The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 2 - November 6, 2013


After five years, still no Sabine

HOLMES BEACH – The last time most of her friends saw Sabine Musil-Buehler was at a Halloween party she threw for guests and trick-or-treaters who stopped at Haley’s Motel, which she owned with her estranged husband, Tom Buehler. It was Oct. 31, 2008, and they had set up a spooky trail around the hotel’s yard. They decorated the large building they used for gatherings for the season with a bedroom that had a “dead body” in it and the floors were eerily covered with “blood.”

In the weeks that followed, a story few were aware of became public about Musil-Buehler, who many knew as a generous woman with a big heart, and about her boyfriend, William Cumber, whom she befriended as he served time in prison for setting a girlfriend’s house on fire.

There was her car, a Pontiac Sunbird, that police found being driven by a man who confessed later to stealing it. There were allegations from friends who spent time with Musil-Buehler and Cumber about his jealousy and temper.

Cumber said he last saw Musil-Buehler Nov. 5, 2008, when she left the apartment she shared with him in Anna Maria after she caught him smoking a cigarette. Cumber said they argued and she stormed out.

Musil-Buehler’s friends still think about her and about what night have happened.

“When my parents moved to the area, they told me about this amazing woman who wanted to have basket weaving classes and save animals,” said Sage Hall, an actress and businesswoman. “When I started my company, Starfruit Productions, she counseled me about what to do, how to make money and how to deal with being a woman in the business world.”

Sage Hall’s mother, Debbie, said she would love to get some closure on what happened to her.

“I still miss her and I still wonder about her,” Debbie Hall said. “I still talk with her friends from Germany.”

After her disappearance, Cumber stayed in the apartment until the rent ran out and then he moved to the mainland. While he was living in the apartment, a fire destroyed the building at Haley’s Motel where Musil-Buehler had set up the eerie Halloween bedroom scene. The fire’s origin was never determined.

After the fire, Cumber took off while still on probation for the arson conviction. When authorities caught him in another county, the arrested him and brought him back to face charges of parole violation. He was convicted and is serving a prison sentence.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Sergeant John Kenney was in charge of the Anna Maria contingency when Musil-Buehler disappeared. He later retired, but was rehired by the Sheriff’s Office as a homicide detective and assigned to the Musil-Buehler case. Starting in July 2011, he came out to the beach next to Gulf Boulevard, in Anna Maria, close to where Musil-Buehler had shared the apartment, and looked for clues in the sand. Authorities used ground penetrating radar, which worked poorly because of the water table below the sand. They later used cadaver dogs from the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office, but found nothing. A month later, a homeowner south of the site found her purse and cellular phone in a wooded area next to the beach, so Kenney came back with the dogs and earthmovers, but the search again yielded nothing.

The Sheriff’s Office eventually filed second-degree murder charges against Cumber with the evidence they had from the apartment. That trial is set for July 14, 2014.

“We’re getting ready to go through depositions,” Kenney said last week. “We feel confident we have a good, strong case, even though we don’t have a body.”

Sage Hall said she would love it if Cumber were to confess to put closure on the case.

“It’s hard to imagine how such a bright star could be gone,” she said of Musil-Buehler. “I hope in her final moments she didn’t have any pain.”

Debbie Hall said she suspected Cumber from the start.

“I asked Sabine if she trusted Cumber and she said no,” she said. “Then she said he told her he had a bad childhood and his mother treated him bad.”

Kenney said the mystery won’t be over until they find out what happened to Musil-Buehler, if they ever do.

“We are totally open to anyone who has any information,” he said. “If you can assist, please call me at 747-3011, extension 2216.”


Court says: ‘Go fish’

CORTEZ – Fishermen are pulling out their dusty gill nets for the first time since 1995, but few are venturing out to use them.

The historic fishing village is abuzz with doubts after a Tallahassee judge lifted the net ban on Wednesday, Oct. 30 for the second time, not quite believing they can legally use their gill nets again.

Cortez commercial fisherman Junior Guthrie said he asked an officer the day after the ruling what would happen if he went gill net fishing.

“They said they will arrest me and if I resist they’ll get me for that,” he said, adding that the officer said the paperwork ordering a stop to enforcing the ban “hasn’t come across their desk yet.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spokeswoman Amanda Nalley confirmed that as of Friday afternoon, the agency did not yet have the order.

Judge Jackie Fulford of the Leon County Second Circuit Court ruled on Tuesday, Oct. 22 that the FWC could no longer enforce the state constitutional amendment banning gill nets.

The ban and the FWC’s subsequent rules created what she called the “legal absurdity” of prohibiting larger-mesh gill nets that target certain size fish and let smaller ones go, while allowing smaller-mesh cast nets that catch and kill juvenile fish, which she said defeats the purpose of the gill net ban - to preserve fish populations.

The appeal

The Florida Attorney General’s office appealed on behalf of the FWC the same day, which stayed the judge’s ruling, part of which labels the FWC’s rules as discriminatory against mullet fishermen.

But on Oct. 30, Fulford lifted that stay, again ruling that the FWC cannot enforce the ban, said Ronald Mowrey, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association Inc., Ronald Fred Crum, Jonas Porter and Keith Ward.

“The judge’s order is in effect and the FWC is enjoined from enforcing the net ban and will be unless and until the DCA (First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee) reimposes the stay of her order at a hearing,” he said on Friday, Nov. 1, adding that the FWC could appeal again and request a hearing within the next week.

The plaintiffs have asked that the Florida Supreme Court hear the case instead of the District Court of Appeal.

Fulford took a trip on a commercial fishing boat prior to her first ruling.

“I salute her for going out with them on the boat,” said Mary Fulford Green, of the Cortez Village Historical Society, adding that she thinks that the judge could be distantly related to the Cortez Fulford clan, although no relationship has been established. “They proved to her that a cast net kills a lot more than a gill net.

“And I salute Fishing for Freedom for keeping on keeping on,” she said, referring to two of the plaintiffs in the case, who are co-presidents of the Boynton Beach-based commercial fishing group, Fishing for Freedom.

The ban

The constitutional amendment was passed by Florida voters in 1994 to ban gill nets in state waters as a way of preserving fish populations and preventing the accidental entrapment of sea turtles and marine mammals such as dolphins and manatees, which environmental groups claim is common and commercial fishermen claim is uncommon.

The ban went into effect in 1995, putting all but two Cortez fish houses out of business and forcing Cortez fishermen to diversify, mostly into grouper and stone crab.

Some were forced to leave the business. One began making cast nets, which are still allowed. Two build docks. One rakes the county’s public beach. One runs a restaurant. Two run sightseeing cruises for tourists. Several rent out their former fishing cottages to vacationers.

Most would rather go fishing, but remain wary.

The FWC has a “vendetta” against commercial fishermen, Guthrie said.

“I can take you in this commercial fishing boat down this bay and you can watch them go by a dozen sport fishing boats and they won’t stop, and they will go out of their way to stop a commercial fishing boat,” he said. “If that’s not profiling, I don’t know what is.”

The kink in the gill net amendment comes as fishermen eagerly await the first big cold front in November, the signal for mullet boats to come out in droves, some from Cortez, some from hundreds of miles away, to catch female mullet bearing eggs, also known as bottarga, which is sold domestically and internationally.

Whether they will be caught in gill nets or cast nets remains to be seen.

Thompson named Businessperson of the Year
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Cindy Thompson receives the Businessperson of the Year
award from AMI Rotary Club President Mike Northfield.



HOLMES BEACH – Business leaders gathered at Key Royale Club Monday night to celebrate an improved Island economy and prospects for the future at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet.

There was also celebration of the three businesses that won AMI Chamber Business of the Year awards.

Just For Fun, in Holmes Beach, won the Small Business of the Year award; Wash Family Construction, of Holmes Beach, won Medium Business of the Year; and Air and Energy, also of Holmes Beach, won Large Business of the Year.

Cindy Thompson, former Chamber Board Chair, received the Businessperson of the Year award from the Anna Maria Island Rotary Club. Thompson, who owns Thompson Academy, was recognized for her business talents and her massive volunteer efforts over the years as originator and long-time organizer of the largest Island festival, Bayfest.

“I want to thank my mentors, Karen LaPensee and David Teitelbaum and others who helped me with my business,” Thompson said. “I also want to thank my mother, who is a great businesswoman, my husband, Doug, and (Chamber President) Mary Ann (Brockman).”

Manatee county Commissioner John Chappie swore in the new board of directors. They were Dan Alderson, Ellen Aquilina, David Berube, Eric Cairns, Larry Chatt, Linda Dickson (who was not present), Lois Gift, Lori Gyson, Wayne Guenter, Karen LaPensee, Janet Mixon, Barbara Murphy, Amy Tolbin (not present), David Teitelbaum and Wende Webb.


Rain can’t stop Privateers raid


Privateers mercilessly attack the Crewe of
Hernando De Soto at The Battle of Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach.

ANNA MARIA – The pirates lurking to invade the Island Saturday had to wait for a storm to pass before taking on our defenders.

The rain began around 9:30 a.m. at the site of the first skirmish and as spectators took cover, the San Cristobel, ship of the Hernando De Soto Crewe, was waiting near Rudy’s Subs for the Privateers and when they did arrive, there was little fire from cannon due to the damp condition of the powder, so they moved on after firing a few pistols – the San Cristobel followed by the Privateers’ Skullywag.

That was the beginning of the largest Island invasion since last tourist season.

The subsequent skirmishes got more exciting as the powder dried and the final battle, at the Bridge Street roundabout, was quite exciting with some fancy swordsmanship included.

The crews of both ships ended up at Coquina Beach where a festival was already set up and open both Saturday and Sunday.

It was exciting, a lot of fun and profitable for the Privateers’ Scholarship Fund.

“We still have bills to pay but I think we’ll net around $10,000 by the time we take a final count,” Chairman Tim “Hammer” Thompson said.

The rain returned to Bradenton Beach Saturday night and it shortened a final pirate’s invasion of Bridge Street, but the celebrants took cover inside several conveniently located pirate- and conquistador-friendly taverns that are located along the street.

Then came the Hardball Halloween Parade that began at the Island Branch Library around 6 p.m. and went south to Coquina.

Thompson said for a first-time event, it went well and would have been better if Mother Nature had been more gracious. He said there were first-time problems that he hopes will be solved at subsequent invasions.

“This whole first event was one large learning curve,” he said. “We had a lot of community support and I want to thank the DeSoto Crewe for their participation.”

Friday night was the Pirate’s Masquerade Ball, which Thompson said was sold out.

“What I was really glad to see was everyone got involved and dressed up,” he said. “There were few people who wore formal attire instead of pirate clothes. It was like a big old pirate gathering.”

He called the weekend a rousing success and said there would be a second annual invasion.

Annual artsHOP promises three days of fun


Front row, left to right: Sylvia Marnie as Julia,
Heiko Knipfelberg as Arthur, Chrissy Abdala as Brenda.
Back: Mary Jo Johnson as Holly, John Durkin as Simon
and Steve Horowitz as Sergeant.

The Island will be jumping with cultural activity this weekend during the Seventh Annual artsHOP.

Presented by Cultural Connections, artsHOP will take place Friday, Nov. 8 through Sunday, Nov. 10 in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.

“ArtsHOP shines a light on the fantastic arts and culture we have on the Island,” said artsHOP Director Marsha Bard.

It also provides Cultural Connections an opportunity to help other organizations.

“Each year we choose a local group to donate the proceeds to as part of a ‘pay it forward’ effort,” Bard said.

Sales of the artsHOP birdhouses created and contributed by local artists will benefit Bradenton Beach-based Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center Inc.

Friday, Nov. 8:

Gallery Walk and 'Guilty Conscience'

The celebration begins Friday night with the artsHOP Gallery Walk, taking place from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Gallery Walk features galleries and art-related businesses located along Pine Avenue in Anna Maria and along Gulf Drive, Marina Drive and Holmes Boulevard in Holmes Beach.

Anna Maria participants include Artspace, Bob Brown Art Gallery, Emerson’s Studio Store, Ginny’s & Jane E’s, Shiny Fish Emporium, The Studio at Gulf and Pine, and Tide & Moon Jewelry.

Holmes Beach participants include the Anna Maria Island Art League, the Artists’ Guild Gallery, Arts For The Earth, Fukinsei Art Lab, Island Gallery West, Libby’s Island Jewelry & Gifts, and Restless Natives.

Many galleries will serve special treats, and offer live entertainment.

The Gallery Walk is free and this year features a new twist: Bird Bingo.

Pick up a Bird Bingo card at any Gallery Walk location and search for the bird photo specific to each stop on the walk.

Ask a gallery representative to place a sticker on your bingo card and receive a coupon redeemable at one of three Chiles Group restaurants – Sandbar, BeachHouse or Mar Vista – when you fill a line in any direction.

Submitted bingo cards also will be entered in the drawing taking place at Saturday’s artsHOP luncheon and studied later by event organizers seeking insight into gallery traffic and the number of attendees who visited Gallery Walk locations in both cities.

The free trolley is a recommended mode of transportation throughout the artsHOP weekend.

As the Gallery Walk winds down, the Island Players Theater, 10009 Gulf Drive in Anna Maria, will host a special 8 p.m. artsHOP performance of “Guilty Conscience,” with complimentary champagne punch and cupcakes served at intermission.

The play is a “crafty thriller” about about an attorney who plots to kill his wife and cover his crime with a perfect alibi.

Bard recommends purchasing tickets in advance at

Saturday, Nov. 9:

Arts, crafts, lunch and sand dancing

Saturday kicks off with the Butterfly Garden Arts and Crafts Show taking place at Holmes Beach city field, 5801 Marina Drive, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“You’ll see a lot of different vendors from around the country that you don’t usually see on the Island,” event organizer Nancy Ambrose said.

In addition to the arts and crafts, Patchouli will fill the air with American folk music throughout the day.

“Bring the lawn chairs and enjoy Patchouli,” Ambrose said.

The arts and crafts show continues Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Patchouli on Sunday’s bill as well.

In Anna Maria, artsHOP will host a Table to Farm luncheon at the Anna Maria Historical Society Museum and Historical Park, 402 Pine Ave. (trolley stop #42).

Taking place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the luncheon will feature unique centerpieces, a presentation from Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Inc., a speaker from the “Greenest Little Main Street in America,” and a display of artsHOP birdhouses.

Following the Symphony on the Sand concert at Coquina Gulfside Park, artsHOP introduces Dance in the Sand, a free event offering music and beach dancing with local musician Mike Sales.

Dance in the Sand takes place from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Manatee Public Beach, in and around the Anna Maria Island Beach Café, with food and drinks sold separately.

Sunday, Nov. 10:

Youth activities, arts, crafts, and theater finale

In addition to the continuation of the Butterfly Arts and Crafts Show, Sunday offers something new for youngsters.

The Anna Maria Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd. in Holmes Beach, will host “It’s for the Birds” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The free event will feature a live bird exhibit and provide youths a chance to make a bird mask or do some sidewalk chalk drawing while enjoying snacks and drinks.

The artsHOP birdhouses will also be on display and rumor has it a special guest will make an appearance.

Bard said the youth activities are meant to inspire creativity in youngsters while also teaching them about the environment and how to safely interact with Island wildlife.

ArtsHOP comes to a close at the Island Players Theater, with a 2 p.m. matinee performance of “Guilty Conscience,” featuring complimentary coffee and pastries at intermission.

For more information, visit

Mary says thanks, not goodbye

Mary Cheaves


ANNA MARIA – There was a cake and lots of accolades for Mary Cheaves, property manager for the Norfolk Southern Railway’s vacation spot for executives recently. It was her 40th anniversary of working for the railroad in the spacious compound that is normally closed to others at the beach near the Anna Maria-Holmes Beach border.

Cheaves, who started as a housekeeper at the vacation spot on the beach at White Avenue, known to railroad executives at the Lay-By, was not retiring, just celebrating working at one place for twice as long as most people.

“Her mother worked there when it opened,” said Pat Mowry, who also works at the Lay-By. “That was 50 years ago.”

When asked about first taking a job at the compound, Cheaves said she initially did not have plans for a long-term position.

“I thought I’d be here for a little while and then leave and then one day I woke up and realized I’d been here five years and I said, ‘I figure I’ll stay,’” she said. “Back then, I worked for Southern Railroad and they had a 20-year plan where you would work that long and then you’re out,” she said. “When they merged with Norfolk Railroad, they had a 30-year plan. When I got to 30 years I said I never in a million years thought that it would go past that, but I guess it was God’s plan.”

Many of the people who vacationed there credited her for taking care of their kids while they were on vacation and that made an impression on her.

“The beauty of it now is those children who I took care of are now coming here with their own kids,” she said.

There were gifts for Cheaves. She unwrapped a palm tree pin and a gold watch and then came the big gift, a gravity beach chair where she could lay and enjoy the Gulf breezes. After the gifts, everyone lined up for the early dinner, a barbecue from Big John’s, the Anna Maria Island Privateer who cooks at many events.

It was a monumental day for Cheaves as the people she served for so long honored her, but the next week she would be back on the job because she wasn’t ready to stop. Maybe in 10 years.

Sun earns Press Club awards

Six staffers at the Anna Maria Island Sun have earned eight awards in the Florida Press Club’s 62nd Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards competition.

• Steve Borggren – Second place, Editorial Cartooning

• Pat Copeland – Second place (tie) Government News; Third place (tie), General News; Third place, Community News Writing

• Maggie Field – First place, Photography Features; Second place, Photography General News

• Mike Field, Ricardo Fonseca – Third place (tie), Layout Front Page Design

• Cindy Lane – Second place, Opinion Writing

Proposal would delay flood insurance rate hikes

Responding to an outcry over flood insurance rates that began skyrocketing on Oct. 1, federal lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation last week to delay the hikes mandated by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

The proposed Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would postpone rate increases for four years and enforce the Biggert-Waters mandate that FEMA develop a more affordable plan.

Biggert-Waters phased out subsidized flood insurance rates to make the National Flood Insurance Program more financially sound after it was drained by flood damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Unless the new proposal is passed, the highest rate increases will be on new and lapsed flood policies and policies covering properties purchased after July 6, 2012, for which subsidies will be cancelled, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Some other policies with subsidized rates will incur 25 percent annual rate increases until they reach actuarial rates that accurately reflect their risk, according to FEMA.

The proposed legislation would revert those increased rates back to the original rates and freeze them for four years, according to Ryan Brown, press secretary for Sen. Bill Nelson, who filed a similar bill last month that was stalled by the federal government shutdown.

The proposal also provides for refunds to those who have already paid the higher premiums, said Steve Gilbert, building official for Bradenton Beach.

Under Biggert-Waters, new flood maps expected soon could result in increased, actuarially adjusted rates for properties whose base flood elevations are determined to be lower than in previous flood maps, he said.

Some property owners required to have flood insurance by their mortgage companies are paying off mortgages and dropping insurance coverage, Gilbert said, advising homeowners to wait and see if the proposed law is passed before dropping coverage, because getting it later “might prove to be impossible.”

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