The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 34 - May 25, 2011


History on the move - slowly

Harry Stoltzfus

Lizzie Vann Thrasher, above, nervously watches as the
historic building Thelma by the Sea is moved across a canal
via a temporary bridge in Anna Maria. Below, a crowd gathers
on the nearby Humback Bridge to observe the project.

Question: How do you move 300,000 pounds of old Island lodge?

Answer: Very carefully.

Workers spent all day Monday preparing the historic Angler's Lodge for its trip over the Lake LaVista inlet via a temporary bridge, attracting a large crowd of people who stood on the nearby humpback bridge to watch the progress.

And after eight hours of observing the painfully slow advance, much of the crowd was still there and enjoying the show.

"Yay, Thelma," called Sissy Quinn, head of the Anna Maria Preservation Trust, which made the initial effort to save the historic house, now rechristened with its original name, Thelma by the Sea.

"The (Anna Maria) Historical Society wanted to save it, but they didn't have room for it," said Historical Society co-founder Carolyne Norwood. "When Ellen Marshall, the publisher of the Island's first newspaper, moved here, she rented a room in that house."

But at 150 tons, moving Angler's Lodge from its home of nearly 100 years on North Bay Boulevard to the Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue is the one of the biggest undertakings of its kind in the area.

Lizzie Vann and Mike Thrasher are funding the move in their

continuing efforts to preserve Island history. They have already rescued three other historic buildings in the city – Cozy Corner or the Rosedale Cottage, now the Village Café at Rosedale, 1913; the Sears Cottage, now Relish in Resourcefulness, 1935; and the Pillsbury House, 1915.

Thrasher said 50 tons of concrete were poured inside the building's hollow blocks to make it more stable and the corners were reinforced with steel rods to increase strength. It was raised last week so wheels could be put under it, pivoted to face the canal and moved to the edge of the canal.

"On Monday, they built a bridge by digging down outside of the seawall and putting in posts because the seawall can't bear the weight of the house," he explained. "They put I beams across the canal, crisscrossing them, and then covered them with sheets of steel to make a smooth surface for the house to be taken across the canal."

"It's like bringing siblings back together," Vann Thrasher declared, "because Angler's Lodge, Rosedale Cottage and the Roser Chapel were all built by Capt. Mitch Davis in 1913."

Vann Thrasher said she is planning to use the ground floor for commercial space and the upstairs for a residential rental. She also is planning to call it by its original name, Thelma by the Sea, named for the daughter of the owners Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Wood.

Monday afternoon, the effort to get the building onto the bridge hit a few snags, with one particular Australian pine requiring some pruning to allow clearance.

But the slow progress didn't dampen the enthusiasm of those who turned out to watch.

Tom Nelson, of Island Real Estate, which is listing the property where the building was located, said he was excited.

"It's terrific for the community," he said. "The house has historic value to the Island. I'm glad it could be saved and moved to Green Village. Now there are three buildable lots left where the old house sat."

Lizzy Vann Thrasher was at the scene and a little apprehensive as they prepared the house for its move.

"I trust these people (Gagne Construction and Johnson House Moving)," she said. "The house weighs 300,000 pounds, and it has to cross that bridge.

"The house is very strong, but a wood house would be sturdier. This is a brick house, and they don't have as much strength in the outer walls."

As the work continued, Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby quipped, "I wish I could get half as many of these people out to attend city commission meetings."


Levengood closes Island career
Carol Whitmore

Anna Maria Elementary School Principal Tom Levengood
retires at the end of the school year, capping a
35-year career in education.

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Elementary School had him a little more than four years, but when Tom Levengood leaves the principal's office for the last time, he will be closing the door on a 35-year career in education in Manatee County Schools.

Levengood is known by many in the upper echelons of the district not only for his job performance, but because he has been around for so long and started his career when many of them did.

He was a teacher for 17 performance, but because he has been around for so long and started his career when many of them did.

He was a teacher for 17 years at Palma Sola Elementary School teaching third grade for one year, fourth grade for nine years and first grade for seven years. He began teaching in a corrugated classroom across from current school board member Barbara Harvey, and his team leader was the late Betty Deitrich, longtime teacher at Palma Sola and Island resident.

"Barbara took me under her wing and the next year she became assistant principal," he said. "I took over her classroom, and she had a nice collection of black history, which I protected."

Levengood enjoyed teaching but never took an interest in becoming a supervisor until former Manatee County Superintendant of School Dan Nolan convinced him to try. He encouraged Levengood to go to graduate school to get on track for becoming a principal.

When he got his master's degree, he became assistant principal at Moody Elementary and then Daughtry Elementary for a year when he finally got the nod to become principal at Bayshore Elementary, where he stayed for 12 years. He then applied for the vacancy at Anna Maria Elementary when Kathy Hayes transferred more than four years ago. He said he saved the best for last.

"Anna Maria Elementary is my favorite school by far," he said. "Palma Sola was close, but times and expectations change."

He said he would not change anything about his career, but there is one ready for his love of the Island school.

"Anna Maria is such a community," he said. "It's much smaller, and you get to know the community leaders."

Tom was not the first Levengood to work at AME. His wife, Becky, was the reading teacher before he came, and she had to leave when he became principal. His involvement with his wife goes back to his years in school.

"I started my freshman year in college studying business, and I hated it, so I changed my major to education at the end of the year," he said. "I met Becky and she taught me how to study."

Now that he is ending his career, Becky will be there with him ready to hand over her list of "honey dos" that has grown because of his long hours at the school. He also wants to follow interests out of the classroom.

"I will set up a studio for my woodworking and making stained glass decorations and Tiffany lamps," he said. "We've lived in the same house for 37 years, and the kitchen and bathrooms have never been updated, so that's a project."

June 23 is his last day, and he working to bring it to an orderly close, but he won't jump the gun.

"Nothing will leave my office until the end of the school year," he said. "I don't want students or teachers to walk in here and see that I'm moving out."

Levengood was asked how he would want to be remembered.

"As a creative classroom teacher and as a principal, a good listener," he said. "I listen to my staff and then make decisions but above it all, the kids come first."

As for his final year, he set a goal before the school year began.

"To make my last year my best," he said. "Being at Anna Maria Elementary has been a wonderful way to put a cap on my career."

Snook's Kids Day Saturday


For more than a half of a century, one of the highlights of summer vacation on the Island has been Snooks Adams Kids Day. It usually comes after school lets out, although this year it comes about a week before that special day.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers to host the 57th Annual Snooks Adams Kids Day, sponsored by Whitney Bank, on Saturday, May 28, at Bayfront Park, 316 N. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. All kids and their parents are welcome. Admission is free.

Kids Day events include games and fun activities, face painting, a treasure hunt, plus hot dogs, pizza and soda provided to participants. There will be a pirate dress-up contest at 10:30 a.m., so get there on time.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers' put on this annual event so expect to see lots of pirates with beads. Also the pirate ship Skullywag will be "docked" at the park for Kids Day.

The yearly event was originally started by Willis Howard "Snooks" Adams in 1954 when he took a group of local kids, by Jeep, to the south end of the Island for a cook-out.

For more information about the Privateers, visit their website at

Fire board reduces rate increase

BRADENTON – West Manatee fire commissioners, unhappy with a 4.13 percent increase for the 2011-12 assessment rates recommended by Chief Andy Price, lowered the rate to 3.75 percent.

"These rates are within the allowable limit of the Florida personal income growth factor," Price said in making his recommendation. "We have no other way to raise money."

"I can't go for it," Commissioner Jesse Davis declared.

"I can't support the recommended increase," Commissioner Randy Cooper added. "Given the times and situation, we need to compromise."

Commissioner Larry Tyler asked how much of an increase in dollars the 4.13 percent would be for homeowners, and Price said $12 or $13.

Price said the employees haven't had raises for two years, those in the Florida Retirement System now must pay three percent toward their pension and COLA is 1.7 percent.

"We're falling behind," he said. "These are hard decisions, but I don't want it to affect the employees any more than they're being affected already."

Davis said something else should be cut so the employees could get raises this year. He suggested a 3.75 percent increase.

Commissioner Scott Ricci suggested 3.5 percent and cutting the budget for the proposed Station 1 remodeling.

Davis made the motion for a 3.75 percent increase, and it was approved with Ricci dissenting.

Station 1 remodel

Price presented a guaranteed maximum price proposal from Ross Built for the remodeling of Station 1 in Holmes Beach. It was broken down into three categories: remodeling at $81,995.62, maintenance at $178,066.95 and new (sprinkler system) at $47,381.95.

Ricci said the sprinkler system is unnecessary and pointed out, "There is no practical reason to spend that money. The place is staffed 24 hours a day seven days a week with trained firefighters. It's throwing money away."

He said the money they don't spend on a sprinkler system could help in other areas of the budget. He also said they should consider just doing the maintenance work on Station 1 and eliminating the remodeling work.

"The remodeling is to create additional living space," Price responded. "If we don't resolve the space needs problems, it will cost more later."

Tyler added, "It's a dire need area. We can push off something else."

Commissioners approved the proposal for a total of $307,444.52 with Ricci dissenting. They also approved a bid of $38,500 from Sam Pletcher Electric Inc. for a generator for Station 1.

Fire district presents Civilian Service Award
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Jim O'Brien accepts a Civilian Service Award from Capt.
Chris Kiernan at last week's fire commission meeting.


Capt. Chris Kiernan, of the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District, presented a Civilian Service Award to Jim O'Brien, of Bradenton, at last week's fire commission meeting.

According to the award, O'Brien was working in his yard at 4201 15th Ave. W. when he heard children yelling frantically in the yard of a neighboring home. He investigated, observed a home on fire and made sure all the occupants were out of the home.

He returned to the kitchen, saw three- to five-foot flames coming from a burning pot of grease and covered the pot. He sent a bystander to call 911 and shut the power off to the home.

"The quick response of Mr. O'Brien helped prevent serious injury or loss of life to the children living in the house," Kiernan said. "His actions after the children were safely out of the structure prevented considerable damage to the home as well."



Cortez veterans remember WWII
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Longtime Cortez Park resident Harry Howey, left, served
in the Army while brother Samuel "Bill" Howey, right,
served in the Navy in World War II.

CORTEZ – It will be 70 years this year since World War II began for the United States, and only a handful of veterans from the historic fishing village of Cortez are left to remember.

They marched through the African desert with Patton, transported bombs across the Atlantic Ocean and flew Mustangs over Axis Europe.

After the war, two went back to commercial fishing in Cortez. One was a Cortez postmaster and one a Cortez trailer park operator. One became a rocket scientist at NASA.

Four didn't come back alive.

Their stories, and as many others as the Cortez Village Historical Society can uncover, will be preserved in a new museum planned at the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage FISH Preserve in the historic Monroe cottage, which was relocated from Bradenton Beach to Cortez in January.

When renovations are complete, part of the museum will be dedicated to family life and part to local military history, featuring memorabilia from five wars.

Cortez veterans remember

Albert G. Few Jr.

Even though his dad, "Tater" Few, was a fisherman, Cortezian Albert G. "Little Spud" Few Jr. always had airplanes, not boats, on his mind.

An Army Air Corps fighter pilot in World War II, he flew P-40 Warhawks and P-51 Mustangs over North Africa, Sicily and Italy and the F-86 Sabre jet in the reserves after the war.

He became an aerospace engineer, and worked on the design and development of the Saturn V missile program with rocket scientist and ex-Nazi Party member Dr. Wernher von Braun at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. after von Braun surrendered to American soldiers in 1945 and joined the Allied war effort.

Few, 90, enjoyed a long career at NASA; his last assignment was the Space Shuttle program. He is retired in Bradenton.

Wyman Coarsey

In Cortez, Wyman Coarsey is known equally as the former village postmaster and a mean harmonica player.

During World War II, he spent three years in the Navy on convoy duty in the North Atlantic.

"Eight trips over and eight back, and thank God for that last one back," he said.

Coarsey, whose uncle, James C. Coarsey, was killed in World War I and is memorialized on the Cortez fishermen's memorial, ended his Navy career in a heroic act.

"I found a man in our ship's paint locker and thought he was sleeping on the job," said Coarsey, who was a boatswain's mate at the time. "I got some ice water and poured it on his face about 20 feet below me, but he didn't move."

With the help of some crewmen, he got the man out.

"Three days later I come to in the hospital," he said. Both men had been overcome with carbon tetrachloride fumes – a cleaning fluid. Ever since, he's had a hoarse voice.

He was discharged on an auspicious date, "the day the Japs surrendered," he said. He is retired in Cortez.

Henry Clayton Adams

Henry Clayton "Jap" Adams, 90, served in the Army in Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Germany, Sicily and France during World War II, serving in Africa under Gen. George Patton.

He and all five of his brothers served in three service branches: Cleveland "Cubie" Adams, Clyde Dillard "Doc" Adams, Leon "Buddy" Adams, Willis Howard "Snooks" Adams and William Hugh "Man" Adams. His wife, Pauline Reynolds Adams, drove liberty trucks for the Marine Corps in North Carolina.

The four brothers who served in the Navy were separated because of the Sullivans, five Iowa brothers (George, Frank, Joe, Matt and Al ) who were killed serving on the same ship in 1942.

Even before the war, Jap was a hero. In 1940, he swam out to the Regina, a sinking molasses barge off Bradenton Beach, and saved two people from drowning in the storm.

His brother, Navy man Cubie Adams, survived the sinking of the U.S.S. Arizona by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 (Jap said his nickname has nothing to do with the Japanese, but with another Cortezian, Jap Thigpen).

His brother, Doc Adams, was shot down in a B-17, parachuted to the ground, was captured and became a prisoner of war in Germany.

Another brother, Snooks Adams, who died last year at age 92, also served in the Navy and was the first police chief in Holmes Beach.

Adams, a commercial fisherman, is retired in Bradenton.

Walter Bell

Walter Bell, who oversees operations at A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, served in the Merchant Marines in World War II, transporting everything from food to troops all over Europe, the South Pacific and the Caribbean.

"Load of potatoes one day, load of bombs the next," he said, adding that his ship also brought troops home from Europe. "A lot of big poker games then."

Bell's brother, Warren Bell, served in the Navy and was killed in action off Africa when shrapnel cut his throat, he said. He was listed as missing in action for a year or two before the family was notified of his death.

His name, along with four other veterans who died during wartime, is displayed on the Cortez fishermen's memorial in front of Star Fish Co., next to A.P. Bell Fish Co.

Harry Howey and Bill Howey

Harry Howey, originally from New Jersey, is an honorary Cortez native, having lived at Cortez Park for 52 years and running it for much of that time.

He served in Patton's Third Army in Europe in a cavalry unit that actually had horses when he first joined it, but quickly became mechanized. He vividly recalls running out of gas on the road to Berlin, a situation in which horses might have been preferable.

He served in Europe and was later transferred to Manila. En route, "they dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, so instead we came into New York City," he said. "I was one of the lucky ones."

His brother, Navy man Samuel "Bill" Howey, went in at age 17 and was based in San Francisco on sea duty patrol on destroyers in the Pacific. After the war, he worked with the Navy as a civilian in submarine sea trials.

Both are retired in Cortez.

Anyone with photographs of Cortez veterans or information on Cortezians in the military, including infamous Cortez nicknames, can call Mary Fulford Green, of the Cortez Village Historical Society, at 941-795-7121.

Historical Society awards scholarships
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Scholarship winners Ourania Lardas and Christopher Perez.

ANNA MARIA – Members of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society awarded $2,000 scholarships to two graduating seniors, Ourania Lardas and Christopher Perez, at their annual meeting last week.

Ourania is the daughter of Lisa and Steve Lardas, of Holmes Beach. She has had a dream to become a teacher since ninth grade when she mentored twin sisters.

She has been involved with the Island Community Center as a volunteer, coaching sports, helping with after school programs and coordinating events for many years. She was then hired as a counselor and works with children in the summer camp and after school programs.

In addition, in high school, she has been involved in early childhood education classes, volunteered with the pre-kindergarten and interned in a first grade class at an elementary school helping children with reading and writing skills.

She plans to get a bachelor's degree in elementary education at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers.

Christopher is the son of Donna and Gary Perez, of Anna Maria. In his freshman year in high school, he started his own tutoring company and also became a mentor to many students.

In addition, he developed a volunteer program teaching computer skills to senior citizens at the Island Community Center and spent many Saturday mornings helping seniors learn how to use the Internet, send e-mails and perform basic computer tasks.

He is a member of the National Honor and math honor societies, played football, was on the academics team, co-founded the physics club and is a member of the Spanish and writer's clubs.

He plans to get a bachelor's degree in psychology with an associate's degree in physics at Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Members also elected the following officers: Melissa Williams, president; Susan Anderson, vice president; Pat Copeland, recording secretary; and George McKay, treasurer; and board members Evelyn Hoskins, Mary Selby, Irene Pearman, Betty Yanger, Mary Jo Bopp, Ted Baird, Valerie Wilson and Arlene Clark.

City begins budget work

BRADENTON BEACH – The city commission wants to get a head start on this year's budget process to take care of an approximately $15,000 shortfall due to another expected drop in property tax income so it has scheduled a budget work session for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25.

In a memo to the commissioners and Mayor Bob Bartelt, City Clerk Nora Idso made some suggestions to balance the budget and have something left over to pay for capital improvement projects.

The first one is to raise the property tax millage, which has not been raised since 2002 when it went from $2.6820 per $1,000 of taxable value to $2.7288. The rate has been at $2.1539 per $1,000 since 2007. Idso said raising the rate to $2.1839 would bring in $11,699.

The second suggestion is to set aside some money from reserves to be designated specifically for a couple of large projects and the third is to find ways to have the beachfront property the city bought this year become a revenue generator. Idso said the $350,000 spent for that property has a large impact on the city's financial outlook.

This year, the city commission voted to do away with the city-owned sanitation department and hired an independent company to handle the task. Idso's memo said she has not figured out what impact that change would have on the new budget, which begins October 1.

Residents, property owners and business owners are welcome to sit in on budget meetings, as is the public in general. Call 778-1005 for more information.

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