The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 4 - October 27, 2010


Fire board rejects complaint

HOLMES BEACH – West Manatee fire commissioners voted to dismiss a formal complaint by Al Robinson after considering a 70-page investigative report by Commissioner Larry Tyler.

At the September fire commission meeting, Robinson filed a formal complaint against Chief Andy Price and Deputy Chief Brett Pollock alleging censorship, violation of freedom of speech and of assembly rights and use of threats and intimidation by government officials.

The complaint arose from an incident at a district stakeholders’ meeting on Sept. 8. The meeting was by invitation to seek input from community leaders to help the district develop its strategic plan for the future.

Regarding his investigation, Tyler said, “It was a fact finding held at a neutral facility. I had interviews with the complainant, the chief and the deputy chief and conversations with other people.”

In their interviews, Price and Pollock said Robinson arrived at the meeting uninvited, began questioning attendees and handing out materials critical of the fire district. They confronted him and said they would not tolerate his behavior, but would allow him to stay and participate if he did not distribute his papers or disturb others.

“... I looked up. Mr. Robinson was in Brett’s face,” Price told Tyler. “He was almost nose to nose looking straight up because he’s much shorter than Brett. … I though that something was gonna happen.

“So I immediately got up and walked down there and stood next to both of them. When I got there, Brett backed away, and I turned to Mr. Robinson and told him, ‘We weren’t going to have this here’ … and if he continued we were gonna ask him to leave.”

Robinson said he felt they were colluding to exclude him and three candidates for fire commission seats from the meeting and that Price and Pollock tried to intimidate and censor him at the meeting.

“Chief Price and Chief Pollock, there’s no doubt in my mind, decided if I showed up for the meeting how they were going to handle it,” Robinson said in the interview.

“When they both approached me individually, their wording was the same, their approach was the same.

“They tried to scare me and intimidate me and censor me from saying anything and they did. It was unbecoming public officials.”

Commission discussion

Chair John Rigney said the complaint is not viable and should be dismissed and added, “The only reason he was there was to disrupt the meeting.”

Commissioner Randy Cooper agreed and noted, “It’s regrettable we had to come to this. From what I read, Chief Price and Deputy Chief Pollock should be commended for their patience and professionalism.

“Mr. Robinson should have been thrown out, but they allowed him to stay, offered him water, a lunch and gave him the opportunity to participate in the process.”

Commissioner Mike Mulyck concurred, and Commissioner Jesse Davis was absent.

Continuing with public comment, Holmes Beach resident Pat McConnell told commissioners that he was concerned about notice of a meeting to discuss an ordinance modifying the pension plan and felt they were rushing its approval. He asked them to postpone the vote until after the November election.

Price said the ordinance would give the district the ability to count more of the state’s money to help fund the retirement plan, which would reduce the district’s cost. The board approved the ordinance.

McConnell also asked that the district post on its website the notice of a meeting a week prior to the meeting, the agenda and any supporting documents for the meeting and the minutes of previous meetings.

Cooper said he agreed with McConnell’s suggestion, and Price said that would be a goal after the administration moves into the new building.

Rigney asked board attorney Jim Dye if the board could limit public comment to agenda items.

Dye said it could and added, “This is not a Hyde Park corner; it’s a business meeting. If it’s a topic that the board can’t do anything about, it wastes everybody’s time. There are other forums available for general grievances.”

Price told the board the next meeting could be held in the new administration building.

Fire pension update

According to documents submitted by Foster and Foster, the West Manatee Fire District pension plan’s actuary, as of Oct. 1, the plan’s assets were $4,842,114, it’s unfunded liability was zero, and total accrued benefits were $2,443,752.

The total return was 10.74 percent between Sept. 30, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010. The plan had assumed an 8 percent return, so it outperformed the assumption by 2.74 percent.

Ghosts ready for Fall Fest

HOLMES BEACH – A procession of spooks and ghouls will make their way from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce to the Anna Maria Elementary School on Saturday, Oct. 29, for the 2010 Fall Festival.

The kids will gather in costumes at the Chamber around 9:45 a.m., in time for the 10 a.m. costume judging. After the winners are chosen, the parade will start at 10:30 a.m. and when they get to the school, around 11 a.m., the festival begins.

There will be fun for the kids in the form of things to climb and bounce on and games with prizes for the players. Students are selling tickets for free cookies from Subway and raffle prizes will be awarded to the holders of the winning coupons stubs. Organizers are always hopeful for more prize donations from supporters. Call the school at 708-5525 if you can help.

Parents will have baked goods for sale inside the school and lunch will be available at a great price in the cafeteria. Amy Talucci has made a great poster, which is visible from Gulf Drive, to advertise the festival, which runs until 3 p.m. Members of the public are welcome. Proceeds go to the PTO for its efforts to enhance the educational experience for the students and staff at the school.

'Treats' trail goes to all 3 cities

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce is again holding its Halloween Trail of Treats on Friday, Oct. 29, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. and this year, the little ghosts and goblins will be able to take the fun to all three cities on the Island.

Kids and their parents will want to be in full costume when they get to the Chamber parking lot because judges, including The Sun’s advertising director Chantelle Lewin, will be looking for winners in the costume contest. After that, the kids get a map and scatter around the businesses near the Chamber for their treats. Those businesses will stay open until 6 p.m., but if kids and their parents want to get in the car, or better yet take the trolley, they could visit some of the participating businesses in the city of Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach. Those businesses will also be listed on the maps.

For more information, call the Chamber at 778-1541.

Causeway goes pink for the cure

Bayfest band Bootleg

Manatee Avenue was speckled with pink on Saturday during the first Causeway4theCause walk from Manatee County Public Beach to the Palma Sola Causeway.

More than 100 participants raised more than $2,500 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, which supports breast cancer research.

Cars honked as the group walked, ran or biked from Anna Maria Island down Manatee Avenue to the Causeway and back, from 3 to 8 miles, depending on where they chose to turn around.

A 60-mile, three-day walk for the cure is scheduled in Tampa from Oct. 29 through 31.


SUN PHOTOS/CINDY LANE Members of the Manatee High School Reinaunce Service Club were among the more than 100 participants in the event.





Robinson parking plan progresses

A map of Neal Preserve shows boardwalks in blue
and red, a concrete and shell path in yellow and green,
the gravel parking lot in pink and the Indian mound
archaeological sites in brown. At the end of the
blue boardwalk is the fishing pier.

BRADENTON – The Palma Sola Causeway parking lot for Robinson Preserve should be completed by fall of 2011, Manatee County project manager Salvatore Bordonaro saidrecently.

“The budget for this project is $410,000. That includes permitting, design, engineering, land acquisition and any other expenses,” he told members of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee.

“The project scope includes new left and right turn lanes, a new driveway access into the parking lot that houses about 30 vehicles, two which will be handicap accessible, and a six-foot wide concrete sidewalk under the Perico Bayou Bridge to tie in to Robinson Preserve.”

He said the project is fully designed, but he expects some modifications from the Florida Department of Transportation. The county currently is in the permitting stage and also must get a right of way lease agreement with DOT, which could take four to 12 months.

The project required the acquisition of a strip of land to the south of the parking area and the county obtained a quit claim deed from the Curtis Wright Corporation for $10. However, based on the DOT review, the turning radius was increased, requiring additional land acquisition.

Completion of the project is expected by fall of 2011.

Neal Preserve

Maggie Marr, of the county’s natural resources department gave the committee an update on the Neal Preserve.

“ There are two grants on this property right now – one for the trail system and the other for other recreational components,” she explained. “There will be a 10-foot wide trail and boardwalks.”

In addition to the trail, there will be a 20-foot observation tower, a small parking lot, a fishing pier at the end of the trail and a restroom.

“All components should be done by November of 2011,” she continued. “It will be open to the public after that. There will be no ranger on site.”

She said the 19-acre preserve, which is mostly under water, contains two archaeological sites that have been investigated by the Smithsonian. They will be marked with interpretive signage.

She said the work is being funded by grants from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Department of the Interior, Manasota Basin Board and SWIM (Surface Water Improvement Management).

East Bay boardwalks

Lynn Townsend Burnett, of Lynn Townsend and Associates, said the engineering firm is designing a boardwalk over the retention swale at the south end of the Anna Maria Island Center. It will tie into the crosswalk at East Bay Drive.

“We’re working with Sarasota Bay Estuary and the city of Homes Beach on several restoration projects and we saw a real opportunity for Grassy Point,” she explained. “It’s an awesome project, but you can’t get to it.

“We thought a great enhancement would be to get DOT’s involvement to construct a boardwalk over the existing drainage retention swales and connect them to the proposed boardwalk and enhance the project with signage.”

Holmes Beach Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes said the city has applied to DOT to construct a golf cart crossing at the crosswalk to tie into a boardwalk connecting it with Avenue C.

“DOT will not make that crosswalk operable until the boardwalk is complete,” Duennes said.

Grant plants

Jerry West, of the Homes Beach Parks and Beautification Board, said the city has received an $18,000 grant to plant 82 trees in the area between Kingfish Ramp and West Bay Cove and in the ramp area. He said the city must get two proposals and completion dates for the project are April 15 and June 15 of 2011.

Chair Molly McCartney said the Florida Scenic Highway Program has approved moving forward with the extension of the scenic highway into Holmes Beach. Currently the highway begins at 75th Street West in Bradenton and ends at East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach.

The extension would include Manatee Avenue from East Bay Drive to the Manatee County Public Beach, East Bay and Gulf drives from Manatee Avenue to the city limits of Bradenton Beach and Old Gulf Drive from Manatee Avenue to East Bay Drive.

Sun captures eight awards in statewide contest

The Island Sun newspaper has been recognized for excellence in graphic arts and design by winning eight awards in the Florida Press Association's 2009-2010 Display Advertising Contest.

Sun graphic artists Elaine Stroili and Ricardo Fonseca received the recognition for ads they created over the past 12 months for a variety of Island businesses.

Stroili won a total of six awards: two firsts, three seconds and a special statewide "Judges' Treat Award." One first-place honor was for Best Use of Color in an ad built for Two Scoops ice cream shop. The other first came in the Creative Use of the Newspaper category for a Sun ad promoting the annual Dog Costume Contest. The Judges' Treat Award also was for the Dog Costume Contest promotion.

Stroili's second-place finishes came in the Furniture Store category for a Brige Street Interiors ad; in the Multiple Advertisers category for The Sun's Pet Evacuation Guide; and in the Creative Use of the Newspaper category for an ad promoting the paper's website.

Fonseca took first place in the Best Ad Series division for several Rotten Ralph's restaurant ads. He also won a third-place award in the Entertainment/Dining category for another Rotten Ralph's ad.

This year’s contest brought in 312 entries from newspapers throughout the state of Florida. The Sun competes in the medium-sized weekly newspaper division, with circulation of 7,000 to 15,000. The contest entries were judged by advertising and marketing industry professionals, and a total of 117 awards were won by 19 FPA member newspapers.

Roots in the water
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The Ana Mendez, a replica of a longboat used by the crew
of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in Manatee County,
has won awards for her builders at the Florida Maritime
Museum at Cortez, including Barry Stephens, Jerry Triello,
Jerry Bien, Doug Calhoun, Chuck Kekoni, Dave Hepburn,
Wiley Williams, Jerry Gibbs, Don Schoenfeld and Pete Brown.

CORTEZ – Like the mangroves that line local shorelines, Manatee County’s historic roots are in the water, and the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez is bringing two chapters of local history to life, in wood.

Wooden boats were integral in the landing of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1539 in west Bradenton and in the escape of Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin from the Union in 1865 in east Manatee County.

Volunteers at the museum have completed one handcrafted replica, already an award-winner, and have plans for the other.

De Soto longboat

At the re-enactment of Hernando de Soto’s landing during the 71st De Soto Heritage Festival at Bradenton’s De Soto National Memorial this April, the Spanish longboat stole the show.

With seats for six oarsmen, longboats were used as exploration vessels to scout passages for their larger galleons, which need deep water, and to transport passengers and cargo to and from shore, said Jorge Acevedo, chief of interpretation at De Soto National Memorial.

De Soto’s galleon, San Cristobal, stayed at anchor at Bahia Espiritu Sancto (Holy Ghost Bay), now Tampa Bay, in May 1539, while the longboat actually made the landing at Shaw’s Point in northwest Bradenton.

While the original longboat was unlikely to have a name, the replica was christened Ana Mendez after a young girl who disguised herself as boy so that she could join the expedition, which she – unlike Hernando de Soto – survived.

Ana Mendez won the People’s Choice Best in Show award and first place in Traditional Design/Contemporary Construction earlier this month at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.

The 25-foot boat’s design dates to the 16th century, and was adapted by Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez director Roger Allen and master boatbuilder Bob Pitt for construction in “Cortez teak” (pine), cypress, buttonwood, oakum (an African wood) and Spanish cedar, once used to make cigar boxes.

St. Petersburg artist Herman Trappman researched the longboat to make drawings for the park’s Junior Ranger book, which gave the designers a good idea of its appearance, Acevedo said.

A partnership was established between the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez and the National Park Service and volunteers for both organizations to build the longboat for the annual landing re-enactment, in which it ferries a priest and conquistadors ashore from the galleon, he said.

The Ana Mendez will be on display at the park beginning Dec. 11.

Benjamin escape boat

Judah Philip Benjamin attended Yale University at age 14 and became a lawyer, Louisiana sugar cane plantation owner and secretary of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

He also helped establish the Illinois Central Railroad and declined two nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court while serving as the second Jewish U.S. Senator in the country’s history.

He resigned from the Senate when Louisiana seceded from the Union to serve as attorney general, secretary of war and secretary of state to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Just before the South fell with the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Virginia in 1865, Benjamin fled to Florida disguised as a French journalist, an easy feat, as he spoke fluent French.

With a $40,000 reward on his head, he hid at the Gamble Plantation in Ellenton in east Manatee County, the home of Archibald McNeill, the Confederacy’s deputy commissary for Manatee.

After narrowly eluding Union troops in the woods behind the mansion, Benjamin escaped by boat on the Manatee River to the nearby home of Capt. Frederick Tresca, who, with Hiram McLeod, helped him flee to Sarasota.

McCloud described the boat as a 16-foot ship’s yawl, said Pitt, who is awaiting funding to build the replica at the museum.

From Sarasota, another boat took Benjamin to the Florida Keys, where he boarded a boat known as Blonde headed for Bimini, outside the Union’s jurisdiction, then a native boat to Nassau, Bahamas, he said.

Benjamin’s escape route also included Havana, Cuba; St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands (his birthplace), and, eventually, London, where he became a respected barrister. He is buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

The Daughters of the Confederacy purchased the Gamble Plantation and donated it to the state as a memorial to Benjamin. It is now a state park.

For more information, visit:

De Soto National Memorial
Gamble Plantation Historic State Park
Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez

Beach Bistro celebrates milestone
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Sean Murphy and his wife, Susan Timmins, at the bar inside
Beach Bistro, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

HOLMES BEACH – Nestled at the rear of Resort 66 with a magnificent view of the beach, you would hardly guess that it is home to sumptuous concoctions that have won so many awards. While the view is first-rate, the menu is even better and together, you have the recipe for the perfect bistro – Beach Bistro.

Sean Murphy and his wife, Susan Timmins, opened Beach Bistro on Nov. 1, 1985, on the heels of Hurricane Juan. The couple and a bunch of dedicated friends and family, were busy all night bailing the Gulf of Mexico out of their bistro. That morning, they vacuumed the water out, swept out the sand and wiped the salt off the windows before opening the doors to their first customers.

While the Beach Bistro has built its reputation for great food and wine, it has also given Murphy and Timmins a place where customers turn into friends and those friends gather for more than a dining experience. They celebrate special occasions and the anniversaries of those special occasions year after year.

About the past quarter-century, Timmins wrote, “We are grateful first to our patrons! We are grateful to have played a small part in so many of your life milestones and joyous moments. And we have enjoyed your company when you stop in just because – for lite bites, for late night snacks or for a glass of wine at the Bistro Bar.

“We are grateful for our dedicated and talented staff who have been with us along the way, some for most of these 25 years. We have staff who met each other at the Bistro, married, had children, and we are now watching those beautiful children grow up here, on our Island."

Murphy was asked for his favorite memory of the past 25 years.

“It’s those spaghetti dinners,” he said, referring to the dinners he caters to raise money for soccer, basketball and baseball uniforms at the Anna Maria Island Community Center. “I remember walking into the elementary school and seeing all those kids wearing their jerseys.”

Murphy said that in spite of all those awards he won for his gourmet meals, he favors those spaghetti dinners.

To mark their anniversary, Murphy and Timmins will celebrate in December by making a second appearance at the James Beard House in New York for an honorary dinner.

In January, they will hold a culinary winter carnival at the Concession, where their second outlet caters to the golf and country club crowd. Roy Yamaguchi, of Roy’s, and renowned wine professor Michael Weiss, of the Culinary Institute of America, will join Murphy in hosting this culinary wonderland. The carnival will raise funds for the pediatric cardiology program at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

In celebration, they renew their commitments to their community including helping fourth-graders at Anna Maria Elementary School learn about gardening as they grow vegetables and herbs from seeds, which are then used to make a lunch for the students; providing sports banquet dinners for Anna Maria Island Community Center sports leagues and their annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, now in its 12th year.

For their 25th anniversary, they ask everyone to e-mail their favorite Bistro moments to them, which they will post on their website.

As for his feelings on their anniversary, Murphy was grateful.

“I want to thank everybody on the Island for making it a great place to live, run a business and raise children,” he said.

Cultural Connections promotes arts and culture

Cultural Connections is preparing to present its annual November weekend of arts events called artsHOP, which will kick off the Island arts season.

Cultural Connections is an umbrella organization for nine of the Island’s arts and cultural groups. The organization formed in 2008 so members could pool resources and promote the Island as a destination for arts and culture. Representatives of those groups meet monthly to share information.

The group’s founding members include AMI Art League, AMI Historical Society, AMI Concert Chorus and Orchestra, Artists Guild Gallery, Gulf Coast Writers, Island Gallery West, Island Players, Off Stage Ladies and The Studio at Gulf and Pine.

In August 2008, the group produced a colorful rack card, designed by SteamDesigns, with a map of its members' locations, as well as information about each group on the back. It is distributed to Island city halls and libraries and businesses and other locations in the county.

The group’s first joint venture was artsHOP in November 2008. It included an art walk with four galleries participating, a special exhibit at the Island Historical Museum, a Bridge Street market, an arts and crafts show, a play at the Island Playhouse and a performance by the AMI Concert Chorus and Orchestra.

Their second artsHOP in November 2009 expanded to include more art galleries in the art walk, with a passport to be redeemed for a dinner coupon, and a sock hop. In addition, there was an auction of doors sponsored by local businesses and painted by local artists.

Plans for this year’s artsHOP Nov. 12 through 14 are being finalized and will include even more events for participants, as well as a silent auction of turtle art by local artists.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper