The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 8 - November 24, 2010


Having a blast at SandBlast

Harry Stoltzfus
SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Bayshore High School’s "Alien crash"
won first place in the free form category.

BRADENTON BEACH – Teams worked under summer-like conditions at the BeachHouse restaurant on Saturday to create everything from teddy bears to aliens at SandBlast 2010.

They worked in the shadow of a monumental professional sand sculpture by Team Sandtastic focused on recycling. Recycled art also was for sale to celebrate America Recycles Day, Nov. 15.

In the Nautical category, The Anna Maria Island Privateers won first place with a giant octopus guarding its treasure. The runnerup was the Southeast High School Visual and Performing Arts Academy.

In the Free Form category, Bayshore High School’s National Art Honor Society took first place with an alien crash landing. The Manatee High School Art Club, sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun, was the runnerup.

In the Holiday category, the Bradenton Christian High School Art Department won first place with sand versions of Christmas toys, with the Manatee High School Anchor Club 1 as runnerup.

Medallion Awards were presented for efforts in the three theme categories:


Manatee High School Anchor Club #2
State College of Florida Phi Theta Kappa

Free Form

Braden River High School Key Club
Bradenton Boys and Girls Club
King Middle School Environmental Club
Southeast High School Key Club
Wakeland Elementary School
Palmetto Tigers
State College of Florida Earth Team #1
Braden River Middle School National Junior Honor Society


Manatee School for the Arts
State College of Florida Earth Club #2

Judges were BeachHouse Manager Rebecca Shannon, sand sculptor Mark Mason with Team Sandtastic and sculptor David Wilson with WIL-MATH Metal Art Studio. The judging criteria were originality, technical difficulty, artistic execution and carving/sculpture technique.

SandBlast pairs youth groups with the BeachHouse restaurant and other local business sponsors to raise funds to support Keep Manatee Beautiful’s programs for a cleaner, more beautiful community.

Home sales continue to rise

Home sales on Anna Maria Island continue to outpace those of a year ago, according to records gathered by Island Real Estate agent Alan Galletto.

Twenty-one properties sold in October 2010, compared to 19 a year earlier. Those totals included 10 single-family homes for both months, eight condo units and one duplex for both periods. One lot was sold in October 2010 and there were no lot sales in October 2009.

Galletto said that at the present pace, the Island could see as many as 300 units this year.

Of the year-to-date sales this year, 29 percent were distressed properties (short sales or bank owned). Pendeing sales also continue to be strong at 57, up from last month’s 50, which bodes well for continued strong sales volume, Galletto said.

Inventory on the Island has leveled off at 521 compared to 522 last month. The inventory is sitting just above the normal range of 450 to 500 properties for sale at any one time. Distressed properties also continue to decline and are currently at 37, down from 43 last month, 44 in September and 53 in August. Distressed properties on the Island are currently 7 percent of the inventory and about 20 percent of the sales.

To put that in perspective, distressed properties in Bradenton are 51 percent of the sales year-to-date and 66 percent of the single-family homes. Galletto said that those figures show how much better the Island market is compared to the mainland market.

PAR site plan approved for 308 Pine

ANNA MARIA — After months of denials, postponements and a lawsuit, the site plan for 308 Pine Avenue was heard and approved at the Nov. 17 city commission meeting.

Pine Avenue Restoration became a focal point of contention under recalled City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, who objected to the parking, which was originally planned to be the same way it is at other PAR buildings.

PAR Managing Partner Mike Coleman offered repeatedly to post a bond with the city to ensure that the parking at 308 and at other existing PAR properties would be changed at PAR’s expense to conform with whatever parking regulations are adopted.

The planning and zoning board recommended approval of the site plan months ago and forwarded that recommendation to the commission.

Each time the matter came before the commission, the city attorney, planner and building official all said the plan met the current city comprehensive plan and land development regulations.

When the site plan was denied, PAR filed a lawsuit against the city in circuit court.

Now that the plans are approved, Coleman said Monday the lawsuit would be withdrawn.

Planner Jan Norsoph and Attorney Jeremy Anderson, who work for Barbara Nally, were present at last week’s hearing and raised objections to the site plan.

Norsoph and Anderson have represented Nally at numerous hearings on Pine Avenue projects.

Nally, who is a Lakeland resident, owns a rental house on a commercial lot adjacent to the Sandbar restaurant.

She has lodged several lawsuits against the city.

A complaint her attorneys made to the Florida Department of Community Affairs over the way the city calculates density issues in the residential/office/retail district along Pine Avenue was found to be without merit.

At the end of the hearing last week, the vote to approve the project was 3-1. Commissioner John Quam voted no because he said he feels the city should settle the parking issues before approving any site plans in the ROR district.

Commissioner Dale Woodland also voted against the site plan, citing density issues among other problems he said he sees with the project.

Coleman said he feels that last week’s approval of the 308 site plan “vindicated our steady faith that eventually, our city would arrive at sensible solutions for the issues facing us.”

Perico sales center to open next month

Bayfest band Bootleg
PHOTO PROVIDED The sales and information office
for Harbour Isle on Anna Maria Sound will open
next month, and the first phase of Minto’s Perico
Island development will include 96 two- and
three-story homes.

BRADENTON – Minto Communities’ planned development on Perico Island, Harbour Isle on Anna Maria Sound, will open its sale and information center in December and its model homes in February.

Minto president Michael Belmont said the project’s first neighborhood, Mangrove Walk on Harbour Isle, will be along the eastern side and will include 96 two- and three-story homes featuring Southern coastal resort architecture.

“We’ve done a considerable amount of research and work to match the design of our homes and the resort feel of our community with what the buyer wants,” said Belmont. “We feel we have created a unique, carefree, coastal lifestyle they will want to call home.

“The style we selected is unlike any we’ve seen in this market, which has lead Realtors to embrace our design, approach and pricing. We’re excited to open our sales office at Harbour Isle on Anna Maria Sound.”

Prices will start in the low to mid $300,000s and will include six floor plans from 1,600 to 2,500 square feet with one level over a two-car garage. There will be the option for a 500-square-foot viewing room on a third floor.

All will have a view of the man-made lake or the mangrove preserve. Also planned are an entry gate with a viewing tower, putting greens, kayak launch, walking trails and gathering area with a recreation center and a pool.

Future plans include a beach club on Anna Maria Sound and a 119-slip marina on the property that once housed the Perico Harbor Marina.

Minto is a subsidiary of the Canadian Minto Group, which purchased the development from St. Joe last fall. The development was approved for 686 units in 13 buildings ranging in height from six to12 stories.

Stoltzfus' request denied

Former City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus has lost another round of legal battles connected with his recall from office. The Second District Court of Appea

l on Friday denied a request from by Stoltzfus for more time to show why his request to dismiss the recall petition against him shouldn’t be rejected as moot.

Stoltzfus had asked the court for the extension to argue that the petition that led to his recall was legally insufficient.

In the Nov. 19 order, the court also denied Stoltzfus’ request to strike consideration of a brief filed by Citizens for Sunshine, Inc., a non-profit organization that advocates for enforcement of the state’s Sunshine Laws.

A Sept. 16 ruling from the same court gave Stoltzfus 20 days to show cause as to why his appeal of the petition should not be dismissed as moot. That time was up on Oct. 6.

With the denial of the extension, the ultimate dismissal of all of Stoltzfus’ appeals is expected shortly, according to legal experts.

Octopi and golf balls - a perfect match
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE The winning nautical sculpture at
SandBlast 2010 on Saturday was none other than
an octopus made of sand.

It doesn’t surprise John Labash to pull yet another stone crab trap out of the Gulf of Mexico and find an octopus has gobbled up his profits.

He just bags the octopus and sells it to Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, where it will be sold as a Mediterranean dinner entrée, and that’ll teach it, by golly.

What did raise an eyebrow, and his curiosity, was the golf ball that an octopus apparently brought into the trap with it.

The first time.

Then it happened again. And again - five times, he says. So, even if you take into account the Mark Twainish exaggeration of any fish story, that’s at least a couple or three times.

Apparently, octopi view plastic stone crab traps like HGTV fans view the annual designer home giveaway - it’s chic, it’s free and you want to put your own personal touch on it – in this case, a dimpled plastic ball filled with environmentally incorrect rubber string.

Octopi bring shells and rocks into crab traps to make cozy nests, Labash says, so from the octopus standpoint, a golf ball may be the perfect home décor item - a perfectly round objet d’art with clean lines, very modern, they give it a 10. If it was stainless steel, they’d put it in their kitchen.

“They just throw them in there and set up shop,” he says.

Are octopi just nearsighted, mistaking golf balls for sea turtle egg appetizers?

Or are they obsessive/compulsive janitors of the Gulf, whisking up what humans leave behind and cleverly putting the trash into a trap that another human will clean up?

And what’s up with people golfing into the Gulf, anyway?

There oughtta be a law.

As a matter of fact, the state litter law (FS 403.413) lists garbage, refuse, trash, cans, bottles, boxes, containers, paper, tobacco products, appliances, mechanical equipment, building material, machinery, wood, motor vehicles, vessels, aircraft and lots of other things as litter.

But, says Capt. Carol Keyser, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “There’s nothing that references golf balls.”

However, she’s quick to add, “That doesn’t make it morally right” to golf into the Gulf. “We encourage people not to do that. Can’t you just go to a golf course?”

There’s one conveniently located in Holmes Beach, by the way, where the city code is also devoid of Gulf golfing regulations.

“It is something that probably should be brought up” to the city commission, Holmes Beach Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall said.

The Anna Maria code also is as silent as a putting green at Augusta.

“Who would have thought anyone would do that?” Code Enforcement Officer Gerry Rathvon wondered.

Sgt. Dave Turner, of the Sheriff’s Office in Anna Maria, said that if an officer saw someone golfing on the beach, “We would ask them to stop, and take their name.”

Bradenton Beach police would speak to a hacker practicing his sand trap maneuvers too, but there’s nothing in the city code about it, an officer said.

But golfers beware of Jay Moyles, Manatee County’s chief lifeguard.

“If someone’s out there with a golf club playing ‘Caddyshack,’ we’re going to say ‘no way,’” at least on Manatee and Coquina public beaches, he said. What if the golfer slices and hits someone at the concession stand?

Golfers will even go out on boats equipped with green artificial turf on the stern, he said, an idea inspired by cruise ships with driving ranges. To heck with the effect on the residents of the Gulf.

In an old Seinfeld sitcom episode, George Costanza saved a beached whale by taking a golf ball out of its blowhole.

But in real life, last April, a golf ball was found in the stomach of a beached whale near Seattle. It probably didn’t kill him, but it didn’t do him any favors, either.

That same month, oil began to gush into the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon well.

In comparison, golf balls are small things.

But the cumulative effect is a concern, says Grea cq Bevis, chief of the law enforcement division of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s a litter violation for sure. It’s solid waste, because the golfer has no intention of retrieving the ball,” he said.

It’s the first time DEP has heard of such a thing, and the department plans to take an educational approach before filing charges against golfers, he said.

So, golfers, how about sticking to the sand at the golf course?

And enjoy that octopus on the menu at the clubhouse.

Cortez Folk Art Festival, song are hits
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Cortez Folk Art Festivalgoers
admire the Esperanza, an award-winning wooden boat
on display at the historic Pillsbury Boatworks at the
Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez.

CORTEZ – “Give me an ‘F!’ Give me an ‘I!’ Give me an ‘S!’ Give me an ‘H!’ What’s that spell?”


It was a combination of Woody Guthrie and Woodstock when Andrew Eddie sang the Cortez Village Fish Song for the first time at the Cortez Folk Art Festival on a warm November Saturday, with the audience singing along on songsheets.

“'F' is for the fishermen, their family and their friends 'I' can tell that you are what their livelihood depends.

'S' is for the ships they sail out on the ocean blue, and 'H' is ‘cause it’s getting hard to bring that catch to you!”

The song memorializes FISH founders Mary Fulford Green and Allen Garner, who is in charge of the extensive restoration of the 95-acre FISH Preserve’s landscape.

Both were on hand to hear the song for the first time on Saturday, as festivalgoers strolled the grounds, enjoying displays of handmade boats, both models and full sized, as well as craft items and environmental displays.

Smoked mullet rounded out the outdoor festivities in true Cortez style, as the Main Hatch Motleys sang sea shanties inside the museum, where the new Banks Family Marine and Shell Collection is on display, along with marine art and historical items.

The fourth annual festival was 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.

Merchants host Christmas celebration on Bridge Street

The Bridge Street Merchants, a not for profit organization, will be hosting the Christmas on Bridge Street celebration Sunday, Dec. 18, from 3 to 7 p.m. on Historic Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. The Anna Maria Island Sun is a sponsor of this event.

Events include a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, live music, a Christmas around the World presentation by Rowlett Magnet Elementary, caroling by area students and the musical stylings of DJ Tom Barrons. Fabulous gift baskets containing resort stays, dinner certificates and much more will be raffled and beautiful holiday wreaths will be auctioned to benefit the Manatee County Food Bank and the Roser Memorial Community Church Food Bank.

A special kids' gift bazaar will also take place where area school kids will sell handmade crafts and holiday items. The merchants will be collecting canned goods for the area food banks. For every five food items people bring, they will receive one Bridge Street Wooden Nickel which is valid at participating Bridge Street shops. There will also be a collection for Toys for Tots. Any new unwrapped toy will be collected by the Marines to distribute to local families. The Cortez Yacht Club will also be hosting its annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on the Bridge Street Pier after dark. For more information contact or visit

Stone crab season starts off brights
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

FILE PHOTO A weak cold front and muddy waters
improved the stone crab harvest.

CORTEZ – Stone crabbers have something to be thankful for this holiday, as consumers are snapping up claws at restaurants and fish markets.

A month into stone crab season, which ends on May 15, “They’re starting to pick up,” Anna Maria Island crabber Anthony Manali said, calling the season so far “better than last year.”

A few days of rough weather muddied the water, providing the cover that motivates stone crabs to start crawling, he said, which increases their odds of finding a trap.

Crabbers usually take only one of the claws, depending on their size, and the crabs are returned to the water to grow a new claw in a rare kind of harvest that leaves the crop alive.

That is, if an octopus doesn’t get them.

In the traps, crabs can’t escape their natural predator, the octopus, which doesn’t stop with the crab’s claw.

Around Anna Maria Island, every trap has at least one octopus in it, Manali said, with an average of 50 pounds of octopus to every 100-150 pounds of crab.

Further south, that’s not the case, he said.

“I have a buddy in Sarasota with 200 traps and he only caught four,” he said. “I would have caught 50 pounds.”

Crabbers sell octopus for $1 a pound, compared to $8 or $9 a pound for crab claws. They are used in Mediterranean and Asian dishes, he said, adding, “Sautéed octopus is very good.”

An octopus will eat most of what’s in the trap given enough time, said Danny Barrett at Bell Fish Co. in Cortez.

“We’ve seen a couple hundred a day coming in,” compared to 700-800 pounds of crab claws, he said.

The weak cold front two weeks ago that improved the stone crab season also jump started the mullet season, which will kick into high gear at the first hard cold.

A few fishermen already are harvesting mullet commercially, and recreational fishermen report snagging the high-jumping fish off the bridges on Manatee Avenue and at Robinson Preserve.

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