

On Saturday, Island DJ Chris Grumley will start you up spinning tunes from 10:15 a.m. Grumley will be followed by the Island’s youth band, the Island Rockers, from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.; the effervescent Jimi Gee’s youth band, Fogt’s Jr. All Stars, from 1 to 2 p.m.; acoustic jam band FireDoor from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.; the versatile Hammers and Adams Band from 4 to 5 p.m.; The Human Condition from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; and winding up with two of the area’s most popular bands, Koko Ray and the Soul Providers from 7 to 8 p.m. and the Billy Rice Band from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

In between musical acts, you can graze through the Taste of the Island Food Court, stroll up the street to shop at the retail and arts and crafts booths, learn about local non-profits, stop by the children’s play area with demonstrations and activities and visit the Classic Car Show and listen to a DJ playing classic rock and roll while you dream of driving one of the vintage vehicles.

Then you can wander over to the Island Historical Museum complex to order an autographed copy of Carolyne Norwood’s second volume of Island history, “A Tale of Three Cities,” have your photo taken in costume in the Old City Jail, paint a coconut with your children or dunk a local politician or personality.

Board approves Walgreen’s site plan
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners approved a site plan for a stand-alone Walgreen’s Drug Store to be built at the south end of the Anna Maria Island Center on East Bay Drive.

The approval came with stipulations regarding the number of parking spaces and the installation of a sidewalk and a crosswalk on the Gulf Drive side and a buffer in the rear.

“Walgreen’s wants to be competitive on the Island and have stand alone building and a drive through,” explained, Paul Blackletter, of Benderson Development Company, the shopping center’s owner. “In our efforts to keep Walgreen’s on the Island, this is something we have to do.”

He said the company would demolish the former Shell’s restaurant and three other storefronts to make space for the drug store and drive through. The store will be 5,000 square feet larger than the present location, or from 555,866 to 61.065 square feet, and take up a portion of the parking lot in front.

“We are requesting a parking waiver of 14 spaces,” Blackletter continued. “We conducted a parking study that said we need 193 spaces, and the site plan provides 317.

“On a peak day, about 65 percent of the parking lot is used, (and that was true) even when Shell’s was there. The drive through will reduce the need for additional parking as well.”

With the construction of the new drug store, the code would require Benderson to provide 331 parking spaces in the shopping center. If the city adopts its revised parking requirements, it would require 317, which Benderson currently provides.


“I live in the neighborhood and it’s a very high traffic pedestrian area,” Commissioner David Zaccagnino said. “The drive through concerns me. There are no sidewalks in the area. You’ll make it harder for pedestrian and bicyclists to access the shopping center.”

“We want to be pedestrian and bicycle friendly,” Blackletter replied. ‘We’ll can come back with a pedestrian plan.”

Zaccagnino asked if Benderson could install a sidewalk and pedestrian crosswalk on the Gulf Drive side, and Blackletter said it could.

“There’s a lot of wasted parking there,” Commissioner John Monetti observed. “Even when Shell’s was open, I never drove around the block looking for a parking spot.

"I would like to see something anchoring that end. It makes economic sense. I also would like to see a sidewalk.”

Louie Strickland, who lives in the neighborhood, agreed about the need for a sidewalk and added that the drainage in the area needs attention.

Margarita Fernandez, who lives behind the proposed store location, agreed with Strickland about the drainage and said she would like to have a landscape buffer between her house and the center.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said he would ask the public works department to look at the drainage situation, and Blackletter said he would meet with Fernandez and city officials to discuss buffering options.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff crafted the following three stipulations:

• Approve the parking concept in the site plan contingent upon the adoption of the revised parking ordinance. If the ordinance is not adopted, Benderson must comply with the current parking regulations by Dec. 15.

• Benderson must provide a pedestrian access plan with a sidewalk and crosswalk on the south end of the property.

• Benderson must provide a buffer approximately 240 feet long along the western boundary.

Petruff said the commission could approve the site plan and any changes in parking could be approved administratively.

Recall appeal deadline this week

ANNA MARIA — Closure on the story of former City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus’ recall may or may not come this week.

The Second District Court of Appeal ordered Stoltzfus to show cause within 20 days as to why his appeal of Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas’ decision to let the recall election go forward should be heard. Those 20 days end Oct 6.

If Stoltzfus does not respond to the appeal court’s order, the legal process surrounding the recall petition will be over. If he responds and if the court agrees to hear the appeal, the legal question of whether or not the recall petition was sufficient could be heard.

The appeal court ruled that the votes could be counted and then on Sept. 16, that same court ruled that the recall election could be certified.

Earlier, Stoltzfus attorney Richard Harrison said he and his client intended to respond to the order to show cause and to push for an appeal of Nicholas’ Aug. 24 ruling allowing the recall election to proceed.

In that ruling, Nicholas also ordered that the results of the election should be sealed and not counted until the Stoltzfus’ appeal could be heard at the district level.

Citizens for Sunshine, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to making sure Florida’s Sunshine and Open Records Laws are enforced, made an emergency appeal of Nicholas’ ruling arguing that once ballots are cast, they are public record and thus open to inspection.

The district court agreed, ordering the ballots to be unsealed and counted. On Sept. 16, the same court certified the election.

The recall effort began after Stoltzfus released a series of e-mails after a public records request from Michael Barfield, a legal analyst.

In those e-mails, Stoltzfus offered to help fund a lawsuit against the city if his name could be kept out of the public eye. He also appeared to use resident Nicky Hunt to communicate with City Commissioner John Quam, which is against the Sunshine Laws. Quam said had no knowledge that Hunt was allegedly acting as a go-between.

If Harrison files an answer to the show cause order and if the district court of appeal accepts the case, the question of whether or not Nicholas’ ruling that the recall petition was legally sufficient will be answered at that level.

Additionally, if the appeal court finds that the recall petition was not sufficient, the city could be on the hook for Stoltzfus’ legal bills.

Harrison argues that the petition itself was so vague that his client had no way to mount an effective defensive statement.

Pier centennial pendant ready for Bayfest
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Buyers will have their first chance to purchase
a limited, signed and numbered edition of the
Anna Maria City Pier Centennial pendant at
Bayfest. Crafted by jeweler Wendy Thurlow,
the multi-textured piece has been cast and then
hand finished so each is unique. Proceeds will be
used to fund the centennial celebration next spring.

ANNA MARIA — The centennial celebration for the Anna Maria city pier won’t take place until next May, but for months now a committee has been working on creating a memorable event.

Early on, the committee wanted to commission a commemorative piece of jewelry, and they’ve adopted a pendant created by jeweler Wendy Thurlow.

“We are just thrilled with what she’s come up with,” said committee chair Sissy Quinn. “It’s really unique and really beautiful.”

Committee member Mady Iseman has been working closely with Thurlow for months.

“I talked to several jewelers about a commemorative piece of jewelry,” Iseman said. “Then Joan Voyles suggested I contact Wendy Thurlow at the Art Center in Bradenton.”

Iseman said Thurlow agreed to come and talk to the committee.

“I’ve never worked with a committee before,” said the 35-year old artisan, a graduate of University of Arts in Philadelphia. “I was a little nervous, and everyone had a different idea. There was agreement that there should be a pendant, but everyone had different ideas about how it should look.”

Thurlow said she went to her workshop after the first meeting and created several designs based on what the committee said they wanted.

“Nobody really liked those pieces,” she said. “Then they told me to just create something myself.”

Thurlow said she is very familiar with the Island and with the pier, and she loves the ambiance here.

“There are no high rises,” she noted. “Things aren’t manicured. Everything’s colorful. The pier itself is rustic, so I thought I knew what would work.”

And work it did.

When the committee members first saw how the finished pendant would look, they immediately ordered a hundred pieces. The cost for each numbered pendant is $100. Thurlow will be able to cover her costs and make a little profit, and the centennial committee will raise close to $50 on each piece that they’ll use to help fund the centennial celebration.

The piece combines several colors of metal, as do most of Thurlow’s pieces. There are several textural elements and the sign over the pier as well as the sea grapes at the base of the pier are soldered on to give a three-dimensional look.

“I always use texture,” Thurlow said. “This piece has to have texture. Look at the pier. It’s rustic. It’s all about texture.”

Thurlow has always been around art. She grew up in New Jersey. Her mother paints in oils.

“I was always around art,” she said. “I always did projects with my mom and on my own.”

A job Thurlow took before college ignited a spark.

“I got a job with silversmith,” she said. “As soon as I lit a torch, I knew what I wanted to do. There was a fire in my heart.”

Thurlow said she loved working with clay.

“It’s so malleable. You can do anything with it.”

Metal is just as workable and flexible as clay to this young artisan.

“Once you heat the metal, you can do anything to it,” she said, “You can take control and watch the solder flow as you set stones or join pieces of metal together.”

Thurlow is now making her living creating jewelry, primarily one-of-a-kind pieces.

“I sell to galleries and I do a lot of commissioned pieces like wedding rings,” she said.

Thurlow teaches jewelry making classes at Art Center Manatee.

To look at other Thurlow pieces, log onto her Website at

To get first crack at one of the pendants, check out the pier centennial committee’s booth at Bayfest. The pendants will be on sale for $100. Two pendants will be raffled off with the raffle tickets going $5 or 5 for $20.

Robinson blueway detours for eagles
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This portion of the blueway in Robinson Preserve will be
closed until Spring 2011 to maintain distance between
paddlers and the bald eagle family nesting there.

Bald eagles have landed at Robinson Preserve, and a portion of the paddle trail will be closed to insure the feathered family is not disturbed.

Paddlers will be detoured around the eagle’s nest until the eaglets have fledged, or left the nest, sometime in Spring 2011.

Paddlers still can launch from within the preserve and enjoy paddling throughout.

Access to the Manatee River to the north will be open, from the west via Perico Bayou and from the south via Palma Sola Bay.

Visitors exploring the location by land also are asked to remain on the marked trails at all times in order to provide as little disturbance to the birds and other wildlife as possible.

The bald eagle breeding season in Florida runs September through June with the most critical times for protection being the first few months during courtship, nest-building and egg incubation. If the eagles are disturbed during this time, the birds may abandon the nest.

The bald eagle is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d, 54 Stat. 250); any individual in violation of this act can be fined up to $100,000.

Volunteer Wayne Pellien is at the preserve most mornings around 8 a.m. with a high powered spotting scope he will share with visitors who'd like a close up view of the nest. Additionally, the observation tower camera has a bird's eye view of the nest and can be seen in the Valentine House, open most weekends.

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