The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 36 - June 20, 2012


Sending out an S.O.S.
Carol Whitmore

The idled Skullywag sits in the field next to the
Holmes Beach Public Works building.

The Skullywag sits next to a city building in Holmes Beach, exposed to the elements and showing its age. Now, the Anna Maria Island Privateers are looking to restore it.

According to Tim “Hammer” Thompson, there are some major problems for the vehicle, which was pieced together by Privateer Jim “Skully” Hungerford and a bunch of helpers.

Before the Skullywag, the Privateers had a ship that was more of a barge. They had to pull it behind a heavy-duty pickup.

In 1999, Hungerford put together their new ship, based on a Bluebird school bus with the driver sitting in a Ford F-150 cab. A master with Fiberglas, Hungerford was instrumental in the ship’s two-deck design and construction. So much so, in fact, that two high school students won the contest to name the ship, taking Hungerford’s pirate name and calling it Skullywag.

The new ship ran on its own, it stopped and, with a little extra room, it turned corners. It made a curious sight as it went around the Island’s streets, and it immediately became an icon for a type of lifestyle many on the Island embraced.

Now, it has fallen into disrepair. Rats have gnawed through the wiring and some of the mechanics are wearing out. It has broken down on the road, and the Privateers, who don’t like spending money collected for scholarships on themselves, are asking for donations for the SOS (Save Our Skullywag) Fund.

Thompson wrote a sea shanty about their problem.

“It seems that the pistons have a barnacle build up;

The rudder is bent and hanging low on the stern;

The ship rats have eaten the wiring to our running lights;

The bilge pump is no longer pumping;

Our sound system is sounding like a fog horn;

The oars are broken and we need a tow bar;

And the cannons are misfiring.”

The shipmaster has estimated they need about $5,000 doubloons to bring the Skullywag to parade-worthy shape. They might not have it available for their Fourth of July parade.

To kick off their fundraiser, Concerts in the Park organizer Cindy Thompson has agreed to donate part of the profits to the SOS fund. The concert will be held on Friday, June 29, from 5 to 10 p.m.

The Privateers will be pouring beer and wine, making rum drinks and selling Jell-O shots. There will be 50/50 raffles, a drawing for a basket of Pirate Grog and they will cook up their Buck-N-Ear corn.

Come on out to the Friday Concert in the Park for the music, the food, the refreshments and the shopping, but remember to bring some extra money to help those salts who sail the seas seeking booty to fund scholarships for area kids.

Those who can’t make the concert can send a donation via PayPal at the Privateers website,, or snail-mail it to AMI Privateers, PO Box 1238, Holmes Beach, FL 34218. Mark the check for the SOS Fund. The Privateers are a 501c non-profit and your donations will be tax deductible, so be generous and help out the pirates who have spent 40 years helping kids and adults alike.

Monthly home sales highest since 2005

The “For Sale” signs are coming down as buyers continue to make offers for Island property, according to statistics gathered from the Multiple Listing Service by Alan Galletto, of Island Real Estate.

Galletto released the figures in his latest newsletter (, and they represent sales in May, as the high tourist season closed.

According to Galletto, May’s sales of 52 properties was the first time sales on the Island had topped 50 since 2005. Those sales included 31 single-family homes, 15 condo units, three duplexes and three lots.

Sales to May 31 total 191, including 110 single-family homes, 57 condos, 12 duplexes and 12 lots. Of that total, 12 percent were distressed (bank owned or short sales). Last year’s to-date distressed sales were 15 percent.

Sales of all properties for the past 12 months were 369, including 209 single-family, 113 condo units, 21 duplex units and 26 lots. The previous 12 months total sales were 348.

Galletto’s newsletter said pending properties (under contract) are at all time high levels at 84, including 42 single-family, 26 condos, nine duplexes and seven lots. Galletto said that means future months sales will remain strong.

Inventory is up slightly to 344, including 153 single-family homes, 121 condos, 19 duplexes and 41 lots, compared to 319 last month. The inventory a year ago was 452.

Galletto said he feels the market will end the year in a positive mode. He added that some of the bargains are being gobbled up by investors and homebuyers.

“Because of the low inventory, the number of great rental properties close to the beach is very few,” he said. “There are only 10 single-family properties for sale west of Gulf Drive under $1 million dollars and there are only three lots for sale west of Gulf Drive under $1 million dollars.”

Residents rally ‘round chickens
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Maggie Field | Sun
At left, chicken supporter T-shirts by
Joe Hutchinson are available by
calling him at 504-8303.

ANNA MARIA – Residents are being called to rally around the chickens and roosters that were left by a stranger in the Historical Park on Pine Avenue over Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re just getting started,” said Sandy Rich, organizer of the PC (pro chicken) Group. “We want people to support the chickens. The world knows they’re cool.

“If we get enough people, we’ll approach our elected officials, but we’re not planning any demonstrations on Pine Avenue,” she said with a laugh.

The city has tried in vain to find a new home for the fowl roaming the park and now laying eggs in the underbrush. However, the city could be in violation of its own code by allowing them to stay in the park.

According to Code Enforcement Officer Gerry Rathvon said the code states, “No livestock, fowl or domestic animals other than ordinary household pets shall be kept or maintained in any district.”

When asked if this includes the animals dropped in the park, Rathvon said, “All ordinances are open to interpretation, and that’s up to the city commission.”

Early on Monday, Public Works Director George McKay remarked, “Still there; no takers. I think its fun. It puts some humor into the seriousness.”

Later in the day he said Maureen McCormick, president of the AMI Historical Society, received a call at the historical museum from a Holmes Beach woman who said she was willing to take the chickens and had contacted Wildlife, Inc. the help catch them.

However, after assessing the sitution, Gail Straight, of Wildlife, Inc., said she convinced the woman "that it wasn't a good idea to take the chickens. I will not release them to someone who doesn't have a pen."

On Monday evening, three of Straight's volunteers, Tyler Russell, Devon Straight and Damen Hurd, caught three roosers and one hen. They plan to return Tuesday and try and catch the rest of them. Straight said she knows someone with a pen that can take them.

Meanwhile Joe Hutchinson has designed a T-shirt for chicken supporters.

“I thought it would be funny and made a T-shirt that says, “Have you hugged your chicken today?” Hutchinson explained. “The chickens are quite the topic. I think they’re cool.”

Attorney clarifies process for selecting mayor

ANNA MARIA – City Attorney Jim Dye outlined the process for the city to fill the office of mayor since no one filed to run for the office during the city’s qualifying period.

“In November after the election, the commission will have an organizational meeting, and a chairman of the commission will be selected” Dye explained. “That chairperson automatically steps into the role of mayor and will be mayor for the next two years.

“That creates a vacancy on the commission, and the charter says that is done by electing or appointing a person qualified to fill that seat.”

He said there are gaps in the charter such as establishing the length of the fifth commissioner’s term, when the vice chair is elected and when liaisons are appointed, but he said the commission could decide those questions in advance.

Chair Chuck Webb said they could adopt a resolution to clarify the questions, and Dye said they should do it as early as possible.

Commissioner Dale Woodland declared that he is not interested in becoming mayor because he doesn’t want to lose the ability to vote. Webb, Commissioner John Quam and Nancy Yetter, who will take office in November, have all stated they are not interested in the position. Commissioner Sue Lynn has said she would be interested in the position.

Due to charter questions that have arise over the election issue, SueLynn asked if it is time for a charter review, and Mayor Mike Selby said it is.

Dye said the mayor would appoint five members of the charter commission and the commission would approve them.

Firefighters rescue gull grounded by kite string
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO | submitted
This gull, tangled in kite string and stuck in a tree,
was saved by firefighters.

West Manatee firefighters came to the rescue Sunday evening when a seagull was tangled up in kite string at the top of a tree on Park Avenue in Anna Maria.

According to Park Avenue resident Betty Yanger, “Just before sunset, a lot of birds were flying around a cypress tree, and we saw a seagull 30 feet away with something wrapped around it. It was trying to flap its wings and it couldn’t”

Yanger said Mark Romeo, who was visiting his father, Joe, for Father’s Day, called Wildlife Rescue, and Dan Fansler responded, but couldn’t reach the bird. Fansler then called West Manatee, which sent the ladder truck from Station 2 in Cortez.

“They came in the ladder truck and Dan and a firefighter went up in the bucket and rescued the seagull,” Yanger continued. “Dan freed the bird from the kite string and said nothing was broken and took it to rehab. It was really neat how the firefighters responded to help.”

Fire’s start undetermined

maggie field | sun
This boat, worth $100,000, was destroyed in the
fire at the boat house at 5601 Flotilla Drive.

HOLMES BEACH – Fire inspectors from the state fire marshal’s office and West Manatee Fire Rescue have ruled the cause of the fire that destroyed a boat and the boat house at 5601 Flotilla Avenue last Monday is undetermined.

Fire inspectors pored over what was left of the $100,000 Grady-White boat, which was destroyed in the fire that took out the boat house and an art studio behind the house.

West Manatee Fire Capt. Kurt Lathrop said they initially suspected the boat caught on fire, but he said the insurance companies, which covered the boat and the house in separate policies, agreed to a settlement and leaving the cause as officially undetermined would help the companies keep that settlement intact.

West Manatee Fire Rescue put out the fire with foam after getting firefighters on the roof to apply it. Shortly after they started spraying the foam, the black smoke turned white, meaning it was being starved for oxygen and was being extinguished.

The owners of the house, Robert and Liz Lang, were in the home at the time of the fire and were alerted to the fire by a neighbor who rang their doorbell and told them the house next to theirs was on fire. They discovered the fire was in their attached boat house.

Board tackles beach wedding issue

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners agreed to ask staff to write a policy requiring a special event permit for weddings that use numerous chairs, tables and tents on the beach.

Chair Chuck Webb told the board, “About two months ago, my wife and I were walking on the beach and on a Saturday, there were100 chairs sitting out there. Someone had a wedding and had taken off and it was about 8 p.m. and the chairs had been there all afternoon.”

“People coming out and walking down to the beach and having a wedding, that’s great. It’s always happened in Anna Maria, but not moving furniture on the beach. They start the set up process way before the ceremony, and we have the beach being taken over for a long period of time.”

He said in those cases, the wedding party should be required to have a special event permit, but there should be an exception for a few chairs for elderly, infirm or handicapped.

Webb also said he has issues with houses being leased specifically for weddings, which he considers a commercial operation in a residential district.

Commissioner John Quam asked if there have been requests for permits.

“We haven’t lately,” Building Official Bob Welch replied. “We get a phone call now and then, and we tell them they can take an arch and a couple of chairs, have the wedding and leave the beach.”

Mayor Mike Selby said enforcement would be difficult and stressed, “People aren’t going to come in here and get a special event permit. They’re just going to go out on the beach. I don’t want to go out there and wreck someone’s wedding.”

Webb said he is not advocating that, but the city should notify wedding planners. Commissioner Sue Lynn said she is working with property managers, who tell people that leasing houses in residential districts for weddings is not allowed and they should go to a commercial facility.

Concerts in the Park ends season with Southern rock

HOLMES BEACH – The last of the Concerts in the Park for the season will serve up Southern rock on Friday, June 29, when Highway 41 and Scott’s Garage take the field next to Holmes Beach City Hall.

The event will take a summer break until October, said organizer Cindy Thompson, of Island Festivals.

Summer heat and rains could decrease attendance, reducing the proceeds that go to a different not-for-profit partner each month, she said, explaining that not-for-profit organizations are only allowed three liquor licenses a year, which Island Festivals uses for the events.

“I just can’t chance it in the summer,” she said, adding that the concerts so far this year have raised an average $1,000 for each of its partners.

This month, the not-for-profit partner is the Anna Maria Island Privateers, who are raising SOS funds to Save Our Ship, the Skullywag, which is in need of an overhaul.

After the last concert of the season is over, vendors will relocate to the Bridge Street Night Market on Saturdays, Thompson said.

This month’s concert spotlights Highway 41 from 8 to 10 p.m., a seven-piece New Jersey band that cranks out vintage Allman Brothers like true Southerners.

Combining the country rock, blues, instrumental jazz and symphonic acid rock of the Allmans, Highway 41 has been a crowd pleaser at previous Concerts in the Park.

The band is Rick Demirjian: lead vocals, congas, harmonica and percussion; Mark Cusato: lead guitar and vocals; Dante DeFeo: lead guitar and slide guitar; Paul Toepel: organ and piano; John French: bass and vocals; Dave Leech: drums, percussion and vocals; and John Doyle: drums and percussion.

Scott’s Garage, a four-piece power pop band from Richmond, Va., will lead off the show from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Their second CD, Soul Magnet, features their song from a popular YouTube video, “The Girl with the Yippie Dog.”

Formed by drummer and vocalist Scott Baird in early 2007, the band includes bassist John Bollinger, vocalist and guitarist Gary Hankins and multi-instrumentalist Greg Marrs.

D.J./M.C. Chris Grumley starts the show at 5 p.m. Enjoy the Taste of the Island Food Court, browse the arts, crafts and retail show, and bring the kids to enjoy a bounce house, face painting, sprinklers and an outdoor movie.

To be a sponsor, call Cindy Thompson at 941-536-4257. On Facebook, visit Holmes Beach Concerts in the Park.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper