The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 29 - May 2, 2012


Village Fallout
Carol Whitmore

Village volunteers were instrumental in turning the
county-owned 1912 Cortez schoolhouse into the
Florida Maritime Museum.

Business dealings among the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage and the Cortez Village Historical Society have not always been shipshape, but soon will be, according to Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller Richard "Chips" Shore.

Shore's office oversees historical resources in the county, including the county-owned museum, which has – along with the two main Cortez organizations that support it – operated in the casual style that personifies the historic commercial fishing village.

Shore met on Monday with board members from FISH and CVHS – both closely intertwined with the museum's acquisition, restoration and operation – to untangle the three.

"It's not a divorce," Shore said. "It's a negotiation process."

The discovery of $12,000 in a box in the museum with no indication of which group it was donated to prompted an audit and the move to put some new procedures in place, he said.

The county has formed a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, Friends of the Maritime Museum, to promote the museum throughout Florida and operate a gift shop in the museum that was formerly run by CVHS, he said. Half of the money will fund the new group, he said; the rest is still to be determined.

Museum finances also are in the process of being separated from FISH finances, Shore said.

"It's just so hard because of the way it's always been," FISH President Kim McVey said. "It's more like it was all one entity. That's the hardest part of it."

Changes and charges

The biggest change is that FISH will have to rent the museum property for its annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, she said.

When FISH or CVHS hold events at the museum, they will have to pay a fee unless the event has something to do with the museum, Shore said.

The county purchased the museum in part with a grant from the Florida Communities Trust, which requires revenues generated at the museum to be returned to the museum, CVHS President Sam Bell said, adding that the requirement is the reason why CVHS has closed its gift shop at the museum.

The gift shop will open again at CVHS's Family Life Museum, which it hopes to open in the Monroe cottage, relocated from Bradenton Beach to FISH property, when CVHS raises enough funds, Bell said.

At that time, CVHS will remove its items from the maritime museum and display them at its own museum, according to Bell, who said the meeting on Monday was cordial.

The CVHS museum was previously planned for the Bratton Store, behind the maritime museum on county property. The county has pledged to the finish restoration of the empty Bratton Store, using the upstairs as office space and allowing CVHS films to be shown there, Shore said.

FISH and the county still are negotiating other concerns, McVey said, adding that some FISH items in the museum probably will be placed "on loan" instead of donated outright.

"We're just trying to get everything done the way it's supposed to be, the way it was supposed to be all along," she said.

Pitt resigns

A related concern is the resignation this week of master boatbuilder Bob Pitt from the county. Pitt oversees a volunteer group of boatbuilders at the boatshop on FISH property; crew members have won nationwide recognition for their craftsmanship.

"What's expected of my position has changed, and I don't want to go in that direction," said Pitt, who has worked and volunteered at the museum and the boatshop for nearly a decade.

"I hate to lose him," Shore said.

"We will withdraw from boatbuilding and go back into the museum business. The boatshop building is on FISH property, and they should run it," he said, adding that an inventory of the boatshop is in progress, with some items belonging to all three organizations.

Another boatshop, the historic Pillsbury boatshop on the maritime museum grounds, will probably not be converted to a working shop but may host some classes, he said.

"We have to figure out what to do about Bob's leaving," McVey said.

Volunteer boatbuilders have discussed following their chief and resigning, said volunteer and Florida Gulf Coast Traditional Small Craft Association President Doug Calhoun.

The FGCTSCA recently learned that they must remove their records from the museum and can no longer use the museum or the assistance of the museum's Ted Adams to organize their festivals, held on FISH property.

"This offhand treatment occurred despite the fact that over the years our volunteers had literally built much of the interior of the museum," Calhoun wrote in a recent letter to his membership.

Adams, a county employee who worked at the maritime museum, also resigned last week.

It takes a fishing village

Some in Cortez say it took a village to turn the 1912 Cortez schoolhouse into the Florida Maritime Museum, and they resent the county's move to separate the museum.

The 21st Annual Cortez Picnic, sponsored by CVHS, was held at the Few/Miller dock in Cortez last month instead of at the schoolhouse/museum, even though the picnic celebrated the 100th anniversary of the schoolhouse.

But Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said the county must answer to taxpayers that it is managing its assets properly and not using taxpayer's money inappropriately.

Internal disputes within FISH have created turmoil that may be another reason to separate the museum, she said.

A bitter board election two years ago left a rift that resulted in relocating the fishing festival to the end of the village where the museum is located, and a boat that was donated to the museum by the Fannon fishing family and later sold by former museum employee Roger Allen further divided the FISH board.

"The (FISH) board needs to take a deep breath and step back and see what the issue is or they're going to lose something great that they have," Whitmore said.

The FISH board is expected to discuss the issue at its next meeting, Monday, May 7, at 7 p.m. at Fishermen's Hall, 4511 124th St. W. in Cortez. `

Sandbar set for Georgia's fundraiser

ANNA MARIA – As doctors try to wean Georgia Gibbons from the ventilator and sedation, plans are underway for a fundraiser for the 20-year-old who was struck by a car while crossing the street in Tallahassee, where she attends college. The fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, and there is a $20 cover charge for the hors d'oeuvres, if purchased before the night of the event, and $25 at the door.

Georgia is the daughter of Robin and Bob Gibbons. Robin is a server at the Rod and Reel Pier. All funds will be used to relieve the financial burden the family is experiencing with travel to Tallahassee to be with Georgia and medical expenses.

Doctors have been unsure of the affect of Georgia's injuries, but it appears the main concern is brain damage. The car that hit her did not have time to stop or even slow down.

Shotgun Justice will perform at the event, and there will be a cash bar. Raffle tickets will be for sale, and there will be a silent auction. Items include themed baskets, such as golf and food; a fishing expedition donated by Galati's; a golf foursome donated by the Bradenton Country Club; autograophed baseballs donated by the Tampa Bay Rays and a dinner-game package for four in the owner's box donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Donations are being accepted at Wells Fargo Bank for the "Georgia Gibbons Financial Account."

Another prize for Spring's pies
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Andrea Spring with the eight pies she made for the competition.

ANNA MARIA – You might say life is just peachy for Andrea Spring.

Spring's peach melba pie with an almond crust took first place in the fruit and berry category at the American Pie Council/Crisco National Pie Championships on April 27 through 29 in Orlando.

"It was a good year at the pie contest," she declared."I was pleased, but I didn't get to make as many as I had planned. I made eight pies and planned to make 11."

In addition to the first place, Spring won two honorable mentions.

"My Smoky Mountain apple pie had pecans in the crust and a crumb topping with pecans," she said. "My rustic cherry and cream cheese pie was a free form pie. You put everything in the middle of a cookie sheet and fold the crust around the edges. The crust had almonds and sugar on top."

Spring said she had a great time reconnecting with old friends.

"It was wonderful to be there and see people I hadn't seen since last year," she said. "We have competed against each other for many years. It was great to catch up on each other's lives."

Spring said there were " a lot of different and strange pies," and all the recipes will be found on the APC website,

Spring was crowned National Pie Champion in 2007 with her key lime pie and in 2010 with her chocolate raisin walnut combination. She is the first person to win the championship twice and also has won numerous first places through the years.

Spring and her husband, Ed, own the Sign of the Mermaid restaurant in Anna Maria, where her pies are featured.

Residents urge action on rentals

HOLMES BEACH – Residents urged city commissioners to act quickly on committee recommendations presented last month to curb vacation rental problems.

The committees made their final reports at an April commission meeting on ways to solve noise, parking and overcrowding problems, primarily at multi-bedroom duplexes in residential neighborhoods.

"Have you tried to get on or off the Island in the past two months? It's a nightmare," resident Tom Sabow said, relating how he called police twice in two nights because tourists were setting off cherry bombs next door.

"We have lost our quality of life," he said, adding that the rental investors live elsewhere and "don't care what's going on."

Resident Robert Supply said that overcrowding at a rental in his neighborhood is so blatant that he has seen tourists sleeping on cots outside.

"We're selling if this doesn't change," he said.

"It's incumbent on you all to do something about this," said resident Mary Buonagura, who served on one of the ad hoc committees.

The city attorney should have a draft ordinance for the commission's review by Tuesday, May 8, the commission's next meeting date, Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said.

The key to regulating vacation rentals is the floor/area ratio, or FAR, he said, establishing how much floor space a house or duplex can have on a certain size lot.

Until the commission passes new rules, a moratorium should be put in place to prevent more single family homes from being demolished and replaced with duplexes, real estate broker Ron Travis said.

"We're closing the barn door after the horse is out," he said.

In other business

• Commissioner Jean Peelen read from an advertisement for a vacation rental on 66th Street that said it "sleeps 16," and noted that the ad does not mention that the city allows only four unrelated people in a rental. Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said that the city attorney would review the ad and make a recommendation.

• The commission voted to change a newly-instituted code enforcement complaint form to reflect that having it notarized is optional after Peelen said that the requirement was too stringent, and that other agencies don't require notarized complaints.

By signing the form and having it notarized, anyone complaining about noise, trash, parking or other code violations would be agreeing to appear before the code board to testify, she said, adding, "It seems like we've gone from nothing to going too far."

The notary requirement would assist code enforcement officers in making their cases before the code enforcement board if the complainant failed to appear at a hearing, Commissioner Sandra Haas-Martens said.

Hot dogs in the outfield
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Cindy Lane | Sun
A hot dog enjoys a drink of water at the new dog
park in the outfield at Birdie Tebbetts Field. Dog owners
say there's no shade since the park was fenced off.

HOLMES BEACH – The newly-fenced outfield of Birdie Tebbetts Field, designated as a dog park, has no shade, dog owners recently complained to Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen.

When dogs were allowed to use the whole ball field, they could rest in the shade behind first base, which is now out of bounds for dogs in the new design.

The field was split after weeks of debate springing from a complaint by a dog owner that he was told to leave the field by a ball player. The former rule allowed dogs to use the field if no ball players were playing.

Dog owners have asked Peelen if they can still take their dogs in the ball field if no one is playing.

"I can say I don't think it's a good idea to reopen that can of worms with this commission," Peelen wrote in her constituent newsletter.

At a city commission meeting last week, Peelen said that dog owners have suggested installing a sun shade in the chain link fence.

It's one of the priorities of a new dog park club that met with Commission Chair David Zaccagnino last week, he said.

The group discussed planting shade trees, a memorial tree for pets and asking the city to bring in a water line for a dog water station, he said, adding that the club is in the process of establishing a Facebook page.

Dog park user Forrest Longworth has offered to donate a bench and two signs for the park, which does not yet have a name.

New laws in Holmes Beach

HOLMES BEACH - The Holmes Beach Commission approved three new city ordinances last week, and announced its progress on a lawsuit against Bradenton Beach.

Outdoor dining

A new ordinance designed to alleviate parking and noise problems at restaurants offering outdoor seating requires a city permit for outdoor dining seats. The permits are not transferable to a new owner. A new permit is required if a restaurant owner wants to increase the number of outdoor seats. Permits issued prior to Aug. 12, 2008 are grandfathered in. Parking problems are grounds for the revocation of a permit after a public hearing. Outdoor dining hours are limited to 7-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. No microphones, amplifiers or speakers are allowed in outdoor dining areas.


A new ordinance prohibits commercial computer simulation gambling devices, including slots, poker, bingo and lotto. The ordinance grandfathers in up to four existing machines per business, provided they are an accessory use to the primary business, and are reported to the city. It also exempts gambling games for charitable purposes up to twice a year per organization. The ordinance does not apply to personal use of the devices. Violations carry a misdemeanor penalty of a $500 fine or 60 days imprisonment, in addition to code enforcement violation penalties.


Oaths will be required of anyone providing testimony or evidence at hearings before the city commission, code enforcement board, police pension board, board of adjustment, charter review commission and planning commission, but not at city commission work sessions.


City Attorney Patricia Petruff is drafting paperwork to bring a declaratory action against Bradenton Beach to settle a property dispute along the 27th Street border between the cities.

The city of Bradenton Beach quitclaimed a strip of land along the border to Sandpiper Resort, on the Bradenton Beach side of the border. Holmes Beach seeks to show that the transfer was invalid and that the property should revert back to Bradenton Beach.

The issue arose when Sandpiper installed a gate in the fence along the border between the cities.

Property owner protests ordinance change

ANNA MARIA – Richard Friday, who is in litigation with the city over plans to build homes on Park Avenue, protested the removal of language from an ordinance changing the preservation zone to conservation. The language was regarding property owners who own adjacent lots and combining those lots.

"I'm upset, disturbed and not happy with the process over the last four to five years," Friday said to the board. "Leave the language as it was.

"There's the possibility if you change the language, three 15,000 square feet buildings will be built. If you keep the original language it's possible that those three lots would have to be combined into one lot with one building."

Commissioner SueLynn asked why the language was removed.

City Attorney Jim Dye said it is not required by the comprehensive plan and pointed out that Friday has sued the city and has a different perspective.

"The old language is obsolete and this catches the language up with the comprehensive plan," Dye explained. "I don't think this eliminates or weakens any environmental action that the city has on its books.

"Most importantly, Dr. Friday says it's being driven by litigation in his neighborhood, but it also eliminates problems on the Gulffront and bayfront, so it's much more broad than what Dr. Friday says."

City Planner Alan Garrett also added language allowing an extension of time for the report describing the buildable area of a lot to be valid. Previously, the report was only valid for 12 months, but now extensions of 180 days are allowed.

Chair Chuck Webb said an extension should require an affidavit that the report is still accurate, and Dye said it should be from the property owner. Welch said the city engineer should review the affidavit.

Commissioner approved the ordinance with SueLynn dissenting.

Peelen vies for tourist council seat

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioner Jean Peelen announced to fellow commissioners Tuesday night that she wants to take Commissioner Sandra Haas-Martens' place on the Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC).

Both Peelen and Haas-Martens, along with Longboat Key Commissioner Hal Lenobel, applied for the position before the May 1 deadline.

The Manatee County Commission is expected to appoint the new TDC member at its meeting on Tuesday, May 22.

The TDC is a nine-member advisory board to the commission, which decides how to spend resort tax funds, which totaled more than $7 million last year.

The funds are allocated to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to market the area to tourists, and also are spent on beach renourishment on Anna Maria Island, as well as on the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Crosley Estate, the South Florida Museum, the Manatee Convention Center and other tourist-related attractions.

Peelen, who previously requested support from commissioners in the other two Island cities, said her interest in the TDC was piqued when residents told her they had not heard reports about TDC business from Haas-Martens at Holmes Beach commission meetings.

Commissioner John Monetti said that he might be interested in the seat, saying he meets several criteria – as an elected official, the manager of the Columbia restaurant on St. Armands Key and a property owner who rents to tourists – but he has declined to pursue the seat because Haas-Martens has built solid relationships on the TDC for more than a decade.

"You've been an official for six months," Monetti said to Peelen. "I favor a person with 10 or 12 years experience … Sandy has taken care of our interests."

During Haas-Martens' tenure on the TDC, resort tax funds have been directed to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, where she formerly served as president, and to beach renourishment, beach walkovers and other Island-related uses, she told the commission, adding, "I'd like to continue serving."

"I'm not happy with the TDC," Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said, explaining that too much resort tax money produced on the Island is used for off-Island destinations and events, such as McKechnie Field, the Crosley Estate, the Manatee Convention Center and Festival sARTee, a Sarasota/Manatee arts event.

"Too much money is sucked off this Island, and we have to bear the brunt of it during tourist season," he said.

Haas-Martens voted against using resort tax funds for Festival sARTee, she said.

The city can't afford to lose the TDC seat to a representative from another city because more resort tax is paid in Holmes Beach than any other city in the county, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said, encouraging commissioners to choose between the two at the meeting. The commission decided it was not appropriate to endorse an applicant.

The TDC, whose members are appointed by the county commission for four-year terms, is comprised of one member of the county commission, two elected municipal officials, one from the county's largest municipality, four owners or operators of hotels, motels or other accommodations in Manatee County that are subject to the county's 5 percent resort tax and two members who are involved in the tourist industry and have demonstrated an interest in tourism, but are not subject to the tax.

Current members are Haas-Martens, Carol Whitmore, Harold Byrd, Barbara Rodocker, Ed Chiles, Jack Rynerson, Vernon DeSear, David Teitelbaum and Tom Jung.


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