The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 29 - April 20, 2011

More News

Local tourism goes mobile

A new cell phone app due out this summer from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau will allow tourists to scan bar codes in advertisements for local tourism-related businesses with their phones, downloading information on events, shopping and accommodations.

Mobile phone use for travel is up more than 3,000 percent, said Elliott Falcione, executive director of the CVB.

A mobile version of the local tourism website launched four months ago, sized for a telephone screen, featuring brief descriptions of attractions, maps and Facebook sharing. Visit

The traditional website is at

Judge against Robinson project

An administrative judge has recommended that the Florida Department of Community Affairs withdraw its approval of up to triple housing density for a proposed Neal Communities development on 49 acres near Robinson Preserve in northwest Bradenton.

Administrative law Judge D. R. Alexander, of the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, recommended that the DCA find that the development is not in compliance with the county's comprehensive plan because the area is in a coastal high hazard area subject to flooding.

Neighborhood resident and former Bradenton Beach Mayor Katie Pierola and her neighbor, Greg Geraldson, had challenged decisions by the DCA and the Manatee County Commission to allow up to three homes per acre instead of one on the Robinson Farms property, owned by the Neal and Robinson families.

The commission granted the request for increased density after twice refusing it last year, when former Commissioner Gwen Brown changed her vote during a hearing. She said that a developer's consultant had told her during a break that commissioners should not have considered a map that had not yet been adopted into the county's comprehensive plan and showed the property in a coastal high hazard area.

More than 260 people signed a petition opposed to the development, citing concerns about flooding and traffic snarls during hurricane evacuations.

Aboard the renourishment dredge

Editor's note: Sun Staff reporter Tom Vaught visited the California, the large dredge that sat off the coast of Anna Maria sucking sand from the Gulf bottom and pushing it through pipes to beaches in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria. He also visited the previous renourishment barge used for projects in 1993 and 2002.

It looked like a huge red Lego project in the water with black beams sticking into the air. There were buildings on deck and a huge pipe that went into the water on one end, snaking down the length of the dredge to another huge barge connected to its aft, which holds the booster motor that provides the horsepower to get tons of sand brought up by the dredge through as much as five miles of pipe to the shore at Coquina Beach.

That's a description of the California, one of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock's 18 dredges used worldwide in large-scale oceanic projects such as renourishment. For instance, the California was in Dubai last year and its time is so precious, Great Lakes did not bring it to the Island until the pipeline to Coquina Beach was assembled. As soon as the Anna Maria portion was finished on Saturday, the California was unhooked from the pipeline and tugs took it north and east to Port Manatee, where it will begin its next project.

This is not the first time Great Lakes has worked on our beaches. In 1993, the Illinois, a dredge somewhat smaller that the California, provided the beaches with their first dose of new sand. They were the low bidder again in 2002 when the county rebuilt the beaches again and the Illinois was the dredge they used in that instance.

While the Illinois used a diesel engine to shoot the sand to the beach, the California used an electric motor. A diesel generator ship, named the Key West, was anchored close to the California and a large cord ran between the two vessels.

Like the Illinois, the California is clean and everything on it serves a purpose. There are few creature comforts because while the dredge can work night and day, the crews come and go and hardly anyone sleeps on board, according to Great Lakes project director Chris Tomfret.

The Illinois had modern devices to tell the operator where the huge cutter that digs into the seafloor to collect the sand is in real time but with Global Positioning Systems in use today, things are even more accurate. In addition, Tomfret said, they now have sensors controlling bulldozer blades smoothing out the sand to make sure they build the correct profile to the beach. They also have sensors in the pipeline to make sure the velocity is high enough.

"If the velocity gets too slow, the pipeline starts to shudder and it clogs up," said Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker, who was also on the tour. "Then you're in trouble."

Tomfret said the system can handle as much as 47,000 cubic yards of sand in 24 hours.

The dredge has no propellers so the company uses tugboats to position it. During our tour, they were moving the dredge to a new position for the Anna Maria portion of the project. Tomfret said once the dredge is in the right position, they put down spuds, which are mechanical legs. The dredge rests on them, but the spuds can be moved for and aft to give the dredge some range as it vacuums up the sand from side to side.

The cutter that goes into the sand has large teeth to roil up the seafloor like an eggbeater and loosen the sand. The cutter is hollow in the middle like a hose and the electric motor creates a suction that draws the sand inside and on its way to the beach.

As the trip ended, we boarded a company shuttle back to the Island. This huge floating machine is the difference between the beautiful beaches our visitors and we enjoy year round and skinny beaches that encroach on nearby homes as they erode. It is an impressive machine that has helped make Great Lakes Dredge and Dock on of the most, if not the most successful dredging companies in the United States.

Mote volunteers honored

Volunteers at Mote Marine Laboratory were honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday.

"Volunteers are a crucial part of the Mote family," said Dr. Kumar Mahadevan, Mote's president and CEO. "These amazing people have given us thousands of hours of support, which add up to make a real difference for our oceans."

Volunteers greet guests in Mote Aquarium, aid scientists, serve as advisers, help care for animals, help educate the public and more. In 2010, Mote volunteers served in more than 1,500 different positions and donated nearly 200,000 hours.

30-Year Award

Dave Bowman
B.J. Peters
Virginia Sanders
Ruth DeLynn

20-Year Award

Nancy Adams
Joan Dropkin
Alan Rose
Tommy Vaughan-Birch

15-Year Award

Joyce Karp
Tom Landers
Bill Millhaem
Freda Perrotta
Norman Vaughan-Birch

President's Call to Service Award

Don Castracani
Donald Fleming
Kathleen Klingelberger
Connie Murk
Kevin Murk
Jackie Nay
Virginia Sanders
Sally Senger
Peter Sullivan

Police to collect prescription drugs

The Holmes Beach Police Department will partner with the Drug Enforcement Administration for the second annual Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This one-day collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies offers an opportunity for people on the Island to bring in old prescription drugs in for destruction.

Old and expired prescription drugs are often abused by people who should not be taking them, according to police, and flushing them down the toilet often results in the drugs getting into the water table.

Last year's initiative was extremely successful, according to a Holmes Beach Police news release. More than 121 tons of unused and unwanted prescription drugs was collected nationally and in Florida, they collected 4.5 ton from 141 sites.

Hearing set on boardwalk project

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will host a public information meeting for the upcoming Anna Maria Boardwalk project at The Anna Maria City Pier on Tuesday, May 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

Improvements to be made as part of this project include the construction of a new boardwalk and plaza shelters; parking reconfiguration; landscaping; installation of lighting, irrigation, benches, trash enclosures, bike racks, signage and concrete pads for magazine racks. This public information meeting will be an open house format with no formal presentation. Project staff will answer questions regarding the project and related information. Construction is expected to begin next month and continue through the fall of 2011.

Persons with disabilities who may require special accommodations at the workshop under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or persons who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Robin Parrish, District One Title VI Coordinator, at 863-519-2675 or by e-mail at at least seven (7) days before the workshop. For additional project information, contact FDOT Public Information Officer Darren Alfonso at 813-767-9532.

New sign to go up at Beach Cafe
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This proposed 19-foot-tall sign will
be redesigned to match the size
of the current sign at
Manatee Public Beach.

HOLMES BEACH – The Anna Maria Island Beach Café will not be building a new, 19-foot-tall sign at Manatee Public Beach as proposed by the operator.

The Holmes Beach City Commission in a work session last week suggested that café operator Alan Kahana of United Park Services redesign his proposed sign to match the size of the existing sign at the entrance to the public beach on Manatee Avenue.

"It's too high. We're not St. Pete. We're not Clearwater," Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said, adding that the sign could obstruct visibility of the traffic light at Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive.

Kahana agreed to resubmit a new sign design.

Commissioners also discouraged Kahana's plan to move some existing tables and chairs onto the sand up to 25 feet beyond the patio wall at the beachfront café to provide customers with a "toes in the sand" dining experience.

More space is needed on the patio for dancing to live music, he said, adding that no more chairs and tables would be added, and most would be within 10 feet of the patio.

"Ten months ago, we said we didn't want to change things, and this is a big change," Commissioner John Monetti said.

Commissioners said they had no problem with Kahana's plans to build an awning at the door to the café leading to the parking lot, and to add two retail carts south of the doorway to hold sunscreen, beach rafts and other items.

In other business, the commission:

• Discussed an ongoing problem with short-term renters, cleaning staff and rental agencies violating the city's trash ordinance, particularly on weekends. Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall said the city sent out 30 letters to rental agents indicating that the city is enforcing its ordinance. City Attorney Patricia Petruff suggested documenting incidents and ticketing violators with increasing fines for each offense.

• Held the first reading of the Kingfish County Park and Manatee Avenue/SR 64 amendment to the city's comprehensive plan accommodating 12.8 acres of land added to the city during the 2010 Florida Legislative session. The second reading is set for April 26 at 7 p.m.

• Set the second reading for the Holmes Beach Municipal Police Officers' Pension Trust Fund for May 24 at 7 p.m.

• Proclaimed April 29 as Arbor Day in Holmes Beach.

Fair winds for Cortez small craft fest
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Above, Lila romps near the Sallie Adams during the
Sixth Annual Great Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival
in Cortez last weekend. The traditional wooden
boat was built by hand at the Florida Maritime Museum
at Cortez. The waters off Cortez were dotted with wooden
boats from far and wide that participated in a number
of "fun races."

Colorful wooden boats speckled the waters off Cortez last weekend as sailors, kayakers and other boat lovers attended the Sixth Annual Great Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival.

Race winners were:

Melonseed class

1. Mike Wick
2. TBA
3. Patrick Lawler

Multi-hull class

1. Frank Smoot
2. Laura Smoot
3. Mark Stewart

Open sail class

1. Jay Ludvich
2. The Blakleys
Boat building contest winners were:

Traditional design/traditional construction

1. James Batteinger
2. Si Bloom

Traditional design/contemporary construction

1. Patrick Lawler
2. Terry Downs


1. Smiley (Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez)
2. Nadine

Contemporary design/contemporary construction

1. Mark Stewart
2. Frank and Laura Smoot (tie)


1. Michael Burwell
2. Tom Mackey

People's Choice

Terry Downs

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