The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 16 - February 1, 2012

headlines

Off Duty
Carol Whitmore

She was about to make a young Jay Moyles wonder
why he signed up to be a lifeguard.

The nine-year-old girl was swimming in Sarasota Bay when she got caught in the current that swept her through Longboat Pass and spit her out into the Gulf of Mexico.

She was about to make a young Jay Moyles wonder why he signed up to be a lifeguard.

He jumped in with his swim buoy trailing behind him, swam out to the girl and turned his head to grab the buoy.

The panicky girl grabbed a handful of his long, curly hair in each hand and pulled herself up his body as if it were a ladder.

After prying her hands loose, he helped her jump across the sandbars to a place where they could make it to shore outside the current's grasp.

When they hit the beach, the girl finally unclenched her fists. Two bloody handfuls of his hair were in her palms.

It was the day he realized he could die on the job, said Moyles, who retires after 31 years on Feb. 1 as Chief of the Marine Rescue Division of Manatee County's Public Safety Department.

No day at the beach

Other than the beautiful waterfront view from the office window, being a lifeguard is no day at the beach, with roasting summer sand, icy winter water, windburn, sunburn, blinding glare, skin cancer and scars from rock rescues. Add the strain of hours of constant vigilance followed by deliberately running into scenes of life and death chaos, and it's a wonder anyone applies for the job.

But few careers can match the rewards.

Moyles recounts the first life he saved in his early career as if it happened yesterday.

A man collapses on the beach. His wife screams. His lips are blue. His pulse is gone. Moyles starts CPR rescue breaths and pumps his chest. In the background, he hears a minister praying. Suddenly, the man gasps a deep breath.

Moyles reaches inside a Styrofoam cooler, feeling for the dime taped to the inside. He gives the dime to a bystander and tells him to find a pay phone and call an ambulance. The man survives.

Lifeguarding has improved with technology. Instead of a dime taped inside a cooler, lifeguards have cell phones, radios, the Internet, and ATVs and Jet Skis.

There are latex gloves and breathing masks and defibrillators and oxygen machines and boards to stabilize patients for transport to hospitals. There is a new Marine Rescue Facility in Bradenton Beach across Gulf Drive from the Coquina Beach main lifeguard tower, in large part thanks to Moyles' efforts.

But with all the new technology, it's an experienced, calm, take-charge lifeguard who finds the lost children, spots the people who have overestimated their swimming ability and warns them to take it easy, and pulls people out of rip currents on days they never should have been swimming.

"There is no technology that can replace a lifeguard," Moyles said. "When you're out there screaming, 'Oh, God,' God intervenes and sends you a lifeguard."

Other things have complicated lifeguarding in the past three decades.

There is gang training, since a shooting at Coquina Beach that resulted in a new parking lot design to prevent "cruising." There's SCUBA and rescue dive training. PADRE training (Passenger Aircraft Disaster Response Exercise) in case an airplane crashes into the water. Ambulance driver training. Hurricane response training. EMT training. Terrorism training. SABER training (Special Activities Bicycle Emergency Rescue), where he learned to respond to emergencies in crowds by using a bike in places emergency vehicles can't reach.

Then there is the training lifeguards give others, about surviving rip currents, reading beach flags, treating stingray and jellyfish stings and beach safety (Rule No. 1 – swim in a lifeguarded area).

Some things never change, he said.

Poor swimmers still buy the cheapest rafts to keep them afloat. Parents still think water wings will stay on a child slathered with sunblock. There's still no air conditioning in the lifeguard stands. The county keeps luring half a million tourists to the beaches each year while cutting lifeguard positions.

And there has never been a way to leave the job at the beach at the end of the day.

Time to call it a day

With memories of close calls both of beachgoers and of co-workers, "I want a job I don't have to take home with me," Moyles said.

Lifeguards have a realistic career expectancy of 25 years, he said. He's leaving the beach at age 52 to begin other ventures, perhaps as a cook at a Florida ranch, perhaps doing calligraphy or maybe learning to fly fish.

He wants to leave at the top of his game, before his patience wears thin and one of the 3 million people who visit the beaches each year becomes obstinate and makes him lose his calm, even temper.

"I've loved working for the county, and they're lucky to have such a good staff," Moyles said.

There's no word on who might replace Moyles, he said, adding that with recent staff cuts from 18 to 12, he hopes his salary can pay for one or two more lifeguards.

They had better be ready to fill some big flip flops.

As Moyles says, "When you're at your worst, we're at our best."

Tebbetts Field to host pros at charity game

HOLMES BEACH – Pro baseball players Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays and Marco Scutaro of the Colorado Rockies will be among the pros playing in a charity softball game on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Birdie Tebbetts Field.

The first organized game in recent memory at the field, which is primarily used as a dog park, will benefit the Manatee Twisters 8 and under traveling girls' team and the Women's Resource Center.

The team needs uniforms, travel money, and money to pay for the lights at their home field in Bradenton, said team mom Karen Abel, a Holmes Beach resident who organized the game, adding that both organizations strive to make women and young girls positive, strong and independent.

The former Twister team turned 9 and moved into a new division, so the girls are a new team and will age together and play into their teen years, said Abel, who works at Body and Sol in Anna Maria. The Twisters were established in 1998.

The girls will play on mixed teams with Bautista, an American League two-time homerun leader, Scutaro, players from the Pittsburgh Pirates, minor league players and women from State College of Florida and the Orlando Pride pro softball team, she said.

Birdie Tebbetts Field is "a well-maintained field," Abel said, adding that she and her daughter, an Anna Maria Elementary School student, have practiced there.

"I often wondered why nobody used it," she said, adding that she thinks the field also is a nice place for dogs. "It doesn't bother me that dogs use it."

Rental remedies proposed

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SueLynn, Anna Maria commissioner

ANNA MARIA – Earning a seal of approval from the city is one way property managers/rental agents could show they adhere to a list of best practices in renting residential properties in the city, Commissioner SueLynn reported last week.

"I met with (property managers) Mike Brinson and Larry Chatt, and they have nailed down policies that address noise and other problems and a registration form that list the names of occupants and the number of cars," she explained.

She said the two, representing a group of property managers, also agreed that weddings are a major source of noise and rowdy behavior. They agreed to refrain from knowingly booking weddings into residential areas and to encourage wedding parties to book commercial venues.

"We also came up with a seal of approval, like a AAA rating, that would come from the city," she continued. "We would develop a set of criteria for it, and it could be renewed yearly."

She said rental agents manage 70 to 80 percent of the rental properties in the city, and owners rent the other 20 to 30 percent of the properties. She said the tax collector's office has the names of 7 to 8 percent of those owners, and she is hoping to identify the remainder.

"We may have to ask people to turn in their neighbors," she said.

Commissioner comments

Commissioner Dale Woodland suggested that representatives of the three Island cities form a group to address rental issues.

"Instead of regulating the rental properties, we're asking for management best practices that would be consistent throughout," Chair Chuck Webb pointed out. "Let's give them an opportunity to do it themselves."

Webb said Island-wide, best management practices would offer consistency and could be addressed by the Barrier Island Elected Officials group.

SueLynn said the city must be proactive, and Webb said the city attorney is drafting an ordinance to create a citation system for enforcement.

Commissioner John Quam said he does not favor having a seal of approval, and commissioners should give property managers some time to improve the situation.

"A lot of people who rent their own homes don't care about our ordinances, our regulations, our rules. Those people won't care about your seal of approval," Woodland stressed.

"We need to stay on top of this. We had our sergeant here telling us why he can't enforce our own ordinances. We need to fast track this and develop a plan."

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick agreed and said, "Whenever we want something enforced by the police department, they come up with some excuse why they can't enforce it."

Webb said Mayor Mike Selby is working on the problem.

Public comments

Marie Franklin, of Anna Maria Realty, said the burden should be on the property managers to enforce the rules in their agreements and said, "You don't need a seal of approval. You're not going to be able to police it."

"We suggested the seal of approval because some of the property managers are going to need a nudge to utilize these best practices," Chatt responded. "We want everyone to participate."

"The vacation rental market is becoming a commodity on websites, and it is becoming easier for owners to rent their properties. There has to be some repercussions for having multiple problems."

Micheal Coleman said property managers are taking the wise approach by encouraging what they do want rather then trying to fix what they don't want and stressed, "You need to focus on people who are not abiding by the bed tax law. You need to develop a cost for bad practices – a citation system and a fine."

Gulf Drive Café to try again
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

tom vaught | sun
Gulf Drive Cafe and Tiki Manager Pete Barreda
with Beach Market organizer Nancy Ambrose.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Beach Market at Gulf Drive Café and Tiki last weekend was supposed to be the last, but the Café manager and the market organizer want a second vote.

Pete Barreda, who manages the café and tiki, has filled out the paperwork for a new request and the issue is on the agenda for the Thursday, Feb. 2, city commission meeting.

The city gave the café a provisional permit last year with a chance to extend it past the final weekend of last month, but after hearing complaints from residents and people affiliated with another market on Bridge Street at the same time, a motion to approve the extension through the season fell short on a tie vote. Now that Richard Gatehouse has been appointed to fill the fourth and final seat on the city commission, Barreda wants another vote.

"We figure that last vote left the door open for approval by a full commission," Barreda said.

Barreda was upset that the commission voted based on testimony that he feels is not the true picture.

"They said the market brought people in who littered the beach and took alcohol out there to consume," Barreda said. "If you look at the beach today, there's no litter. Controlling alcohol on the beach is difficult, but we warn people who purchase a drink here not to take it onto the beach.

Barreda was also upset at allegations that the market brought in a different element of people who led to people loitering and committing crimes in the neighborhood around the café.

"There is no proof of that and when the one person said she saw kids around the parking lot at her condo, she didn't even call police," he said.

"We have a right to hold a market here," Barreda added. "The market on Bridge Street is a success thanks to Nancy Ambrose, whom we picked to run this one.

"There is no basis for some of those allegations we heard at the earlier meeting," he said. "We made a concerted effort to make sure nothing bad would happen."

The meeting starts at 7 p.m., and the public is welcome.

Water taxi proposal drifts forward
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUBMITTED
A shuttle boat like the one above could offer service
from the Anna Maria City Pier. Tracey Dell is proposing
a shuttle boat like the Island Pearl, which would
offer service from the Anna Maria City Pier.

 

ANNA MARIA – Commissioner SueLynn reported that she is meeting with Captain Tracey Dell and city pier manager Dave Sork regarding a proposed water taxi.

"I met with Dave Sork and talked with the captain a couple of times, and they said they met and it was a positive meeting," she explained. "They are ready to continue talking about it."

Dell came to the commission in December seeking permission to dock at the city pier. Commissioners said he would have to get permission from the pier's leaseholder, Mario Shoenfelder.

SueLynn said in February, she, Sork, Del and the mayor would meet to continue discussions. She said Sork is concerned about parking, and something may be worked out with Roser Church.

"I have talked to Roser, and they may be willing to make some spots available, which would take some of the pressure off of the pier parking" Mayor Mike Selby reported.

"The other issue is the 100-year-old pier. Do we want a boat up against it? I have a concern for Mr. Shoenfelder because he maintains it."

Selby said two possibilities are the city taking over the maintenance in exchange for higher rent or installing pilings and a gangplank, so the boat does not come in contact with the pier.

In December, Dell told the board that he and his wife have a 50-foot boat and want to offer service to and from the pier. He said they planned two routes – one between the Island and Ft. De Soto Park in Pinellas County and one between the pier and Coquina Bayside with stops in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach.

Board seeks Citizen of the Year nominations

ANNA MARIA – Do you know a person, business or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the city? If so, the Citizen Recognition Committee is seeking nominations for its Citizen of the Year for 2012.

Committee members former Mayor Fran Barford, Mady Iseman, Margaret Jenkins, Tom Turner, Karen DiConstanzo and Flora Webb held their first meeting last week an agreed to begin seeking nominations.

The deadline for nominations is Aug. 31, and the committee will meet on Sept. 5 to make a selection. The Citizen of the Year will be honored at the Oct. 25 city commission meeting.

Nomination forms are available at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the AMI Sun office, 9801 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, during business hours.

Forms can be hand delivered to city hall; mailed to CRC, P.O. Box 779, Anna Maria, FL 34216-0779; faxed to 941-708-6134; or e-mailed with CRC in the subject line to [email protected]

Former honorees are (Mayor) Ernie Cagnina, 1989; Ellen Marshall; 1990; (Mayor) Ted Tripp and George O'Connor, 1991, Ed Callen, 1992; (Mayor) Ray Simches, 1994; (City Commissioner) Mary Ross and Carolyne Norwood, 1995; Mike Miller, 2001; George Norwood, 2001; Gene and Elizabeth Moss, 2003; Environmental Education and Enhancement Committee, 2004; Sinclair and Martha Stewart, 2007; AMI Sun newspaper, 2008; Roser Memorial Community Church, 2009; and Tom Turner, 2010.

Chilly weather greets first concert
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

TOM VAUGHT | SUN
Sally Salada, owner of Salada Designs, of Tampa,
bundles up against the cool wind that blew across
Holmes Beach Field.

HOLMES BEACH – On the heels of a rainstorm, the organizer of the first Concert in the Park was happy the rain came and went before it began but she would have liked the temperature to stay as well.

While the mercury didn't dip too far, it was cold compared to the recent "heat wave" we enjoyed.

"I'm really excited," concert organizer Cindy Thompson said as Hwy 41 played on the stage. "It could be warmer, and unfortunately, the people responsible for the kids area didn't show."

The weather kept some people away, but the hearty souls who braved the wind had a lot to enjoy.

There were nine food vendors offering everything from hamburgers and pulled pork sandwiches to fish tacos from the Waterfront restaurant and sweets from Philly's Finest Bakers. Vendors included Paradise Café, Johnny's Bad Dogs, Fusion of Holmes Beach, Island Gourmet, Pete's A Place, Miller's Snack Shack and Tyler's Ice Cream.

Shotgun Justice followed Hwy 41 onstage and Island DJ Chris Grumley emceed the event.

David Teitelbaum, who owns resorts in Bradenton Beach and serves on the Tourist Development Council of Manatee County, recognized Thompson's work.

"It's wonderful to see Cindy back in operation," he said. "She has the skill and experience to make this work."

Thompson is known for organizing and sustaining Bayfest every autumn, one of the Island's most successful festivals. Eighty-percent of the proceeds after expenses from this concert will go to the Bridge Street Merchants, which ran the beer station. The other 20 percent will go to Thompson.

As the music continued, children gathered and began to dance around. Sponsors of the concert included SteamDesigns.com for the music, Bullseye Indoor Pistol Range and Gun Shop and Walsh Productions. The Anna Maria Island Sun was the media sponsor.

Anna Maria lets the sunshine in

ANNA MARIA – Elected officials and board members from the three Island cities gathered in city hall last week for the city's annual seminar on the Sunshine Law.

"The Sunshine Law is not that complicated, but what makes it difficult is that it's very different from the way most people conduct their affairs," City Attorney Jim Dye pointed out.

"I use the Sunshine Law as a catch-all for all the open government requirements in Florida. Elected and appointed officials are required to meet in the open. If you're required to share information with the general public, it's considered government in the sunshine."

The Sunshine Law applies to city commissioners, standing advisory boards such as planning and zoning and code enforcement boards, official committees and ad hoc committees. A fact-finding committee is exempt.

"If the fact-finding committee provides a recommendation, it is considered part of the decision making process and must be done in the open," he explained. "Short listing is considered decision making."

Normal staff functions of reviewing material and compiling background reports, including making a recommendation to the deciding body, is outside of the sunshine.

Who can speak?

"Open government applies to members of the same board," he continued. "A city commissioner can talk to a planning and zoning board member because they're on two different boards and won't be voting together."

"An exception is if there's a quasi-judicial hearing because a decision must be made based on the evidence presented at the hearing. If you are a member of a body that makes quasi-judicial decisions, you should avoid talking about that to anyone."

He said a public meeting is one in which more than one person gets together to conduct public business. There are three requirements – there must be reasonable notice, minutes must be taken and the public must be allowed to attend.

Public buildings are preferred for public meetings, but other locations are acceptable as long as they are accessible to the public. Meeting in private homes is discouraged. Exemptions to the law are litigation assessment meetings and collective bargaining.

The public does not have the right to speak during a meeting, but does have the right to speak during a hearing. Most government bodies allow the public to speak during meetings, but they should have an established set of procedures.

"The public has the right to sue if that person believes that actions were taken in violation of the Sunshine Law," he said, "Individual members of a board can be found in violation and fined."

Public records

Public records are all documents required by law or in connection with conduct of official business. The public has the right to inspect and obtain copies of most public records.

"Personal business is not public," he pointed out. "If you get a personal e-mail or letter at city hall it's not public. Drafts are public, but personal notes are not."

The person seeking the document does not have to give a reason for wanting the document. Public records exemptions include criminal investigations, medical records and proprietary information.

"Regarding e-mails, he advised, "City business must be conducted on a city e-mail account because they are captured by the servers. If you get a personal e-mail that involves city business, copy it to your official e-mail. Get the document into the public record.

"Tweets, texts and Facebook – my view is that the technology has gone beyond what the law can answer. It's best to avoid them. I don't know how you capture a text or tweet or Facebook when you're conducting public business."

Questions

Q: During election forums, can sitting commissioners talk about their positions on issues?

A: The attorney general says you can.

Q: Can someone from out of state get public records in Florida?

A: Yes.

Q: What about a committee making a site visit?

A: If you're doing something as body, the public has to be invited. If you're at a site getting one side of the story, how are others supposed to learn what you learned?

Q: How do I request public records?

A: Go to the custodian of the records.

Q: If two city commissioners go to a planning and zoning board meeting, can they speak?

A: You don't give up your right as a citizen when you are elected. As long as you're not using it to transmit an agenda to the other commissioners, you should be OK.

Q: Should code board members go to the site of the alleged violation?

A: It's better not to, but if you do, let the party know you looked at the property.

Q: If a citizen complains to me as a city commissioner, do I advise a commissioner of the complaint, wait until a meeting and advise the entire commission or tell the complainant to go to the commission?

A: You would not be able to talk to the commissioner outside the meeting. You could tell the citizen to see the department head or do a one-way memo.


AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper