The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 8 - December 18, 2013


Carol Whitmore


Longer than a city block, the California is positioned over the
renourishment borrow area just west of Anna Maria Island.



HOLMES BEACH – The renourishment of 2013-14 is underway.

The pipes are set, the bulldozers are on the sand shaping the new beach and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has its renourishment dredge, the California, in the water next to the borrow area, sucking water and sand through a pipe headed for shore.

The extra pipes needed for the project are being stored at Manatee Public Beach for now and will be brought to the site when needed. According to Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker, the renourishment will go north at first, to cover beaches up to about 73rd Street.

Then they will take it south until they reach the end of the first project at Cortez Beach. That’s the main part of the project, and it will cost around $13 million. The next portion will cover Cortez Beach, at a cost of $3 million. It will also include rebuilding the three groins off Cortez and Coquina Beaches. Those groins have been in disrepair for years and the public has been banned from using them.

This renourishment is the latest in a series of projects stretching back to 1992. That project covered the central portion of the north-south beach along the Gulf of Mexico, and it was a learning process, according to Hunsicker.

“The project was 100 percent Corps of Engineers,” he said. “They got the sand from offshore of Bradenton Beach, and it was full of rocks and shells and it wasn’t very white.”

At that time, the county had hired Coastal Planning and Engineering to monitor the project and the senior vice president, Rick Spadoni, along with Hunsicker, decided they didn’t want another project with that kind of sand.

“Coastal Planning found a good source of sand north and west of the Island, the same place we are using now,” Hunsicker said. “It’s a good place with soft sand, and it replenishes quickly.”

Over the past 20 years, projects have been conducted in 2002, 2005-06 and 2011. The expanse of the renourishment has widened to include Cortez and Coquina Beaches, as well as Anna Maria, which bowed out of the initial project because beachfront landowners were afraid of losing ownership rights.

In the 1992-93 project, one Bradenton Beach condominium building owner refused to participate over the same fears, and they proceeded to renourish on both sides of his beach, which left him with a large lake of salt water that soon turned foul. He relented and had to pay the extra expense of going back to fill in his beach.

For now, beachfront properties will hear the noise of earth moving equipment on the beach, but the project is expected to progress down the coastline so that they will be gone within a day or two, if all goes as planned.


Shark bite heroes honored
Carol Whitmore

From left: Kiera Dunn, Katie Matta, U.S. Coast Guard Rear
Admiral Jake Corn, Connor Bystrom, C.J. Wickersham
and Max Garza at the ceremony in Miami.

MIAMI – An Island man who dove in and got his friend out of the water after he was bitten by a shark has received a medal from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Connor Bystrom, who saved the life of C.J. Wickersham on Sep. 24, 2011, was given the Gold Lifesaving Medal in a ceremony last week at the Brickell Plaza Federal Building, in Miami. Rear Adm. Jake Korn, Coast Guard 7th District commander, presented the medal to Bystrom in front of others who were in the boat that day – Katie Matta, Kiera Dunn, and Max Garza. The others got letters of commendation for stabilizing Wickersham and getting him to the pier, where he was evacuated.

A bull shark, estimated at 10 feet long, bit Wickersham in the leg, as they were spear fishing in the waters off Anna Maria Island. Wickersham hit the shark in the nose and drove it off but required help as the waters around him turned red with his blood. Bystrom jumped into the water and got him to the side of the boat, where the others pulled him in and radioed for help.

Bystrom held a tourniquet around Wickersham’s leg and kept him awake on the way to the pier, according to the others in the boat.

The Gold Lifesaving Medal was established by Congress in 1874 and is one of the oldest military medals.

“The Coast Guard doesn’t give these out every day,” Rear Adm. Korn said. “In 30 years, I haven’t ever seen one, much less given one out.”

Connor Bystrom has been mullet fishing since he got back but he took time to say it was an impressive event.

“It was awesome and I’m honored to have received the medal,” he said.

His mother, Jeannie, had praise for all concerned.

“We’re so proud of Connor and all the kids,” she said. “We love C.J. and we know he would have done the same thing if it had happened to one of the others.”

Trolleys to run holiday schedules

Almost all businesses shut down for Christmas and New Year’s Day but not the trolleys or the beach expresses, so if it’s a nice day, the Island might get some visitors via mass transit instead of taking up parking spaces.

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) reports fixed route and para transit buses will stop running at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key trolleys will stop at 7 p.m.

On Christmas Day, there will be no bus service in the county except the beach expresses and the Anna Maria Island trolley.

On New Year’s Eve, MCAT is extending the trolley service until 1 a.m. for those wanting to watch the midnight fireworks at the BeachHouse. Otherwise, all buses and the Longboat Key trolley will run regular hours.

On New Year’s Day, there will be no public transit except for the beach express and the Anna Maria Island trolleys.

The trolleys are free, but there is a charge for the beach express.


AMICCO Youth contest starts

The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra (AMICCO) and the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island are sponsoring the Eighth Annual Young Artists Solo Competition for Manatee and Sarasota County area musicians on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 1:30 p.m. at the Palma Sola Presbyterian Church, 6510 Third Avenue W., Bradenton (67th Street West and Second Avenue). Eligibility for the competition is open to Manatee and Sarasota County 12-to 18-year-old musicians.

Wind and string players, pianists and vocalists are encouraged to audition. Competition guidelines and application forms are on the AMICCO website, Youth Programs tab. Application deadline is Jan. 15. For more information or questions, please contact James Stoltie at or 941-727-9886.

Part of AMICCO’s mission is to foster the development of musically talented youth in the community and the Young Artists Solo Competition helps accomplish this very important goal. The winner will perform with the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra at a series concert. A cash prize of $500 is awarded to the winner.


Raine Sagramsingh, trumpet, performed Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major with AMICCO at the December Holiday Concert. Raine was the 2013 Young Artists Solo Competition winner. She is a graduate of Southeast High School and is currently at Florida State University in Tallahassee majoring in engineering with a minor in Spanish. She is part of the Florida State University Marching Chiefs, is in the honors program and is part of the Service Scholars. Raine said, “Winning this competition, and playing with AMICCO is one of the highlights of my musical career. I am so honored that I was selected from such a talented group of musicians to perform with the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra. The concert was something that I had been looking forward to for months.”

Endangered Species Act turns 40


Black skimmers and white ibis are among the state species of
special concern that frequent Anna Maria Island.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA)turns 40 on Dec. 28, and in its four decades it has helped more than 30 species recover, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1973, the federal law classifies imperiled animal species into two categories based on their risk of going extinct.

Endangered species are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of a particular range. Threatened species are likely to become endangered species within the foreseeable future.

Species of special concern, a state category, bear watching as they approach threatened status.

More than 2,100 species are listed as imperiled under the ESA, nearly 1,500 found in the U.S. and its waters.

While less than 1 percent of the species listed in the ESA have gone extinct, and the populations of many listed species are increasing, the populations of many others continue to decline, and more species are being listed, according to a press statement by Sam Rauch, Head of NOAA Fisheries.

In Florida, the following animals, most of which are seen on and around Anna Maria Island, are listed as imperiled species.


Green sea turtle
Hawksbill sea turtle
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle
Leatherback sea turtle
West Indian manatee
Loggerhead sea turtle
Gopher tortoise
Least tern
Piping plover
Roseate spoonbill
Snowy plover

State Species of Special Concern

American oystercatcher
Black skimmer
Brown pelican
Little blue heron
Snowy egret
White ibis

Barry Grooms to reopen automotive service

HOLMES BEACH – Barry Grooms plans to combine old-fashioned customer service with cutting edge green technology to reopen Grooms Motors and Automotive Service at 5608 Marina Drive.

The building was most recently occupied by Island Auto Repair, owned and operated by Rick and Judi Rickerson, who were asked to vacate the building by Dec. 1. The Rickersons relocated their business to Bradenton.

Grooms’ father, Rodney, operated an automotive business at the location from 1968 to 1998. At one point during that time, Rodney operated in the front of the building and the Rickersons operated in the rear of the building. In 1998, Rodney retired and allowed the Rickersons to use the entire building.

“We’ll reopen Grooms as it was in 1968,” Grooms said. “It’s a throwback to the vision my dad believed in and the kind of customer service they offered back then.

“We’ll be engaged with the community, hosting and sponsoring events. It’s something I want to do, not something I have to do. It’s not just about making money.”

Grooms, who grew up on the Island, said that as owner of the building and the company, he’ll handle the business development and his nephew, Robert Riley, will operate it.

“He’s been operating NAPA auto clinics for years, is well versed in the business and has great customer service skills,” Grooms explained. “Currently, we’re taking applications for a mechanic, but it has to be the right one.

“We’ve gutted the building from the bathrooms to the wiring and are installing cutting edge technology. All of our operations as far as oil, tires, batteries, etc. are at the highest standards of being green.”

Grooms said he has spent thousands of dollars cleaning up contamination from years of use and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is monitoring four wells installed on the property.

He said he plans to open the business Feb. 1.

Mayor alerts officials to ‘sober house’ issue

LONGBOAT KEY – Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn asked Island elected officials to support the Florida League of Cities’ (FLOC) efforts to establish standards and regulations for sober houses or halfway houses.

“You need to be aware of it,” she said at the monthly meeting of the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials on Longboat Key last week. “People are buying homes and renting them out to people in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.”

She said there has been a proliferation of unscrupulous owners who promise services such as counseling and treatment, but offer no services or oversight. The clients are then free to do what they want, creating problems in neighborhoods.

According to a FLOC brief, “Residents of these neighborhoods have reported an increase in burglaries, panhandling and even some instances where the sober house operators are openly using or selling drugs out of the sober house.

“The FLOC is supporting legislation that defines and establishes minimum regulatory standards for sober home facilities and allows for more stringent local regulation of these facilities.”

In other business officials discussed:

• Working together on solid waste contracts;
• A multi use path to be built by the Florida Department of Transportation along Gulf Drive from 27th Street in Bradenton Beach to Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach;
• A homeless program in Sarasota that brings people to a central location where they can get help;
• Ongoing efforts to repeal House Bill 883, which prohibits a municipality from creating legislation that would in any way regulate rentals.

Tiki bar owner to submit site plan

HOLMES BEACH – City Attorney Patricia Petruff advised Nicole Heslop, owner of the Barefoot Tiki Bar, to file a site plan for her mobile kitchen.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer had asked Planner Bill Brisson for an opinion on on whether the kitchen, which was likened to a hot dog or hamburger stand, was an allowable use. Brisson said in the code, such stands are excluded from the definition of a restaurant.

“We believe that the previously referenced hot dog stands, etc. are specifically excluded from the definition of restaurants to ensure that one does not mistakenly believe that they are restaurants and are allowable,” Brisson wrote in a memo to Tokajer.

“Given this exclusion, if they were allowable, they would be listed as separate uses and would probably have standards of development and/or supplemental regulations that would differ from those of restaurants.”

However, Petruff pointed out to commissioners, that while “it’s not a specifically allowed use in the C-3 district, it’s there. It’s up and running. They’re serving food.”

She cited Brisson’s opinion and said all uses in the C-3 district are site plan specific and to change a use or increase a use or increase the intensity of a use a site plan is required. In addition, C-3 provides for “accessory uses as may be necessary or normally compatible with uses allowed in the district.”

“If you have a site plan, you have an option to decide whether or not it is an accessory to the existing use and compatible,” Petruff said. “That’s option number one.

“In all districts there’s language that talks about ‘any profession or occupation not listed above, but which is comparable in nature and operation with uses contained in this list of permitted used may be permitted if approval is secured from the city commission.’

She said city commissioners could allow it under one of those options. Commissioners told Heslop to bring in a site plan and make a request.

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