The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 13 - January 11, 2012


Port Dolphin delays project

Port Dolphin Energy has received a three-year extension to complete its onshore facilities, two years less than it requested after changing natural gas market conditions prompted the company to re-examine its project.

The deadline of Dec. 3, 2011, has been extended by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to Dec. 3, 2014, for the Houston-based company to complete the onshore part of its project at Port Manatee. The port would be the final destination of natural gas pumped through a planned 42-mile-long underwater pipeline connecting a submersible liquefied natural gas (LNG) port proposed for 28 miles off the northern tip of Anna Maria Island.

At the deepwater Port Dolphin, submerged buoys would rise to the surface to dock tankers that convert liquefied natural gas to vapor and offload it into the pipeline for distribution to Florida energy companies.

Port Dolphin, whose parent company is in Oslo, Norway, applied for permission to build the project in 2007, receiving a federal deepwater port license in 2010, a state environmental resource permit in 2011 and more than a dozen other permits ranging from air and water pollution variances and waivers to a permit allowing underwater construction noise that could disorient marine mammals and other marine life.

Changing market

But since 2007, the increased availability of natural gas in the U.S. has caused the company to shift its original plan – importing LNG from foreign sources and distributing it to Florida power plants – to a variety of import/export scenarios, including importing from U.S. sources, according to documents the company filed with FERC.

"Port Dolphin is actively working to adapt the commercial design of its project to the changing natural gas market in the U.S. Due to Florida's lack of indigenous gas production and storage capabilities, the project still has substantial commercial potential together with a unique ability to meet the natural gas needs of Florida," the company's attorneys wrote in its request.

They added that the company needs "time to market its modified business plan, to align upstream and downstream participants, and to construct the authorized facilities."

Upon completion, the attorneys wrote, "Port Dolphin will be positioned to receive LNG from any source, both from U.S. producers (where gas is priced better than gas from foreign suppliers) or from any other world market in the future (if the gas pricing situation reverses again)."

The project's groundbreaking date remains uncertain as Port Dolphin still awaits approval of necessary licenses, company spokesman Harry Costello said.

Settlements made

Meanwhile, Port Dolphin is upholding its agreement to pay Manatee County and Longboat Key for underwater beach sand reserves that would be lost during construction of the project.

The company agreed in 2009 to reimburse up to $5.5 million each to the county and the town for locating and mining sand after municipal officials argued that the fine, white sand in the path of the port and its pipeline would be destroyed during construction.

Under the agreement among Port Dolphin, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the DEP holds $1 million in escrow for the reimbursements. Port Dolphin has not yet escrowed the remaining $10 million.

Manatee County has received $320,000 for expenses in securing approval to excavate sand in advance of the pipeline construction, drawing from the $500,000 set aside for the county, according to Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County's Natural Resources director.

The next renourishment of Anna Maria Island beaches is not planned until at least 2014, depending on federal funding and permit approvals, he said.

Longboat Key has been paid $500,000 of the $1 million it has spent so far, said town Public Works Director Juan Florensa, adding that the town has beach renourishment projects planned in three areas, including one at the northern tip of Longboat Key.

Other objections

Loss of sand is not the only objection the company has had to overcome.

Environmental and other groups expressed concerns about impacts on water and air quality, wetlands, navigation, fisheries, marine mammals and sea turtles. A competing pipeline company also objected to the project.

Anna Maria Island residents were concerned about visual blight until the company made assurances that the port's equipment would be submerged most of the time.

Port Dolphin also was required to alter its original pipeline route to avoid Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve.

Trend of manatee deaths continues
Carol Whitmore

Swimmers off Anna Maria Island are pleasantly surprised
by the namesakes of Manatee County frolicking nearby.


For three years in a row, endangered manatees have died in record numbers in Florida waters, with 2011 ranking second with 453 documented dead manatees, according to state wildlife officials.

The number is down from a record 766 in 2010, which shattered the 2009 record of 429 deaths, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Cold-related deaths accounted for 112 deaths in 2011, 282 deaths in 2010 and 56 deaths in 2009, according to the FWC. In the previous five years, cold accounted for an average of 30 manatee deaths per year.

Manatees are affected by cold when water is in the 60s and below; local water temperatures dropped into the 50s this week.

Of the six manatee deaths documented in Manatee County in 2011, two were from cold stress, one was from a watercraft strike and two were from undetermined causes. One was unrecovered, so the cause of death is unknown. The death toll is down from 15 countywide last year.

Statewide, 88 manatees were killed by watercraft in 2011. Boaters are cautioned to watch for manatees and observe manatee slow speed zones.

A year ago, in January 2011, researchers counted 4,834 manatees in a two-day statewide survey of the marine mammals, down from 5,076 the previous year. This year's count has not yet been scheduled.

The manatee is listed as endangered under both federal and state endangered species laws, but repeatedly has been considered for downlisting to threatened status by both federal and state regulators.

"We are concerned about the number of manatee deaths the past three years, including those resulting from exposure to cold weather," Gil McRae, director of the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, wrote in a press release.

"Over the next few years, we will use data from monitoring programs to better understand any long-term implications for the population. We will continue to work with our partners to enhance the availability of natural warm-water sites, which are important habitats for the species' survival."

To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Florida residents can help manatees by purchasing the manatee specialty license plate, available at county tax collectors' offices. The funds collected for these plates go directly to manatee research and conservation.

Sun photo helps save the day

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This photo of Jerome Butler and
his double bass helped police recover
the instrument after it was stolen.

A nationally acclaimed double bassist who performed Nov. 13 with the Anna Maria Island Concert Choir and Orchestra and whose picture was featured on the front page of The Anna Maria Island Sun Nov. 16 got his instrument back after it had been stolen, thanks in part to that picture.

Jerome Butler said it all began Dec. 18, when he was driving on State Road 301 in Sarasota County. His 1998 Ford Windstar stalled on him and he left it in a church parking lot to call for help. The double bass was in the back.

"It's an old car and the passenger-side lock doesn't work, so I left it unlocked," he said. "When I returned from the pay phone, the car was gone."

He was stunned.

"I said to myself, 'How can this car be gone? It's massive,'" he said. "Police said the van must have sat long enough that it would start again."

He has owned the double bass for more than 20 years, and he has become a world-renowned performer with it.

"When I realized the instrument was gone with the van, I was sick," he said, "It's like a parent who finds out his son or daughter is missing."

Butler, who works at Sam Ash Music in Sarasota told his fellow workers to keep and eye out for the instrument and a couple of days later, somebody called the store to ask about an appraisal on a double bass.

"I was supposed to be at work later that day, so the employee called the suspect and told him to come in later with the instrument," he said. "I was there when he brought it in, and my manager called the police. They said to stall him, so I did my best, and about the time I was running out of ways to stall him, a policeman came in."

The policeman confronted the suspect and then told Butler he needed a way to identify the instrument as his.

"I remembered the front page picture in the newspaper and sent an employee to fetch it from my wife at home," Butler said. "He brought it back and the policeman confirmed it as mine."

That sinking feeling went away for Butler.

"As soon as they all left, I dropped to my knees," he said.

Butler could not estimate the value of his double bass. He only said it was priceless. He also found his missing van by combing the neighborhood, and when the police investigated, they said the car had been ransacked, and everything was still there, except for the double bass. He said one of the police officers looking for the instrument was also a musician, so he was motivated to find it.

Butler said he was thankful that he has his instrument back and he learned one thing.

"Don't give up."

Taylor county employee of month
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Mark Taylor rakes Anna Maria Island's beaches
for Manatee County.

Clean beaches don't just happen; seaweed, used diapers, dead fish, cigarette butts and a blue million of those little plastic bucket handles seldom bother beachgoers thanks to Mark Taylor.

A former Cortez commercial fisherman, Taylor keeps Anna Maria Island's Gulf beaches clean with a tractor rake, and people are noticing. He is the Manatee County Employee of the Month for January, and last month, he was honored for his service by the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department.

Nicknamed "Little Rusty" for his dad, Earl "Rusty" Taylor, Mark served as state president and local chapter director of the Organized Fishermen of Florida during the fierce battle against banning commercial gill nets in the early 1990s. The ban was enacted by constitutional amendment in 1995, putting Taylor and much of Cortez out of work.

After working as a truck driver and motorcycle instructor, Taylor came on board with the county Parks and Recreation Department 10 years ago to stay close to the water.

But it's no day at the beach.

The day after Fourth of July and New Year's Eve fireworks, three-day weekend trash and dead fish from red tide are the worst, along with holes dug in the sand that can entrap sea turtles, people and his tractor, which used to be an open cab, ensuring a facial sand blast on windy days.

Anything the rake won't pick up must be picked up by hand. Sea turtle nests and tracks must be avoided, as must oblivious beachgoers who walk in front of the big, green tractor or in back of it while it's beeping.

He works with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch to keep sand shelves graded like ramps for easy sea turtle access during nesting and hatching season, May 1 to Oct. 31, on Anna Maria Island, which Taylor still pronounces Anna Mar-eye-ah.

If you lose something on the beach, it would be wise to go back soon to look for it; Taylor will leave certain items out a day or so before picking them up. But don't wait too long because, as he says, "I hate trash."

Dick Hyman opens concert series at Roser
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Dick Hyman will play jazz arrangements of
the great American songbook at Roser on Jan. 21.


ANNA MARIA – Roser Memorial Community Church welcomes world-renowned pianist and composer Dick Hyman as the first musician in its concert series, which kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Hyman's musical career began in the 50s and includes film, orchestra and chamber music compositions; concert appearances and more than 100 albums. He served as music director for Arthur Godfrey and orchestrated the hit musical, "Sugar Babies."

His albums feature variations on the great American songbook – the music of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and George Gershwin, as well as the early jazz and ragtime of Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton.

Hyman wrote the music for many of Woody Allen's films including "Zelig," "The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Broadway Danny Rose," "Stardust Memories," "Hanna and Her Sisters," "Radio Days," "Bullets Over Broadway," "Mighty Aphrodite," "Everyone Says 'I Love You,'" "Sweet and Lowdown," "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and "Melinda and Melinda," in addition to other films.

He currently performs throughout the United States, Europe and Canada. At Roser, he will be performing jazz arrangements of the great American songbook and also some ragtime.

Series developed

Roser's Music Director Jim Johnston, who has been at the church for about a year, developed the series, and explained, "I've done it at other churches, and my main profession was in music management, so I have the contacts."

Johnston began his career as the executive director of the Southwest Florida Symphony in Ft. Myers. He then served as director of music for a large Presbyterian church in Bonita Springs that seated 1,400 people in its sanctuary. There he developed a seven-event concert series

Upon moving to Manatee County, he became the director of music at First Methodist Church, where he continued an established concert series, which included winners of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and then he came to Roser.

In developing the concert series, he said, "I tried to have as great a variety as I could – jazz, classical and folk."

The other musicians in the series are the principal players of the Sarasota Orchestra on harp and flute on Sunday, March 4, and the Wyndbreakers, an Irish and Scottish instrumental and vocal group on Saturday, March 24,

"The series is an outreach program of the church. We had a fund-raising concert, and some members of the church have pledged to be patrons," Johnston said.

"The concerts are free, but there will be a free will offering. We want people to come, and we hope they will contribute what they can afford."

All concerts will be held in the church sanctuary at 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, and the doors will open an hour before the concerts begin. Following each concert, people are invited to meet the artists at a reception at the Village Café across the street. The $5 fee will include dessert and coffee or tea.

Dolphin Dash takes center stage

HOLMES BEACH – The weekend gets off to an energetic start Saturday morning, Jan. 14, with the Sixth Annual Dolphin Dash at Anna Maria Elementary School.

Conceived by parent Rebecca Walter as a way to get kids into a healthy lifestyle, the race gets more popular each year as more children and adults sign up. This year, Walter said initial signups are running above last year's.

"I am thrilled to report many of the runners are new to the race, with several returning runners," she said. "I am so excited to have been contacted by lots of kids who attend King who are coming back to run the race or who are running for the first time."

While it is billed as a run, Walter said everyone is welcome.

"I have had several calls from people interested in walking," she said. "We do encourage walkers as well as runners.

There are two races: a 5K and a one-mile race through the streets of Holmes Beach. The 5K begins at 8 a.m. and the one-mile at 9 a.m. Runners can sign up and pick up their packets starting at 7 a.m., but they'll save money if they sign up early.

Pre-registration is $20 for adults, $18 for Bradenton Runners Club members and $10 for runners 18 and under. Race day, the costs rise to $25 for adults and $15 for kids. You can sign up at You can also pickup your packet early at Holy Cow, 3234 East Bay Drive, Holmes Beach.

This year, Walter said the Back Alley, in Bradenton Beach, is providing bagels from Morty's Bagels in Palmetto, and there will be coffee and hot chocolate and other goodies available after the race.

Students at the elementary school train during the year during practice runs behind the school on Wednesday mornings, before begins begins. Kids who attend a certain number of practices and run a minimal distance qualify for Dolphin Dash laces for their running shoes.

Walter, whose last two children (twins Annie and Tory) graduate this year, now works as a teacher at another Manatee County school. She says she will continue to support the Dolphin Dash because she believes it makes kids more exercise-conscious. She said she still gets tears in her eyes as she watches youngsters cross the finish line. She and her family also participate in the races.

For more information, call Walter at 941-320-1382.

Five candidates seek four FISH board seats

The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board has unanimously accepted the 2012 slate of candidates for officers and membership on the board.

The five candidates for the four open board seats are four incumbent board members – John Banyas, Kim McVey, Jane von Hahmann and David Zaccagnino – and FISH volunteer Marshall Fisher.

Five candidates seeking one of the four officer positions are incumbent President Kim McVey, Treasurer Jane von Hahmann and Secretary Joe Kane, running unopposed, and board members Debra Ibasfalean and Bob Landry seeking the office of vice-president. The annual FISH meeting and election is Monday, March 5.

New director at AMI Art League

Christina Reginelli hopes to increase fundraising,
give the League a facelift and expand its
summer programs.

HOLMES BEACH – Christina Reginelli's first few months as the new director of the Anna Maria Island Art League have been a baptism by fire, but that has only fueled her enthusiasm.

"My first week we had the faculty show," she said, "and I got to meet the faculty members and see their work. Next was artsHOP weekend, which was great because I got to meet people involved in Island arts and culture, and then came Winterfest."

Although Colin Bissett, the League's director of festivals, is in charge of Winterfest, Reginelli helped with computer work and volunteered during the event.

"It was my first time at a festival like that," she said. "I got to meet so many of the local artists and see their work."

"Then we had the Richard von Ende's show (of three-dimensional, abstract, color field optics). It was very different, but it was well received, People had a lot of good things to say about it."

Reginelli, whose own work also is abstract, received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. and traveled to Berlin, Germany for an international artist's residency. Then she returned to her hometown of Ithaca, N.Y. and opened a gallery with a friend.

"There are so many vacant storefronts there," she recalled. "We offered to fix up one of them in trade for a place to have shows. We had four shows there."

However, The cold, grey winter weather was wearing thin with Reginelli, and she made the decision to move the Sunshine State.

"I have family in Tampa – an aunt and uncle and a goddaughter, and a friend from college works at an advertising firm in Sarasota," she explained. "I moved in with my friend in Sarasota in September and saw the ad for the Art League job on Craig's List."

And as they say, the rest is history. At the League Reginelli is in charge of classes, workshops and exhibits. In the future, she said she hopes to increase fundraising, give the League a facelift and expand its summer programs.

"The board members are excited about sharing their ideas," she said. "We're at the stage of picking and choosing what events will happen.

"I really like working here because you meet so many people with different stories and from so many different backgrounds."

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