The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 32 - May 23, 2012


Art League Shocker
Carol Whitmore

The Island Art League building at 5312 Holmes Blvd.
in Holmes Beach remains locked after the organization
closed last week.

The art community was stunned last week when the Anna Maria Island Art League closed its doors with no notice.

On Thursday, May 17, Joan Voyles, president of the Artist's' Guild of Anna Maria Island, the other longstanding art group on the Island, made the announcement at the monthly meeting of Cultural Connections, an organization representing the Island's nine Island arts and cultural groups.

"The Art League has a sign on its door that says, 'Closed until further notice,'" she said. "We do not know the situation, but most of the people on the board have resigned."

Christina Reginelli, who was hired as the organization's executive director last fall, said she put the sign on the door on Friday, May 11, and left the organization.

Reginelli and two former board members, who recently resigned, met with The Sun on Friday, May 18. The board members asked to remain anonymous.

"We all have been shocked and upset," said one. "None of us wanted this to happen. Instead of rumors spinning out of control, we would like the community to know that the Art League is closed due to financial difficulties."

Another said, "Everyone in the community has been very supportive and concerned."

However, later that afternoon, Laura McGeary, president of the Art League's board of directors, said, "We have no plans to close the Art League. I wasn't aware of the sign on the door, and I put up a new sign that says we're on vacation."

McGeary could not say when it would reopen, but said that Reginelli is no longer with the organization.

Future uncertain

The AMI Art League was formed in 1989, and has been at its current location since 1993. It offered exhibit space, classrooms, a members' gallery, a darkroom, an art library and picnic grounds.

It held monthly exhibits from October to May, offered classes and a scholarship program for children and adults, hosted the annual Manatee High School Art exhibit as well as exhibits by faculty, students and regional artists and held the annual Winterfest and Springfest juried fine arts and crafts shows.

Building owner Susan Thomas said, "They've been there for so long. We hate to lose them. They have been very good for the Island.

"We hope they can work things out and stay. They have great classes and shows. They have been great tenants and take care of everything."

Asked if there is any hope of resurrecting the organization, one board member replied, "None of us know what the future will be, but I do believe there's interest and energy and vision for the arts in this community and hopefully something good will come of this in the future."

When asked if she would return as director, Reginelli said, "I hope to be a part of the art community on Anna Maria and can find a different position that can foster my creative ideas."

One board member stressed, "Christina has been such a wonderful asset to the Art League."

Voyles recalled, "A year ago, there was the beginning of a discussion to merge the Artists' Guild and Art League into one visual arts group. Then there was a change in leadership in the Art League and everything was dropped."

Reginelli said artists could remove their artwork from the building on May 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Project on beach OK'd by commission

BRADENTON BEACH – The city commission passed on second reading the final order for the joint development agreement between the city and ELRA, Inc., the owner of the BeachHouse restaurant where plans have been made to install a sand dune system and parking lot on land south of the restaurant.

Three parking spots will be on city property and available for public use.

By a three-to-one vote, with Commissioner Jan Vosburgh voting against via a linkup to her in Utah, the commissioners and mayor approved the plan. Ed Straight was absent.

Members of the city's Planning and Zoning (P&Z) board recommended against the project, citing its location on the beach where the Bradenton Beach Future Land Use Map gives it a preservation zoning, its proximity to beach where sea turtles lay eggs and other problems.

The city commission countered those claims with testimony from Building Official Stephen Gilbert and City Attorney Ricinda Perry. Foremost, they claimed, the land in question is privately owned and the BeachHouse has used it for valet parking for years, so that type of use was grandfathered. As for the turtles, nobody produced evidence of sea turtles laying eggs where that project is planned.

Three members of the P&Z resigned after the first reading of the plan before the city commission. Chair Rick Bisio resigned without giving a specific reason and member Bill Shearon stepped down, citing his disappointment with the situation. The third member, Joyce Kramer, resigned and cited several reasons including that the work and time of the board is not taken seriously, the city commissioners do not receive minutes of the P&Z meetings and the city commission is told to rely on hired experts and city staff for the reasoning behind their decisions.

During the final public hearing last Thursday, P&Z Vice Chair Jo Ann Meilner said apologies were in order: one from the city attorney for comments she made about the board's decision, from Mayor John Shaughnessy for "letting this happen" and from City Commissioner Richard Gatehouse for his comments that he thought the board was predisposed to vote down the project.

"Codes are not written just for lawyers to understand," Meilner said "We came predisposed because we read the codes."

Meilner said the comprehensive plan places restrictions on land in preservation land use areas, and if the city commissioners were not familiar with the plan, they should call a recess and read it.

The commission took a vote after public comment and voted for the project.

Code violation prompts $1,000 fine

HOLMES BEACH – The Holmes Beach Code Enforcement Board has fined Beach to Bay Construction $1,000 for violating a stop work order on a house at 5608 Holmes Boulevard.

Two board members, Chair Don Schroder and Michael Klotz, recused themselves from the decision, citing business dealings with principal Shawn Kaleta or his companies. Alternates Marvin Grossman and Renee Ferguson took their places.

Beach to Bay has built some of the homes that are the subject of residents' recent complaints about vacation rental problems such as noise, parking and trash.

The city verbally warned Beach to Bay to stop work on the house on Dec. 27, 2011, because the work exceeded the scope of the permit, according to city building official Bob Shaffer.

The work continued, he testified, and the city placed a stop work order, or red tag, on the house on Jan. 23.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger decided to lift the stop work order on Feb. 28, he said, and City Attorney James Dye contacted Beach to Bay's attorney, Louis Najmy, of Bradenton law firm Najmy Thompson, about the city's intent to lift the stop work order.

The next day, on Feb. 29, Najmy told Beach to Bay that the crew could begin work again, Najmy told the board last week.

But Code Enforcement Officer Dave Forbes received a call about work resuming before the red tag was removed, and saw workmen at the site around 1 p.m., he said.

Forbes said a foreman told him the workmen were there to remediate moisture damage, but that he did not see any such remediation.

The foreman was sent to tell the men not to begin work, Najmy said.

"I didn't see any work, but there was activity," Forbes said, adding that he believed the men were there to work.

Forbes testified that he made a determination that the crew had begun to work before the red tag was removed by city building officials; the tag states that it may not be removed except by the building official.

Shaffer testified that he had been instructed to remove the red tag that day, but had not done so by the time Forbes had arrived, adding that he could not prove that work had been done.

The decision to lift the stop work order was not official until the tag was removed, which he did after the incident, Shaffer said.

Najmy asked the board to consider that the mistake was his fault.

Cell tower ordinance gets first look

ANNA MARIA – City Attorney Jim Dye reviewed differences in the city's current cell tower ordinance and an amended ordinance at a recent meeting in order to get feedback from commissioners.

"All governments are restricted by state and federal law," he explained. "You cannot prohibit the provision of wireless service."

"This ordinance is less complicated than the current ordinance. The current ordinance relies on a tiered system of review, but the one has preferred locations."

Preferred locations are:

• On publically used property or facilities;
• On existing structures on publically used property without increasing the height of the structure;
• On existing structures on privately owned property without increasing the height of the structure;
• On properties in areas zoned for commercial or residential/office/retail;
• In areas zoned for residential use.
"A large focus in this ordinance is on towers," Dye said. "Antennas do not create as much oversight."

Showing need

Dye said the provider must show that the site is the best one possible and that there is a need for the service. Commission Chair Chuck Webb asked how a contractor shows need, and Dye said the provider shows need in the application process and the city engineer confirms it.

"There are a couple different ways to look at need," Dye pointed out. "One being can you get coverage on your cell phone. What we're hearing from industry and regulatory groups is that wireless service is much more that your telephone.

"Is need just the basic bars on a telephone or is it something more that goes to convenience and being able to use your wireless devices? This ordinance is set up so that need can also be an expansion of exiting capacity."

He asked commissioners to carefully review section 10 on design of towers.

"Towers can go up to 60 feet as stealthily as possible – a monopole with the antenna array inside," he said. "We're told you can get two or three antennas on one 60-foot tower.

"But it goes back to need. If they can prove they need 80 feet and their numbers back it up, they can ask for it. My reading of the state and federal law says we have to do it that way because we can't prohibit service."

He said Section 11 covers stealth or camouflage, such as making it look like a flagpole, and Section 14 covers a fall zone, which is the height plus 10 percent of the height.

"The last point is that the fee structure is set up so the city gets it's costs reimbursed," Dye concluded. "Someone coming in to apply will need to pay into an account similar to an escrow account."

Webb asked commissioners to review the ordinance and bring questions and suggestions to the June work session.

Historical Society awards scholarships
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Kelly Guerin, Daniel Janisch
and Kara Nelson received scholarships from
the AMI Historical Society.

ANNA MARIA – Three Manatee High School students were awarded college scholarships at the annual members meeting of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society last week.

Kelly Guerin, daughter of Mark and Lori Guerin of Holmes Beach, received a $2,000 scholarship. The scholarship committee noted that her community service involvement includes coaching children in soccer and basketball, assisting physically challenged youths at summer surf camp and tutoring students as a member of the national Honor Society.

She works part time at the West Coast Surf Shop, and at one point, she held two jobs and an internship with a local doctor while attending high school and the State College of Florida. She plans to attend FSU and become a doctor.

Daniel Janisch, son of Kurt and Suki Janisch of Holmes Beach, received a $1,000 scholarship. He has participated in football, weight lifting, class board and student council and is a member of the National Honor Society. He works at the Sandbar restaurant.

Since elementary school, he and his family have raised puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs and after raising five as a family, he raised one on his own. He plans to attend the University of Florida and become an engineer.

Kara Nelson, daughter of Scott and Jaryn Nelson of Bradenton Beach, also received a $1,000 scholarship. She has participated on the dance and swim team, student council and class boards and her community service includes participating in Key Club and Z Club and packaging food for Food Pantry.

She has designed T-shirts and ceramics for charity events, works in a clothing store and plans to attend FSU and become a fashion designer focusing on chic and fashionable clothing for tall women.

Plaque for president

The group also presented outgoing President Melissa Williams with a plaque in appreciation for her "superior leadership qualities and dedication" to the Historical Society. Williams served on the board of directors for three years before serving as president for two years.

Williams thanked her board members individually for their service and cited the group's successes over the past two years – publishing Carolyne Norwood's second Island history book, participating in the Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration, hosting the annual Heritage Day celebration, sponsoring the city's Christmas open house, premiering two new museum displays and rekindling participation in the Island parades with its new Old City Jail float.

"Anna Maria Island and its history is truly a special treasure that desperately needs preserving," she said. "So I'm honored to be associated with it all and the people within it."

Members elected the following officers: Maureen McGovern, president; Susan Anderson, vice president; George McKay, treasurer; Pat Copeland, recording secretary; Evelyn Hoskins, corresponding secretary; and board members: Betty Yanger, Irene Pearman, Mary Selby, Mary Jo Bopp, Arlene Clark, Ted Baird, Valerie Wilson, David Webber, Sandy Fenstemaker and Carolyne Norwood.

Fire rates to go up 2.5 percent

BRADENTON – West Manatee Fire commissioners last week approved a 2.5 percent increase in assessment rates for 2012-13.

Fire Chief Andy Price said workman's comp is going up 19 percent and retirement and health insurance also are going up, and pointed out, "For a single family home, the base rate is up $4. It's not a large increase but it's a necessary increase."

"We spent a lot of time going over this and it's a very realistic budget given the way the department has been operated," Commissioner Scott Ricci added.

Rates can only increase within the allowable limit of the Florida personal income growth (PIG) factor, which is 3.16. Price said in previous years, the district has needed an average increase of 2 to 5 percent, but because it has made numerous cuts over the past few years, it could keep the increase lower this year.

Ricci said he is comfortable with the budget, but he feels the district should look at the number of fire versus rescue calls.

"Maybe we should look at changing the way we respond and who's on the truck without compromising our ability to fight fires," he said.

"I'm all for looking at efficiencies, but I like the level of service we have," Commissioner David Bishop said. "I see a very well run operation."

The following are the fire assessment rates for 2012-13 with the 2011-12 rates in parentheses:

• Vacant lot: $22.33 ($21.79)
• Residential, condo, mobile home, travel trailer, mixed residential: $169.32 ($165.19) for the first 1,000 square feet and .100 (.098) cents per additional 1,000 square feet
• Duplex: $338.64 ($330.38) for the first 2,000 square feet and .100 (.098) cents per additional 2,000 square feet
• Commercial: $399.56 ($389.81) for the first 1,000 square feet and .172 (.169) cents per additional 1,000 square feet.

Jason, Dr. Dave to rock Friday

Cindy Lane | Sun
Enjoy music, food, art, a movie and more
at Concerts in the Park on Friday.

HOLMES BEACH – Concerts in the Park will feature blues and Southern rock with Jason and the Burners and the Dr. Dave Band on Friday, May 25, at the Holmes Beach Veteran's Pavilion next to city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

D.J./M.C. Chris Grumley starts the show at 5 p.m., with Jason and the Burners playing the blues from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the Dr. Dave Band playing Southern rock from 8 to 10 p.m.

Enjoy the Taste of the Island Food Court, featuring the Anna Maria Island Community Center Teen Club, soda, water and Gatorade; Wildlife, Inc., beer and wine; Paradise Bagels Cafe and Catering, coffee, tea and homemade desserts; the Waterfront, fish tacos and carnitas; Banana Cabana, shrimp and grits and burgers; T & L BBQ, BBQ chicken, pork and ribs with all the Southern fixin's; Philly's Finest Bakers, stromboli, sticky buns; World Bites, Hungarian stuffed pepper topped with feta, Serbian beef kabobs with tzaziki sauce, Korean BBQ skewers with roasted pepper aioli and moussaka; Tyler's Ice Cream, frozen treats; Miller Snack Foods, beef jerky, roasted nuts and kettle corn; Hattaway Boiled Peanuts, Cajun and traditional boiled peanuts; and Corky's Hot Dogs, hot dogs, sausage and peppers.

Browse the arts, crafts and retail show, featuring businesses including Thirtyone and Scentsy. Watch artists painting on canvas and people during the event. Enjoy jewelry, watercolor paintings, photography, AMI merchandise, T-shirts, light up novelties, painted glass blocks and stools, recycled fashions, homemade cards, Polynesian items and more.

An outdoor kids' movie, "Monsters Inc.," will begin at 8 p.m.. Kids also will enjoy a bounce house/inflatable slide. Thompson Academy will host a kids' tent with art activities and face painting and will be signing up kids for Summer Beach Camp.

Corn hole will be available for adults to play.

Wildlife Inc. Education and Rehabilitation in Bradenton Beach, which will receive proceeds from the event, will bring rehabilitated animals. Other non-profit vendors include the Sarasota Shell Club, Autism Speaks, the American Cancer Society, which will raffle a wheel barrow of alcohol, AMI C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team) and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

Each concert benefits a different non-profit partner, which receives all tips and proceeds after expenses. Non-alcoholic beverage sale proceeds are donated to the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

The event sponsor is the Anna Maria Island Sun. Music sponsors are Bullseye Indoor Pistol Range, Miller Electric, LaPensee Plumbing, Sunny Bower ALF and Senior Day Care Center and SteamDesigns. The movie sponsor is Thompson Academy. To be a sponsor, call Cindy Thompson at 941-536-4257.

On Facebook, visit Holmes Beach Concerts in the Park.

Wedding Festival turns a profit

HOLMES BEACH – The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce made $12,132.05 from the Wedding Festival held recently. That was above the $10,000 estimate, according to Chamber Vice President Deb Wing.

Wing said they made $18,650 before expenses, including $2,548 from the 59 vendors and $2,548 from ticket sales. Expenses were $9,265.95, including $6,000 for advertising in media not on the Island.

Chamber board member David Teitelbaum said there is still room for non-profits to advertise on the five trolleys that service the Island.

"When we first set this up, we planned for that, but nobody followed through," he said.

Teitelbaum reported earlier that the trolleys carried a record number of tourists during March, in the heat of season. The 64,663 passengers recorded by drivers during March 2012 eclipsed the previous record of 53,238 during March 2011 by 21.5 percent.

Teitelbaum said they are working on a shuttle of some sort between the Island and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, so vacationers could get off the plane and come to the Island to enjoy their time without having to rent a car.

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