PHOTO COURTESY ED STRAIGHT
Wilbur the baby pig has temporary lodging at Wildlife, Inc.
in Bradenton Beach. Ed and Gail Straight are caring for the little
animal after he was liberated from a boat off Beer Can Island.
How do you potty train a baby pig? That's a question that Captain Kim Ibasfalean and her family in Cortez are working on lately.
It seems Kim's son, Michael, 17, was out on a boat with a girlfriend recently near Beer Can Island at the south end of Anna Maria Island.
"The way I understand it is that there were some people who were pretty drunk on a boat there," Capt. Kim said. "The people had baby pigs, and the kids asked if they could hold the little piglets."
Ibasfalean said that somehow, the girl talked the boaters into giving her the pig, which is now residing in a corner of the Captain's living room.
Another of the pigs ended up at Wildlife, Inc. in Bradenton Beach.
"Someone dropped the pig off, and we'll care for it until we find it a good home," Gail Straight said.
Both babies are doing well and appear to be pot bellied pigs, according to Ibasfalean's vet.
"I hope that's what they are," Ibasfalean said. "And I hope they're the very small kind. I understand there are large potbellies and then a very small type. I'm so attached to this little pig. He's my baby."
The Ibasfalean pig has been named Bacon, but no one has any plans of turning the little guy into breakfast – or lunch or dinner, either.
"Absolutely not!" Captain Kim said. "People have offered to take Bacon off my hands, but when I ask what they plan to do with him, they all say they'll raise him for food!"
The Straight pig, named Wilbur, will also never be on anyone's plate, if his foster mom has anything to say about it.
"We'll keep him as long as it takes to find a good home where he can go and live out his life as a pig," Gail Straight said fiercely. "No one's going to eat this pig."
In the early days of the pig story, there were rumors that the boaters had thrown the piglets into the water. That raised concerns about whether the pigs would have drowned.
The pigs would not have drowned. It turns out that pigs can swim. Google "Can pigs swim," and see what pops up. That's some interesting information.
It also turns out that the pigs are very clean and easy to potty train.
"We've had only a few accidents with little puddles here or there," Captain Kim said. "But he's really catching on."
Bacon takes several walks a day with his new family.
"He has a rhinestone collar and leash," foster mom Kim said. "He walks very well on his leash.
He has several outfits that he wears for various occasions.
"He's my baby," Ibasfalean said. "My husband said I don't care about him or the kids anymore. I only care about my pig."
She said that she's surprised by how attached she's grown to little Bacon.
"I really adore him," she said. "I hope, I hope, I hope that he is the kind that stays little. I can't imagine feeling the same way about a 300-pound pig. And they say the smaller type of pot bellied pig stays cute even as an adult."
At first, Ibasfalean said she was feeding Bacon with cow's milk.
"I didn't know any better, but Gail told me what to feed him," she said.
The Wildlife, Inc. pig is living among a large variety of rescued creatures. He is ensconced in the area where the food for the various residents of the rescue facility is prepared.
"He's pleasant to have around," Straight said. "He plays with his toys and sleeps a lot."
The little guy wags his skinny, curly little tail whenever someone talks about him or to him.
"He uses that tail just like a dog," she noted. "It's always wagging when anyone's around."
The only resident of the Wildlife facility that is not pleased about the presence of Wilbur is the cat, an orange, formerly feral feline who now lives with the Straights.
"That cat is so friendly, you'd never know it was feral at one time," Straight said. "But there is no love wasted on the pig. The cat just doesn't approve of the pig."
Wilbur is accumulating some toys as people learn of the pig in residence and drop things off for him.
The only troubling note for Wilbur is that there don't seem to be a lot of spiders in the area where he hangs out.
One might hope that he would someday have a spider friend named Charlotte in his life, but that appears to be something that's not going to happen.
Meanwhile, Bacon has already gotten his Halloween costume lined up.
Ibasfalean said that her two sons had gotten the little porker a skeleton outfit.
"It glows in the dark," she said.
Maybe the two pigs can learn to herd Wildlife, Inc.'s rescues like Babe and her sheep. Or hmmm. Wonder if since those pigs can swim – maybe they can learn to fly?
Baking champ Andrea Spring will host the first-ever pie
contest at Bayfest this Saturday on Pine Avenue
in Anna Maria.
SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT
ANNA MARIA– Those who have been to more than one Bayfest might notice that they keep getting bigger and better and that should be the case this weekend.
This year, there is a new item on the menu of events – pie. The Island's award-winning baker, Sign of the Mermaid co-owner Andrea Spring, is hosting a first-ever pie contest. There is no charge to compete, but you'd better fill out an entry form now, while there's still time. Turn in your pies from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the restaurant, 9707 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Awards will be presented on the main stage at 2:30 p.m.
Bayfest 2011 runs from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, with music, food, refreshments and some shopping vendors for the Friday night crowd and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria with fun for everyone.
"I got Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland, Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt to judge the Miss Anna Maria Pie," said Spring. "That pie will represent the Island for the next year. "
There will be food from many of the area's best outlets including Island restaurants, caterers and operations that serve at many of the events on the Island as well. plus refreshments.
There's plenty to do for the youngsters at Kidfest, an area with rides games and other treats across the street in the Roser parking lot. This year, AMI Fitness is sponsoring Kidfest.
Don't forget the car show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Check out the classic, antique and high-performance rides from local collectors, restorers and builders.
Bayfest is a fund-raiser for the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce. Sponsors include The Anna Maria Island Sun, Miller Electric, Waste Pro, LaPensee Plumbing, Anna Maria Island Resorts, Air and Energy, Casa Del Mar, Anna Maria Island Historical Society, Whitney Bank, Thompson Academy, Island Scooter Store, Waste Management, The Bradenton Herald and AnnaMariaIsland-LongboatKey.com.
HOLMES BEACH – Bradenton Beach officials plan to consider a proposal this week by Holmes Beach officials to address a dispute over a gate that Sandpiper Resort added to a fence along the 27th Street boundary between the two cities.
Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt said he plans to consult with the city's attorney, who was out of town last week, and hold a special work session of the Bradenton Beach Commission to discuss Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger's proposed resolution.
"We're certainly not taking anything off the table," Bartelt said. "We would like to resolve this as quickly as possible, but there are a lot of legal ramifications."
Holmes Beach residents have complained that the addition of the gate, whether locked or unlocked, as it is now, impedes public access to Sandpiper, businesses to the south and the beach access at the west end of 27th Street.
At a recent Holmes Beach Commission meeting, Bohnenberger suggested that Sandpiper, which installed the gate this summer to deter wheeled vehicles from entering the 5 m.p.h., 55 and over mobile home park, give 27th Street back to Bradenton Beach.
He also suggested that keeping the fence would be acceptable if the gate, along with another gate in the fence, is removed and the openings were made wide enough for golf carts to pass through. In addition, the "no trespassing" and "private property" signs should be removed from the fence, he said.
Bartelt said he is willing to consider Bohnenberger's proposal, but that the two cities are not the only parties in the dispute – Sandpiper Resort owners also are parties.
"I hope we can accommodate all parties concerned," he said. "I hope we can solve it without resorting to legal tactics because that's just going to be costly for everyone and cause hard feelings."
Bradenton Beach vacated and relinquished 27th Street to Sandpiper in 2008, but Holmes Beach City Attorney Patricia Petruff said that her research indicates that the street is a public right of way and should not have been given to Sandpiper.
Petruff said that property owners are encroaching into the 27th Street right of way, and that Bradenton Beach could issue a right of way use permit to those property owners to solve that problem.
Every property owner on 27th Street has a claim for the devaluation of their property, Bohnenberger said.
Last month, Holmes Beach commissioners discussed initiating a conflict resolution proceeding with Bradenton Beach, but reconsidered after Bartelt told commissioners he had just learned of the problem and needed time to investigate.
Holmes Beach commission candidate Jean Peelen said the city should not spend any tax money on the issue, which she said has changed from an access issue into a property ownership issue.
"I think that's a 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral' issue and it should have been litigated three years ago," when the street was relinquished, she said.
Public money is intended to be spent to protect the public, Bohnenberger said.
BRADENTON – After hearing a presentation on consolidation from their chiefs, West Manatee and Cedar Hammock fire commissioners gave themselves 90 days to decide whether to pursue the issue.
Chair Steve Litschauer, of the Cedar Hammock Fire Commission, said he brought up the idea of consolidation because its a hot topic in government and "we can either hide our heads in the sand or we can approach it." He said the commission chairs and the chiefs of the two districts met three times to develop the presentation.
Chief Randy Stolce, of Cedar Hammock, said the two reasons for consolidating are to increase the level of service and to provide cost savings to the citizens. The group evaluated the organizational structures and taxing methods of each district and then developed an organizational structure and taxing options for a combined district.
"The biggest area is the tax roll and assessments, and it needed to be looked at immediately," Chair Larry Tyler, of the West Manatee Fire Commission, explained.
West Manatee is funded by assessment with a base rate and a square footage rate over 1,000 square feet. Cedar Hammock is funded by a combination of assessment with a square footage rate for commercial, which provides two thirds of the funding, and ad valorem, which at 1.0 mils provides one third of the funding.
Calculating tax rates
Chief Andy Price, of West Manatee, said they identified 40 parcels in each district that represented a cross section of use type, size and value. Then they combined the budgets of the two districts to see what revenue would be needed and developed two potential taxing methods.
He showed charts listing the types of parcels, their square footage, market value and taxable value and what the taxes would be in each district plus what they would be using a blended method and a modified method.
The results were mixed with some owners paying more and some paying less than they currently pay, and Price noted, "The ad valorem has been the struggle – to come up with the least impact on the property owner."
Given the size of the districts, their budgets are nearly identical, Price pointed out. West Manatee's operating budget is $5.4 million, and Cedar Hammock's is $7.3 million.
West Manatee covers the Island, northwest Bradenton and Cortez with three stations and 43 personnel. Cedar Hammock covers the south part of the county with seven stations and 95 personnel. Price said they determined that two staff members would be eliminated if the districts merge.
"Randy and I will do what you want, but we need a clear vision of where we're headed, and we have to agree on what level of service we'll provide," Price told the boards.
"The two boards have to make a decision," Litschauer added. "Become educated; look at the facts. If one board says no, we'll stop. If both boards say yes, we'll go the next step, which is determining the cost, but the final decision is with the voters."
HOLMES BEACH – Business owners gathered Monday to discuss forming a downtown Holmes Beach merchant's group to attract customers to the city's main business district.
About 50 people attended a complimentary lunch at Eat Here and shared ideas such as adding crosswalks, sidewalks, decorative lamp posts, rustic wooden direction sign posts, banners, hanging flower baskets and other features to better define "downtown" Holmes Beach.
Amy Welch, of Acqua Aveda, who is organizing the group with members of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, said she has been watching the success of the other Island merchant organizations, Anna Maria's Pine Avenue Restoration and NEMO (North End Merchants Organization) and Bradenton Beach's Bridge Street Merchants.
"The mission is to increase commerce and downtown beautification. We can get people to stop and shop here," said Welch, who drew up rough boundaries for the downtown area, from the Time Saver, 5353 Gulf Drive; to Island Real Estate, 6101 Marina Drive; to the Driftwood Motel, 5108 Gulf Drive; and counted 81 businesses.
The group could create a website, a Facebook page and rack cards for the Chamber to distribute, she suggested, adding that the group also could work with the other Island groups to produce a calendar of Island events.
Organizing a third Thursday-type event also could draw people downtown, said Jessica Holmes, one of the group's organizers. The event could be tied into the second Friday art gallery walk during season, Joan Voyles said.
Increasing street life with outdoor dining and events would create energy in the district, said Sean Murphy, owner of Eat Here.
The group plans to meet again on Monday, Nov. 7, at noon at Eat Here.