The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 24 - March 27, 2013


Fund-raiser will benefit AMICCO
Carol Whitmore

Join the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra (AMICCO) on Friday, March 29, from 5 to 10 p.m. for a night of blues, popular and country music by local and nationally acclaimed entertainers. Shop the vendors and come for dinner served by local restaurants and food vendors. The Budweiser beer truck will be there plus wine, rum runners and margaritas. It is going to be a fun evening together under the stars at Holmes Beach City Hall field, 5801 Marina Drive.

The music includes area favorite Karen Greenley from 5 to 6 p.m., internally known blues musician Steve Arvey from 6 to 7 p.m., area blues band Blues Pig from 7 to 8 p.m. and nationally known country band and winners of the Great American Country and Music Nation’s Next GAC Star competition, One Night Rodeo from 8 to 10 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket and spend the evening. No coolers allowed.

The Anna Maria Island Sun, LaPensee Plumbing and Miller Electric are sponsors. Contact Nancy Ambrose at 941-799-2181 or All proceeds go to AMICCO.

The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra delivered a spectacular performance Sunday of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. A fundraiser this Friday will help AMICCO pay its bills. MIKE FIELD | SUN

Decision made on new police chief

HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Carmel Monti on Monday announced that he has made a selection for a new police chief for the city, however, he declined to announce the name until city commissioners meet in a special session to ratify or reject the selection.

“I met with commissioners individually and received approval of a majority of them on my selection,” Monti said.

Lt. Dale Stephenson, who has been acting as interim chief since the resignation of former Police Chief Jay Romine in December, will not be the city’s next police chief, Monti said.

“It will cause a flurry, but I think I’m doing the right thing for the city,” Monti explained. “I’ve done a lot of due diligence with law enforcement personnel and elected officials in the community to get information on various candidates.

“I got stellar reviews on this individual. There’s a need for a change. It’s a different form of leadership than the city has had in the past.”

When contacted Tuesday morning, Stephenson declined to comment.

Since Romine retired, Monti received seven applications to replace him. Applicants included Stephenson; William Tokajer, captain of the patrol division of the Longboat Key Police Department; D. Richie Cunningham, patrol lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office in the city of Anna Maria; Kenneth Whipher, executive liaison for the sheriff and county jail operations with the Indiana Department of Corrections; J. Stephen Litschauer, investigator with the sex offender unit of the Sheriff’s Office; John Kinney, homicide detective with the Sheriff’s Office and former sergeant of the Anna Maria Substation of the Sheriff’s Office from 2002 to 2009; and Michael Maloney, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Jacksonville, Fla.

In March, three of those applicants submitted their plans for the department to Monti. They were Stephenson, Tokajer and Maloney.

Former Island chef sentenced in wife’s death

A judge in California has sentenced a former Island chef to 15 years to life for his second-degree murder conviction in the disappearance of his wife.

According to news reports, David Viens, 45, rambled for 45 minutes in Los Angeles Superior Court before Judge Rand Rubin, who refused to grant him a new trial and gave him the maximum sentence in the death of his wife, Dawn, who was last seen Oct. 18, 2009. He said he was recovering from major surgery when he confessed to detectives. Viens had jumped from a cliff, breaking many bones, when he found out he was a major person 0f interest in his wife’s disappearance.

Viens said he did not cook his wife after finding her dead in the bedroom of their home.

“I loved my wife,” he said. “I didn’t cook my wife.”

Viens told the judge he was poorly represented by his court-appointed defense attorney, Fred McCurry, during his trial. He called his attorney’s decision to not have Viens testify in his trial “retarded.”

Viens confessed to his daughter, his girlfriend and investigators twice that he taped her mouth because she would not be quiet while he was trying to sleep. He said he fell asleep and when he awakened, he found Dawn was dead after choking in her vomit. He said he panicked and put her body inside a large pot and boiled it in the kitchen of their restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Cafe in Lomita, Calif. He said he disposed of her remains in the grease trap and saved the skull, hiding it in his mother’s house. Neither Dawn Viens’ remains nor her skull have been found.

Viens said in court last week he did not remember his confessions, including one that he made after 12 hours of surgery to repair broken bones suffered from his jump. He said the jury in his case should have been informed about his condition. He said he would appeal his conviction.

Prosecutors initially sought a first-degree murder conviction in the case until Viens’ confession. They then went for second-degree murder.

Before Dawn's disappearance, Viens said he wanted to kill her because he thought she had stolen $300 from their restaurant. Witnesses said she had instead saved money from her tips because she thought her husband was going to leave her.

The couple owned a home in Holmes Beach and operated the Beach City Market in Bradenton Beach from 2002-2005. In January 2005, police raided the Viens home and arrested Viens on suspicion of possessing more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana within 1,000 feet of Anna Maria Elementary School, possession of opium, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm. His wife was not charged in that case, saying at the time her husband was just the middle man in a nationwide drug smuggling operation.

On April 25, 2005, the Florida state’s attorney dropped all charges against Viens after he turned state’s evidence.

Learn about Island history at Heritage Day
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

file photo
State Road 64 had festivalgoers up and dancing at
last year's Heritage Day Festival, and they will return this
year to play bluegrass and country tunes from noon to 4 p.m.



ANNA MARIA – Docents will be on hand to weave tales of Island history at the annual Island Heritage Day Festival on Saturday, March 30, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Island Historical Museum complex, 402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.

Admission is free, and new this year is a free shuttle service by Island Beach Monkeys from CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Visit the museum and learn about the history of Roser Church and the making of the classic movie, “On An Island with You.” Tour Belle Haven Cottage that once stood on the end of the city pier and learn how it was saved twice – once from the bay and once from the wrecking ball.

Meet local authors who will be signing their books – Carolyne Norwood with her two Island history books, “The Early Days” and “Tales of Three Cities;” Gilbert Smith with “Lawyers and Legends of Manatee County,” a history of lawyers in the county from 1885 to 2012; Ted Baird with his recently published book, "Sandpiper Resort;” and Don and Carol Thompson with "Egmont Key, A History.”

00njoy Belle Haven’s native plant garden as you shop for antiques, jewelry, ceramics, collectibles, photography, arts and crafts. Buy a loaf of the popular Early Settler’s bread to take home.

Take a chance on hourly 50/50 raffles and a raffle with prizes donated by festival vendors. Raffle tickets are 1 for $1, six for $5, 12 for $10 or 24 for $20.

Listen to acoustic band State Road 64 performing vintage and contemporary bluegrass music, country and originals from noon to 4 p.m. Bring the children for a balloon animal made by clowns Snowbird and Sparky or face painting and mingle with costumed pirates from the AMI Privateers.

Paradise Café will offer bagels and lox platter, homemade muffins and bagels and cream cheese; and Corky’s hot dogs will offer hot dogs, sausage and pepper sandwiches and fried dough for hungry visitors. Drinks also will be available.

Celebrate Easter on Pine

Kids hunt down the Easter eggs buried in the sand by the
Easter bunny at the Sandbar restaurant last year.

The Sandbar restaurant hosts its 27th Annual Easter Egg Hunt on the beach on Saturday, March 30, starting at 9 a.m. sharp. Come early for refreshments at 8:30 a.m. Bring your own baskets for the kids. The hunt will be divided into age groups, and it’s sponsored by the AMI Sun newspaper.

Dara Caudill, of Island Photography, will take pictures of kids with the Easter Bunny. Picture taking with the Easter Bunny will only be available at the Sandbar.

Following the hunt, kids will march on down to Pine Avenue behind the Easter Bunny for more fun at the Fourth Annual Easter Egg Roll and Third Annual Easter Bonnet contest for adults and children.

There will be activities along Pine Avenue with lots of fun surprises for the children. Chuck Caudill will provide the music. The Sandbar restaurant and Anna Maria Donuts will provide snacks and refreshments.

Bring your best or funniest Easter bonnet for the bonnet contest. Warm up that glue gun because the adult prize is a free stay at an Anna Maria Guest House.

For more information call Tina Fusaro at 778-8710.

Easter on the beach

The Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island’s 49th Annual Sunrise Service will be held at the Manatee County Public Beach at 6:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, March 31. The crowd normally numbers 1,200 to 1,500 people. There is ample parking and the trolley will be up and running at 6 a.m. The Beach Café will also open at 6 a.m. if you need that cup of java. It is usually chilly at that time of day, so dress warm and bring chairs or a blanket to sit on.

All the Island churches participate in this spectacular event. The invocation this year will be delivered by Rev. Dee deMontmollin, of the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation. Rev. Ed Moss, of Crosspointe Fellowship, will be giving the sermon, “Because of The Resurrection.” Rev. Stephen King, of Harvey Memorial Church, and the Rev. Gary Batey, of Roser Community Church, will share Easter Scripture with the crowd. The Rev. Rosemary Backer, of the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, will give the offertory prayer and Father Michael Mullen, of St. Bernard Catholic Church, will give the Benediction.

Daniel Paul Anzaldo , accompanied by Drew Thomas, will provide music.

Come share this celebration on the beach. All funds raised are equally divided among the participating churches. Some of the organizations which have benefited from this event are The Manatee OutReach programs; Feeding Empty Little Tummies; CAMPABLE, a place for memory disabled young people; and the Catholic Faith Appeal Outreach program of the Diocese of Venice.

If you would rather attend a church service, here are their schedules.

• CrossPointe Fellowship (Baptist Church), 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-0719, has two services scheduled: “The Execution of God” on Good Friday, March 29, at 7 p.m.; and “The Result” on Easter Sunday, March 31, at 9 and 10:30 a.m.
• The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1638, on Maundy Thursday, March 28. There will be a service including foot washing and stripping of the altar at 7 p.m., followed by the vigil watch in the garden. On Good Friday, March 29, there will be a service beginning at noon. Various preachers will speak on the Seven Last Words of Christ. Come and go as you can. There will be no Eucharist on Saturday, March 30.
They will celebrate Easter with three services: Holy Eucharist Rite I at 7:30 a.m.; Festival Eucharist Rite II with choir and organ at 9 and 11 a.m.
• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-1813, will host a 7 p.m. worship on Maundy Thursday, March 28, Good Friday at noon, and 7 p.m. worship on March 29; and an 8 a.m. festival worship, a
9 a.m. fellowship brunch and a
10:30 a.m. festival worship on Easter morning.
• Harvey Memorial Community Church, 300 Church St., Bradenton Beach, 779-1912, holds its regular Sunday service on Easter at 9:30 a.m.
• Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 778-04143, holds a service commemorating the Last Supper on Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m. Services are also scheduled for Friday, March 29, from noon to 1 p.m.; and Easter Sunday Services at 9 and 11 a.m.
• St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-4769, holds a Mass on Palm Sunday at 8 a.m. and Masses in the church and in the Parish Hall at 10 a.m.; Holy Week Masses at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, and a morning prayer every day this week at 9:15 a.m. On Holy Thursday, March 28, there will be a Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper at 7 p.m., an Altar of Reposition in the Chapel until 10 p.m. with a night prayer at 9:45 p.m. On Good Friday, there will be no morning Mass and there will be a Passion of Our Lord Mass at 3 p.m. and Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m. There will be a 10 a.m. Blessing of the Easter Baskets and an Eastern vigil Mass at 8 a.m. There will be Easter Masses at 8 a.m. and two Masses at 10 a.m., one in the church and one in the Parish Hall. There will be an Easter Egg Hunt on the church grounds after the 10 p.m. Mass.

Renourishment will keep Turtle Watch on its toes

File photo
A pipe like this one used in a beach renourishment
eight years ago on Anna Maria Island can make it
difficult for nesting sea turtles to reach the beach
and impossible for hatchling turtles to get to the Gulf.

The nests that mother sea turtles labor hard to dig on the Island’s Gulf beaches this season will be dug up and relocated by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring to protect the nests during the upcoming beach renourishment project.

The county has notified Turtle Watch that the project, which will add sand to Island beaches badly eroded by Tropical Storm Debby last year, will begin in July, starting at Longboat Pass and working north to 79th Street in Holmes Beach, Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox said.

That means that nests laid at the start of turtle season, May 1 or earlier, if the mothers arrive earlier, will have to be dug up and relocated north of 80th Street since they will hatch more than two months later, after the project begins, she said.

If the nests weren’t moved, the renourishment project could cover them, making it impossible for the turtle hatchlings to dig out.

The project also may make it difficult for mother turtles to nest, depending on whether large pipes are laid on the beach for days at a time.

As the project progresses north on the Gulf beach, Turtle Watch will leave the nests laid on the newly renourished beaches, she said, but added that turtles don’t generally like to nest in wet sand, and renourished beaches are saturated, since the sand comes from the Gulf.

Fox said her volunteers are up to the relocation, and have a great deal of experience at managing turtles during renourishment projects.

“We’ve done this before,” she said. “This will be my 28th renourishment,” including minor projects on the bay side of the Island.

With nearly 60 volunteers, including 15 new ones who learned the ropes last Tuesday night at an orientation meeting, and more ATVs to move them around the beach faster, Fox still acknowledges that this season will be “a load of extra work for us.”

The volunteers will even have to wear shoes and hard hats while working in the project area, she said.

Meanwhile, on the east coast of Florida, Leatherback turtles are nesting in larger numbers and earlier than usual.

“This could be a big year,” Fox said.

Nesting birds also affected

Volunteers also were briefed on nesting and hatching shorebirds, which also will be affected by the renourishment project, since their nesting grounds, mostly in Anna Maria, will be shared by potentially hundreds more turtle nests than normal.

Turtle Watch will avoid relocating too many turtle nests near the bird nesting area from 80th Street north to Pine Avenue, Fox said.

In the past, birds have not nested in the renourishment project area, except for a patch of empty beach fronting the failed GSR condo project lot across from the Circle K in Bradenton Beach, which is within the project boundaries, Fox said, adding that nesting there could cause problems.

Pull together

The renourishment project will require 100 percent compliance with turtle season regulations from every business owner, resident and vacationer in Anna Maria, where the nests will be relocated, Fox said. That includes rules on not allowing lights to be seen from the beach and removing beach furniture and other objects from the beach at dusk, from May 1 to Oct. 31.

It also will require beachgoers to be even more careful not to frighten birds while they’re sitting on nests or resting and feeding near the water, as they could abandon their nests, she said.

Two of the Island’s species of nesting birds are being considered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for uplisting to “threatened” status, the American oystercatcher and black skimmer, both currently state species of special concern, one step under threatened. The Island also hosts snowy plovers and least terns during nesting season, which are threatened, one step under endangered.

Island officials to seek sales tax support

ANNA MARIA – Island elected officials agreed to ask their commissions to approve referendums supporting Manatee County’s proposed half-cent sales tax, which will go to voters on Tuesday, June 18.

Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino made the request telling officials, “With all the cities, especially the Island cities, this should be at the forefront. It’s a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to lower our property taxes by 26 percent.

“At the county, it barely passed 4-3. It’s a huge thing on the ballot, and people are lobbying on both sides. I would like to have support from all the cities.”

The three-tiered proposal is called the 26/13 plan. The first part is the sales tax, which would generate an estimated $23 million to replace the county’s health care fund, which will expire in 2015.

County officials said by replacing the general revenues being spent on health care, it would result in a property tax reduction of up to 26 percent for property owners in the five cities.

The second part is moving Sheriff’s Office patrol costs from city residents, who already pay for their own police services, to residents of the unincorporated areas of the county.

The third part is collecting franchise fees from utilities and stormwater utility fees from property owners in unincorporated areas of the county.

In addition to the referendums, officials said they could hold a joint town meeting on the issue.

Officials also discussed how they could be more effective at the county level, especially with the county commission and getting support for Island projects from the Tourist Development Council (TDC).

At the request of Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, officials agreed to change the time of their monthly meetings to 4 p.m. Meetings will continue to be held on the third Wednesday of the month and rotate among the cities in alphabetical order.

Bradenton Beach will be the next host on April 17. Agenda items include sales tax and bike path updates, and officials plan to invite Elliott Falcione, executive manager of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, to answer their questions about TDC funding for Island projects.

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