The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 12 - January 2, 2013


Island home sales booming

Real estate sales on Anna Maria Island continue to recover at a record pace and recently broke the 400 mark, according to Island Real Estate Broker and agent Alan Galletto, who keeps track in his monthly newsletter (

Galletto reports 30 properties were sold on the Island in November. Those sales consisted of 21 single-family homes, four condominium units, four duplex units and one buildable lot. That is a 25 percent increase over November 2011 when 17 properties closed, consisting of 10 single-family homes, five condos, one duplex and one lot.

Year-to-date sales as of Nov. 30, 2012, were 392 (217 single-family homes, 117 condo units, 26 duplex units and 32 lots). Those figures compare favorably to year-to-date figures up to the end of November last year. They were 314 total (160 single family, 117 condos, 13 duplexes and 24 lots).

Of this year’s year-to-date sales, only 11 percent, or 44 properties, were distressed (bank owned or short sales). Of that, 23 were single-family, 17 condos, four were duplexes and there were no lots. Last year’s comparable figures were higher at 17 percent (53 total, 17 single-family, 28 condos, five duplexes and three lots).

Galletto said pending properties (properties under contract) although down from last month at 62, are still strong at 47 (30 single-family, 10 condo units, four duplexes and three lots). Inventory on the Island continues to remain historically low at 319 (156 single family, 100 condos, 34 duplexes and 29 lots). For the past six months inventory has ranged between 295 and 320.

“With only two weeks to go we are definitely going to hit more than 400 properties for sale on the Island in 2012,” Galletto said. “We were at 392 at the end of November and there have been 15 sales already in December.”

Galletto pointed out we have never had more than 400 properties sold on the Island in the last 30 years except for 2005, which was the peak year for real estate when 425 properties sold.

He said sales on the Island are still going strong in the fourth quarter with November 2012 sales 76 percent ahead of November 2011 sales and November 30, 2012 year to date sales 25 percent ahead of November 30, 2011 year to date sales.

“The distribution of single family sales over the last 12 months was 52 percent less than $500,000, 71 percent less than $600,000, 82 less than $700,000 and 7 percent less than $1 million,” Galletto said. “With sales so strong, properties are not staying on the market very long and a majority of them are selling within 5 percent of the list price and some at list price.”

Mike Selby: Person of the Year

ANNA MARIA – Judging by what people say about him, “Blessed are the peacemakers” could have been written about Mike Selby.

The former mayor of Anna Maria, who stepped down from office at the end of his term in November 2012, made a last-minute decision to run for election in 2010, when the city was experiencing difficult times.

“He ran for mayor because he saw the division in the city. Friends were not speaking to friends. It was scary,” said his wife of 19 years, Mary Selby, who urged him to run.

The decision was not an easy one.

On Thursday at 5 p.m., the day before the noon deadline to declare candidacy for the office, Selby finally made the choice.

“We had to get a notary and a courier to get it to the elections people on time,” she said, adding, “We never dreamed he would win.”

He did, and for the next two years, the couple couldn’t go to a restaurant without residents lining up behind his chair to bend his ear.

Selby’s battle cry to bridge the gap between businesses and residents struck a chord, and won over some opponents. This year, people begged him to run again, his wife said. Some former opponents even offered to work on his campaign. But they were disappointed to learn that he had made a promise to himself to be a one-term mayor.

“He’s a man of his word. That’s who he is,” she said.

“He’s a man of great integrity,” agreed Karen DiCostanzo, Selby’s neighbor and Mary Selby’s cooking buddy.

When he took office, most residents were not in agreement about a number of issues, she said. The re-development of Pine Avenue had split the city, and Selby talked with both sides and suggested a happy medium, DiCostanzo said.

More division

The recall of then-commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, still a fresh wound in the city when Selby took office, also had divided the community.

“Selby said, ‘It’s over, we have to move on, we have to heal all the wounds,’ ” DiCostanzo said.

“He dedicated two years to our city leading us forward in a positive direction. He worked very, very hard to bring us together. He seemed to be on call 24 hours a day. He never said no to anyone. I just think he did a wonderful job. I think the city’s much better off than we were a couple years ago.”

“Mayor Selby made it clear to staff, when he was elected, that his major goal as mayor was to heal the community at a time when a lot of division and tension existed, and we believe he accomplished that,” wrote Anna Maria City Clerk Alice Baird and City Treasurer Diane Percycoe in a tribute to Selby.

“Where there is tension and division in the community, staff can see and feel that. Also, when Mayor Selby took office, we weren’t quite sure what his expectations would be of staff, and we were concerned at first, but Mayor Selby was very supportive of staff, and he valued our opinions. He was very dedicated to his job as mayor, spending lots of hours in the office dealing with day-to-day events, working on projects and meeting with staff and citizens.

“Mayor Selby is a very kind and gentle man, but can also be very firm and strong when needed. We remember Mayor Selby dressed as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus at local events and when he was held captive by the Privateer Pirates, and it always makes us smile. We will always have fond memories of our Mayor Selby, and we appreciate everything he did for staff and for the city of Anna Maria.”

Supportive mayor

As mayor, Selby was supportive of the organizations in town, and was fair and open minded, said Maureen McCormick, president of the board of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society, who worked on his campaign.

He worked with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in Anna Maria to bring officers to an understanding of how much residents value the residential nature of the city, increasing their enforcement of noise violations, she said.

He accomplished the things he said he would try to accomplish, McCormick said, and “brought down some of the animosity.”

“He kind of brought the city back together during his tenure,” said Carl Pearman, who served with Selby on the city’s code enforcement board. He and his wife, Irene, are longtime RV traveling friends of the Selbys, and attended the launch of the last U.S. manned shuttle flight in Titusville, Fla. last year.

“He tends to be a peacemaker,” he said. “He’s likeable, personable, honest, and has a good business sense about him, which showed in his management while he was in office.”

And, everyone agrees, he’s also a good golfer and pickle ball player. The Selbys brought pickle ball to the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Pearman said.

Selby also serves as head of finance for Roser Community Church and will serve as a trustee this year.

The former California real estate developer, who served as a hovercraft pilot in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, happened upon Anna Maria by chance.

The Selbys had purchased an RV in San Diego and took off to find a better place to live. While on the way to Key West, they stopped to visit California friends who had moved to Anna Maria.

Mary Selby wanted to buy a place in the city immediately, but it took visits over the next two years, and Selby’s recovery from a ruptured brain aneurysm, before they made the move.

Now that his term as mayor is over, Selby and his wife plan to devote more time to golf, pickle ball, RVing and their five grandchildren.

As for the surprise announcement of the 2012 Person of the Year, “I think no one is more deserving,” DiCostanzo said.

A Night with Neil Diamond at Center

The Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, presents a dinner and show, A Night with Neil Diamond, with impersonator Bobby Palermo, on Saturday, Jan. 19. Palermo has been voted America’s number one Neil Diamond impersonator and Tampa Bay Entertainer of the Year.

The buffet dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the show will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $30 each or $240 for a table of eight. The deadline for reservations is Wednesday, Jan. 16. There are no refunds.

Dinner by Talk of the Town Catering includes a Vegas buffet of Banana Bay chicken breast, Swedish stroganoff with meatballs, baked tilapia Florentine, green beans with toasted onions, rice pilaf, tri-color salad, house baked rolls and baguettes, Black Forest cake and coffee and tea. Bring your own beer or wine; ice buckets and cups will be provided.

Fireworks to ring in New Year

If you don’t want to see the ball drop, get an Island attitude by watching the 19th Annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza at the BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.

The beachfront restaurant has a special indoors for those who want to pay the $99.99 per seat.

The original package, which includes dinner, dancing, music via DJ Chuck C, party favors and bubbly with the fireworks spectacular at midnight is sold out, but they have added another special. For $100 a person, they will seat you in the covered area outdoors with a regular menu. There is a cash bar as well. SLS Entertainment will be in charge of the music for the covered area. Those sitting on the deck will get a great view of the fireworks, which are shot from the beach.

Valet parking is available or you can take the trolley, which will make an additional run after the fireworks so make sure you get to the trolley stop quickly after the show because they won’t be able to drive after 1 a.m.

For more information, call the restaurant at 941-779-2222.

Razorbills make rare appearance in Anna Maria

tom vaught | sun
Larry Roberts records the service at Minnie’s
for a show that will run later on cable TV. The show
will highlight businesses on the Island, and
the business that gets the most “views” will
win a commercial on The Travel Channel.

ANNA MARIA - Local birdwatchers are excited about the rare appearance of razorbills near the Anna Maria City Pier, but experts are concerned because the birds are far-removed from their natural habitat.

Razorbills are the northern hemisphere’s equivalent of the penguin. They typically spend their winters in the waters off coastal Nova Scotia and Maine and rarely venture further south than the Carolinas.

Friday morning, Glenn Wiseman, Education Director for the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring organization and Manatee County Audubon Society President Jim Stephenson shared their thoughts on the razorbills during separate interviews.

“They look like a penguin; they’re black with very distinct white markings and they’ve got short stubby wings. They do fly, but they prefer not to fly a lot. They actually ‘fly’ through the water like penguins, using their wings as a means of propulsion,” Stephenson said.

The razorbills first appeared in Anna Maria around mid-December.

“As far as everyone I’ve talked to, including some of the old-timers, this is the first sighting ever in Anna Maria,” he said.

“To the best of my knowledge, they’ve never been seen here before,” Stephenson said, noting that there have been 14 razorbill sightings in Florida prior to this year and only one in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to estimates, there are “thousands” of razorbills currently in Florida.

“The theory is that Hurricane Sandy made the water so turbulent that they moved south looking for food. They tend not to like to fly over land, so they probably pushed right around the southern tip of Florida and back up to this side,” Stephenson said.

“Sandy was such a big storm, it threw a lot of birds off course. Razorbills are not a bird that migrates. They’re a cold water bird and they don’t belong here. The problem is they get in this warm water and they’re getting sick and many of them are dying off. We had one at the Wildlife Inc. rehabilitation center that came in lethargic and wobbly,” Wiseman said.

“Maybe these birds were injured in the storm or exhausted from flying so far,” Stephenson suggested, noting that the dead birds are being studied in an attempt to determine cause of death and whether something they ate led to their demise. To date, there appears to be no connection between the dead birds and the red tide that killed thousands of mullet in Sarasota County.

Razorbills rarely come ashore. When they come ashore to nest, they prefer rocky coastlines. A razorbill onshore in Florida is a bad sign.

“They only come up on the beach if they’re sick or injured. It’s not the right habitat for them to breed here,” Wiseman said.

If you find a razorbill onshore, alive or dead, call Wildlife Inc. at 941-778-6324 and do not touch the bird.

According to Wiseman, rehabbing razorbills presents additional challenges: “Once we find them and rehabilitate them we can’t release them here. We have to get them north, to the cooler waters, so they have a chance at survival.”

Expressing hope for Anna Maria’s newest residents, Stephenson said, “It’s an absolutely gorgeous bird and they’re really fun to watch in water. We’re hoping everything turns out all right for them.”

The Man Behind the Lens

Holmes Beach resident Dick Motzer was among the local shutterbugs to photograph the razorbills near the City Pier. His interest in bird photography dates back to his days as a competitive decoy maker, relying on photographs to create life-like decoys.

He became aware of the razorbills’ presence when he saw people headed out to the pier carrying large cameras and spotting scopes. He returned the following day with his Nikon 3100 but the birds were nowhere in sight. His luck changed during a return visit on Sunday, Dec. 23.

“I left the house about 8:30 thinking this was going to be a real longshot,” Motzer said. “I got the camera out, walked out on the pier and I looked over and there were four or five of them right there. I couldn’t believe it. I wound up getting 63 shots.”

Method of charging permit fees to change

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners agreed to ask the building department to work with the mayor on revising the city’s method of charging permit fees after a request by Commissioner Judy Titsworth.

Permit fees currently are based on project costs, and owners and contractors sign an affidavit regarding those costs. Titsworth said contractors used to bring in the contract itself, but they became concerned that others could see their contracts and began bringing in the affidavits instead.

“Affidavits are questionable, and the values listed are sometimes way below what they actually are,” Titsworth said. “This has a direct effect on how much the city receives in permit fees.”

She said the town of Longboat Key uses the square footage of the project, and said, “It gets everybody on a level playing field.”

Chair Jean Peelen asked if there is a downside.

Mayor Carmel Monti said, “Some contractors have used a minimal square footage cost, but it somewhat alleviates the concern of loss of revenue.

“I agree with Judy. If you make it a percentage, it would make it simple and alleviate some of the other concerns and probably raise the revenue.”

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said it should be linked to the cost of living index.

“It’s a better basis because it allows you to apportion it by trade – so much for the building permit, so much for the electrical permit, so much for the plumbing permit,” Interim Building Inspector Tom O’Brien explained.

He said the city also could charge for different functions. For example, if a builder changes his plans and his application has already been through plans review, the city could charge appropriately. Petruff said a related issue is determining market value and said, “My suggestions would be to take a look at how we allow people to determine market value. A lot of communities take the property appraiser’s value of the structure and add a certain percentage.

“I would like to be more careful about the appraisals that might be given to support that substantial improvement threshold.”

O’Brien asked about people who have been homesteaded for a number of years and the appraised value is lower. Petruff said the property appraiser’s office has a notation regarding what the value would be if the property were not homesteaded.

Artists’ Guild classes begin Jan. 7

A watercolor by Cheryl Jorgensen, one
of the instructors at the Artists’ Guild.


The Artists' Guild 2013 classes and workshops begin the week of Jan. 7. The line-up begins with Nancy Law’s class, “You, Me and Acrylics” on Mondays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. In Nancy’s class you will dive into mixing colors and painting for fun in a casual atmosphere. Cheryl Jorgensen will be teaching watercolor painting classes beginning Wednesday, Jan. 9. The title, “Watercolors: Putting Values into Your Paintings," aptly describes Cheryl's emphasis in teaching budding and experienced painters how to create vibrantly colored watercolor paintings. An award-winning artist and long-time Anna Maria Island resident, Cheryl has taught watercolor painting for over a decade and on the Island for the more than five years. The class will be offered Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon.

Thursday workshops being offered this season include Mark Polomchak's "Painting Parrots in Watercolors," on Jan. 31; Kay Johnson's "Weave Your Own Basket," Feb. 7; Jim Ladd's "Adventures in Watercolor Painting on Yupo," Feb. 21; and Kathleen Masur's "Painting a Silk Scarf," March 14.

All classes and workshops will be held at CrossPointe Fellowship Church in Anna Maria. Classes are scheduled in January, February, March and April. Workshops will be held on Thursdays. For information, visit the Artists’ Guild website,, or stop by the gallery at 5414 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Islands, authors, wildlife highlight lectures

The Friends of the Island Branch Library will again host the Alice Taylor Reed Lecture and Travel Series beginning Jan. 10.

Named after a Friends volunteer who coordinated the program each season, this year combines the lectures of old with travel presentations. When Reed died in 2006, a sizable amount was donated in her honor to assure the program would continue for years.

All lectures begin at 2 p.m. in the Walker-Swift meeting room of the library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations will be taken.

• Thursday, Jan. 10: Internationally known circus clown Chuck Sidlow, who performs at Circus Sarasota, will transform himself into Chucko, his character, while sharing stories of Sarasota’s involvement in the American circus scene as home of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Sidlow is Circus Sarasota/Laughter Unlimited’s Senior Program Director of the community outreach arm of the circus.

• Wednesday, Jan. 16: Manatee County Natural Resources Department Naturalist Melissa Cain Nell talks about Emerson Point Preserve. As volunteer and education coordinator, Nell helps produce community programs at the county’s numerous preserves.

She will present a virtual tour of the county’s conservation properties from the coastal mangrove communities of Emerson Park to the longleaf forests of Duette. Each property features rare habitats with the wildlife that is Southwest Florida.

• Saturday, Jan. 26: World Traveler Paul Stonebridge is a librarian and tour leader who takes groups to Japan, Korea, Western Europe, Egypt, Romania and Central America. His travels have spanned six continents and 18 years. He has spoken before at the library.

This year, he talks about the culture, people and food of that bustling Asian country, Japan.

• Thursday, Feb. 7: Jennifer Bennett talks about Southeast Guide Dogs. A volunteer lecturer for Southeast Guide Dogs, Bennett will talk about how they train guide dogs. This program is known as “Follow the Puppy,” and they program the dogs to be sociable around humans and perform the duties that their masters cannot perform. She will also talk about how to get people involved in the process.

• Wednesday, Feb. 13: Longboat Key mystery author H. Terrell Griffin talks about his Matt Royal books, which have garnered positive reviews. A former solider and trial lawyer, Griffin’s stories take place on Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and the surrounding area, making them extra fun reading for those who live here.

• Saturday, Feb. 23: The Asolo Repertory Theater Guild Play Readers will visit the library for a reading. These regulars to the lecture series are always entertaining, thanks to the combined experience of the readers themselves. Come on in, sit back and enjoy the tale.

• Thursday, March 7: Richard Sanchez, a lifelong resident of Tampa, has been a member of the Egmont Key Alliance for more than five years and was a member of the Discover the Island Committee for 2011. He will speak about the history of Egmont Key, from its military past as a sentry post for the bay to today, where erosion threatens the island’s existence.

• Wednesday, March 13: Ellen Jaffe Jones, who has a column on eating vegan in The Sun, talks about her journey of exploration of meatless eating. Driven by the fact that her mother and aunt suffered from breast cancer and other family members have had problems with other diseases such as osteoporosis to Alzheimer’s, she has chosen to beat the odds through a healthy, meatless diet and exercise.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper