The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 48 - September 12, 2012


Sandbar makeover
Carol Whitmore

Sandbar owner Ed Chiles is all smiles after using
heavy equipment to take the first bite out of the restaurant’s
dining room. Both the dining room and the bar are being
completely renovated, Chiles said.


ANNA MARIA – With a flip of a lever or two, Ed Chiles took a chunk of old wood, wiring and insulation out of the corner of the Sandbar restaurant Monday afternoon. It was the first step toward a comprehensive makeover of the popular beachfront eatery that began life as two army barracks buildings joined together in the 1940s.

“The die is cast, there’s no turning back,” he said with a pensive smile. “This is long in coming and soon we’ll have a new, beautiful facility to serve our customers.”

While the dining area and indoor bar get a refurbishment, the Sandbar will continue to serve meals in the partially covered deck and bar.

“We will continue to remain open until the job is done,” Chiles said.

The Sandbar restaurant has been a destination for residents and visitors alike who have enjoyed watching the surf, birds and people at the beach since 1979, when the Chiles family purchased it.

To prepare for the loss of the indoor dining area and bar, they built a second kitchen to service diners on the deck and it will continue in that role.

“We’re still open for business,” said Mark Anderson, Project Manager for the refurbishment. “You can still guess when the sun is going to set and win a bottle of champagne, we’ll still have valet parking and you can still have a wedding on the beach or in the gazebo. It will still have that bathhouse charm.”

In addition to a new dining area and bar, there will be new rest rooms accessible from the dining room. The restaurant’s seating capacity was set at 110 and Chiles said they might lose a few seats with the new rest rooms, but it will be newer and better.

Serving food on the beach has its ups and downs. While the views are magnificent, it can get a little scary when Mother Nature is on a rampage. Chiles remembered between beach renourishments when waves were splashing on the windows to the west.

“Even with that, we never had water get into the restaurant,” he said. “It has been a really well-built building.”

There was no estimate on when the job would be complete, but until then, you can enjoy the surf and a good meal from a table on the deck.

The start of the project coincided with getting approval from Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. The last turtle nest on the beach behind the restaurant hatched last weekend and that’s when they got the go-ahead.


Commissioner: Repeal cell tower law

BRADENTON BEACH – City Commissioner Richard Gatehouse wants to start over on the issue of cell phone towers in the city following an exchange of words between opposing sides.

In a three-page memo to fellow commissioners that was distributed at last Thursday’s City Commission meeting, Gatehouse took issue with comments from Scenic WAVES Chair Carl Parks that Gatehouse said accused the Commission in a roundabout fashion of being paid off.

In an e-mail that Gatehouse said was sent to cell tower consultant Rusty Monroe and residents Tjet Martin, JoAnn Meilner and Janie Robertson, Parks opened with, “Dammit Rusty! I, you and many others worked long and hard” to keep a cell tower from being built here.

Gatehouse’s memo reads, “For all intents and purposes, Mr. Monroe was engaged as an ‘expert’ consultant (even though he is not an engineer) for the city to assist in drafting an ordinance and assist applicants in conforming to that ordinance. In actuality, a review of the work product from Mr. Monroe makes it appear that the agent who is being endorsed by this small group of people serves to obstruct and/or prevent a cell tower from being built within our municipal boundaries.”

Gatehouse said the wording of the aforementioned e-mail by Parks is proof of their intent.

Signed lease

Parks said the ordinance was drawn from a standard model and it has some requirements to make sure the tower is safe. He accused the city of not following its requirements when it signed a lease with Ridan Industries II, LLC to place a tower on land south and east of the public works shop.

“There were no public hearings to determine a need, yet they signed a lease already,” Parks said. “The only notification on the agenda about the signing was a ‘cryptic’ notice in Attorney Business and residents within 1,500 feet of the pole need to be notified via certified mail.”

Parks said the city did not float a balloon from the location and at the top height of the tower to give people an idea of how it would appear, as required by its own legislation.

Parks said when the city approved Monroe’s ordinance, Jim Eatrides, a consultant from Alpha-Omega Communications, had no problem with it.

Finally, Parks said when the ordinance was sent to City attorney Ricinda Perry to take care of typos, it disappeared for a while. He said Bob Bartelt was mayor when it was approved but the present mayor, John Shaughnessy, signed it.

In his memo, Gatehouse said he studied the ordinance and felt it is “obstructionist in nature with the intent of making it as difficult as possible to navigate and conform to by anyone seeking to install any form of telecommunications infrastructure” in the city. He attached a model ordinance that is nine pages long, as opposed to the one Monroe introduced that is 30 pages long.

Gatehouse points out the city did not sign a contract with Monroe as an ongoing consultant and he would oppose any effort to do so.

“Mr. Monroe was introduced to the city by Janie Robertson and was then engaged to help draft this ordinance without proper vetting,” Gatehouse’s memo said. “The city, under Bob Bartelt, entered into this situation without the benefit of an executed RFP (request for proposals) process, in order to compare similar consultants through a relative examination of qualifications, services provided and costs.”

Gatehouse’s memo said, “an investigation of Monroe’s history shows he and at least one of the municipalities he has represented in the past has been sued by cell tower developers and telecommunications providers due to the restrictive and obstructionist nature of similar ordinances he has written.” It added one case went to the Alabama Supreme Court, where a judgment against him was upheld.

Gatehouse’s memo claims the ordinance is holding up approval of a nine-foot-tell whip antenna for Anna Maria Island Radio station, formerly known as WAMI. The station is trying to increase its transmittal range through use of the antenna. Gatehouse said the application fee for an antenna requires as much as $25,000 be held in escrow, but was uncertain of the exact amount.

Gatehouse recommend severing ties with Monroe, issuing an RFP for a professional engineer with expertise in telecommunications, repealing the current ordinance and drafting a new one keeping with the national standards model modified for the city’s specific needs.

9/11 remembered
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Richard Evers was a New York firefighter and his wife,
Denise, was a dispatcher on Sept. 11.

Bridge Street Bistro owner Bill Herlihy was watching the people as a singer entertained in the background at Island Time Bar last Saturday during the second annual 9/11 remembrance. There was a breeze that made the shaded outdoor bar cooler.

“It’s a fantastic turnout,” Herlihy said. “I have always been for donating to our emergency services and we’re keeping it local by donating to the local police, fire departments and emergency services.

Herlihy credited his special events coordinator Renee Nelson for organizing this annual event, “She feels the same way I do,” he said. “The local businesses helped too and we have an assortment of great raffle prizes.”

Richard Evers and his wife, Denise, were especially excited because they moved here from New York where he was a firefighter and she was a dispatcher.

He spoke about what he did that day.

“I saw what was happening on TV and went to our station where our other guys were,” he said. “We pulled over a city bus and asked the people to get off so the driver could take us to the scene.”When they arrived, Ever said there was no time to think, only to react.

“I was part of a rescue team and that’s what we tried to do,” he said. “We got there after the towers had collapsed and we knew there were a lot of dead people there, but we concentrated on saving the ones still alive. It was the greatest rescue ever; we rescued 25,000 at the Towers.”

Evers said his station lost 130 people in the attack.

“Our special operations command was all wiped out,” he said, adding he formed a connection with some firefighters who would be a part of his life here.

“Afterward, I met some Bradenton firemen who were out collecting on street corners, but I didn’t know where they were from,” he said. “They raised $90,000 and I told one of them we were going to move to Florida and when they asked where in Florida, I said a little city on the Gulf called Bradenton."

Evers said he has a bond with those firemen who went to New York to help.

Kurt Lathrop retires after 26 years with fire district
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Deputy Fire Marshall Kurt Lathrop shows
his award for being named Fire Investigator
of the Year for the state of Florida in 2008.


ANNA MARIA –Kurt Lathrop, of West Manatee Fire District, has fulfilled his childhood dream of joining the fire service and is now ready for other challenges.

“It’s all about helping people,” he said. “It became a rewarding career. I have no regrets.”

“I’m happy for him,” Fire Chief Andy Price said. “He’s had a great career and is moving on to another chapter in his life.”

Lathrop, who was hired by West Side Fire District in 1986 as a firefighter, worked his way up the ranks to become deputy fire marshal in 1998. He continued in that role when West Side merged with the Anna Maria Fire District to become West Manatee in 2000 until his retirement Aug. 31.

Through the years, Lathrop has become best known for his fire investigations with his arson dogs, first Allie in 1990, then Penny in 1998 and Lucky in 2006.

“I always liked fire investigation,” he recalled. “A saw a demonstration of someone who had an arson dog in Pinellas County in 1990; it was the only one in the state.”

Lathrop talked to West Side Fire Chief Ed Cleveland about getting an arson dog and he gave his blessing to the project. He also had support from the other fire districts in the county.

“I established a working relationship with Southeast Guide Dogs and started getting dogs who couldn’t be guide dogs from them,” Lathrop continued.

“I give them their initial training for two to three weeks and then take them to another person for further training. More than 90 dogs have gone through my house.”

The final training for dog and handler takes place over four weeks in Maine, funded by State Farm, and then the pair is ready to go. Lathrop plans to stay with the training program and also will continue his relationship with Southeast Guide Dogs.

“In January, I’ll get a call from Maine that they need a certain number of dogs,” he explained. “I’ll call Southeast and put in the request. I evaluate the dogs, adopt them on behalf of the program and begin training.”

The best and the worst

One of the two best aspects of his job was the investigative side, Lathrop said.

“I got to participate in cases and make a difference,” he said. “An arson dog has to work to eat, so if you are not working a fire scene, you have to work the dog. I’ve always done this on my own time. It was about the program, not the money.”

The second was public education.

“Since I’ve been here, no child in our district has been burned or injured by fire,” he pointed out. “It shows that what we’re doing in the schools is effective. It is money well spent.”

He said Jim Davis, who will take his position as deputy fire marshal, is involved in the Juvenile Fire Setter Program.

“These kids have underlying issues and fire setting is just a cry for help,” he explained. “Through the program some of these things are identified and we can get them the help they need.”

He said the worst part of his job was dealing with tragedy.

“Every time you go out on a call, you’re dealing with someone’s tragedy,” he said. “What’s frustrating is how much of it is preventable. That’s why we spend so much time with kids. We know they’ll get to mom and dad.”

Lathrop, who remarried three weeks ago, has moved to Lake County, where his wife, Josie, a paramedic, works in a hospital emergency room. He has applied to work with her.

“With the career I’ve had, I haven’t lost the passion for what I’m doing, but I’ve accomplished everything I have to offer here,” he concluded. “I hope what I have to offer can be a benefit in other areas.”

Big turnout for Becky

Friends and supporters of Becky Kramer raised
$6,000 to $7,000 Saturday to help pay the medical
bills in her battle with cancer. Seated are Colleen
Collings and Joanne Quinn; standing,
left to right: John Sutton, Nita Wallis, Becky's husband,
Daryl Konecy and Becky.

There was a good crowd for the Becky Kramer fundraiser last Saturday in the Drift In parking lot.

Kramer is suffering from breast cancer and the Drift In put together this event to help defer some of her medical bills and help her kick cancer. Drift In owner Joe Cuervo said the event did well.

“It was very successful,” he said. “They raised around $6,000 or $7,000.”

Cuervo said Becky was a regular customer and needed help.

“She came down with cancer and it wasn’t covered by insurance,” Cuervo said. “I had cancer about 11 years ago and even though I had health insurance, it still almost wiped me out.”

Cuervo thanked everyone who turned out and helped put the event together.

“We’ve had benefits for people before, but this one was probably the most successful,” he said.

“It’s a good turnout,” Kramer said, looking around at all the activity Saturday. “I want to thank the men and women of the Moose Lodge, the Drift In and every business in this community.”

Kramer has completed chemotherapy and began daily radiation this week, a treatment that will take six months.

Bridge Tender owner Fred Bartizol flew in from Wisconsin Saturday, where the low was 43 degrees that morning. He commented on the people there.

“It’s great turnout with the breeze and the sunny weather,” he said. “The whole neighborhood gets involved when people are in need and it’s nice to see.”

Bartizol, who has been coming to and owning property on the Island since the 1950s, said he’s proud of Bradenton Beach.

“This city has come a long way and it really looks nice now,” he said. “The people who live here are great and they really come together. The businesses respond as well.”

Board looks at new land use categories

ANNA MARIA – In a city that is almost built out on an Island where there is no new land, it might have been surprising to some on the Planning and Zoning Board to learn there is a small amount of property that was annexed within the last two years and may need new land use categories.

City Planner Alan Garrett told the board the land around Galati Marina, the City Pier and Rod and Reel Pier was annexed and he suggested a “historic pier” classification for the piers and a “marine use” class for the Galati land.

“Right now, the marina land is a C-1, (commercial) classification,” he said. “We are getting indications that Galati might be interested in a mixed-use class, including the rental of overnight facilities on land adjacent to the operation that they own.”

Garrett said the land around the piers is classified “conservation,” along with slivers of land that go up to the waterfront on either side of the piers. He also said that mixed uses such as lodging are prohibited on the Galati property.

“I need to know how to go from here,” Garrett said. “The City Pier is recognized as a vital part of the city.”

Board member Tom Turner said the piers should be protected, but it is questionable whether the land south and east of they marina is or is not residential.

“That could be the area for the mixed use,” he said. “I think that’s an area we should look hard at.”

Building Official Bob Welch said the newly incorporated land includes submerged land that is deeded to private owners. He also talked about a spoil island that is also included in the Galati land incorporation.

“It has always been used for dockage,” he said. “It was never a conservation area.”

Garrett asked if they should expand the marina designation to include the land around the piers.

“What would happen if the (City) pier was wiped out?” board member Mike Pescitelli asked.

“The pier design is more historic,” Garrett answered. “We could try to re-create the pier as we rebuild it.”

Garrett asked if they should tackle the piers or the Galati land first.

“I think I know what we need for the piers so we should tackle the Galati land first,” said board chair Tom Turner.

Garrett said houses next to the Galati property are categorized as R-1 (single-family residential) and at this point, a lot of the talk is whether they should change that.

Finally, Garrett said they had gotten indications from the board on what needs to be done so they will work on the two items and bring back proposals at a future meeting.

Unusual shell found on beach

Larry Welcome, of Long Island,
N.Y., found a 50-caliber shell from World War II
on Bradenton Beach after T.S. Isaac passed by.


BRADENTON BEACH – Look what Tropical Storm Isaac dragged in.

While beachcombing last week, Long Island, N.Y. visitor Larry Welcome found a different sort of shell – an exploded 50-caliber machine gun casing.

The shell’s markings, “SL 43,” refer to its manufacturer, the St. Louis Ordnance cq Plant in St. Louis, Mo. and the year of its manufacture, 1943, during World War II.

The U.S. Coast Guard had an active gunnery training program on Egmont Key at that time, with machine gunners firing on targets placed on sand berms, said Jim Spangler, past president of the Egmont Key Alliance. Few people lived on the key, including the lighthouse keeper and harbor pilots, and the targets were on a different part of the key, he said.

Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg, north of Egmont Key, was a naval gunnery training range, said Ranger Dan Stephens of DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton.

Flyboys on training maneuvers from MacDill Field in Tampa also could have fired the ammunition; the waters off Longboat Key were used for bombing practice by the U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1940s, and the planes carried machine guns, according to the Longboat Key Historical Society.

The caliber is the same size used today by U.S. military snipers in Afghanistan, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said, cautioning beachgoers to be careful of unexploded ordnance, which occasionally washes up on shore after a storm like Isaac.

Lots of things wind up on the beach; in 1985, a World War II-era P-40 airplane canopy washed ashore.

If it looks military and you’re not sure what it is, call police.

Board approves tree ordinance

ANNA MARIA – The Planning and Zoning Board approved a scaled-back tree ordinance on Wednesday, Sept. 5, that City Planner Alan Garrett will take to the city commission to see if they want to include it in the city’s Land Development Code (LDC).

The proposed ordinance would require adherence to its rules before the city issues a development approval, permit or certificate of occupancy. Failure to obtain a permit would result in doubling of the permit and other fees. Removing prohibited trees would also require a permit. Violations of the ordinance would result in doubling the requirement of replacement tree coverage.

The law lists eight trees as prohibited. They are punk, or melaleuca trees; ear, or enterolobium trees; cajuput trees; chinaberry trees; Brazilian peppers, Australian pines, eucalyptus trees; and ficus trees.

It defines non-pine trees of 36-inch or greater diameter measured at four-and-a-half feet from the ground as grand trees, which could only be removed or relocated if the owner proves to the city’s satisfaction that to not do so would render the lot unbuildable. Replacement trees would be required to be at least one-and-a-half inches in diameter and at least 10 feet tall. If it does not survive, it would be required to be replaced within six months.

Developers and those redeveloping a property would have to comply with the tree ordinance as well as those replacing landscaping. The city’s building official would determine compliance. No tree would be removed unless it prevents access to a lot or parcel, buildable area, yard area or street right-of-way; is diseased, injured or in danger of falling or endangering a structure.

As for protecting palm trees, board member Margaret Jenkins had a request.

“I have shoots that grow from a palm on my property and I pull them,” she said. “Please don’t tell me to stop.”

Board member Tom Turner said it’s hard to find a palm tree 36 inches in diameter and he favored removing them from the definition of trees.

“I have noticed that developers use new trees almost exclusively,” board member Lou Ellen Wilson said. “They should be required to replace the trees except the ones within the footprint of the structure being built.”

Board member Mike Pescitelli asked about diseased trees.

“It would be up to the property owner to hire an arborist to recommend its removal,” Garrett said. “The city should not have to bear that expense.”

The board gave its consensus approval of the proposed ordinance.

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