The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 15 - January 12, 2011


Peach's chain sold

Harry Stoltzfus
From left, Mary Beth Hansen and Alison Thomas have purchased
all 10 Peach's restaurants in Manatee and Sarasota counties
and its catering business.

HOLMES BEACH – Peach's restaurant in Holmes Beach and the chain's other nine local branches have new owners, including a former Peach's waitress.

A&M Partnership Holdings LLC principals are Alison Thomas, of Palmetto, who formerly worked at Peach's in Ellenton, and caterer Mary Beth Hansen, of Nokomis, along with unnamed "angel" investors, as Thomas calls them.

"It was meant to be," said Thomas, adding that she has experience doing all jobs in the restaurant business, including running a catering company, Perfect Party, for five years with Hansen. The pair also purchased Peach's catering business.

Her hands-on experience will help her manage employees, the former waitress said.

"It's a hard job," Thomas said. "I know what they need."

"We're very excited," said Hansen, who also has operated two restaurants in Michigan, the Keystone Bakery and The Main Course. "Peach's is a 21-year-old tradition in Manatee and Sarasota counties."

All 10 restaurants in Holmes Beach, Bradenton, Ellenton, Venice and Sarasota will remain open and menus will change little, although new specials will be offered and possibly added permanently if diners enjoy them, Hansen said, adding, "We will not make any major changes, just freshen it up a bit."

The popular breakfast and lunch chain will not expand to offer dinner, they said.

The sale closed on Dec. 7, 2010, but is subject to court and creditor approval of the termination of Peach's corporate receivership, a formality expected soon, according to Bradenton attorney Nelon Kirkland, who represents former Peach's owner Michael Luciano.

Luciano, whose nickname is "Peach," founded the restaurant in 1985 in New Hampshire, expanding to Florida in 1990.

The companies will be in "fairly good shape" coming out of receivership, said Sarasota attorney Morgan Bentley, who represents the Peach's corporations.

"Receivership is supposed to give businesses breathing space to get their house in order, and it did," he said.

The companies have been in receivership since August, 2009, after a bank foreclosure was filed for more than $1 million.

The process has been "a roller coaster ride," according to Luciano, including a purchase bid made by Sarasota investor Dennis Holly, who later opted out.

Pier Centennial year kicks off with banners
Carol Whitmore


ANNA MARIA — The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the city pier kicks off this week as the banners commemorating the event are hung around the city.

Sissy Quinn, chair of the Anna Maria Pier Centennial Committee, said the banners would go up on Pine Avenue and Gulf Drive.

"These banners are just what we wanted," she said. "Lori Kee, who's the administrative assistant at Holmes Beach City Hall, did them for us. She donated her design."

The banners refer to the celebratory event, which is scheduled for late this spring on May 13 and 14.

There is to be a food and music festival within the event with fine dining and music that's being sponsored by the Chiles Group.

That weekend, the festivities will begin with a parade put on by the Privateers, who are celebrating their own anniversary this year. They've been part of the Island community for 40 years.

T-shirts with the same design as the banners are available at the AMI Historical Museum and J&J Graphics for $10.

A pier centennial pendant designed by Metal Artist Wendy Thurlow and issued in a limited edition of 100 is available at the museum and at Ginny's and Jane E.'s for $100.

"Once those are gone, there won't ever be any more made," Quinn said. "It's a beautiful and unique piece."

During the May celebration, Ed Chiles said there would be careful selection of the restaurants and musicians who can participate by invitation only.

Chiles will use the centennial event to kick off the Island's first food and wine festival. He wants to make it an annual event, similar to the annual St. Jude's festival on Longboat Key. Profits for the sale of tickets for food, wine and beer will all go to charity.

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society will have demonstrations of the way life was lived 100 or so years ago.

"But it's the banners that will kick off the entire centennial year," Quinn said.

Funds for the banners were raised by the North End Merchant's Association.

"The first 19 sponsors will get the banners with a signature by the artist at the end of the year," Quinn said.

Sponsors include Anna Maria Preservation Trust, Duncan Real Estate, Beach Bums, Anna Maria Island Accommodations, Sandbar restaurant, Frank and Carmen Pedota, Anna Maria General Store, LaPensee Plumbing, The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper, Barnes Walker Title Company, Boyd Family Partnership, Catcher's Marina, Boyd Realty, The Tenhaaf's, Pinapplefish Rentals, White Egret, J&J Graphics, Dale and Marcia Powers, Anna Maria Island Community Center, Olive Oil Outpost, Waterfront restaurant, Island Cabana, Rotten Ralph's, The Loft #5, Sylvia's Flower Corner, Body & Sol Spa and Wellness, Bridge Street Merchants and Barb Sato.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the banners or any other aspect of the pier celebration can call Quinn at 778-5120. Checks should be made payable to the city of Anna Maria with a notation in the check's memo line that the funds are for the pier centennial.

Record year for manatee deaths

At least 767 endangered manatees died in state waters in 2010, shattering last year's record of 429 deaths, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Unusually cold weather contributed to the new record, which is more than twice the five-year mortality average, according to the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Cold stress caused 279 deaths, with 244 in the early part of the year and 35 in December. Cold stress also contributed to 21 of the 96 newborn deaths, and many of the 214 deaths in the undetermined category and the 68 deaths in the unrecovered category.

Manatees experience cold stress when water is in the 60s and below. Local water temperatures hovered around 60 last week.

Of the 15 manatee deaths documented in Manatee County 2010, seven were from cold stress, four from watercraft strikes and four from undetermined causes.

Statewide, 83 manatees were killed by watercraft in 2010 – about 11 percent of the total deaths. Boaters are cautioned to watch for manatees and observe manatee slow speed zones.

Last January, researchers counted a record high 5,076 manatees in a statewide survey of the endangered marine mammals. The number is not used as a total population estimate, but is a snapshot of the number and location of the state's manatees on a single day. The number was up from 3,807 in 2009, primarily because record cold weather made it easier to count manatees congregating at warm water sites such as power plant discharge areas, according to the FWC.

The manatee is listed as endangered on both the federal and state imperiled species lists, but is being considered for downlisting to threatened status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"These manatees need our voices now more than ever to protect their warm water habitat from aquifer over-pumping and nutrient pollution, to safeguard seagrass beds from propeller scarring and oil spill, to educate boaters so that fewer manatees suffer from boat collisions that leave them mutilated or dead and to teach all of Florida's residents and visitors that our daily actions affect this species, even if we don't directly cross paths," according to Katie Tripp, director of Science and Conservation for the Save the Manatee Club.

Florida residents can help manatees by purchasing the manatee specialty license plate available at county tax collectors' offices. The funds collected for the plates go to manatee research and conservation.

To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

FISH board receives update

CORTEZ - A short-lived lingerie and novelty shop at Cortez Road and 123rd Street West is empty, and residents opposed to the business are glad to see it go.

"Good riddance," said Cortez resident Mary Green at last week's meeting of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board.

The golf cart rental portion of the business may move to another plaza, FISH board member Jane von Hahmann said.

But the lingerie shop or a similar one could reopen elsewhere in Cortez as long as it complies with Manatee County's ordinances, including its sexually-oriented business ordinance, which specifies how much merchandise of a sexual nature is allowed, Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie told the board.

"It can happen anywhere in the county," he said, recommending that residents notify commissioners if the shop crops up in a new location.

The shop closed shortly after the county's code enforcement division investigated complaints and noted signage, construction permit and parking lot space violations.

In other business:

• The FISH board is accepting applications for the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez coordinator position vacated last month by Roger Allen. Applicants must be knowledgable about local, state and national maritime history, have a related B.A. or B.S. degree and have one to three years of related experience. Applications can be made online at

• The mullet season ended before it began, according to FISH President Kim McVey, with no Christmas run and a poor roe season. At A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, about half the eggs were processed this season compared to last season, FISH board member Karen Bell said. The stone crab season began well, but dried up as crabs began hiding in recent weeks, and cold weather is affecting the meat, making it sticky, FISH board member John Stevely said. Grouper landings and sales are strong, however, Bell said.

• The Turner Maritime Challenge program for youth received a $10,000 donation from Marie Pratt.

• The Save the Gulf concert held in Holmes Beach in November raised about $2,500 for FISH.

Two arrested on burglary charges

BRADENTON BEACH – Police in this city rounded up two burglary suspects on Wednesday, Jan. 5, with the help of the Holmes Beach Police Department and alert neighbors.

The suspects, 20-year-old Ian Michael Beck, of Bradenton, and Shawn David Bogart, 21, who is listed as homeless, were arrested after a neighbor called police saying strangers had entered a home at 301 Bay Drive N. He said that he noticed a car running in a driveway, which he felt was odd, according to the police report. The witness said he looked around his apartment complex and saw a person on a ladder attempting to get into the upper apartment. He said the screen was removed and the window was open. He said he saw a person trying to get inside the window and asked if he could be of assistance. The two suspects fled on foot northbound on Gulf Drive.

One of them apparently jumped into a car driven by a third person and left the area. Bradenton Beach sent a BOLO (be on the lookout) message on the radio and that suspect was arrested near MartiniVille, where he reportedly worked, by Holmes Beach police.

The other suspect was caught by Ron Luckerman who lives next to the West Manatee Fire Rescue Auxiliary Station at 201 Second St. N. He told what happened.

"I was at the firehouse working with the door open and saw a lot of police cars and a helicopter," he said. "My neighbor, Dave Born, came by and asked what was going on so I got on my motorcycle and rode down to the police station. The police told me to be on the lookout for one of them and a little later, we saw this kid coming through back yard. We grabbed him and held him until the police got there."

Luckerman is a member of the Island-wide Citizen's Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is activated when there would likely be an emergency such as a storm or other natural disaster.

Both suspects were arrested and charged with burglary and each was jailed with a $7,500 bond.

Bradenton Beach Police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz praised the help from local citizens and the Holmes Beach Police Department in getting the suspects detained.

Beachfront land might finally be developed

BRADENTON BEACH – Rosa Del Mar is pink sea in Spanish and its namesake, a beachfront condo project that never got out of the planning stage, might see new life if its owners get through a sea of red tape.

The property at 2508-2512 Gulf Drive North is now an eyesore with sand berms around it blocking the view of the Gulf and overgrown with weeds, but there is a sign stating that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) now owns it and trespassing is prohibited. Crews erected a chain-link fence around it last week.

GSR Development LLC, which went bankrupt in July 2008, began getting permits for the project in 2006 after the partners, Robert Byrne and Steve Noriega, bought several small beachfront resorts and razed them. The land lay fallow for a couple of years and weeds sprouted. The city's code enforcement office cited GSR for the condition of the land, and although Byrne testified before the code enforcement board that they would tear down the berms, nothing happened. That was just before the bankruptcy.

Horizon Bank took possession of the land and it did not respond to the Bradenton Beach Code Enforcement Officer Gail Garneau's request to tear down the berms because the bank failed as well. That's when the FDIC took possession.

Because the previous owners did not take steps to bring the land into compliance, the city levied a $250 per day fine, which transferred to the FDIC when it took over. Garneau said that the total amount owed the city is now in excess of $410,000. She also said that the only thing standing in the way of the FDIC tearing down the berms is a permit from the city. She said the state already issued a field permit in order to speed up the work, but nobody has approached the city from the FDIC.

Meanwhile, Engel and Volkers Real Estate agent Butch Hunt said he has been approached by potential buyers and expects to sell it when the land comes into compliance. He said that the FDIC would also have to ask the city to forgive part or all of the fine.

Hunt said that he feels the property would be developed as condominiums or townhomes. He said that there is enough land there to build up to 11 townhomes or 14 to 16 condo units and still comply with all the local ground coverage and parking requirements.

For information on the property, you can call Hunt at 941-303-8254.

County program addresses abandoned vessels
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This boat has been scraping against seagrass beds off
the Cortez fishing village for several years, according to locals.

BRADENTON – Local elected officials received an update on Manatee County's Abandoned Vessel Program from members of the Natural Resources Department at last week's council of governments meeting.

Department Director Charlie Hunsicker introduced Marine Resources Coordinator Alan Lai Hipp, who gave an overview of the program.

"I've been taking care of the county's abandoned vessel program since August 2005," Lai Hipp told officials. "The county's ordinance is based on Florida Statute 705 and was adopted in January 2005."

Lai Hipp enforces the ordinance with the help of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit. Since 2005, approximately 90 abandoned vessels have been removed at an average cost of $2,500, and he investigates six to 10 vessels a month.

"They turn up all over the county," Lai Hipp said. "Unfortunately, no one wants them because they have no value."

Once an abandoned vessel is located, the procedure is to tag it with a Notice to Remove sticker, send a certified letter to the registered owner and wait for a response.

"We do an investigation to try to find out who the owners are, try to reach them by telephone and give them every opportunity before we remove the vessels," he explained.

"If a vessel poses an imminent threat, we go ahead and remove it and store it until we make sure the conditions of the ordinance are satisfied."

Mooring fields

Lai Hipp said, according to state statute, a local government can regulate vessels in a mooring field, but cannot regulate vessels other than live-aboard vessels outside of a mooring field.

"However, they changed the definition (of a live-aboard vessel) so that it's virtually impossible to determine if somebody actually lives on the boat," he pointed out.

The state currently is developing a pilot program, and there will be five geographic test areas in which local governments will be allowed to regulate by ordinance all vessels outside of the mooring field.

"The idea is to try and make everything uniform throughout the state," Lai Hipp said.

Sarasota and St. Petersburg are candidate areas. The program will expire on Jan. 1, 2014, and all ordinances enacted as part of the sturdy also will expire.

Until then, local officials plan to increase law enforcement presence on the water with the addition of a full time MSO marine unit officer funded by a grant; increase enforcement of manatee and boating safety speed zones; enforce regulations regarding registration, navigational lighting and marine sanitation devices; create a data base to track abandoned vessels and conduct waterway sweep operations.

"All future removals will be 100 percent WCIND (West Coast Inland Navigational District) grant funded." Lai Hipp told officials. "Responsible parties will be invoiced, and if they don't pay, we'll be sending their registration information to Tallahassee, and it can prevent them from renewing registration."

"Alan is a one-man force under Charlie," Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie concluded. "He's really taken this job on seriously. It's not just a city issue; it's a county issue that we have to deal with."

Jazz concert returns to Island
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Gulf Drive Band – Ted Young on piano, Judy Lynn
on vocals and Bil Bowdish on flute, sax and vocals –
will entertain at the Sandbar on Feb. 10.

The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra (AMICCO), Gulf Drive Band, The Sandbar restaurant and The Anna Maria Island Sun are proud to announce the Sixth Annual Jazz Fest to be held on Thursday, Feb. 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Sandbar Pavilion, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria.

Jazz Fest will feature the Gulf Drive Band with Judy Lynn, from Cleveland, on vocals; Ted Young, from Pittsburgh, on piano; and Bil Bowdish, from Boston, on flute, sax and vocals. Selections will go back to the 1920s and span seven decades. While the band performs in various styles at numerous locations in the area, this presentation will focus on pieces with a jazz flavor. For information on booking Gulf Drive Band, contact 941-778-0173 or visit

After expenses, all proceeds will go directly to AMICCO to ensure future concerts will be held for the community. AMICCO delights area residents and guests with four outstanding concerts per year. Tickets are only $20, however, it costs $52 to $53 per person to produce each concert. The other $33 per ticket comes from the generosity of area businesses that advertise in the program, generous donations from the public and fundraisers such as Jazz Fest.

You won't want to miss this fun music event. Tickets are on a first come basis, so get yours now at or by calling 941-778-8585. Tickets are $6 per person before noon Feb. 10) and $8 at the door. The Sandbar will provide refreshments at an additional charge.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper