The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 6 - November 10, 2010


Davis, three businesses honored by Chamber, Rotary

Harry Stoltzfus
Mark Davis, center, was named the Island Rotary's Business Person
for 2010. The Chamber also awarded business of the year honors
to Beach Bum's, The Island Sun newspaper, and Wagner Realty.

HOLMES BEACH – Mark Davis gave his dad a big hug after he was named the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island’s Business Person of the Year award at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet at Key Royale Golf Club Monday night.

The manager of Harrington House and past Chamber Board Chair stepped up to the microphone, took the award, started to speak and when emotion caught up with him he excused himself and went to the table where his parents, Jo and Frank Davis were seated. When his dad stood Mark hugged him and came back to the podium.

Frank Davis was one of the founders of the modern-day Chamber and a past president of the organization.

The Chamber then passed out awards for businesses of the year. Beach Bum’s, The Anna Maria Island Sun and Wagner Realty won awards for small, medium and large businesses of the year.

Nominees for the three awards were: Classic Event Management, La Playa Gulf Front Condominiums, Always and Forever Photography and Beach Bums for small; Grayhawk Systems, Anna Maria Beach Cottages and The Sun for medium; and Air & Energy, Waste Management and Wagner Realty, for large.

Local firms making oil claims

Some local business owners who have lost money because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill already have received payment for their claims, while others are hurrying to file before a Nov. 23 deadline.

The deadline applies to emergency claims for compensation for lost earnings caused by the spill, but filing after that date will not disqualify a claim, although it may slow the payment process, according to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which took over the claims process from British Petroleum in August.

The deadline to file a final claim is Aug. 23, 2013.

To be compensated, claimants must demonstrate a financial hardship caused by the spill, using financial documentation such as income tax returns from previous years.

In Manatee County, 19 claims totaling $295,600 had been paid as of Oct. 1, the last date for which figures were available from the GCCF.

The fishing industry received the most compensation (40 percent), followed by food, beverage and lodging (23 percent), rental property (13 percent), retail, sales and service (13 percent), seafood processing and distribution (9 percent), and tourism and recreation (2 percent).

Statewide, more than $588 million in individual and business lost earnings claims has been paid, with more than $604 million paid separately to real estate brokers and agents, according to a Nov. 4 GCCF report.

Commercial fishing losses

One Cortez commercial fisherman who asked that his name not be used said that when he filed a claim on June 1 directly with BP, the process was simple. He received $2,500 only eight days later, followed by $1,800 more three weeks later, and was given an option to divide the remainder of his approved claim of $26,000 over six or 12 months, he said.

After the GCCF took over the claims process, he had to reapply for his claim, using a much more complicated form, he said. When he was given the option to request a single payoff, he took it.

He is still waiting for that payment.

“People who got their paperwork in early with BP are getting paid,” said Maryland attorney Justin Bloom, who traveled to Cortez several months ago to offer his services to fishermen. “If they filed more recently, they go through GCCF, which will take a while. If people are not satisfied, they will file suit.”

So far, no local fishermen have signed up to sue with Bloom, who is representing several Florida Panhandle charter captains.

Fishing losses stem from the closure of federal Gulf waters due to oil and chemical dispersant contamination, he said.

When the oil spill began on April 20, fishermen already were stinging from the temporary commercial longline ban, which became permanent on May 26, shortly after 19 percent of the Gulf was closed due to the expanding oil spill. In June, during the worst of the disaster, 37 percent of the Gulf was closed to fishing.

Fishermen are doubly bitter about the spill because the longline ban was implemented primarily to save sea turtles, and the spill caused the deaths of 609 sea turtles and the injury of 535 turtles, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Some fishermen were able to make up their losses by joining BP’s Vessel of Opportunity Program, which, in some cases, paid better than a normal fishing season, Bloom said. The program employed captains to help clean up surface oil from shorelines and the open Gulf.

“But who knows what’s going to happen in the future,” he said, with potential medical claims arising from exposure to oil and chemical dispersants. “The question of long-term exposure is still out there. We’re going to be filing a class action for medical monitoring of those exposed.”

Tourism losses

Tourism-related businesses are suffering, too.

Wavesplash Watersports at the Bradenton Beach Marina opened its personal watercraft rental business in April, just before the Deepwater Horizon explosion, co-owner Louis Mandel said.

His target market is visitors from out of state and out of the country, who normally book vacations in advance, but stayed away in droves after news of the oil spill spread, he said.

“They didn’t know back in April and May what was going to happen a few months out, so they didn’t book,” he said. “Hotels got some business from Florida residents, but that didn’t help us. Everyone in Florida knows someone with a Jet Ski they can borrow.”

He filed a claim with BP in August, then had to refile when the GCCF took over. This month, he finally got a response, requesting more information.

Mandel attended a meeting in Holmes Beach last month with a Pensacola law firm that offered to file individual lawsuits against BP for those dissatisfied with the claims process for a 25 percent fee plus costs.

Holmes Beach Commissioner John Monetti, who organized the meeting, said he intends to file a claim himself, but does not need to file before the Nov. 23 emergency claim deadline, as his losses may continue to mount.

“I have a rental home that is sitting empty that last fall was full,” he said. “I think there’s a direct correlation.”

Some are finding it tricky to estimate losses.

Ken Gerry, general manager of White Sands Beach Resort in Holmes Beach, said that with some guests coming earlier in the year to avoid what they thought might be the delayed arrival of the oil in southwest Florida, there was actually an increase in business for a time. But there’s no way to know how many people decided against a visit, he said.

And it’s not easy to put a price tag on having to spend two hours instead of five minutes convincing a repeat guest to visit, or on spending time documenting a claim, he added.

“The time of year we would be affected is coming up now,” Gerry said, adding that visitors have been trickling in, enjoying the clean beaches, then going home to tell people that local beaches are not affected by the oil.

“And calls are coming in less frequently asking about oil,” he said.

“It isn’t as though there was oil on the beaches, but there might as well have been,” as potential visitors’ perceptions of the beach were tarnished by the oil spill, said Barbara Rodocker, who serves on the Manatee County Tourist Development Council and runs the Sun House restaurant and the Bridgewalk and Silver Surf resorts in Bradenton Beach.

Rodocker said that filing a claim is relatively easy with a computerized recordkeeping system; she is awaiting a reply from GCCF.

Jim Brady, owner of the West Coast Surf Shop in Holmes Beach, drove to the GCCF Clearwater office last week to file his claim, and said it was much easier in person than online.

He brought two years of income tax and sales tax records to show the difference in profits from May to October 2010 and previous years, and was told he would be paid in three to four weeks.

Hiring a lawyer to sue for compensation would reduce the amount of the claim by the attorney fee, he said. Law firms soliciting clients on the Island have quoted fees ranging from 15 to 35 percent of the claim.

Some claims, like Joan Dickinson’s, have been in the “under review” category of the claims process for too long, she said, calling the process “a big black hole.”

Dickinson was unable to sell a house on the Island due to the oil spill, because prospective buyers were frightened about the quality of the Gulf and the beaches, she said, adding, “I didn’t file a lawsuit, but I may still do that.”

The house is still for sale.

Business owners interested in filing claims or suing should compile letters of cancellation, income tax returns, occupancy or sales figures for the past three years, mitigation efforts, cancelled contracts, financial statements and other documentation, advised Julie Harrington, of the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis, who is working with law firms to forecast future oil-related losses.

Know the answers to questions like “How did the spill lead to your loss?” and “Where would you be today if the spill didn’t happen?” she said.

To file a claim online, visit

Legal actions taken in recent drownings

The families of two people who drowned in the waters off Anna Maria Island have filed wrongful death suits against governments and individuals they claim were partially at fault.

The family of Jose H. Medina, of Deltona, is asking for a jury trial in its suit against McCulley Marine Services, Pine Island Towing Co., Tug Champion, John McCulley and Michael Hollingsworth in Manatee County Circuit Court. Medina, his wife, Christie Soto, and a third person were riding personal watercraft on July 4, 2009, when the watercraft Medina was riding stalled. Medina tried to restart the engine, but a strong outgoing tide current swept him and the craft toward a docked barge that was being used to haul spoil from a dredging project to the site. He was dragged under the barge, where he drowned. His body was found under the barge a short while after he disappeared.

Soto filed the suit, along with Medina’s five children. Her attorneys from the Faddis and Warner law firm, of Casselberry, seek unspecified damages. According to the complaint, “It was absolutely foreseeable that if barging operations occurred within Coquina Beach and Bayside Park at times when the boating public would be expected to heavily populate the park, such barging operations would present an inherent danger to those members of the public taking advantage of the park’s amenities, including the park’s public boat ramp and the navigable waters immediately adjacent thereto.”

Manatee County responded to the suit acknowledging Medina drowned in the incident, but denying any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, the city of Anna Maria has also been sued over a drowning. Josefina Pardo was swept away on Aug. 12 by a rip current off the Gulf shore of the city.

Attorneys for her husband, Alberto, are suing the city claiming that there were no warnings posted along the beach to notify people that conditions were unsafe.

The Florida League of Cities insures Anna Maria. Late last week, the League notified the city that the claim had been filed.

The city’s coverage is limited to $100,000 per person and $200,000 per incident.

Mayor confirms commitment to settling lawsuit

Mayor Bob Bartelt released a statement late last month in regard to a lawsuit filed against Bradenton Beach by two developers – Island, Inc., and Beach Development, Inc.

His statement confirms the city’s commitment to settling the lawsuit by accepting an offer from the developers to sell the land, which the city deemed in unbuildable, in exchange for an agreement to end their attempts to get permission to build condominiums on the beach-front land.

Accordingto Bartelt’s statement, "Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt today (Oct. 26) confirmed the city’s commitment to settle a longstanding lawsuit regarding a parcel of beachfront property, which the current owners have sought to develop since acquiring the property in 1998. The city commission voted on Aug. 31 to accept the owners’ monetary settlement offer of $350,000 to purchase the property and since then, attorneys for the owner and city have been conducting a due diligence investigation regarding the property and working on the terms of a settlement agreement."

In an e-mail to Bartelt, the attorney representing the city in the legal actions, Greg Hootman, said that if the mayor put the statement into writing, the developers would end their pursuit of public records from the city.

Island, Inc. and Beach Development, Inc. sued the city after a former building official told them they would be able to build condos on the beachfront propertu that they bought before developing a condo project across Gulf Drive from the site. The city later recanted that permission, which was never granted in a written notice, claiming the buildings would interfere with a sand dune on the property.

When the city again confirmed its opposition, the developers threatened a prolonged suit unless the city could purchase the beachfront land. The city tried to get a grant for the property, which carried a hefty price tag at the time. With the real estate market in recession, the developers lowered their price, and the city commission has spent several meetings discussing the settlement and is working toward arranging for financing to purchase the land. The developers also offered to finance the purchase, but with an interest rate higher than the prevailing market. The city countered saying it wanted a lower interest rate, and that’s where the situation stands now. The city is waiting for a formal counter offer from the developers.

Lawsuit filed in drowning death

The fourth annual Cortez Village Folk Art Festival is scheduled for Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez.

Local musician and songwriter Andrew Eddie has written a new song, “The F.I.S.H. Cortez song,” which he will debut at the festival. Other performers include Tampa musician and singer Mike Jorgensen; Brian Smalley, from Clermont, who has performed at the Sarasota Folk Festival; Bee and Boo, who perform in Eastern Canada and the Maritime Provinces; the Myakka Blue Grass Band, returning for its third appearance; the museum’s own Main Hatch Motley singers; and Soupy Davis and friends.

More than 20 arts and crafts vendors will be on hand with holiday gifts for sale, and food will be plentiful, featuring the Tyler’s Ice Cream eating contest for children.

The restored century-old Pillsbury Boatworks will be open with a demonstration of boat building skills. A storyteller and netmaker will help recreate Old Cortez, and the museum will host the Banks Family Marine and Shell Collection in the museum auditorium.

Local photographer Richard Estabrook will be on hand to take free family and group photographs in the museum's Surprise Garden, and display his collection of nature photographs.

Admission and parking are free.

The event is co-sponsored by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.), the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, Manatee Clerk of Circuit Court "Chips" Shore and the Cortez Village Historical Society.

Enjoy a weekend of events at artsHOP
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

ArtsHOP weekend offers the following arts and cultural activities for the entire family:

Friday, Nov. 12

• Gallery Walk at The Studio at Gulf and Pine, Ginny & Jane E's at the Old IGA and Three Monkeys, all in Anna Maria; Beach Style Recycled, Artists Guild Gallery, The Anna Maria Island Art League, Emerson Quillin, Tide and Moon Jewelry, Island Tattoo and Island Gallery West, all in Holmes Beach; and Back Alley in Bradenton Beach, 5 to 9 p.m.

• Come for the art, stay for dinner – Pick up a passport at any participating gallery and get it stamped at six or more of the galleries to receive a coupon worth 20 percent off dinner at the Sandbar, BeachHouse or Mar Vista restaurants and a chance to win a $150 arts supply basket by turning in your stamped passport at the AMI Art League or The Studio at Gulf and Pine by 8:45 p.m. Friday.

• Watch for the Cultural Connections’ raffle basket on display at each artsHOP event, Items include gift certificates from local restaurants and businesses, concert and play tickets and art works.Tickets are one for $5 and three for $10.

Special exhibits

• The Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, silent auction of Calling All Turtles exhibit of turtle themed art, 1 to 8 p.m.

• Artists Guild Gallery, 5414 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, opening reception for jeweler Amy Culbert and watercolorist Nancy Hossbach. Culbert will demonstrate her art while State Road 64 plays.

• Anna Maria Island Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach, opening reception for Island Gems exhibit, a display of turtle-themed floor cloths and demonstrations of wire sculpture and floor cloth painting. Myakka will provide music.

• Island Gallery West, 5368 Gulf Drive in S & S Shopping Plaza, Holmes Beach, exhibit of Joe Fletcher’s photographs. Sam M. Wade will play blues piano.

• Back Alley, 121 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. Ted Steven Band will play.

• Island Playhouse, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, one act plays, 8 p.m., $15, general admission, call 778-5755.

Saturday events

• Arts and crafts festival to benefit the AMI Butterfly Garden, Holmes Beach field, 5801 Marina Drive, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Island Historical Museum, 402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, book signing for second volume of Island History, “Anna Maria Island 1940 to 1970, A Tale of Three Cities from Bean Point to Bridge Street,” by Carolyne Norwood, 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Refreshments will be available during both sessions, and State Road 64 will play during a portion of the morning session.

• The Studio at Gulf and Pine, silent auction of Calling All Turtles exhibit of turtle themed art, 1 to 4:30 p.m., when winning bidders will be announced. State Road 64 will play on the patio.

• Jailhouse Rock Sock Hop, Island Historical Museum, CANCELED

• Island Playhouse, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, one act plays, 8 p.m., $15, general admission, call 778-5755.

Sunday events

• Arts and crafts festival to benefit the AMI Butterfly Garden, Holmes Beach field, 5801 Marina Drive, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• The Anna Maria Island Concert Orchestra and Chorus concert featuring show tunes from Rogers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin, violinist Daniel Andal performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and the Rizzo sister performing “Sisters” by Irving Berlin, CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 2 p.m., $20, open seating, call 778-8585.

• Drum circle, Manatee County Public Beach near the concession stand, one hour before sunset.

The weekend is sponsored by Cultural Connections, representing nine Island arts and cultural groups. For further information on the weekend events, go to

Putting an end to dog waste
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

AmbassaDog teams hit the trails of Robinson Preserve for the first time on Saturday, armed with free doggie bag dispensers and the motto – Clean Yards, Clean Waters and Clean Shoes! The three-month pilot program is aimed at reducing dog waste in the preserve, where water quality has declined due to runoff contaminated by the bacteria in dog waste. Volunteers will keep track of the dispensers they give away, while rangers will measure the dog waste left on the trails and compare it to pre-program levels. If dog owners do not clean up after their pets, the preserve could prohibit dogs. The project is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Manatee County’s Natural Resources Department and Simply Green Solutions.

Cindy Lane

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Bolo, Rascal and Lucy wait for Darlene Tschiember’s command to begin their first AmbassaDog assignment.

Sandblast celebrates America Recycles Day
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO PROVIDED A sand sculpture by Team Sandtastic.
Team Sandtastic ( has won
many contests and awards across the world.

Keep Manatee Beautiful will celebrate America Recycles Day at Sandblast 2010 on Nov. 17 through 20.

The annual sand-sculpting contest, will be held at the BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.

The competition pairs youth groups with local business sponsors to raise funds to support the environmental group’s programs for a cleaner, more beautiful community.

A professional sand sculpture team, Team Sandtastic, will start on Nov. 17 by building an 80-ton exhibition sculpture at the BeachHouse site. In addition, WIL-MATH Metal Art Studio will be exhibiting samples of its recycled art. The public is invited to free clinics by both groups on Nov. 17 through 19 from 5 to 6 p.m. to learn the tips, tricks and techniques of sand and metal sculpting.

On Nov. 20, teams will begin arriving at 8 a.m. to get first pick of the 15-by-15 foot plots. Sculpting commences at 9 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. Themes are free form, holiday or nautical. Exhibitors will be displaying and selling their recycled art from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Judging the sculptures of each theme will be manager Rebecca Shannon, of the BeachHouse; sand sculptor Mark Mason, with Team Sandtastic; and sculptor David Wilson, with WIL-MATH Metal Art Studio.

To enter a team or sponsor one of the teams registered thus far with a $300 tax-deductible donation or exhibi/sell recycled art with $25 for each 10 foot by 10 foot plot, call Keep Manatee Beautiful at 795-8272 or visit

Team Sandtastic ( has won many contests and awards across the world. In July 1998, it created the tallest sandcastle ever hand built in less than 100 man-hours at Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park. It stands at 28 feet 7 1/4 inches and holds the current Guinness World Record.

WIL-MATH Metal Art Studio ( specializes in EnviroArt, which brings an artistic flair to environmental sustainability. David Wilson translates his creative visualizations into celebrated expressions through the blending of recycled metals and stone, transforming them into beautiful works of art.

Outgoing mayor plans to relax, enjoy 'paradise'

Mayor Fran Barford is ready to relax and enjoy life with
husband George after serving two terms.

ANNA MARIA — After four years in office, former Mayor Fran Barford took a look back at her two terms as mayor.

She came to the city with a long history of public service as a commissioner and then mayor in Temple Terrace.

“I’ve always loved serving my community, and I’ve always loved local politics,” the former occupational therapist said.

When she and her husband, George, and their dogs and cats moved to Anna Maria full time, Barford volunteered to serve on the city’s planning and zoning board.

She planned to run for one two-year term as mayor, and then dedicate some time to traveling. But when no one stepped forward to run for election as mayor in 2008, Barford ran unopposed for a second term.

It’s been an eventful four years, according to Barford.

“Shortly after I took office, we had to move to Crosspointe Fellowship and set up camp because mold and mildew was discovered throughout city hall,” she recalled. “In the end, it worked out well because we got the building cleaned out, but we also got the building department set up with it’s own customer service window and an ADA compliant situation.”

Barford inherited several stormwater projects that were in progress and saw them through to completion.

“With all the work we did with the help of some Southwest Florida Water Management District matching funds, we really lead the Island in stormwater management,” Barford said. “Everything is looking much better in that area, and we no longer have quite the flooding we used to have.”

She noted that the city is on a barrier Island and is subject to tidal flooding, but overall the picture is much better.

Barford instituted weekly staff meetings where all the employees get together and plan out their week.

“We also went to monthly lunches where we all ate together and celebrated whatever birthdays or other things that deserved celebration together,” she said. “That’s been a great morale booster.”

The last year has probably been the most challenging of her entire career, she said.

“We got hit early on with massive public records requests,” Barford stated. “We were traveling in pretty much uncharted territory, and we wanted to get it right.”

The public records requests came from many quarters, and the demands have slowed only a little.

“Then we had the recall committee form and the recall petition was circulated around, certified and then passed around a final time,” the former mayor said.

“No one else had dealt with this sort of thing, and ultimately we had a recall election and court challenges to that, as well as appeals and delays and ultimately the recall election itself, which was certified.”

That recall election resulted in the ouster of one commissioner and the election of another to serve the remainder of the recalled commissioner’s term.

“There was a lot if ill feelings around Anna Maria,” she said. “The city was essentially in gridlock for a year. We were supposed to be refining our land development regulations in accordance with our comprehensive plan, which is required by state statute.”

Instead, the commission and planning and zoning board were mired in controversy and unable to move forward.

“We tried to take the high road and not mess up anything, including the citizen’s parking initiative,” she said.

At this point the city staff is the “go to” source around the state for the staffs of any cities facing public records requests or Sunshine issues.

“But when we were faced with all this, it was unprecedented, and we had to get legal opinions and proceed very cautiously both to make sure we fulfilled the requirements of the law and to make sure we stayed above the controversy,” Barford noted.

Barford said she’s thoroughly enjoyed working with the staff.

“They are all professionals and a very talented and dedicated group of people. I’m not sure this city knows how lucky it is. The staff is really remarkable.”

Barford said once she realized the quality of the staff members, she felt her job was to guide, but not micromanage.

“I just got out of the way and let them do their jobs,” she said.

It was especially her work in staff development that Commission Chair John Quam mentioned when he presented a plaque of appreciation to Barford at her last commission meeting as mayor.

Following that presentation, the everyone in commission chamber rose for a standing ovation.

Now that her terms as mayor are behind her, Barford said she and George would relax a little and enjoy their life on the Island.

“We live in paradise, you know, and that’s just wonderful,” she said.

Barford said she has no plans to serve on formal city boards or committees, but she will continue to serve Anna Maria from behind the scenes.

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