The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 4 - November 9, 2011


LaPensee new Chamber chair
Carol Whitmore

Karen LaPensee is sworn in as the new chair of the Island
Chamber by Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie.
New officers took over Monday night during the Chamber's
annual installation dinner.

Darcie Duncan was the star at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet Monday night, taking home the Rotary Club of Anna Maria's Businessperson of the Year award.

Duncan, owner of Duncan Real Estate, Inc., of Anna Maria, came onstage and accepted the award from Rotary Club President Melissa Williams and Chamber Board member Lynn Zemmer.

Duncan, who started in real estate 22 years ago, opened her business 10 years ago after learning the ropes at Smith Realtors and Fran Maxon. She said she had no idea she would win.

"I was completely blown away," she said. "I thought I was supposed to get (Anna Maria Oyster Bar owner) John Horne to the banquet so he could win an award and instead, it was their way to ensure I was there."

Following the presentation and dinner, the Chamber Board of Directors took the oath, presented by Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie. The board officers for 2012 are: Board Chair Karen LaPensee, Board Chair-elect Larry Chatt, Treasurer Lois Gift, Secretary Barbara Murphy. Board members are Wende Webb, Linda Dickson, Michael Vejins, Barry Grooms, David Teitelbaum, Lynn Zemmer, Ellen Aqualina, Joe Landolfi, Eric Cairns, Scott Rudacille and Lori Gysen. David Berube is an alternate and Cindy Thompson is the immediate Past Board Chair.

After that, the Chamber businesses of the year were announced. Galati Yacht Sales and Service won Large Business of the Year, Mike Sails won Small Business and the Medium Business award went to the Islander.

Plumber finds more than just leak
Carol Whitmore

Jerry Laliberte holds some of the cash he
found in a house on the Island after
open ing up an air-conditioning vent to
look for the source of a leak. He
immediatelty told the office and
turned the money over to the police.



HOLMES BEACH – Jerry Laliberte has taken a lot of things out a lot of holes in the wall, but nothing like what he found on Oct. 20 in a Holmes Beach house.

"I was looking for a water leak from the second floor to the first and didn't want to make a hole in the first floor ceiling, so I opened the vent return," the Air and Energy plumber said. "I found two packages that were camouflaged and shaped like bricks."

Laliberte said he opened up one of the packages and it contained $12,000 in cash and travelers checks. The other brick contained $8,000 more.

"I called the office and they called the police," he said.

The police took possession because Air and Energy did not want to be responsible for the cash while waiting for the house's owner to get it.

"It was absolutely shocking when he called," said Air and Energy Manager Stuart Moon, Jr. "We're so proud of Jerry and what he did."

According to the owners, they inherited the house from an aunt who had hidden money throughout the house because she didn't trust banks.

"They said the $20,000 was just a drop in the bucket," Laliberte said. "Twenty thousand dollars was a lot of money, and it wasn't in my hand very long."

Laliberte, 62, has worked for Air and Energy for eight years and he said he didn't hesitate to call his office because he wouldn't have been able to sleep at night if he hadn't. He said he had been at the unidentified house on a call before.

"I also do air conditioning and I've been in those ducts before to clean them," he said. "I never found anything like that, though."

Moon said he was happy to share the story with the press.

"It's a good story about somebody doing something good," he said. "It wasn't even a question for him to do the right thing."

ArtsHOP to take center stage

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Follow the map to the gallery wak destinations.

Anna Maria Island will be a sea of artistic activity this weekend as the Cultural Connections ArtsHOP begins Friday evening and runs through Sunday. To help you organize your artsy schedule, The Sun offers the following listing of all the events.

Friday, Nov. 11

• Gallery walk at The Studio Gulf and Pine, Ginny & Jane E's at the Old IGA, Emerson Quillin, The Village Café, Really Relish and Three Monkeys, all in Anna Maria; and Artists Guild Gallery, Anna Maria Island Art League, Island Gallery West and 12th and East Home at the Beach, all in Holmes Beach, 5 to 9 p.m.

• Pick up a passport at any participating gallery, get it stamped at eight or more of the artsHOP galleries and receive a coupon worth 20 percent off dinner at the Sandbar, BeachHouse or Mar Vista restaurants and a chance to win a $150 arts supply basket by turning in your stamped passport (location to be announced) by 8:45 p.m.

• Cultural Connections' raffle tickets for basket of gifts from local restaurants, businesses and organizations on sale at weekend's events.

Friday special events

• The Studio at Gulf and Pine, 10101 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, "Flow," Earth's Motion in Paint, 5 to 7 p.m.; AMI Chorus and Orchestra tenor and soprano performance, 6:30 p.m.; and Gulf Coast Writers sign copies of their new book, "as it is written...II," 5 to 9 p.m.

• Artists Guild Gallery, 5414 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, opening reception for watercolorist Charles Hlawatsch, 5 to 7 p.m.; State Road 64 plays bluegrass.

• Anna Maria Island Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach, opening reception for Island Visions and Celebrar el Sol, 5 to 9 p.m.

• Island Gallery West, 5368 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, meet the artists, 5 to 9 p.m.

• Island Playhouse, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, "Charles Lindberg – The Lone Eagle, " 8 p.m., $15, general admission, call 778-5755. Gourmet pastries and coffee available during intermission.

Saturday events

• Arts and crafts festival to benefit the AMI Butterfly Garden, Holmes Beach field, 5801 Marina Drive, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• AMI Historical Society and Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, boat show featuring Sam Cobb boat circa 1901, Sallie Adams 21' 1890's Cortez mullet boat, Elizabeth Ring 18' 1920's Manatee River sailing/rowing skiff, Esperanza 15' Cuban fishing/ refugee skiff circa 1940's, 402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Island Playhouse, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, "Charles Lindberg – The Lone Eagle, " 8 p.m., $15, general admission, call 778-5755. Gourmet pastries and coffee available during intermission.

Sunday events

• Arts and crafts festival to benefit the AMI Butterfly Garden, Holmes Beach field, 5801 Marina Drive, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Anna Maria Island Concert Orchestra and Chorus concert featuring selections from Bach and Beethoven, CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 2 p.m. $20 for open seating, call 778-8585.

• Drum circle, Manatee County Public Beach near the concession stand, 5:30 p.m. to sunset. The Anna Maria Island Beach Café will donate to Cultural Connections 10 percent of proceeds from food ordered during drum circle.

The weekend is sponsored by Cultural Connections, representing nine Island arts and cultural groups. For further information on the weekend events, go to

Island radio station to open

ANNA MARIA – The buzz on the streets is about to turn into the sweet sound of Island music.

In case you missed the upside-down ad in The Sun last week and in this week's paper, it's all about the buzz.

WAMI Radio is expected to hit the airwaves on Dec. 31, 2011. A low-powered radiostation, radios will be able to receive the signal from one end of the Island to the other and not much more than that, according to Robert and Casey Herman, who are behind the project. It will likely start as an AM station and expand to FM and soon after, Internet broadcasts. To start off, they're planning a few weeks of nothing but Island musicians playing Island songs.

"We're asking all Island performers who have CDs or other recordings of their songs to submit them," Casey said. "A lot of those who have already submitted have also sent personal information, and we would like to hear from more musicians because they are interesting stories we would like to share with out listeners.,

You can contact her at, or Robert at

Casey and Robert say it's all about fun, and they ought to know. They already own and operation Zegways by the Bay, a Segway rental company, and you might spot either or both of them leading tours up and down the Island. They feel Anna Maria Island deserves a radio station that is as fun as the Island. Casey said they operate out of Paradise Café, 3200 East Bay Drive, Holmes Beach, and can be found there from time to time.

Casey said they have already heard from a lot of people and they are compiling a database of people who have broadcasting experience, along with ideas on how to make this one-of-a-kind radio station enhance this one-of-a-kind Island.

"We're seeing people who have the same passion about this place and this project as we do," Robert said. "We will go live the first quarter of next year, and we want everyone to tune in, at the resorts and business and at home and in cars to make this their radio station."

So if the buzz on the street comes to pass, Anna Maria Island is about to develop its own sound and they want to make it a part of the Island lore that attracts so many vacationers and residents here.

As they say in radio, "Stay tuned."

Ungarelli Preserve plan approved
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

An aerial view shows the Ungarelli Preserve outlined in blue.

BRADENTON – The Manatee County Commission has unanimously approved the Environmental Preserve Management Plan for the Ungarelli Preserve.

The 35-acre preserve on the eastern shore of Palma Sola Bay at 4000 Palma Sola Boulevard has 24 acres of wetlands and will have a hiking trail and boardwalk leading to the bay, an observation platform, a kayak launch and trails, picnic shelters and two shell or grass parking lots with 12 parking spaces, according to the plan.

Upon completion of the kayak trails, kayakers can paddle from Ungarelli Preserve across Palma Sola Bay to Robinson Preserve and through it to the Manatee River and Tampa Bay.

The preserve will be fenced and gated, and will be open from dawn to dusk, with no lighting or restrooms, according to the plan.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District will contribute $150,000 for construction, expected to begin in January 2012.

The preserve, a memorial to Joseph Ungarelli Sr., was purchased from the Ungarelli family in 2008 for $150,000, made possible by the family's charitable donation of $150,000 to discount the purchase price. The idea was suggested by the Ungarelli's financial advisor, Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino.

Comp plan amendments approved

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners approved two ordinances amending the comprehensive plan regarding density in the residential/office/retail (ROR) and residential future land use categories.

The ordinance for ROR district was the result of court-ordered mediation from a lawsuit filed by William and Barbara Nally over construction in the ROR district, particularly parcels owned by Pine Avenue Restoration.

"They alleged that the approval violated the residential density limit of no more than six residential dwelling units per acre," City Attorney Jim Dye said in a memo to commissioners.

"The counter argument was that since the Pine Avenue project was built on lots which have been platted for generations, the lots are considered non-conforming or grandfathered and were therefore suitable for the approved construction."

The agreement required the amendment to clarify that the residential density in ROR is no more than six units per acre and that legally existing platted lots of record and parcels can be used for a mixed-use structure, which may contain one dwelling unit per lot.

The city received a letter of support for the amendment from the Nally's attorney, Jeremy Anderson.

The second ordinance addressed similar issues in the R-1 district in addition to cleanup language.

However, Dye pointed out, "It is important to realize that these changes will not affect how the city has been processing land use applications.

"It has always recognized platted lots as the basic building unit and it has always limited density to no more than six units per acre when previously unplatted land was platted for the first time."

Both amendments were sent to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (formerly the Department of Community Affairs) for review. The DOC will send them back to the city with comments and recommendations for any changes.

Mayor, commissioner say goodbye

BRADENTON BEACH – Mayor Bob Bartelt and City Commissioner Janie Robertson said goodbye during their last city commission meeting last Thursday night. There was applause from the larger than normal crowd and some tears from the elected officials as people voiced thanks for their service.

"I want to thank you very much for your service," said developer and tourism booster David Teitelbaum.

"You're a good example of what a public official should be," City Attorney Ricinda Perry added.

Bartelt and Robertson each got a colorful houseplant.

Former City Commissioner John Shaughnessy, the only person who applied to run for mayor, will take the reigns officially on Monday, Nov. 14, during the swearing-in ceremony. There is no replacement for Robertson yet, as nobody qualified to run for her seat, which she will have to leave due to term limits. The city commission will have to appoint a replacement for her during a meeting later this month.

Bartelt became mayor when Michael Pierce resigned due to family reasons. Bartelt had only been a city commissioner for a few months before Pierce left office.

In other news from the meeting, Perry told commissioners that she has received offers of help in preparing the city's case in a dispute with Holmes Beach over a fence erected north of the Sandpiper Mobile Resort that Holmes Beach residents say blocks golf cart ingress and egress to their homes along 26th Street. One was Chuck Webb, who represented the park in its request for ownership of the land three years ago. The city of Holmes Beach wants Bradenton Beach to take back that land. She said she would be talking with the attorneys involved in the case. She also sought and received permission to forego preparing a position paper on the case because she said it would just be an unnecessary cost.

Commission Gay Breuler asked about incoming Mayor Shaughnessy's involvement, since he is a homeowner at Sandpiper. Perry said he would have to recuse himself and turn the proceeding over to the vice mayor, who will be appointed after he takes office.

Public Works Director Tom Woodard asked for permission to clear some alleys where residents had allowed or even planted landscaping that has grown into the right-of-way. He showed pictures of one alley that was impassable. Some of the alleys in the residential part of town south of the S curve are for utility easements only but others are used by residents and sanitation collectors and they need to be passable, according to Woodard.

"This is in response to a request by a new resident," Woodard said. He added he felt this was a foreshadow of things to come.

Bartelt said he should inform homeowners of the need to clear the alleys before sending in city crews to do the work.

As the meeting drew to a close, Brueler again thanked Robertson and Bartelt for their service, especially Bartelt for his honor and grace. Commission Ed Straight also thanked Bartelt.

"I came in as a freshmen and you taught me everything I know," he said.

Pat Martin's mosaics a hit at Relish

Clockwise from right, Pat Martin shows Barbie Hall
Gummin her line of mosaic art, a selection of
candle holders sparkles, while shiny
blue ornaments are ready to dazzle any Christmas tree.

ANNA MARIA – Pat Martin was the first featured artist at Relish Vintage and Artisan Boutique on Pine Avenue last week.

Martin's selection of colorful mosaic art called From Bits and Pieces is one of the store's most popular offerings, said owner Rhonda Grote. Martin, who has done mosaic tile work for 15 years, began her new line about six months ago.

"I got bored with regular tile and grout," she explained, "and wanted to do something fun and creative. I take bits and pieces of shells, jewelry, glass, anything to give it a little flair. I love bringing all these different elements together.

Her offerings include tea lights, ornaments, clothes pins that can be used for place card or note holders, magnets, wine glasses that can be used as wine glasses or candle holders, buttons, coasters and beer bottles that can be used to hold soap, olive oil or any liquid. All are encrusted with bright colorful pieces of shells, jewelry and glass.

"Whenever I see something, I see it as a blank canvas," Martin said.

In addition to Relish, Martin's work can be found at the Island Fish Market in Holmes Beach, on, on her Facebook page, From Bits and Pieces or by calling her at 941-730-7700.

The first Wednesday of the month, Grote will showcase one of the artists that supply Relish with its unique items.

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