Anna Maria Island news in 2010 was overshadowed by one story that crossed all boundaries, affecting tourism, real estate, fishing, retail businesses, the environment and just about everything else in our world.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the northern Gulf of Mexico on April 20, killing 11. It gushed oil until it was capped on July 15.
Tourism operators struggled to let visitors know that oil did not wash up on local beaches, but cautious travelers bided their time. Several local water sports-related business owners, rental owners and one property owner unable to sell a home filed claims against BP. Galati Marine cancelled two Memorial Day weekend fishing contests planned in the Gulf.
Some fishermen from Anna Maria Island and Cortez took their boats to Louisiana to help clean up the surface oil, while others made claims against rig operator BP for losses stemming from the closure of their fishing grounds in the deep Gulf.
Wildlife Inc. Education and Rehabilitation in Bradenton Beach was placed on standby for oiled animal rescues, which never materialized locally, and local water and air monitoring efforts were stepped up to test for oil and chemical dispersant pollutants.
Some Island hair salons gathered hair to fill nylon booms to sop up oil, but the attempt ended when officials said the booms made matters worse by breaking apart.
In February, before the spill, about 180 protesters lined up on Manatee public beach in 47-degree temperatures and 17-mile-per-hour winds to draw a human line in the sand against offshore oil drilling. After the spill, in June, another protest was held, drawing about 400 people, part of the nationwide "Hands Across the Sand" protest.
The full effect of the spill on the Gulf and on the Island economy is not yet known.
Here's a look back at some of the other major stories of 2010.
Former Island mayors Carol Whitmore (Holmes Beach) and John Chappie (Bradenton Beach) were elected chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Manatee County Commission.
Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti were re-elected to their positions, while newcomer Mike Selby was elected mayor of Anna Maria. Jan Vosburgh was elected to the Bradenton Beach city commission after having replaced Bob Bartelt on the commission after Bartelt took over from resigning Mayor Michael Pierce in June. Ed Straight was elected as a commissioner with no opposition.
In the first recall election in Manatee County's history, Anna Maria residents recalled City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus from office on Sept. 4, when Gene Aubry was elected to replace him by a vote of 362 to 331. The recall effort followed Sarasota-based legal consultant Michael Barfield's submission in March of a public records request to Anna Maria asking to inspect e-mail records of Stoltzfus and Planning and Zoning Board member Jim Conoly.
Chiefs fire back at Robinson
Fire and police chiefs defended their departments against persistent attacks by Holmes Beach Commissioner Al Robinson last fall, with West Manatee Fire Chief Andy Price calling Robinson's complaints about spending "either untrue or misinformation" and Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine calling his complaints about the police budget "gross inaccuracies."
The Bradenton Beach City Commission approved a $2.681 million budget beginning Oct. 1 with a 5 percent raise for employees who had not gotten a raise in three years due to declining property tax revenues. The commissioners eliminated the city's department of projects and programs after the director of that department, Lisa Marie Phillips, agreed to leave her post with a buyout. The city's Scenic Waves committee, which Phillips had worked with, regrouped and operated with little budget funds.
Tourism leadership changes
In May, Elliott Falcione replaced the retiring Larry White, who served as director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for nearly 20 years, and Debbie Meihls was hired from the St. Petersburg CVB to fill Falcione's former executive manager position. Manatee County Commission Chair Carol Whitmore was elected chairman of the Tourist Development Council in December, replacing Joe McClash.
Trolleys remain free
The free Island trolleys are still free, thanks to a campaign for businesses to purchase advertising space both inside and on the outside of the trolleys to help make up for a budgetary shortfall that had Manatee County officials considering imposing a fare for riders. The first ads appeared in June, but County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said that businesses weren't getting their money's worth because the trolleys are unreliable and are replaced regularly with buses. He ordered five new heavy-duty vehicles after finding a grant, promising to return the ad money to the businesses. The trolley extension from the Island to Longboat Key also avoided budget cuts when Sarasota County gave $300,000, Manatee County gave $200,000 and the town of Longboat Key gave $61,000 for a year of 13-hour-a-day service.
The real estate market on the Island appeared to be on the road to recovery from the recession, according to Island Real Estate agent Alan Galletto, who reports that sales through the first 11 months of 2010 were up 36 percent over the same period in 2009.
Harbour Isle breaks ground
Harbour Isle on Anna Maria Sound broke ground in December on Perico Island. The first phase of the Minto Communities development is Mangrove Walk on Harbour Isle on the east side of the property, with 96 two- and three-story homes featuring Southern coastal resort architecture and prices starting in the low- to mid-$300,000s.
Mainsail opens sales office
The Mainsail Lodge opened its sales office in August at 5325 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, with a model of the main lodge and 37 condo/hotel units and town houses planned for the marina. Prices will range from the mid-$300,000s to $800,000.
Cortez coyotes kill pets
Dozens of pets and feral cats in Cortez were killed by coyotes beginning in October, according to residents, who organized a community meeting to address the problem.
Officials advised residents to keep pets indoors, leash them when they're outside, avoid leaving food and water outside, keep outdoor garbage sealed and never feed coyotes. Residents started a database of coyote sightings at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez.
Tree trimming kills chicks
Two heron chicks died when a tree contractor cut down an Australian pine tree with a nest in it at the Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach in February. Another chick was saved and later released by Wildlife Inc. Education and Rehabilitation in Bradenton Beach.
On the waterfront
Pier plan approved
The Anna Maria City Commission approved the Anna Maria City Pier boardwalk project on March 29, and the Pier Centennial Committee began plans for a celebration on May 13 and 14.
No mooring field
The city of Bradenton Beach gave up its attempt to install a mooring field south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier after commissioners questioned whether it would ever be able to pay for itself. The state cancelled a $165,000 grant to help build the offshore facility.
Despite vocal and legal challenges, Pine Avenue Restoration made remarkable progress in 2010. A drive down Pine Avenue shows buildings on both sides of Crescent St. fully occupied by tenants and open for business as is the building at 216 Pine where three new businesses have opened their doors in the last two months.
Beach concessions change hands
Manatee County Commissioners awarded the Manatee County Public Beach concession contract to United Park Services of Tampa in May, ousting local favorites Café on the Beach, which prompted protests. The commission cited fiscal savings as its reason for the switch. It also awarded the Coquina Beach concession to the same company.
Walgreens moving, expanding
Benderson Development Company announced that it will relocate Walgreens from the north end of the Anna Maria Island Centre on East Bay Drive into the former Shell's storefront at the south end. The expansion will include a drive-through window for prescription customers.
Realtor Barbara Sato organized the North End Merchants Organization (NEMO) in Anna Maria to bring residents and local businesses together while avoiding the politics of the Pine Avenue Restoration project. Its members' first project was to participate in the Keep Manatee Beautiful Coastal Cleanup.
Cortez leadership changes
Kim McVey was elected the new president of FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) in June. Former president Richard Culbreath was the first of several board members to resign or become inactive after the alleged mishandling of proxy votes and new member votes during the annual election. In December, Roger Allen resigned as site manager of the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, where he oversaw reconstruction.
New museum addition sought
The Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez is working to relocate the Monroe Cottage to the museum from Bradenton Beach, where city commissioners have decided to replace it with a parking lot.
Nyad trains off Island
Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, 61, trained off Anna Maria Island in August for a planned 103-mile swim from Havana to Key West that she had attempted in 1978, hiring an Anna Maria Island Sun staff member to captain one of her chase boats. Nyad made history in 1979, accomplishing the longest continuous swim in history – 102.5 miles – from Bimini to Florida, then didn't swim a stroke for 31 years. The trip was postponed until this year due to weather.
Greenwood visits Island
Country singer Lee Greenwood sang for the Anna Maria Island Community Center's Affaire to Remember, helping to make the event a sellout and a successful fundraiser.
Award-winning Sun turns 10
The Anna Maria Island Sun began its year-long celebration of its 10th anniversary in October, earning several editorial and advertising awards from the Florida Press Association throughout the year.
Business awards earned
The Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island presented former board chair Mark Davis its businessman of the year award at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce installation dinner. The Chamber chose Beach Bums as its small business of the year, The Anna Maria Island Sun as its medium business of the year and Wagner Realty as its large business of the year.
Spring national pie champ
Andrea Spring of Sign of the Mermaid restaurant in Anna Maria won the Crisco American Pie Council National Pie Championship in April. The winning entry, her chocolate raisin walnut combination, also led to her national representation on the California Raisin Marketing Board.
Island loses old timers
Island institutions W.H. "Snooks" Adams and Pat Geyer died a week apart in April and May.
Adams, 91, was Holmes Beach's first police chief, and the founder in 1954 of one of the Island's most cherished traditions – Snooks Adams Kids Day, which the Privateers took over in 1980.
Geyer, 79, and her husband, Ed, who died the previous year, began operating Duffy's Tavern in 1971. She was elected to the Holmes Beach city council in 1978 and was elected mayor in 1990, serving four years, followed by 15 years as commissioner.
Other local luminaries lost in 2010 were "Turtle" Tom Van Ness, who wrote Turtle Tom's Timely Tips for The Sun (April 25), former Sun Outdoors reporter G.B. Knowles (April 10), Cortez pioneer Ralph Fulford (Oct. 12) and longtime fire commissioner John Van Ostenbridge (Oct. 30).
Rip current deaths
A man in his 60s, Gerardo Hernandez, and his sister, Josefina Pardo, 71, died on Aug. 12 in a rip current in the Gulf of Mexico north of the Sandbar restaurant, the apparent victims of heart attacks. The deaths followed the July 29 drowning of Terry Cox, 50, after he was caught in a rip current while fishing off the southern shoreline of the Intracoastal Waterway near the Anna Maria Island Bridge.
Musil-Buehler still missing
Nov. 4 marked two years since Haley's Motel co-owner Sabine Musil-Buehler went missing. Her boyfriend, William Cumber, was the last to report seeing her; he is in prison on charges of violating his probation when he left town after she disappeared. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office found no clues after digging up the beach in Anna Maria with front end loaders last year. Her whereabouts remain a mystery.