The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 34 - June 6, 2012


Art League board seeks answers
Carol Whitmore

Laura McGeary releases art that was entered in
the last Art League show to one of the artists.

HOLMES BEACH – Fearing they would be blamed for the demise of the AMI Art League, three board members and two former directors chose to speak out last week.

The Art League closed on May 11, when Executive Director Christina Reginelli put a sign on the door stating “Closed until further notice,” and left the organization because she was not being paid. Seven members of the 10-member board of directors resigned the same week following an emergency meeting.

“We care very much about the Art League,” Reginelli stressed. “It was heartbreaking for them to have to do that. It was not an easy decision for any of us.”

Then Laura McGeary, president of the group’s board of directors, said it was not closed, but “on vacation” and claimed there were “financial difficulties.”

However, board members said that they were unaware of any financial issues until the emergency meeting.

“The monthly financial reports indicated we had money, then abruptly we had no money,” Reginelli explained. “We want to know where the money went. We asked her and didn’t get a good answer.”

“Under Laura’s watch there was no accounting for the money. As a result of the negligence, seven board members and I chose to resign.”

Board member Ellen Aquilina concurred.

“When we looked at the monthly reports, they showed there was money, then there was no money,” Aquilina said. “I would like to know where the money went. Why didn’t she tell the board there was a problem?”

“I agree with everything Christina and Ellen said,” board member Karen Hasler said. “Laura has not taken any responsibility for this financial disaster. She hasn’t been held accountable for anything.”

Board member Leslie Robbins concurred and added, “Why didn’t she alert the board when the funds were so low that bills could not be paid, especially the director’s salary and the rent, before there was no money at all and they were in arrears?”

Where the money went

McGeary and Vice President Deeana Atkinson were the signatories on the checks. Reginelli had no responsibility for the money and did not sign checks.

Former Festival Director Colin Bissett, who resigned after the group’s annual Springfest Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts, said, “When I found out the president of the board was also the treasurer, bookkeeper and signer of checks, I had questions, but the figures were never forthcoming. The financial responsibility was weak to put it mildly.”

When asked where the money went, McGeary responded, “Our expenses exceed our income. There was not a negative balance at the meeting, but we didn’t have enough to continue. It was really a surprise for the money to have run out quicker than expected.”

McGeary has asked for donations from the public of $25, $50 and $100 or more by June 16 to reopen the organization. She said she would need about $10,000.

“We have to raise a certain amount before the end of June to pay rent and a former employee,” McGeary said. “And we need to get the festivals started again because that’s our primary source of income.”

However, board members were wary of the plea.

“Who is going to make a donation to an organization without some proof that it is a legitimate organization?” Bissett asked.

“Before anyone sends any money to the Art League, the members are owed an explanation as to why it closed and where the money went,” Hasler said.

“I want to support the arts and the arts community on the Island,” Reginelli added. “If people want to donate to the Art League, I urge them to understand what their donation is doing and where it’s going.”

Non-profit status

McGeary said members of the organization found out last year that it had lost its 501c3 non-profit designation, however, no one in the organization has been able to explain how that happened.

“We got a letter from the IRS that said it was our third notice,” McGeary recalled. “I had to start at ground zero to get it reinstated. We filed whatever the IRS required. The tax exempt is crucial to us getting back on our feet.”

She said not only is the process of reinstatement costly, but “losing the 501c3 didn’t allow us to do the fundraising to support us and write grants.”

Other issues she said contributed to the financial difficulties are the economic situation and rising costs.

“If you have more activity, you need volunteers to take over some administrative duties and reduce costs,” she said.

McGeary said the IRS recognizes the organization as a non-profit because it is in the process of having that status reinstated, but donors cannot receive a tax deduction yet. She said she has already received some donations and many calls of support.

The board should have been more responsive to the problems, McGeary said and noted, “There’s all that talk out there. Why didn’t they say, ‘We have a problem; let’s try and fix it.’ We need to move forward and fix what needs to be fixed and make it better.”

The Sun has requested copies of the Art League’s financial records, but had not received them at press time.

Island Blood Drive draws donors
Carol Whitmore

Kelly Joseph, of Holmes Beach, was among
the first donors.

HOLMES BEACH – This year’s Island Blood Drive got off to a smooth start. In fact, so smooth that it looked like there wasn’t much of a crowd, but organizer Wanda Reed-Burk reported 70 donors went through in the first hour.

Overall, the number of donors was down, but there were five non-profits rounding up donors last year compared with four this year. The total number of donors was 466, compared with more than 700 last year. The money raised totaled $25,409 this year compared with $31,764 last year.

The four beneficiaries of the drive, the Anna Maria Island Community Center, the Anna Maria Island Privateers, Wildlife Rescue and Education and West Manatee Fire Auxiliary, had booths set up near the entrance to the event, which was held at St. Bernard Catholic Church’s activity center. Every donor got to choose where $100 goes among the four non-profits.

Their totals were, from most to least:
• Wildlife Rescue and Education, $12,593
• Anna Maria Island Community Center, $6,083
• Anna Maria Island Privateers, $3,700
• West Manatee Fire Auxiliary, $3,033

Reed-Burke said the blood drive was just in time.

“This will put us in good shape for Fourth of July, when people have automobile and boat accidents that might require blood,” she said.

“We want to give special thanks to St. Bernard Catholic Church for the use of their facilities,” she added. “Donors can wait in air conditioned comfort of the activity center instead of outdoors waiting for an opening at a bloodmobile.”

Reed-Burke said there would be another Island Blood Drive again the first week of June next year.

Local surf legend Wilson Shymanski passes
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Wilson Shymanski, 52, died suddenly in his Bradenton home on Tuesday, May 8. Born at Manatee Memorial Hospital in 1959, he died just two weeks shy of his 53rd birthday.

Growing up in Palma Sola Park mere miles from the beach, Wilson began going to Manatee Public Beach at a very early age. His mother, Kay Shymanski, who died in 2007, packed her kids into the station wagon, crossed the Palma Sola Causeway and spent nearly every day in the sun and waves.

Older twin brothers Rich and Phil Salick became local surf legends, moving to Cocoa Beach just out of high school. Wilson followed their lead after graduating in 1977 from Manatee High School.

Wilson’s friends were many, and he held the title “The Mayor of Coconuts,” given to him by the Cocoa Beach crew that frequented that famous beach area.

If it was physical, Wilson was good at it – skateboarding, surfing – especially anything to do with the beach. Wilson became one of the most notable surfers in Cocoa Beach while managing the Salick Surfboards retail store at its famous Third Street North location, home of many notable surfers, including Kelly Slater.

After living in Cocoa Beach for a number of years, he located to Texas for a time before returning to his home in Bradenton.

He had a keen interest in cars and spent a lot of time working on his 1991 Mustang. An avid keeper of fish, the saltwater tanks in his home were pristine wonderlands, always in top condition with the meticulous care he gave them.

In 1999, Wilson was a great hero, as he gave the gift of life to his brother, Rich, by donating a kidney and saving his brother’s life.

He is survived by brothers Richard Salick, Philip Salick and Rosser Shymanski; sister Joanie Mills; nephews Phil Salick, David Morgan and Brandon Mills, and a number of extended family members.

Services were private. The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, contributions be made to the National Kidney Foundation of Florida, 1040 Woodcock Road, Suite 119, Orlando, FL 32803, e-mail or visit

Court to settle 27th Street gate debate
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Cindy Lane | Sun
The gate between Sandpiper Resort in Bradenton
Beach and a Holmes Beach neighborhood is
posted with a no trespassing sign.

HOLMES BEACH – The city has sued the city of Bradenton Beach and Sandpiper Resort Co-op Inc., asking the court to decide a dispute over the ownership of the right of way on 27th Street, the border between the two cities.

In a declaratory action filed on May 24, Holmes Beach asked the court to declare that the property is a public street and that Sandpiper does not own the property, alleging that Bradenton Beach did not own the right of way when it quitclaimed the property to Sandpiper.

Commissioner John Monetti raised the issue last year after Sandpiper, a Bradenton Beach mobile home park, installed a gate in an opening in the fence along 27th Street.

Claiming that the gate hindered residents’ access to the public Gulf beach access at the western end of 27th Street, he requested that Sandpiper remove the gate in the fence, which borders a house he owns on the Holmes Beach side and a private parking lot used by Sandpiper residents on the Bradenton Beach side.

Officials also requested that Sandpiper remove the no trespassing signs on the fence.

Sandpiper did not remove the gate or the signs, claiming that it owns the right of way along 27th Street subject to a 2008 Bradenton Beach ordinance that resulted in Bradenton Beach conveying the property to Sandpiper in 2009.

The city claims in the suit that Bradenton Beach violated its city charter by conveying public property to a private entity, making the transfer to Sandpiper void.

It also claims that Sandpiper is wrongly prohibiting public usage of 27th Street, saying that until the fence was installed, it was used for pedestrian and bike access to the beach and to the Circle K convenience store on Gulf Drive as well as for a utility easement.

The city requests a declaration from the court that Sandpiper be ordered to remove the signs and gates from the fence and remove a portion of the fence to provide access from the adjacent alley to 27th Street.

According to the suit, Holmes Beach also is in doubt about whether Sandpiper might deem public water, sewer and power lines in the right of way as its own property and whether it might complain that city employees, including law enforcement officers, are trespassing in the normal course of their duties on the property.

A required intergovernmental dispute resolution proceeding between the two cities ended in a stalemate because Sandpiper, a non-governmental entity, is involved.

By consensus, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and Commissioners Zaccagnino and Sandra Haas-Martens favored filing the suit, with Monetti recusing himself due to his ownership of property next to Sandpiper and Jean Peelen recusing herself due to her ownership of property in Sandpiper. Commissioner Pat Morton has said that residents still have access by walking through the gate.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy, a Sandpiper resident, and Sandpiper Manager Tracy Moon said they could not comment on a pending case.

Manatee Circuit Judge Diana Moreland was assigned to the case.

Finding funds for Gavon

West Manatee Fire Rescue, Island Real Estate and other contributors will be hosting a fund-raiser for Gavon Sutphin, the five-year-old who suffered a stroke and is now recovering, on Sunday, June. 10, at 11 a.m. The group will be washing cars, selling hotdogs and drinks and holding a raffle drive at Fire Station 1, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, to help with Gavon’s expenses. Doctors say his stroke was caused by a weak vein, which burst. They said they can’t operate because the vein is too close to the brain stem.

Bring your dirty car and let the volunteers get it clean while they make money for Gavon’s recovery. He is a student at the School for Constructive Play, in Anna Maria.

Paraders welcome on Fourth of July

file photo
Smoke rises from the Anna Maria Island Privateers'
parade ship after they fired a salvo during last
year's Fourth of July parade.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Anna Maria Island Privateers are looking for a few good paraders to join them in celebrating the Fourth of July starting at Coquina Beach at 10 a.m. and ending at Bayfront Park, in Anna Maria.

Those wanting to participate are welcome, but they need to register in advance. Some of the rules are:

• All floats and units must be staged by 9:30 a.m. Applications must be turned in.

• Entry is free. The Privateers are a non-profit 501c3; tax deductible donations are accepted.

• Floats or cars must be decorated in colors and style befitting the spirit of Independence Day.

• All units should have a sign or banner indicating who they represent. The Privateers reserve the right to refuse entry for inappropriate display or activity political advertising, solicitation, campaigning or endorsements.

• The firing of non-projectile black powder will be allowed.

• All units must be motorized or self-propelled. No marching or walking units can be accommodated.

• No person or organization may charge a fee or request a donation to be on any float or to participate.

• There will be no consuming of alcohol during the procession

• Precession participants will be solely responsible for any damage or injury caused by the throwing objects from their respective floats/units

• There will be an after parade gathering held at the Cafe on the Beach immediately after the parade where the Privateers will announce to the public their college scholarship recipients.

Contact: Tim “Hammer” Thompson at 941-780-1668 or e-mail: for registration.

Commissioner explains project vote

BRADENTON BEACH – City Commissioner Rick Gatehouse said he initially had misgivings on the city’s joint sand dune/parking lot on the beach project with ELRA, Inc., owners of the BeachHouse, where the project will be.

Following the City Commission vote to approve the project against the recommendations of the city’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) board, most members of the board resigned saying in essence that they felt their work was for naught. The board made the recommendation to the Commission following a hearing, but when the commission held its hearing, some P&Z members also spoke to reaffirm their opposition.

“Too often, commissions have made decisions without taking into consideration the long-term ramifications of their actions,” Gatehouse said. “We must have an eye to the future to ensure the actions we take now do not come back to haunt us in a year or a few years.

“Nobody likes changes, but change is inevitable and it is our job to manage and direct changes in a beneficial manner.”

Gatehouse, who said he opposed the rush to tear down old properties and replace them instead of renovating them before the real estate bust and national recession, but he realizes voting down this project could be disastrous in three areas – erosion, storm surge and unwanted development on the beach by ELRA, Inc.

“I worked on the original beach renourishment in 1992 and literally hundreds of others over a 20-year career as a dredge-man, and it is my experience that beaches erode at the same spots and this property was underwater previous to that renourishment,” he said about erosion. “As for storm surge, the dune project will help eliminate water going across our main evacuation route – Gulf Drive.”

Gatehouse said ELRA could exercise its property rights and erect an elevated two-story building.

“With the dune project, there will still be a vista of the Gulf for the public to enjoy,” he said. “If they exercise those development rights, that vista would probably be lost.”

Gatehouse said the dune would be a demarcation of the beach preservation zone; create a sustainable turtle habitat; mitigate erosion and formation of lagoons, like the one created in the 1992 renourishment when one property owner refused to allow the project on his property; and inhibit storm surge.

Gatehouse said the past season made him realize how much they need more parking and the project would add spots for the BeachHouse and the public at a minimal cost to the city.

Because he was initially not very excited about the project, he addedthefollowing stipulations that the city commission and ELRA accepted.

• No BeachHouse employee would be allowed to park on the beach parking spots, but must park in the parking lot north of Oma’s Pizza across the street, freeing 20 to 60 spots depending on how many employees work at the restaurant during a given time.

• The beach lot will be open only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Native landscaping will be used to beautify the area.

• ELRA agreed to a covenant to prohibit any further development there.

Gatehouse reiterated that cities need to direct future development instead of trying to ban it – an action that could lead to immense legal expenses if they try to take away the rights of landowners.

It’s a small world, after all

Left, Jim Finn; right, Dick Rowse

HOLMES BEACH – Rounding the Key Royale golf course, Jim Finn and Dick Rowse talk about things, mostly lousy swings.

But one thing they don’t talk about – their military service in World War II.

“It just never came up,” Rowse said. That is, until the day last November that his wife handed him an article in the Anna Maria Island Sun about Finn’s upcoming Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

As he read Finn’s story, it hit him, like a bombshell out of the past.

The golfing buddies, who live just over a mile from each other in Holmes Beach, had been in the same battles in Okinawa and in Saipan – one on land, one at sea – and never knew it.

“I played golf with him all these years,” said Rowse, who served on a Navy gunboat. “We were both in Okinawa at the same time. I was on a ship there, and he was on land. We were doing the heavy work in the water.”

And Finn, serving with the Second Marine Division, was doing the heavy work on the ground in the infamous battle that took the life of U.S. war correspondent Ernie Pyle and was immortalized in several films.

Later the two men served at the same time in Saipan, said Rowse, whose ship escorted submarines in and out of the island and found and destroyed enemy mines.

On Saturday, their mission will be nearly as taxing, considering they’re in their 80s. They will make a one-day, 23-hour whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C. with about 70 other veterans of World War II on an Honor Flight.

The trip is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island, who invited the veterans to apply for the program.

Since 2005, the project has taken more than 63,000 World War II veterans to the nation’s capital for one-day, all-expense-paid trips that include visits to war memorials, including the World War II Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Volunteer Rotarian “guardians” accompany the veterans.

The Island Rotary Club is joining with 52 Southwest Florida Rotary Clubs to organize the trip, spokesman Barry Gould said.

There will be flag waving, song singing and a hero’s welcome in the nation’s capital.

And there no doubt will be lots of memories.


Rowse signed up with the Navy as a 16-year-old kid in 1943 and served in the Atlantic theater for a year and a half, then in the Pacific theater until he was discharged as a yeoman first class in 1946.

“In those days, we could get in that young,” he said, adding that most guys would do anything to avoid being drafted into the Army and serving on the ground.

The same year, Finn, 17, convinced his mother to sign the papers to let him join the Marines. He had wanted to join right after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, but he was only 15 at the time.

After basic training, Finn sailed for a secret destination in the Pacific, with orders sent over a modified clothesline from another ship. It turned out to be Tarawa, a small Pacific Island where the Japanese had an air strip.

Finn’s was the only Marine division going in, he recalled.

Three days later, the infamous battle ended with 4,690 Japanese out of a force of 4,836 dead. The Marines, having lost 997 of their own, were in charge.

The division left for Hawaii, then Saipan, then Okinawa.

There, they fought in another infamous battle – this one three months long – that produced the highest toll of American casualties in any campaign against the Japanese, according to Army records. American battle casualties were 49,151, of which 12,520 were killed or missing and 36,631 wounded, with non-battle casualties totaling 26,211. In all, 36 ships were sunk and 763 planes lost. The Japanese lost 110,000 lives.

Rowse, who keeps Japanese war memorabilia on his garage wall, was in Okinawa from the day of the invasion until several months after it was over. Finn got a break and got out of Okinawa earlier, he said.

Later, Finn’s division occupied Nagasaki after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on the city, which ended the war in the Pacific. He compared the devastation in the city to a hurricane.

After the war, Rowse finished high school, then served in the reserves, which got him drafted for the Korean conflict, as it was called at the time, which he spent working for the draft board.

Rowse later worked with a family business, then with Smith Realty on Anna Maria Island, then Engle and Volkers, until his retirement. Finn worked in advertising for industrial clients.

Somewhere along the line, they both learned to play golf.

Chances are, they will have more to talk about on the golf course next week than their swings.

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