The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 33 - May 30, 2012


Right on cue
Carol Whitmore

Boaters and beachgoers pushed this 21-foot boat
toward deeper water so they could bail water out
of it Monday afternoon. The boat swamped in
high waves while anchored near the Sandbar restaurant.

As Tropical Storm Beryl made its way onshore near the Georgia border, it left a trail of winds and waves.

Lifeguards and law enforcement had to deal with a number of incidents from rip tide rescues to missing children in a weekend that saw a near drowning and a small boat sinking just offshore north of the Sandbar restaurant.

Manatee County Lifeguard Colin Schmidt said at Coquina Beach, a lot of people got into trouble because of the rip tides caused by the high winds.

"We had 12 rip tide rescues and a near drowning," Schmidt said. "We pulled him out as part of a six-person multiple rescue."

The 19-year-old unidentified victim, who got caught up in the waves while helping rescue others, was transported to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

Schmidt said the attendance at Coquina was estimated at 12,000 on Saturday, 18,500 on Sunday and 12,500 on Monday. Attendance at Manatee County Beach was estimated at 7,500 Saturday, 10,500 on Sunday and 8,500 on Monday.

Schmidt said the winds were blowing from the southwest around 18-19 miles per hour. He said winds were gusting up to 26 mph, and the lifeguard stations displayed red flags nearly all day Monday.

"We had our hands full all weekend," he said. "We had some younger lifeguards who did a great job, although we could always use more."

Off Anna Maria, a group of boaters from Tampa got into trouble while anchored offshore just north of the Sandbar as the boat filled with water. One unidentified boater said they had been there since 9 a.m. and around 2:30, they all got into the water to push the boat into deeper water in hopes of bailing out the water. They finally hooked a line from another boat that pulled them out, with the crowd onshore cheering. Unfortunately, the heavily laden boat got sideways and finally rolled over as two of the boaters aboard jumped into the water.

"This is the busiest Memorial Day weekend I've seen in many years," Schmidt said. "On Sunday, cars were parked on the Gulf Drive right-of-way because the Coquina Beach parking lot was full."

Not so fast - Art League still breathing

HOLMES BEACH – When the Anna Maria Island Art League closed on May 11, it took everyone by surprise, but Laura McGeary, president of its board of directors, maintained that the organization was taking a vacation and would reopen.

This week McGeary issued the following statement seeking donations to reopen the doors: "The Anna Maria Island Art League has been struggling financially and now is in need of your financial assistance to continue providing the community visual arts educational resources and numerous events.

"Our two annual festivals that help sustain us and provide scholarships also benefit participating artists and the community. Together we can keep the Art League you've appreciated and helped by volunteering open and growing."

She asked for donations of $25, $50 and $100 or more by June 16 and asked that checks be made payable to Anna Maria Island Art League and mailed to Anna Maria Island Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach 34217. She said if anyone wants to make a larger donation, they could call her at 941-704-3708.

The Art League's website states: "All classes canceled until further notice. No workshops are scheduled for this summer. Exhibition schedule TBA."

Hurricane season 2012 is here

Despite the two tropical storms that formed before the official opening of hurricane season, the two main storm prediction teams are saying it will be a less intense one.

This prediction comes on the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which devastated real estate in southeast Florida in 1992, a season that only had six named storms.

That might be good news for residents and visitors to the Island this summer, but remember it only takes one rogue storm to ruin our hurricane season.

The scientists at Colorado State University and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agree on a few things: conditions for wind shear that destroys storms before they fully form exist; the ocean surfaces are cooler than normal, also inhibiting storm formation; and if cooler El Nino wind conditions continue to mature, it could be a lighter than normal six months.

By the numbers, Philip J. Klotzbach, research scientist, and William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus of Atmosphere Science at CSU predicted on April 4 10 named storms compared with 9-15 from NOAA on May 24; CSU predicts the formation of four hurricanes compared to 4-8 from NOAA; and CSU thinks we'll see two major hurricanes form in the Caribbean and Atlantic compared with 1-3 from NOAA.

Another concern is all the oil that was dispersed during the BP oil spill might end up washing ashore ahead of or during a storm.

A hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico would have no impact on submerged oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, said Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "It wasn't even an issue in 2010," he added.

All predictions aside, it's time to replenish your supplies of water, batteries and non-perishable food. If you haven't been here for long, you'll soon learn that an impending storm will clean out store shelves in a hurry.

Be prepared, keep an ear on the forecasts and make plans for the worst while hoping for the best.

Applications abound for Center director position

ANNA MARIA – Applications for the position of Island Community Center executive director are coming in every day, said Transition Committee Chairman Andy Price.

"We have more than 40 applications, and they are still coming in," Price, former chairman of the board of directors, said. "There are a few Island people and the rest from all over the country."

The applicants hope to replace Executive Director Pierrette Kelly, who announced she would step down effective at the end of the fiscal year in July. Kelly has held the position for 22 years.

"There are some interesting people, but many don't have the experience," Price said of the applicants. "They need to step in and do what Pierrette did.

"Her job was to build relationships and cultivate donors. You can manage all you want, but you have to be able to bring in the donors."

Price said applications will be accepted until May 31, and then the committee, which includes Center board member Andy Guidus, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, restaurateur Ed Chiles and former Center board treasurer Bill Ford, will begin to prioritize them.

"Most of us have been on the board or closely associated with it," Price explained. "We want to find the best candidate possible.

"Based on the job description, we'll pare down the applicants and interview them and present the top three to the board. The board needs to make the final decision because they have to work with the director."

Job description

The job description for the position of executive director is on the Center's website and it states, "The ideal candidate will be an outstanding relationship-builder, able to develop and sustain relationships with youth, volunteers, community members, board members and funders, as well as a strong staff.

"The candidate should be an organizational manager who is able to build and develop systems and programs to support the organization's mission and ensure its long-term sustainability."

Responsibilities are listed as fundraising/development, marketing/ public relations and program and operations management. Qualifications include a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience and at least seven years of success in complex organizations, with significant leadership experience.

For complete detail on the job description visit the Center's website at

To apply, candidates are asked to e-mail a resume and cover letter, outlining how their skills and experience meet the qualifications of the position, to

Peelen, Poston appointed to tourist council

BRADENTON – The Manatee County Commission has appointed Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen and Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC).

The appointees replace Holmes Beach Commissioner Sandra Haas-Martens and Bradenton City Councilman Harold Byrd, whose terms expired.

The TDC is a nine-member board that advises the county commission on how to spend county resort tax funds, which totaled more than $7 million in 2011. The funds, paid by tourists to owners of accommodations rented for less than six months, are allocated by the county commission to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to market the area to tourists and also are spent on beach renourishment and local tourist attractions.

Poston, who previously served one term on the TDC, was unopposed for the seat required to be filled by an official in the county's largest municipality, Bradenton.

As Bradenton works with the TDC on funding for the Pittsburgh Pirates and McKechnie Field, "it's a bigger deal to the city than ever before," he said, adding that he's looking forward to being a part of the new branding effort in progress for the CVB. The Sarasota CVB recently changed its brand to Visit Sarasota County, reflecting the state's tourism agency brand, Visit Florida.

The vote for the other seat, open to any local municipal official, was 4-3 for Peelen over Haas-Martens, with Longboat Key Commissioner Hal Lenobel receiving no votes at the county commission meeting on Tuesday, May 22.

The position should be held by a Holmes Beach official because the city produces more resort tax for the county than any other municipality except the county itself, said Commissioner Carol Whitmore, a former Holmes Beach mayor, who voted for Peelen along with Commissioners Robin DiSabatino, Michael Gallen and Donna Hayes.

Commissioners Larry Bustle, John Chappie and Joe McClash supported Haas-Martens.

Haas-Martens did not make reports to Holmes Beach commissioners or the mayor about TDC activities, Whitmore said, a point Peelen recently mentioned to fellow Holmes Beach commissioners when she requested their support for her bid for the seat.

"I think it's my job to report back to the Island community what the council is thinking," said Peelen, a first-time Holmes Beach commissioner this term, adding, "I'm honored to be appointed, especially since I'm a newbie on the scene."

Peelen said she plans to discuss TDC business on her radio program, "Coffee with the Commissioner," set to begin broadcasting in June, and in her e-mail newsletter, to "open up the processes."

Tourism overload

At a Holmes Beach Commission meeting the night of her appointment to the TDC, Peelen said she thought vacation rental problems in Holmes Beach were not the fault of tourists, but of developers.

Holmes Beach Commission Chair David Zaccagnino told county commissioners that morning that he supported Peelen because she has new ideas on how cities can work with the TDC to address vacation rental problems that plague Anna Maria Island residents.

"The TDC has done a great job, but right now we're reaching critical mass on the Island," he said, adding that when too many tourists are on the Island, no one has a good time and they don't come back.

"It's time to protect our product," he said.

"What you have taking place on Anna Maria Island is the pressures of tourism," Commissioner Joe McClash said. "The concerns out there are real; you love it too much and you may ruin it."

However, he said, "The challenge is really not for our TDC members to deal with those issues that are unique to the cities."

It's the "goose and the golden egg problem," Commissioner Larry Bustle said.

"We've been encouraging people to come to Anna Maria (Island) and now we're having second thoughts," he said.

But restricting tourism is not the solution, he said, rather, learning "how to deal with the influx of people and make the visitors and residents happy. I don't think we want to shut off the spigot."

"I feel for what Holmes Beach and Anna Maria are struggling with today because we fought those battles years ago in Bradenton Beach," said Manatee County Commission Chair and former Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie.

"With regard to getting what we wish for, years ago we in Bradenton Beach made the decision that it's a tourist community."

"When I agreed to live on an island, I agreed to share it and that's just the way it is," Whitmore said. "It's just a way of life."

Resort tax collections

Municipality March 2012 * March 2011 * Approx. change

Anna Maria $ 110,439 $ 68,806 up 61 percent

Bradenton Beach $ 136,164 $ 136,992 down .006 percent

Holmes Beach $ 388,938 $ 304,006 up 28 percent

Manatee County total $1,344,639 $1,129,974 up 19 percent

Manatee County's 5 percent resort tax, or tourist tax, is collected from owners of accommodations rented for less than six months who charge the tax to their renters, in most cases, tourists. The tax funds the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau's (CVB) tourism marketing efforts and beach renourishment.

Increases reflect increased visitation, according to the CVB, and improved tax collections efforts, according to the Manatee County Tax Collector's Office.

To anonymously report a rental owner who may not be paying the tax, call 941-741-4809 or visit

*Amounts collected at accommodations in March are paid to the Manatee County Tax Collector's Office in April.

Source: Manatee County Tax Collector's Office

Tourist Development Council members

• Chair Carol Whitmore, Manatee County commissioner
• Wayne Poston, Bradenton mayor
• Jean Peelen, Holmes Beach commissioner
• Barbara Rodocker, owner, Bridge Walk Resort, Bradenton Beach
• David Teitelbaum, owner, Tortuga Inn, Tradewinds and Seaside Inn, Bradenton Beach
• Tom Jung, general manger, Courtyard by Marriott, Bradenton
• Ed Chiles, owner, Sandbar, Anna Maria; BeachHouse, Bradenton Beach; Mar Vista, Longboat Key
• Jack Rynerson, board member, Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority
• Vernon DeSear, vice president of marketing, Manatee Healthcare System

The TDC is comprised of one member of the county commission, two elected municipal officials, one from the county's largest municipality (Bradenton), four owners or operators of hotels, motels or other accommodations in Manatee County who 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 resort tax.

The TDC meets on the third Monday of every other month at 9 a.m. at various locations.

Mayor: State law change needed

HOLMES BEACH – New laws passed during the 2012 Florida legislative session failed to include one that would help Holmes Beach and other communities deal with vacation rental problems, according to Mayor Rich Bohnenberger.

During a presentation by State Rep. Jim Boyd at last week's Holmes Beach Commission meeting, Bohnenberger said he would like to see the repeal or amendment of the 2011 state law that prohibits municipalities from instituting or increasing restrictions on rental properties.

"We have to tread lightly on changing other parts of our code" he said, in an effort to address noise, parking and other problems caused by tourists at large vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.

"That's really not fair," he said. "We need to have our voice heard."

Several suggestions recommended by committees that studied the problems earlier this year were rejected by the city's legal staff because they would jeopardize existing rental restrictions under the law.

Boyd said he would discuss the issue with the mayor.

His summary of the 2012 Legislative session included laws that will lower personal injury premiums (PIP) on automobile insurance and require a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in jail for violent felons convicted of possessing weapons. He also said that redistricting changes will place Egmont Key in the district to the north of Anna Maria Island.

Special magistrate

The commission decided against hiring a special magistrate to replace the code enforcement board after code board members spoke against the proposal.

Commissioner Pat Morton had proposed the measure, supported by Commissioner Sandra Haas-Martens, citing recusals by board members on cases in which they had business dealings with alleged code violators.

Recusals are not frequent and have not impaired the board's decisions, Chair Don Schroder said, adding that in 14 years, he has recused himself twice.

"Not once have we not had a quorum" due to recusals, board member John Wize said.

No board findings have been overturned, added board member Ted Geeraerts.

The board has a better understanding of city issues than an outsider would, board alternate Renee Ferguson said.

"Why replace a competent, effective board" that serves with no compensation?

board member Tom Creed asked, praising Schroder for handling a recent case against a confused property owner with "a great deal of compassion."

Commissioner John Monetti said that a special magistrate would protect the board.

"We don't want them to get beat up by their neighbors," he said, adding, "but they're willing to take that on."

The motion to hire a special magistrate failed 3-2, with Monetti, Peelen and Zaccagnino opposed and Haas-Martens and Morton in favor.

In other business, the commission:

• Voted 3-2 to remove the requirement for people to take an oath before speaking at work sessions. Voting in favor were Pat Morton, Jean Peelen and David Zaccagnino; voting against were Sandra Haas-Martens and John Monetti.

• Reappointed Darcie Duncan to the Police Retirement Board.

• Reappointed Jim Dunne to the Parks and Beautification Committee.

• Authorized the mayor to execute a contract between the city and Wood Dock and Seawall to install 28 docks in three T-end canals on Marina Drive for $58,760.

• Authorized the mayor to execute a mutual general release in the Holmes Beach vs. William Sorg case. Sorg, 3707 Gulf Drive, was recently found by the code enforcement board to be in violation of city and state codes for replacing a roof without a permit and continuing work after being ordered to stop.

• Heard a request by Peelen to expedite solving drainage problems on 31st Street. Resident Joseph Schmukler of 114 31st St. said 13 inches of water entered his car in his driveway during heavy rains earlier this month. The city attorney agreed to work with the public works department to expedite the solution.

• Agreed to a request by Tom Creed of the code enforcement board to change the wording on the city building department's red tags to read "... until removed by the Holmes Beach building official" instead of the ambiguous wording, "… until permission is granted."

AMICCO founder dies

Maestro Alfred Gershfeld with AMICCO founder Willem Bartelsman.

The founder and president emeritus of the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra (AMICCO) has died.

AMICCO president Jeanie Pickwick sent this message to members and supporters this week.

"It is my sad duty to tell you that AMICCO's founder Willem Bartelsman passed away quietly at his home in The Netherlands on May 25, 2012, surrounded by his family and beloved wife Mathilda.

For all of us who knew Willem we will remember him with respect and admiration for his many years as founder of our organization. His efforts and enthusiasm never flagged when it came to AMICCO, and we are forever in his debt for his vision, care and counsel.

Willem will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues at AMICCO. Our hearts and prayers go out to Mathilda and the Bartelsman family. Willem was such a wonderful and gentle man – he will be remembered forever."

A talented oboist, Bartelsman moved to Holmes Beach after his retirement and started the Island group by inviting friends musicians to his home and in 1992, they began playing in concert. Over the years, the orchestra and chorus expanded its membership and its reach, with programs to help youngsters develop their musical talents. Every year, AMICCO holds a search for talented teens, and the winners have had an opportunity to play with the orchestra and chorus.

According to a handout from the Bartelsmans' anniversary, "Willem wrote and produced each concert program with the help of many of his Island friends; found and copied the music; arranged for rehearsal and performance sites; prepared all of the posters by stencil and mimeograph, then delivered them by bicycle to local businesses." He was responsible for the group's logo, a pelican on a musical score.

In 2011, AMICCO dedicated its Valentine's Day concert to Bartelsman and his wife, Mathilda, who were celebrating their 60th anniversary.

Pickwick said they are planning a memorial to Bartelsman on Saturday, June 2.

"We are stunned," she said. "As a musical organization, we find ourselves speechless, without music or words to express our grief."

AMICCO public relations specialist Nancy Ambrose talked of Bartelsman's legacy.

"Willem was a very talented and kind man who had a vision – the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestr, which is a very unique organization and which he helped build into a centerpiece of the Tampa Bay area's cultural life," she said. "His legacy will continue on with AMIICO, which, because of him and all he did over the years will be celebrating 20 years of providing high quality performances."

Preparing your boat for the big one

Boats can become a nuisance and hazardous during a hurricane, so the time to plan for the big one is now, according to a pamphlet online by marine insurance company Boat US.

The best way to deal with a boat is to get it out of the water when a storm is imminent. A study by MIT after hurricane Gloria found that boats stored ashore were far less likely to be lost than those stored in the water. Many marinas and yacht clubs have evacuation plans that call for pulling as many boats out of the water as possible whenever a storm is approaching.

That means get a boat away from the water also. A boat stored on davits is vulnerable to storm surge, so it should be stored on shore, well above the anticipated storm surge. If possible, take it inland or, in the case of boats on the Island, to the mainland.

If you must leave a boat in the water, studies show that helix anchors have much more holding power than traditional mushroom and dead-weight anchors. If possible, secure your boat in a snug harbor. Try to avoid anchoring it in an area with a lot of rocks in the bottom as wave action combined with low water surges might cause it to be pulled along the bottom or close to it, damaging the hull.

When to take action

A hurricane warning advisory is issued when sustained winds of 74 mph or more are expected within 24 hours or less. That's too late to head for the boat since you'll probably be busy securing your home and possessions.

A hurricane watch is posted when hurricane conditions pose a threat to a specific coastal region, usually within 36 hours. Some feel that is also too late.

The best time to move your boat is when a hurricane is a substantial possibility. If you wait too late, bridges might be locked down and the area you selected inaccessible.

It's better to have a false alarm than to wait too long and lose everything.

There is an axiom that says, "Never stay aboard in a hurricane."

Believe it.

Secondary weather events such as tornadoes and lightning can combine with the violent wind and waves to make it impossible to control your boat, much less your own body, in a hurricane.

When a hurricane is coming, you should certainly do everything possible to protect your boat – secure extra lines, set out anchors, add chafe protection, strip the boat above and below decks – but make sure you head inland. Your boat can be replaced. You can't.

After the storm

Marinas that were hit by the likes of Hugo, Andrew, Bob and Gloria had to contend with downed power lines, blocked roads and stacks of wreckage. Widespread looting can be a problem also. Boat owners who did not take home expensive equipment before a storm would be wise to do so afterward, if it's still there.

Broken ports and hatches on the boat should be secured to prevent further damage.

For more information, check with your mechanic or marina.

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