The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 37 - July 10, 2013


Huge parade, massive crowds
Carol Whitmore


Ryan Levi, 16 months old, checks out this
pirate at the Anna Maria Privateers’ scholarship
ceremony at the Anna Maria Beach Cafe.


If the annual Fourth of July parade gets any bigger, we might have to call the networks.

It’s hard to impress your out-of-town friends and visitors with our quaint little parade when it gets this large, but some might consider this a good problem to have.

The parade was a mile-long chain of cars, trucks, golf carts and Segways inching up the Island with participants throwing beads and candy to the people on the side of the road.

“We signed up 141 people and a bunch more just joined the parade without signing up,” said Anna Maria Island Privateer Tim “Hammer” Thompson. “It looks like the largest parade we’ve ever had.”

The entire holiday week and weekend were completely jammed, as tens of thousands of visitors stuffed themselves onto the beaches and into motel rooms and rentals. Traffic gridlock was common, with motorists backed up from the Palma Sola Causeway all the way up into Anna Maria. Estimates of drive times from Pine Avenue to the Anna Maria Island Bridge ranged from 90 minutes to two hours.

On July 4, after the parade snaked its way to Bayfront Park, it disbanded and the Privateers and a number of participants reconvened at Anna Maria Island Beach Café to watch recipients receive their Privateers' scholarship checks.

Thirteen students received a portion of $17,300 the Privateers raised all year in a ceremony at the outdoor café as a gentle sea breeze helped cool the people there.

The scholarship recipients by grade were:

• Seniors: Hilary Hathaway won the Shipreck scholarship and Sajani Patel won the Whitey Horton scholarship.
• Juniors: Ourania Lardas, Jimmy “James” Campbell, Jacob Karguarer, Brandi Ricker, Leanne Browning and Alexander “Xander” Chawi.
• Sophomores: Monica “Molly” McDonough.
• Freshmen: Tiana Smith won the Sandpiper Scholarship sponsored by the Sandpiper Mobile Resort, Justin Puthusseril, Myles Johnson and Samantha Haga.

It was the culmination of another great year for the Privateers, the Island’s crewe of do-good pirates and wenches.

Long Bar developer to address Cortez

CORTEZ – At the request of Save Our Bay activists – a group that includes FISH board member Linda Molto and former board member Joe Kane – Medallion Home CEO Carlos Beruff has agreed to participate in a Thursday, July 11, gathering that will provide Cortez and Anna Maria Island residents an opportunity to pose questions and learn more about the proposed Long Bar Pointe mixed-use development.

The proposed coastal project calls for the construction of more than 3,600 residential units, a 300-room hotel, a 300-berth marina, office buildings, a shopping center, retail space and a conference center along El Conquistador Parkway in Bradenton.

The construction of the marina has raised the most concern with opponents, as it would necessitate the destruction of acres of coastal mangroves and sea grass that serve as a natural habitat for fish and wildlife.

Taking place from 5 to 6:15 p.m. at Fishermen’s Hall, 4515 124th St. in Cortez, the public forum, according to Kane, will begin with 65 minutes of audience questions, followed by 10 minutes of final comments from Beruff.

Holmes Beach City Commissioner David Zaccagnino will moderate the event and two Manatee County sheriff deputies will be on hand to ensure that order is maintained at what is expected to be an emotionally charged meeting.

Kane said he expects Beruff to bring an entourage of attorneys, environmentalists and other spokespersons who support the proposed project that he and Berrington Group developer Larry Lieberman have partnered on.

“I commend Carlos for being willing to come and face intense questioning at this meeting,” Kane said. “He’s not afraid to answer difficult questions and that’s good. This is the first good step toward amending or stopping this proposed development.”

In 2007, Kane was among a group of local activists who succeeded in staving off Beruff’s efforts to purchase the Cortez Trailer Park for $10 million. The fear was that Beruff would level the trailer park to create space for a more lucrative development project.

In regard to Thursday’s meeting, Kane said, “Some folks in Cortez are not aware of the proposed development. They need to know how it’s going to affect them.”

The July 11 meeting is part of the ongoing efforts to educate the public about the Long Bar Pointe development and encourage citizens to become engaged in a process expected to culminate with the Aug. 6 county commission meeting, when Manatee County commissioners are expected to decide the fate of the Long Bar Pointe development.

“This is a David and Goliath struggle,” Kane said, noting that each member of the current county commission has received campaign support from the developers. Kane and others hope to counter that financial support by making it clear that approving the project could have political consequences for those seeking future reelection.

“We’re determined to have a 1,000 people at the County Commission meeting on the 6th of August,” Kane said. “We realize 500 isn’t enough to intimidate these people, but 1,000? They know how to count.”

Rip current fatal to teen
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Rescue personnel on boats, Jet Skis and a helicopter
search the waters off Anna Maria Island Saturday for
14-year-old Dushay Nelson, who was swept out into
the Gulf in a rip current. The Winter Haven teen's body
was recovered Sunday morning.


ANNA MARIA – The Gulf of Mexico claimed the life of a 14-year-old Winter Haven boy on Saturday, July 6, around 5 p.m. after he lost his footing and was swept underwater by a rip current.

Dushay Nelson disappeared, and family members organized a search with the help of fellow swimmers in the Gulf around where Willow Avenue ends at the beach.

Law enforcement and county marine rescue officials got involved as the search was halted around 9 p.m. after sunset. The next morning, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office boat found Nelson’s body, not far from where he disappeared.

The family, which was waiting on the beach, was taken to the Manatee County Marine Rescue headquarters, at Coquina Bayside, where victim’s advocates talked to them.

The incident marred a busy Fourth of July holiday with all rooms full and thousands of beach goers dodging storms that came through the area. According to Manatee County Lifeguard Colin Schmidt, they were aware of the possibility of rip currents.

‘We had a lot of current due to the wind and waves and the fluctuation of the tide leading up to a new moon,” he said. “We had a weather system in the Gulf that kept things stirred up.”

Lifeguard Rex Beach said they made 35 rescues, most of them the result of rip tides.

“We had the red flags out for most of the holiday weekend,” he said. “We also had a handful of lost children over the holiday.”

As the Island becomes more popular, public beaches overflow and swimmers gravitate to the non-public beaches, where there are no lifeguards and no warning flags. However, there was a sign at this beach entrance warning swimmers that there are no lifeguards and for them to swim at their own risk.

The only beaches with lifeguards are Manatee County Public Beach in Holmes Beach, and Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

Asked if the county might increase the number of lifeguards, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said only at county beaches.


Sun columnist Jack Fones passes away at 96

John “Jack” Scott Fones, 96, of Keene, formerly of Holmes Beach, and New London, Conn. died on Saturday, June 29, 2013. He passed peacefully in his sleep at the Woodward Home in Keene. N. H.

Jack was born the son of the late Arline (Scott) and Byron A. Fones on June 21, 1917, in New London, Conn. He was educated in the New London schools and graduated from Nichols College class of 1937.

Jack exchanged vows with Jane Hartmann on Oct. 26, 1940, at the Episcopal Church in Albany, N.Y. They were married for 55 years before she passed in 1996.

Soon after college, Jack joined Time Inc. He started as an editor trainee and eventually became a contributing editor until he left in the early 1950s. Jack took some time off from Time to join the U.S. Navy.

He served during World War II and was assigned to the U.S.S. Strickland a destroyer escort which he helped navigate on convoy duty in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific. He was honorably discharged after serving 2 ½ years of service.

After leaving Time he became an account executive at Ben Sonnenberg’s Publicity Consultants Inc. on Park Ave. in New York City. Among his clients was Phillip Morris, who sponsored the “I Love Lucy” show where he befriended Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Another client was Lipton Tea, where he worked to reinstate the America’s Cup Race.

In 1961 he established John Scott Fones Inc. and worked in public relations for 36 years, even after retiring to the Gulf Coast of Florida. He worked with and befriended numerous other well known clients during his many years in public relations.

In 2000, he began writing a weekly column for seniors, The Senior Prom which ran in the Anna Maria Island Sun for more than 11 years and for several years in the Keene Sentinel. No topic was untouchable to Jack and he wrote about the retirees who bagged at Publix, the art of whistling, the way his wife, Jane, mauled the English language and a hilarious description of how to give a pill to a cat.

Unfortunately, his eyesight deterioated and he had to quit in 2012. He wrote his last column and in it, he thanked his daughter, Judy, for translating his columns and sending them to The Sun; his next door neighbor, Sylvia Price; another neighbor, Janice Oakes; and Jen and Terry Atchlson, who lived in the other side of his duplex.

At the age of 95 he published a book of 100 of his columns called “The Senior Prom or Why I Never Owned a Goat.”

One of his best efforts is in the book and titled "Remembering Jane with love and laughter." In it, he recalls his wife's hilarious fracturing of English phrases. Some of these include: "The doctor had me under seduction for more than an hour." "Our dog was so tired he was lying prong on the floor." "The cutest thing at the zoo was the baby hypotenuse." "Oh yes, I know those three! They're quite a pair."

In 2007 Jack moved to the Woodward Home to be closer to his family, where he inherited even more family among the residents and staff.

Jack is survived by his daughter, Judy Perry, and her husband Bob, of Keene; a son, Scott Fones, and his wife, Laurel, of Bridgeville, Del.; three grandchildren, Jonathan Perry and his wife, Shannon, of Keene, and their children, Jacqueline and Samuel; Bevin Perry and her partner, Amy Puebla, of South Windsor, Conn.. and their children, Bailey and Riley; John S. Fones III and his wife, Michelle, of Swarthmore, Pa. Also surviving are Jack’s beloved companion, Betty Ackerman, of Bradenton, in addition to a niece and nephew, extended family and friends.

A gathering to celebrate Jack’s life was held on Friday, July 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Woodward Home, 202 Court St., Keene, N.H. 03431. Donations may be made in memory of John S. Fones to the Woodward Home, 202 Court St., Keene, N.H. 03431.

Jack ended his final column last year with this goodbye.

“Now it’s time to turn off the lights and shut the door. Don’t think it hasn’t been fun,” he wrote. “Adios, adieu, au revoir, aloha, aufweidersehn, so long, goodbye, toodle-oooo…”

Tree house flyers cause a problem

HOLMES BEACH – Police Chief Bill Tokajer said he put tree house owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen on notice July 3 after receiving complaints about flyers being placed in residents’ mailboxes.

“We received complaints from Key Royale, and we put them on notice that it’s a violation of law and they must cease and desist,” Tokajer said. “The post office also got complaints.”

The flyers are seeking signatures on an initiative petition that Hazen and Lynn Tran are circulating regarding their proposed ordinance approving the tree house structure at 103 29th St., which the city has declared illegal.

In the initiative process, voters can propose ordinances to the city commission, and the required initiative petition must be signed by 10 percent of the qualified voters registered to vote at the last city election.

Acting Postmaster Troy Kenning said he also had received complaints about the flyers in mailboxes and “told them they can’t do that. If they continue, I’ll send them a letter requesting postage.”

Tran said using mailboxes was a mistake made by teen volunteers and explained. “The kids volunteered to help distribute the flyers door to door. It was raining, so they puts some in mailboxes instead of going up to the doors. They didn’t know any better.”

Subsequently, Tran and Hazen mailed the flyers inviting residents to their home through the holiday weekend to enjoy the sunset and sign their petition.

Cited for solicitation

Tran said police also notified her that solicitation is not permitted unless the solicitor registers with the police department. The complainants also were from Key Royale.

Tokajer confirmed that and noted, “They were going door to door asking for signatures, which the code says is unlawful without first registering with the police department. We need to know who is doing that in our city.”

“I’m just trying to follow what the law is telling me,” Tran said with a sigh.

Tran said she received a third visit from police the same day regarding a new notice of a code enforcement board hearing, now set for Thursday, July 18, at 10 a.m.

Attorney protest

On June 28, Tran and Hazen’s attorney, David Levin, filed a letter of protest regarding the city’s amended notice of violation on the tree house.

In it, Building Official Tom O’Brien said that based on a survey of the property prepared by Leo Mills and Associates, on April 27, 2013, “the construction of the tree structure and portions of the other facilities at the property are partially located on the 29th Street North public right of way and in the platted alley located in Block 38 of the Ilexhurst subdivision.”

Levin said that R. E. Cobb recorded the plat in 1911 and that “space was created behind platted lots to serve a place to keep animals in stables and outhouses” and such spaces “were never intended to be public thoroughfares.”

He said until the city can demonstrate to a court that the recording of the plat created a public thoroughfare, “it may be presumed that the public does not have any right to use your property as a public thoroughfare.”

He further noted that the county vacated the 29th Street North right of way in1948, and that Tran and Hazen are “the rightful owner of the south 25 feet of what was previously the right of way of 29th Street North.

“Contrary to the city building official’s allegation, no portion of your tree house is located within the right of way of 29th Street,” he concluded.


Water taxi study never implemented

Pat copeland | sun

This private water shuttle provides services
from the Mainsail marina in Holmes Beach.

HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Carmel Monti on several occasions has discussed a water taxi service as one way to relieve congestion on the Island’s roads.

Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown sent a copy of a 2005 water taxi feasibility study done for the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Agency (MPO) to Monti and noted, "Haven't heard much about it since."

The study said that water borne transportation “holds enormous potential for improving mobility, increasing accessibility and supporting redevelopment objectives” in the region and to achieve effective service would require a partnership between public and private entities.

“Such a partnership needs to match existing and potential private operators willing to participate in operating waterborne transportation services with public actions and investments,” said the study conducted by the Renaissance Group.

“Those actions should include providing adequate supporting facilities and services, such as docking, sidewalks and transit service, ensuring development of complementary and proximate land uses at each destination and establishing minimum regulations to achieve basic standards of operation.”


It said there are several challenges including the state of transportation funding in the area, diverting funding from the transit system and ensuring a seamless connection to public transportation systems.

The study noted, “As part of a seamless transportation system, water-based modes can extend the coverage and enhance the viability of public transportation in congested corridors, potentially to a mush greater extent than programs like bikes on buses.”

The study analyzed the various area of operation including Sarasota; Mote Marine; Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, Bradenton-Palmetto; Englewood-Venice-Nokomis-Casey Key; and the Manatee County islands.

Regarding the islands, the study said positive factors include proactive city officials; multiple tourist destinations; infrastructure in place or planned; compact, walkable retail districts with nearby short and long-term residential uses; convenience to mainland; connections with the trolley; and presence of marinas, docks and piers.

It recommended a pilot program be initiated in Sarasota with connections to downtown, Longboat Key, Mot Marine and possibly Siesta Key and said the city and the MPO should consider a joint grant application to implement the plan.

Smart phone users

Editor’s note: This column was written before a 14-year-old Winter Haven teen drowned Saturday in a rip current.

I see tens of thousands of people a year; almost all of them bring their communication devices to the beach. Question: Are you using your phone to its fullest potential? The weather on the Fourth was fair; the water on the Fourth was not. Heavy surf, high winds, and multiple rip currents forming kept the entire staff on the defensive.

The staff at Coquina was responsible for performing 26 life-saving riptide rescues within an eight-hour shift. The staff at Manatee rescued four individuals that were caught in the grip of the rip. Manatee Beach lifeguard Josh was also instrumental in responding to Sycamore Avenue for 12 teens caught in a rip. Josh did a great job in making sure all 12 returned to land safely, even if it did take two rescue belts and a rescue board to do it. Thanks to the WMFD and the Manatee County EMS for the help.

In all, Marine rescue staff was responsible for 43 riptide rescues both in the county parks and out. The supervisors would like to publicly thank the guys for not only skipping lunch breaks, but working well together in chaotic times. They were all professional and courteous both with each other and the general public. There are no Apps for that.

There are Apps for the communicators carrying phones that claim to be smart. The user has to initiate the process, then at that point, it’s a combined effort to be able to put the App in motion and decide, “Should I stay or should I go now?” No, not a music app, but a weather app. Pick one and “user” it. If you use it before everybody else and make your decision to exit the beach before the weather gets bad, the only thing you missed at the beach was the traffic associated with those without Apps. It’s your gas. And that was mine


Mayor gets estimate on field lighting

HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Carmel Monti sought an estimate for lighting the baseball and soccer fields after receiving an inquiry from the Island Community Center.

“They asked if we would ever consider it,” Monti explained. “They said they would like to be able to alternate fields with the ones at the Center.

“I said I would put together proposals and see what the community wants. We could go for grants or try and find funding for it.”

In the past, the city received a grant from the Hagen Family Foundation for field lighting, but the neighbors objected, and the money was used on another project. Monti said he met with Rex Hagen last week to discuss possibilities for future grants for the city.

In the past, the city has received Hagen Family Foundation funding for boat ramp improvements; palm trees; shuffleboard equipment; ballpark and soccer field improvements; a lightening warning system for the ball field; Christmas lights; and ramps, fencing, signage, landscaping and equipment to print IDs for the skate park. Subsequent donations purchased the tot lot and the new restroom by the skate park.

Monti received the following estimate from Musco Sports Lighting, of Clermont, Fla., for lighting the two fields.

• 330 x 160-foot soccer field - $69,700
• 250-foot radius softball field - $91,249
• Installation of 60-foot poles - $13,160
• Installation of 70-foot poles - $ 7,590
• Installation of 50-foot poles - $12,140
• 200 A service - $11,040
• Electrical wiring - $33,800
Subtotal - $238,679
Deduct for design differences - $18,200
Total - $220,479

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper