The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 36 - June 22, 2011


No-kill advocates rally for Animal Services funding

Harry Stoltzfus

Supporters of a no-kill policy for animals taken
into Manatee County's Animal Services custody
wear green and wave at traffic as they gather
across the street from the county administration
building before a county commission
meeting last week.

BRADENTON – Bathed in a sea of green shirts and blouses, some 350 animal lovers gathered in front of the old county courthouse Thursday evening to protest their county commissioners, who appeared to be ready to cut pet adoptions from the Manatee County Animal Services budget.

Former Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore, who is now the chair of the commission, helped protestors organize and visited with them before the meeting. She applauded with the crowd when Humane Society of Manatee County Executive Director Denise Deisler announced they had received more than 1,000 letters and e-mails in support of the adoption services.

Many of the protestors carried signs. Wendy Scott's said "Saving $$ Shouldn't Cost Lives!!" Aly Francey, who charmed commissioners when she spoke at the work session later, carried one that said, "Keep adoption an option."

When the protestors got to the county commission, they filled the chambers and many signed up to speak. Francey, who volunteers for animal organizations, said she would hate to see all the work she had done "be wrecked."

Laurie Crawford, who has a long pro-animal history, said keeping the adoption services going would help in making the county a no-kill one for animals.

After the protestors made their point, Commissioner Joe McClash, who flagged the animal service budget for comment originally, joked about the turnout, which is usually dismal for a work session.

"All we needed was a controversy to get a crowd," he said.

McClash said he is proud of the county's new downtown adoption center, which he said is more visible than the county's main adoption center in Palmetto. He said he did not intend to kill the pet adoption portion of animal services when he flagged that part of the budget. He said he was looking into using pet stores to adopt the animals that the county takes in. Commissioner Donna Hayes, who also flagged that portion of the budget, said she did so to discuss outsourcing the adoption services as well. She and McClash agreed to "deflag" the item.

Whitmore said she would bring forward a "no-kill" suggestion after the commission settles on a budget and she told The Sun she was glad to see the controversy end as it did.

"The commissioners heard what the people were saying and acted," she said. "Now we have to work to make 'no-kill' a reality."

Shark fishing ban rejected

ANNA MARIA — A request from resident Joan Dickinson and a couple of her neighbors asking the city to consider a ban on shark fishing from the Rod&Reel and City Piers is not going anywhere fast.

Dickinson sent a letter to the city saying she swims along the shore from her residence on Tampa Bay, and she's concerned that with all the chumming for shark that takes place at the two piers, she may be in danger of being attacked.

Chumming is the practice of putting various types of food in the water to attract sharks and other fish.

In her memo, Dickinson alluded to a danger to the city from lawsuits should anyone be bitten by a shark near either of the piers.

A lawsuit isn't likely to go anywhere, though.

"I've talked to the Florida League of Cities, and they told me that it would be pretty tough for anyone to successfully sue the city over a shark bite," Mayor Mike Selby said. "Short of the city seeing huge schools of sharks swimming around and not telling anyone and inviting everybody to come on down and swim, there's just no way anyone could win a suit."

Selby said there are always sharks around in the bays off the Island and in the Gulf.

"We need to live with Mother Nature," he said.

Chumming for sharks has been practiced for centuries. The chumming attracts all kinds of fish, not just sharks.

There is no evidence to date that chumming is dangerous to swimmers, but it's common sense to stay away from areas where chumming is taking place, according to Chief Lifeguard Jay Moyles.

"Swimmers should avoid areas where there are a lot of anglers," he said. "Whenever there's bait available, whether it's chummed or naturally occurring, swimmers should avoid that area."

No shore fishing is allowed at any public beach, including Coquina, Manatee and Bayfront, Moyles said.

"We know swimming and fishing don't mix well," he said. "It's always best to swim where someone has their eye on the swimmers and on the waters so swimmers can be warned if there is a shark around."

Moyles, who has been with the county water safety division for 30 years, said he could recall two shark bite incidents.

"About eight years ago, a woman in shallow water was bitten by a small shark at Coquina Beach," he said. "Conditions were classic for a shark bite. The waters were murky, there had been a storm the previous day, the waves were breaking onshore mixing sand into the water making it more murky and there were baitfish around."

Moyles said the woman was kneeling in the water, using her arms to keep herself from toppling over.

When a shark sees arms moving around, the upper side of the lower arm is usually tan, with the underside of the arm lighter, just like the belly of a fish. And the hand can look like the tail of a fish to a shark, according to Moyles.

"She had on a shiny watch and bangle bracelets," he said. "Bright objects attract shark, because they think they're seeing fish scales.

So the shark goes after what it perceives to be a fish, but when they discover it's not what they wanted to eat, they lose interest as a rule and swim away.

Moyles recalled one other incident that happened several decades ago.

"A guy came into Fast Eddie's across from the city pier, and he said he was going to swim across to Passage Key," Moyles said. "Everyone told him that was a bad idea because of dangerous currents, among other things. The man didn't listen, and his body was found later washed up on shore. He'd apparently tried to tie a tourniquet around his leg to stop the bleeding, but he was dead."

The FWC is taking a look at the laws governing shark fishing in the state this month with an eye to updating old regulations in light of a body of new information about sharks that's evolving as scientists learn more.

There are work sessions all around the state. The one in our area is from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 23 at the Terrace Building, 101 S. Washington St., Sarasota.

Boat permits challenged


BRADENTON BEACH – There was tension in the air at the city commission last week as the mayor stared down the police chief over records kept of illegal activities among the boaters docked south of the Bridge Street Pier.

The showdown came as the commission discussed whether to repeal a resolution that would require those boaters to register with the city and pay a $15 fee to cover expenses.

The reason for requiring boaters to register, according to Police Chief Sam Speciale, was so the city would know who owns the boats out there in case one of them breaks loose from its anchorage or in case of impending storms.

That attempt, however, might have run aground because of a state law.

One of the boaters in the city found a law that prohibits governmental entities from restricting the rights of anchored boat owners by requiring them to register and pay, except for live-aboard boaters. The

definition of live aboards includes "vessels used solely as a residence and not for navigation, vessels used as a place of business or a profession or any other commercial enterprise and any vessel for which a declaration of domicile has been filed."

The city abandoned its attempts to turn the area in question into a municipal mooring field last year because of doubts about its viability during these economic times. But City Attorney Ricinda Perry said there was one way to get around that law – if the city had any record of trouble caused by the boaters in that area. Chief Speciale said that while they had some reports of problems with boaters there from time to time, there was no record of recurring problems. He said most of the reports they had of illegal activities there did not pan out and as a result, no police reports were processed. He said they had a list of unfounded reports, which he called intelligence, and he felt many of them should not be made public.

Perry and Bartelt talked about this case with Special Magistrate Harold Youmans, but the lack of documented problems with the boaters hindered their efforts to find a solution. Speciale suggested Youmans look at their intelligence files with Detective Lenard Diaz before Perry asked Youmans to conduct a court review, but Speciale said he was afraid of turning the material over to Youmans because it might become available to the public under the state's open records requirements. Perry wanted them to present a compilation of events to Youmans or to have Speciale testify before the magistrate.

After discussing what actions to take, the commissioners agreed to table the issue and put it on the next meeting agenda under old business.

In other action, the commission agreed to let Bridge Street Bistro have open-air dining under the elevated restaurant, where there is currently a parking lot. The new owners of the restaurant said they wanted to try it for 50 days to bring in some business and if it works, they would seek a permanent situation there.

City ponders county fertilizer ordinance

HOLMES BEACH - The Holmes Beach City Commission plans to ask Manatee County officials for suggestions on how the city can comply with the county's new fertilizer ordinance.

The Manatee County Commission passed a fertilizer ordinance on May 24 that regulates fertilizer application, but not sale, from June 1 to Sept. 30. The ordinance prohibits residents within the county from using fertilizer during the rainy season, when fertilizer runs off into waterways and impairs water quality.

City commissioners asked city attorney Patricia Petruff last week to draft a letter from Mayor Rich Bohnenberg to county officials acknowledging that the new ordinance applies to the city, but advising the county that Holmes Beach does not have adequate staff to enforce the ordinance.

"We don't have the manpower to do it," Commission Chair Sandra Haas-Martens said.

The city also plans to ask the county to suggest a procedure to use when people call the city complaining that the ordinance is being violated.

The city could take the position that if a complaint is filed, city employees could refer the complainant to the county to enforce the ordinance, Petruff said.

"You're not obligated to enforce it," she said. "It creates kind of a little quandary for intergovernmental cooperation."

The city commission also could decide to opt out of the ordinance, which does not go into effect until next year, she said.

Holmes Beach resident and ManaSota-88 Vice Chair Barbara Hines spoke against the ordinance at last month's county commission meeting, saying that on Anna Maria Island, vacation rentals that are empty in the summer months continue to have landscape companies spray fertilizer on their grounds all summer.

None of Anna Maria Island's three cities has passed a fertilizer ordinance.

In other business, the commission:

• learned that the lawsuit, James Perkins v. City of Holmes Beach et. al., has been dismissed.

• agreed to participate in a Southwest Florida Water Management District Interlocal Agreement for a countywide watershed evaluation study that will cost the city $25,000.

Drivers be alert around pier

Work continues on the boardwalk at the Anna Maria City Pier and motorists are advised to be careful when in the area.

According to a Florida Department of Transportation news release, the contractor will continue with the construction of the support structure for the boardwalk and the construction of the new shelters this week. Motorists can expect temporary intermittent lane closures along North and South Bay Boulevards. Flagmen will be present as needed. Pedestrians can expect to use alternate routes to access the pier during construction. Weather permitting, this project is anticipated for completion in October 2011.

Police say lock your doors

A rash of auto burglaries overnight in all three Island cities has prompted police to warn people to lock their cars.

"The majority of the cars that thieves break into are unlocked," said Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson. "The best rule to follow is to lock your car whenever you leave it."

Police reports since the Memorial Day holiday have shown a trend where burglars will work a residential area, pulling on car door handles until they find one that is unlocked. Once inside, they look for everything from stereos and other electronics to spare change in consoles.

In one case recently, the burglar broke into a car and, using the garage door opener, got inside the house where the homeowner lost several valuable items.

When possible, The Sun will identify whether a car's doors were locked when reporting car break-ins. Motorists who have lived on the Island a long time might remember when people generally left their cars unlocked with the windows down but those times are over, according to police.

"Don't leave your car unlocked and hide valuable items inside," Stephenson said. "If a thief sees something worth stealing, he might go ahead and bash out a window to grab it and run."

Waste contract goes back to drawing board

BRADENTON BEACH – The city commission wants to further discuss its relationship with Waste Pro before approving an ordinance giving them the exclusive contract to collect trash in the city.

Problems came up during the first reading of the franchise agreement ordinance, which allows Waste Pro to pick up residential trash exclusively, but allows commercial customers to choose other waste collectors.

The non-exclusivity of the commercial collection was a problem that Waste Pro manager Andy Toller addressed. He said he thought his company would collect all the trash in the city, but when he looked over the request for proposals (RFP) the city sent to potential franchisees, he thought it pertained only to residential.

"It doesn't exclude commercial," Toller said. "We agreed you didn't want to be in the business of collecting trash anymore."

Public Works Director Tom Woodard, whose department now runs the city's trash collection, said that they collect trash for all but two of the 12 commercial accounts and one of the other two, the BeachHouse restaurant, already uses Waste Pro.

"I felt the RFP was more for residential," said City Attorney Ricinda Perry. "According to Tom (Woodard), commercial is optional and the business customers but if the contract gives more to Waste Pro than the RFP called for, we could be sued by one of the other bidders."

Another problem Toller had was the fact that the commercial and residential customers of the city already paid up to the end of the year. The process to pay Waste Pro during that time had not been addressed in the contract.

The third point of contention was the contract's performance bond requirement. Toller said Waste Pro would rather not have to purchase a bond to cover the city in case they defaulted.

"If I have to purchase one, would I be able to adjust our prices to pay for it?" he asked. "I want you to know that we have never, ever failed."

Perry said they could establish a fund in case of failure and they agreed to do away with the bond.

The commissioners also discussed the proposed automatic renewal provision of the contract and whether customers who did not pay would lose their service and Toller said they would.

They finally agreed to continue the issue until the July 21 city commission meeting.

Preparations under way for BayFest

BayFest is expected to draw a crowd to
Anna Maria's Pine Avenue on Friday Oct. 14
and Saturday Oct. 15.

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Brockman has taken over the planning for BayFest, the annual event that generally marks the start of the festival season on the Island, and she says she's gotten off to a "huge start."

"We already have restaurants committing and new ones are inquiring," she said at the Chamber board meeting last week. "This year, we'll publish a booklet about BayFest with a map and a list of food, refreshments and music and we'll be selling advertising space in that booklet."

Brockman said she wants to promote the local stores along Anna Maria's Pine Avenue, where it is held, to the crowds, especially the wives of the men who enter their antique and modified cars and trucks in the car show.

"We'll have the DJ who plays music at the show promote those businesses that won't have the use of their parking spaces during BayFest," she said. "While the men stick with their vehicles, those wives could be shopping in those new stores."

County Commissioner Carol Whitmore asked if those businesses could advertise along the street, since automobiles and tents full of arts and crafts would be hiding them. Brockman said they would work something out.

In other news, businessman David Teitelbaum, a Chamber board member and a member of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, said most of the outside advertising spaces had been sold on the new trolleys. He said there are still quite a few interior spaces, which are affordable and a good place to advertise for small businesses on a budget. Teitelbaum is handling the sales of ads on the trolleys that will provide money to the county so it won't have to charge fares to ride the popular vehicles.

Brockman said that due to a lack of response, a Chamber cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel in November had to be canceled. Travel Now, of Bradenton, had put together the cruise as a fun time for members and a fundraiser for the Chamber, but without the advance sales, she was unable to reserve any rooms on the ship.

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