The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 6 - November 21, 2012


Holmes Beach officials sworn in

HOLMES BEACH – It was a love fest in city hall Monday as Mayor Carmel Monti and Commissioners Marvin Grossman and Judy Titsworth were sworn into office.

A chamber full of residents applauded after each was sworn in by Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore. Following the ceremony, Commissioner Jean Peelen was elected chair, after Commissioner Pat Morton declined the nomination, and Titsworth was elected vice chair of the commission.

“We are all thrilled to be up here,” Peelen told the audience. “We’re very excited about this opportunity that the voters have given us.

“You can expect us to make mistakes, We are new at it. We’ll be looking for guidance. Give us some space to make mistakes, but hold our feet to the fire.”

Monti thanked all their supporters and pointed out, “It shows that the democratic process really can work. People spoke and spoke very loudly. We will give it our best efforts to make you proud of us and follow through on commitments that we made. The door is always open.”

Bradenton Beach Mayor John ShaugHnessy congratulated the new officials and said he is looking forward to working with them. He advised them to return the three senses to their city.

“First is hearing ,” he explained. “Listening to each other’s sides and concerns rather than turning a deaf ear. Second is common sense that we should all use and apply to all problems we encounter, rather than ignoring or taking a superior or righteous attitude.”

He said last is dollars and sense and using the taxpayers money wisely.

“I believe you are the right people for this job and can bring this commission together and do what’s right for the city,” he concluded. “I also believe you are out of your minds. Thanks for stepping up to the plate and good luck.”

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie told the officials, “It will be a fun and wild ride. There is nothing more rewarding than serving your community. I’m here to serve you. Call me whenever you need anything.”

Mayor yes, commissioner no in Anna Maria

ANNA MARIA –Commissioners unanimously approved SueLynn as commission chair, and she automatically became mayor, according to the procedure stated in the city charter.

The agreement ended there, however, as commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on a vote for a new commissioner to fill SueLynn’s seat.

Commissioners Chuck Webb and Nancy Yetter nominated Gene Aubry and Commissioners John Quam and Dale Woodland nominated Carol Pearman. Each then defended his/her choice.

“Gene was elected by the citizens once before,” Webb said. “He stepped up to the plate in troubled times when the city was very divided. He did a very good job and brought common sense to issues before the board.

“He is a licensed architect, and it gives him a unique perspective on issues, particularly on land use. He has been consistent in volunteering, even when he wasn’t a commissioner.”

Yetter cited Aubry’s qualifications and calm demeanor and said, “He gave above and beyond the duties of commissioner and gave selflessly to the community and continues to do that.”

Woodland defended Pearman and said he worked with him on the Capital Improvement Advisory Committee.

“The way he represented himself on that and the Planning and Zoning Board, I think he would be more balanced. He’s not against development, but he is against over development.”

Quam also defended his choice of Pearman.

“I feel he will work for the common good for all the people of Anna Maria and not for any private or personal interest,” he said. “He will give fair and equal treatment to all.

“He frequently attends the commission meetings and as member of P&Z, he is aware of the current issues we’re facing. I feel he will give the city a balanced commission.”

SueLynn then asked Aubry if he wanted to make a statement, Pearman was absent due to a family commitment out of state.

“I’m for the laws of the city of Anna Maria,” Aubry said. “We have a great building official who knows what he’s doing. I don’t think anybody is doing anything unlawful. My attitude has always been, ‘If you don’t like what you see, change the laws.’”

Discussing options

SueLynn asked how to proceed, and City Attorney Jim Dye said they could try and resolve the stalemate or postpone it for a future meeting. He said a new motion would be needed to continue.

“Based on that, I’m prepared to be locked out at 2-2 because I m not looking to change Anna Maria,” Woodland said. “I’m looking to protect and preserve Anna Maria, and if we’re locked in with a 2-2, and we have to go a whole year like that, I win.”

Webb said he did not support proceeding without a full board and made a motion to flip a coin with Aubry calling sides, but it died for lack of a second.

Woodland made a motion to postpone the issue indefinitely, and Quam seconded it. It ended in a tie vote.

Webb said they should “hammer it out,” and Yetter agreed and noted, “We’re not doing a service to the community if we can’t work it out. Postponing it is not going to help.”

“I’m at a loss on how to break this tie,” Web said. “The worse thing we can do is not fill the seat. I’m looking for someone who knows the issues, and Gene does. For education and experience, it’s hands down Gene Aubry.

Quam countered, “We need a reasonable person here. Carl is that.”

“I support Carl and I have every right to do that,” Woodland added. “If you’re intent on five, change your mind. What’s wrong with Carl?”

Webb asked Dye if the city could hold a special election, and Dye said it is a complicated question. Webb made a motion to postpone the decision to the Nov. 29 meeting to give Dye time to research the question, and the motion was approved.

Following the discussion, commissioners elected Quam chair and Webb vice chair.

Public works director opts for retirement
Home > News > Public works director opts for retirement

Date: November 21, 2012

by: Pat Copeland | Staff Writer

HOLMES BEACH – Longtime Superintendent of Public Works and Building Official Joe Duennes last week asked to use his accrued leave that would culminate in his retirement.

“He submitted a letter requesting terminal leave, so he will still be on the payroll until Feb. 17,” Mayor Rich Bohnenberger explained. “He wants to be able to use his time and then retire.”

Duennes, whose department has been accused of lax enforcement of building codes by residents and newly elected Commissioners Marvin Grossman and Judy Titsworth, has been with the city for 16 years. The city’s building inspector, Bob Shaffer, was terminated in September.

“It’s not that I didn’t see it coming,” Duennes said on his last day in his office on Friday, Nov. 16. “I’ve been playing defense for six months. The complainants won the election over nit picking, and I’m not going to take any more bullets.”

“It’s a loss of significant historical knowledge that’s irreplaceable,” said David Greene, the city’s building inspector, who was hired by Duennes and Bohnenberger a few weeks ago. “He was a good a man, and I hate to see him leave.”

Bohnenberger, whose term ended Monday, Nov. 19, when newly elected Mayor Carmel Monti was sworn in, said replacing Duennes is up to the new mayor.

According to the city charter, “The superintendent shall be selected on the basis of professional qualifications and shall be appointed by the mayor with commission approval as provided in Section 4.05(a) within.”

When asked how he would proceed, Monti said, “I don’t know how to answer. Tuesday will be the first meeting of the new commission, and that will be an issue for discussion. I want to get our hands around the issues and move forward.”

Both Commissioners Pat Morton and David Zaccagnino said Duennes “did a good service for the city.” However, Morton added, “but it’s time for him to leave,” while Zaccagnino said, “I wish him well and thank him very much.”

Island beaches certified Blue Wave’
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A flag was raised last Wednesday at Coquina Beach
honoring five Anna Maria Island beaches that have
won national recognition as clean beaches.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Clean Beaches Coalition has awarded its “Blue Wave” designation to five beaches on Anna Maria Island, and expects to add Whitney Beach on Longboat Key early next year.

The certification by the Washington D.C.-based council designates Manatee County beaches as healthy and clean, according to Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Marketing Manager Debbie Meihls.

At a ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Coquina Beach, Clean Beaches Coalition founder Walter McLeod delivered five Blue Wave flags to officials that will fly over the certified beaches, Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach, Manatee Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria Beach.

Local beaches “saved Manatee County from the recession,” Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said.

Tourism research shows that a clean beach is the number one factor in choosing a beach vacation, Meihls said, adding that a cigarette litter prevention program has reduced cigarette butts by 75 percent on the beaches.

The coalition chose the beaches for Blue Wave status based on criteria including water quality, beach and intertidal conditions, safety, services, habitat conservation, public information/education and erosion management, said McLeod, standing under a solar panel street light at a Coquina Beach trolley stop. The Blue Wave program is the first national environmental certification for beaches.

The beaches from Coquina to just north of Manatee Public Beach plus Anna Maria Bayfront Park and Coquina Bayside are maintained by the county’s parks department, in cooperation with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, Keep Manatee Beautiful and the CVB, parks and recreation department director Cindy Turner said.

A new Blue Wave program sign posted at Coquina Beach suggests that beachgoers carry out trash, use public restrooms and avoid walking on sand dunes, among other good beach practices.

An Adopt-A-Shore cleanup of Coquina Beach followed the ceremony, with participants from Surfrider Foundation, Women of the Moose, Sugg Middle School Junior Honor Society and the Manateens.

For more information on the Clean Beach Council, visit

Pier tenant quashes water taxi

Anna Maria City Pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder has put an end to talks about a water taxi service tying up to the city pier. For more than a year, Anna Maria Island Water Shuttle, has attempted to get permission to operate a water taxi to and from the pier.

In an e-mail to former Mayor Mike Selby on Nov. 15, Schoenfelder said, “We have previously expressed concerns over safety, liability and overloading existing infrastructure. Our specific concerns are in regards to restroom facilities, especially parking and increased congestion at peak usage times.

“Because of these concerns, we are unable to give approval to the use of the city pier as a docking facility for the taxi at this time.”

In October, Selby reported to commissioners that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was considering allowing five pilings to be installed adjacent to the city pier for the proposed water taxi to tie up, so the pier structure would not be jeopardized.

Arrests mount in fraud investigation

The number arrests of employees working on Beach to Bay Construction sites on Anna Maria Island stand at eight, so far. Five have been charged with Workers Compensation fraud, and three are charged with being in the U.S. illegally.

The men were arrested by agents of the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud during raids on several Beach to Bay construction sites. The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, informed them that at least 18 individuals working for Beach to Bay Construction showed false identification while applying for construction jobs.

The men arrested include:

• Miguel Damian Jimenez, arrested Sept. 19 and charged with Workers Compensation fraud. He pled not guilty and demanded a jury trial. No trial date has been set.

• Emanuel Centeno-Hernandez, arrested Oct. 16 and charged with Workers Compensation fraud. He pled not guilty Oct. 24 and demanded a jury trial. ICE has a hold order on him and he might face deportation.

• Jamie Basilio-Chavez, also arrested Oct. 16, who faced charges of Workers Compensation fraud. He is out on bail. On Oct. 30, he pled not guilty and demanded a jury trial.

• Angel Medina Palacios also faces charges of Workers Compensation fraud. He was jailed in Hillsborough County.

• Ricardo Cruz-Ceron was arrested Nov. 2, and on Nov. 8, he pled not guilty and demanded a jury trial for his Workers Compensation fraud charge.

Three others, Frank Enriquez-Lechuga, Gabriel Chavez-Gonzalez and Arturo Andablo, were arrested Oct. 16 and held on immigration charges.

Neither ICE nor Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud would talk about the case because it is still under investigation.

Privateers invite all to parade

Members of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society with their
popular Old City Jail float particicpated in last year’s parade.


Everybody loves a parade and one of the best is the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade, which will travel from Bayfront Park in Anna Maria to Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach starting around 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. When it gets to Coquina, Santa will join revelers to talk with the kids and pass out presents.

Those wanting to participate in the parade are welcome. Fill out a parade application, available at the Anna Maria Island Sun, 98091 Gulf Drive in the Sun Plaza, or by calling Greg “Wig” Luzier at 941-752-5973 or 941-725-0184. Businesses are welcome to decorate a vehicle and join in the fun. The Privateers will be throwing beads and candy, and participants are welcome to do the same.

All parade vehicles will have to be staged by 9:30 a.m. the day of the parade. All vehicles must be decorated for the season with the name of the vehicle sponsor, if there is one. All units must be motorized peddled. No marching units are allowed due to the length of the parade. No person or organization is allowed to charge people to ride in the parade, and no political advertising is allowed.

No matter whether you ride in the parade or watch it from the side of the road, be forewarned. The Privateers reserve the right to set of powder charges like all good pirates.


New director plans to listen to the community

Dawn Stiles sat at her new desk
at the Community Center and joked,
“This is the cleanest it will ever be!”

ANNA MARIA – The last thing she expected to find when she vacationed on the Island over Memorial Day was a job, said Dawn Stiles, the Island Community Center’s new executive director.

“We had been looking all over Florida for 10 years for somewhere to retire,” she explained. “We had honed in on Sarasota, and during a visit there, we came to the Island and fell in love.”

Stiles and her companion, bought a condo at Runaway Bay and came to the Island to close on it over the holiday.

“While we were here, I saw the article in the Island Sun about Pierrette (Community Center Executive Director Pierrette Kelly) retiring, and it seemed like the perfect position.

“I grew up in a small community where people care about each other and help each another and work together to find solutions to problems, which is very similar to what I see on the Island.”

Stiles is president of Spurwink Services in Portland, Maine, which is the largest mental health agency in Maine serving 5,500 children and adults with a staff of 1,000.

“We have a therapeutic preschool for children 3 to 5 years old; seven day treatment sites, which combine special education with mental health treatment for children that can’t be educated in the public schools; residential and outpatient services for children and adults; and three small community based organizations that provide after school and prevention services.”

Prior to that, Stiles was deputy director of Maine’s child welfare program, and she has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in social work.

Stiles was on the Island last week meeting Center staff, members of the board and community leaders to learn what she can before returning to Maine, where she must complete her work at Spurlink before officially taking the helm at the Center on April 1, 2013.

Stiles said her first order of business is to listen to people.

“Right now, I don’t have time to meet with everyone individually, but I want to know their ideas, their passions and what they see as gaps in service and as strengths at the Community Center.

“I have all these ideas that I’m writing down, but I have to remember that I have to learn first. I’ll be doing a lot of listening for awhile.”


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