The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 19 - February 9, 2011


Island featured on Discovery Channel

Anna Maria Island will be featured on a Discovery Channel program on Feb. 12 at 7:30 a.m. Florida Travel and Life's Affordable Luxury filmed the 30-minute TV program and took still photographs for Florida Travel and Life magazine last November at Island beaches, the Cortez fishing village, Whitney Beach and Mar Vista Dockside restaurant in Longboat Key, Robinson Preserve and DeSoto National Memorial in northwest Bradenton and the Gamble Mansion in Ellenton.

"The island culture on Florida's Gulf coast is irresistible. It truly is a slice of paradise," senior editor Susan Friedman said. "But besides being one of the most tranquil beach spots, the Bradenton area, including Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Lakewood Ranch, is also a unique destination offering cultural experiences, fabulous dining, shopping and museums."

Attractions included in the program include the Lipizzan stallions, Mixon Fruit Farms, the Red Barn Flea Market and Snooty, the 62-year old manatee at the South Florida Museum.

The program will reach more than 170 million cable household subscribers through its airings on the Discovery Channel, Discovery HD Theater, the Travel Channel, Sun Sports and R&R TV, according to the producers.

It also will be featured online at, where viewers can enter to win a weekend getaway in the Bradenton area.

Sponsored by American Express and VISIT FLORIDA, the state's tourism bureau, the program will air in conjunction with a magazine ad in Florida Travel and Life magazine's Affordable Luxury edition as well as Cruising World, Baby Talk and other magazine titles, according to Eileen Forrow, vice president of sales and marketing for Bonnier, which owns the program.

State proposal would void new local fertilizer laws

Proposed state legislation would prevent municipalities from passing new fertilizer ordinances that differ from the state's model ordinance.

House Bill 457 and Senate Bill 606 would require counties and cities located within the watershed of a water body listed as "impaired by nutrients" under Florida law to adopt the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Model Ordinance for Florida Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes.

Those without nutrient-impaired waters would be encouraged, but not required, to adopt the ordinance.

Those that already passed a local fertilizer ordinance before Jan. 1, 2009, would be exempt from the requirement to use the state's model ordinance, such as Sarasota County, which adopted one in 2007, and Longboat Key, which adopted one in 2008.

Those without an ordinance adopted before 2009, which includes Anna Maria Island's three cities and Manatee County, can choose to pass one, but would be required to "substantively conform to the most recent version of the model fertilizer ordinance," according to the legislation.

Manatee County is working on a fertilizer ordinance that would ban the use of nitrogen fertilizers in the rainy summer months. Fertilizer-laden runoff into area waters is linked by some scientists to the growth of red tide, which kills marine life, contaminates shellfish and causes respiratory problems in humans.

The state's model ordinance does not ban nitrogen fertilizer use during the summer.serve to the state and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services the regulation, use, sale and composition of fertilizer, stating, "This subsection expressly preempts such regulation of fertilizer to the state and the department. Such regulation of fertilizer by a county, municipality, or other political subdivision is void, regardless of when adopted."

That seems to cancel out the protection the legislation gives to governments with existing ordinances, said Cris Costello, the Sarasota Sierra Club's red tide campaign coordinator, adding that similar legislation has been filed each year since 2007.

"Part of the bill allows them to be grandfathered, but the last paragraph preempts everything," she said.

Previously proposed legislation has failed because counties and cities have successfully argued that they cannot be prohibited from preventing pollution when their local tourism-based economies depend on the quality of water resources, she said.

The law is poorly drafted, agreed Scott Dudley, associate director of legislative affairs for the Florida League of Cities, which opposes the legislation.

The legislation could tie local officials' hands, preventing them from passing laws that could improve water quality, which they may be required to do under clean water regulations, he said.

"It really doesn't make any sense that the state would restrict counties from regulating fertilizer to protect our waterways," said Glenn Compton, executive director of ManaSota-88. "It's a very bad law. I think Manatee County should move ahead with their planned fertilizer ordinance regardless of what the state is doing."

In addition, the legislation "does great damage to home rule," Dudley said, prohibiting local governments from passing fertilizer laws that are more stringent than the state model fertilizer ordinance.

Freshman state Rep. Jim Boyd from Manatee County said he had not yet seen the proposed legislation, filed on Jan. 26, but that in general, he favors home rule.

However, he also recognized that business owners working in different jurisdictions could have trouble complying with contradictory local laws, a concern expressed by business groups including the Florida Retail Federation.

"That makes it a little hard on business owners," Boyd said. "We have to have something that makes sense for everybody, but we want to make sure the (state) government is not overreaching."

"I don't think state should regulate what we do," Manatee County Commission Chair Carol Whitmore said.

The county's five cities, including the three on Anna Maria Island, are waiting to follow the county's lead, she said.

Commissioners plan a work session on the issue on March 22.

Friday Fest returns

ANNA MARIA – Food, refreshments, shopping and dancing are the things that make a fun weekend. Why wait for the weekend when you can do all that on Friday, Feb. 18, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the corner of Pine Avenue and Bay Drive at the first Friday Fest of the season.

Two local bands will provide the live music: Human Condition from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Bootleg from 7 to 10 p.m. The field is a great place to dance or just listen and watch others enjoy themselves.

The Island Music Festival, aka Friday Fest, is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, the Anna Maria Historical Society and the Island Sun. Chris Grumley will emcee, Miller Electric will supply the electrical hookup and BOC Productions will provide the sound system. Proceeds go to the Chamber’s scholarship fund, participating Island businesses and local non-profit agencies.

Vendors should contact organizer and Chamber Board Chair Cindy Thompson, at, or Chamber President Mary Ann Brockman at 779-9412. There are only 25 vendor spaces and eight food vendor spaces. Food vendors need to turn in their menu choices to Thompson so they don’t duplicate each other.

The music for this Friday Fest and the one after, on March 18, is already booked, but musicians and bands can contact this above people to book for the April Friday Fest and for Bayfest, in October.

Cortez festival just around corner

CORTEZ – If you love seafood, sea shanties, sea life or just the sea, the place to be the weekend of Feb. 19-20 is the 29th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

Cortez will welcome visitors to celebrate its maritime heritage with fresh seafood, live music, nautical arts and crafts, kids' activities and marine life exhibits and talks from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

One of the last working fishing villages in Florida, picturesque Cortez is nestled beside Sarasota Bay and bordered on the east by the FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) Preserve, 95 acres of environmentally sensitive land which is being enlarged and restored with proceeds from the festival.

This year, the event is moving to the eastern end of the village, where it was held during its first few years. Anchored on the north by the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez Road and 119th Street and on the south by Sarasota Bay, the festival grounds can be reached through the FISH Preserve, where parking is plentiful. Remote parking with shuttle bus transportation also will be available in the Cortez Commons parking lot at the corner of Cortez Road and 59th Street West in Bradenton and at Coquina Beach Bayside on Anna Maria Island. Shuttle buses cost $1 each way.

Another new feature this year will be a second live music stage. The main stage will feature rock, pop, country, bluegrass, blues and R&B. The second stage, the historic Burton Store Porch on the grounds of the Florida Maritime Museum, will feature acoustical artists offering a variety of folk, country and traditional maritime songs.

Bands include the Manatee River Bluegrass Band, a high energy bluegrass and acoustic group that has shared the stage with Bill Monroe, the Osborne Bothers, Tony Rice and the locally famous Poindexter Band, and Eric von Hahmann, a Cortez native who plays original country western tunes with an Island flavor.

Other bands are the Dr. Dave Band, which Dr. Dave describes as country western rock on steroids with an infusion of bluegrass banjo and fiddle, and the Loretta James Band, which characterizes their music as "bluesoul;" R&B, horn-driven, rock and soul dance-beat grooves.

Other entertainers include Soupy Davis and his band, Billy Rice Band, Razing Cane, Gumbo Boogie Band, Andrew Eddy, Brian Smalley, Mike Jurgensen, Terry Blauvelt, the Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers and soul R coaster.

Food vendors include Clayton Allen with smoked and fried mullet, collard greens and fried green tomatoes; Banana Cabana with crab cakes, grouper fritters and plantains; the Beach House with soft-shell crab sandwiches, crab cakes and conch fritters; Caribbean Café with coconut shrimp, oysters, fish and shrimp; Coco Joes Italian ice; the Cortez Historical Society's strawberry shortcake; Don Fulford's smoked mullet; Fantastic Concessions funnel cakes; Fatstuffs (Garden Foods) with jambalaya, etoufee and grouper; Greek Flame with gyros, chicken divine and salad; Harrisons with steak, turkey legs, corn dogs and sausage; J&J Bar-B-Q with fried mullet; Kiwanis with hot dogs, sloppy Joes and ice cream; Walker's Kettle Corn and boiled peanuts; Shrimp Shack with seafood, pastries and nuts; Bob Greene with smoked mullet; Walt's with crab, grouper, shrimp and chowder; Tyler's Ice Cream and Pete Barreda's Cortez hot dogs.

Several Cortez businesses made the festival's move to the east end of the village possible, including Johnny Banyas, owner of Cortez Bait and Seafood, who will provide a major portion of the festival site, and the Cortez Kitchen, whose parking will be disrupted on Friday night - patrons can park at the nearby Church of God. The Kitchen will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. both days of the festival. Others providing festival facilities are Patty Banyas, owner of Cortez Bayside Banquet Hall, N.E. Taylor Boat Works and Cortez Bait and Seafood Retail Market.

Admission is $2 for adults with kids under 12 free. For more information, visit

Bistro replaces Sun House

BRADENTON BEACH – The Sun House restaurant is scheduled to reopen on Feb. 10 with a new menu, new décor, new management and a new name, the Bridge Street Bistro.

Sun House owner Barbara Rodocker was not seeking the change, she said, but "It came together" when Bill Herlihy recently stopped into the restaurant and found what he was looking for.

Herlihy, previously general manager of Café L'Europe on St. Armands Circle, had been scouting to buy a restaurant since September, and called business partner Jim Heil, who runs a restaurant and hotel in the wine country of New York.

A few days later, "We agreed this was the place," he said, and Heil relocated here.

Both the menu and the décor will be new, he said.

Chef Keith Daum, of Café L'Europe, will offer several varieties of steak and seafood entrees and dinner salads in an affordable, casual, family-friendly atmosphere, Herlihy said.

"Our goal is to use local produce and fish" from Cortez, he said, along with beef, veal, duckling and other entrees hard to find on the Island.

The second and third floors of the restaurants are being freshened up with new décor, and the new owners hope to turn the first floor into a true bistro with streetside café tables wrapping around the two sides of the building on Gulf Drive and Bridge Street.

"It will add to the charm and ambience of the Island," he said.

Herlihy said he is hoping for a good winter season, despite the economy, noting that Florida's weather is better this winter than last.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and will offer early dinner options from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

What's next for bay erosion problem?

ANNA MARIA — Property owners on the city's bay side from Bean Point to the Rod&Reel pier are back to square one with badly eroded seawalls and beaches.

Resident Joan Dickinson has been working on the issue for nearly 10 years.

"Every time I think we will get help, we're either told there is this problem or that problem or there's no money, and meanwhile, our homes are threatened," she said.

Dickinson and her neighbors have seen their shoreline washed away in the past several years.

"The currents have changed," said Coastal Engineering's Rick Spadoni, who has worked on Island renourishment projects for more than 20 years. "With Passage Key now mostly underwater, the currents have been redirected closer to shore, and that's scouring the bay side of the Island there."

Though the area has been deemed "critically eroded" by the state government, because of the currents, that strip of bay shore has been determined to be part of the Gulf of Mexico. As such, it's eligible for state and local funding.

But property owners will not be seeing any money from those sources for at least 15 years, according to Charlie Hunsicker, the director of Manatee County's conservation lands management.

"There just isn't any money," Hunsicker told city commissioners at a work session on Jan. 27. "We'll be lucky to get the scheduled renourishment projects funded and completed with the economy as it is."

Hunsicker pointed out that renourishment funding is considered discretionary, and like all discretionary projects, is at risk of being cut.

"There isn't even any money to do an engineering study," he told commissioners.

What would it cost?

Fixing the erosion problem on the north end would come with a steep price tag, according to Hunsicker.

There's a reason for that.

"If you put sand down there, it'll just be swept away in the first storm," Hunsicker said. "To hold the sand, you'd need T-groins to hold that sand."

For the permanent solution with those groins, the cost would be $4,815,000.

Hunsicker noted that the county doesn't have the money.

There is an interim solution, which would involve placing Geotextile tubes down. The cost for those tubes, which are fabric sausage-like devices which are filled with sand and have been used elsewhere, including on Longboat Key at the north end of that Island. The cost would be $850,000 for a temporary fix that would likely last only a year or two.

Again, there is not any money at the county level.

"There isn't money," Hunsicker said. "There are only a handful of homeowners up there, and a lot of those homes are ground level and will flood anyway in a storm tide. There's only so much you can do."

Dickinson has asked Mayor Mike Selby to help find a solution.

"I'll do what I can to check into this," Selby said. "These folks have a serious problem, but there doesn't seem to be any money to fix this problem."

Dickinson wants something done, but she wants someone to look into the possibility of rebuilding some existing groins that are underwater now.

She said she's pessimistic about getting that paid for.

"Other options of protecting our property are increasing the height of our sea walls and/or adding splash aprons to stop erosion on the home side of our sea walls," Dickinson said. "However, sea walls just increase erosion."

Dickinson said she's done with the long fight.

"Lots of work here," she said in a letter to Selby. "Lots of questions. Who will spearhead this effort? I'm ready to hand this over to the mayor, commissioners or other area residents. Who is interested?"

Dickinson wonders where the money will come from. She questions whether there isn't some emergency measure that could help.

"Are residents interested in looking at Longboat Key's plan, which is island funded, with waterfront property owners paying more than interior residents?" she asked.

Longboat Key's renourishment funding comes from property owners while Manatee County's come from a combination of state, federal and bed tax dollars.

Since Longboat Key doesn't provide an adequate number of public parking spaces, that island isn't eligible for state or federal funding and thus, property owners there pay every dime of renourishment projects there.

So as it stands now, Dickinson has had enough.

The city or the residents here will have to pick up the fight," she said. "I'm done."

Home invader strikes Cortez

Two men were robbed of their clothing and wallets on Friday, Feb. 4, around 9:30 a.m. by a man who was described as being possibly white with a ski mask, 6"1' tall, thin build with dark pants and armed with a black pistol.

The victims, identified as Edward Smith, a 34-year-old fisherman, and Ian Smith, not related, 26, a carpet installer, were watching television in a home owned by Edward Smith's mother, Carol Smith, at the 4500 block of 101st Street West.

Deputies set up a perimeter around the village and brought in dogs, but the suspect was not found. The victims said the suspect got about $200 from them.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office report, the suspect opened an unlock screen door at the home's entrance and pointed the pistol at the two. He ordered them to take off their clothes and took the clothes with the victims' wallets, leaving in an unknown direction.

Edward Smith owns a pit bull, but the animal was not at the residence at the time of the robbery because it was being bred.

Holmes Beach named Tree City USA

HOLMES BEACH – Beautification Board Chair Fred Heger announced at last week's meeting that the city has received its Tree City USA designation.

"I'm proud that the city has received that designation," Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said. "It's a good thing for the city."

Ingrid McClellan, executive director of Keep Manatee Beautiful, has led the effort to have the county and all of its cities designated. She said that Holmes Beach joins Anna Maria, Palmetto, Bradenton and Manatee County.

"In Bradenton Beach, the commission agreed to go through the process, and on Longboat Key, the idea was presented to the town commission, which was receptive and directed it to the planning department," McClellan said.

McClellan said she hopes the two cities will have the designation by December. The National Arbor Day Foundation launched the program in 1976.

Board members said they plan to seek grants to add amenities to Grassy Point, a city-owned preserve along East Bay Drive from Sunbow Bay to the traffic light at Gulf Drive.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant is offering from $10,000 to $100,000. The other is a Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Bay Partners grant with a maximum award of $3,000, which can be used for bay education, bay restoration or developing a bay friendly landscape.

Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes said his department plans to establish a three-to-four-vehicle parking lot for the preserve that can be accessed from Avenue C, by Feb. 15. It also is building picnic tables, garbage containers and a bicycle rack.

Heger said the city has received bids from two companies for the plantings between West Bay Cove and Kingfish Ramp. Last April, the city received a Florida Forest Health Improvement Grant for $18,350 to beautify the area. It will be planted with Jamaican dogwood, gumbo limbo, tamarind, dahoon holly, live oak, green and silver buttonwood, red cedar and sabal palms.

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