Vol. 16 No. 39 - July 27, 2016
A jolly old Christmas in July
BRADENTON BEACH – The Pokémon GO virtual gaming craze is a big hit on the Island.
Pokémon GO is the latest offshoot of the Nintendo Game Boy video game that became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The newest incarnation also plays off the nostalgia many folks feel for the beloved Pokémon card game they played as kids.
A hike down Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach last Friday afternoon with cell phone in hand revealed virtual PokeStops at the Tingley Memorial Library, the post office, Oma's Pizza and the Moose Lodge, but the hottest spot was near the Bridge Tender Inn. More...
Commission approves Bert Harris settlements
ANNA MARIA – The Anna Maria City Commission has approved settlement offers expected to eliminate 24 of the 59 Bert Harris claims filed in opposition to vacation rental occupancy restrictions.
The decision came during last Thursday's meeting, when commissioners voted 3-2 to support City Attorney Becky Vose's recommendation to settle the claims she deemed most legitimate.
"These I believe are the most reasonable claims we would have the highest risk of losing. I'm not saying we will not fully litigate some complaints, but these are not the ones I would recommend," Vose told the commission.
"It's not an option to not make a settlement offer and I can't emphasize that enough. City officials need to take this situation very seriously because so far there are more than $23 million in claims and that doesn't include attorney fees. Failure to make an offer is an automatic win for the property owner. We lose and also have to pay their attorney fees," she explained. More...
Millage rate doesn't change; taxes still headed higher
BRADENTON BEACH – Last week, the Bradenton Beach City Commissioners adopted its maximum proposed millage rate.
With Mayor Bill Shearon voting in opposition, the commission voted 4-1 in favor of adopting a maximum millage rate of 2.3329 percent, which is the same millage rate adopted last year.
"I can't support this because I don't believe we're going to have a balanced budget," Shearon said before he cast his opposition vote.
At one point during the discussion, Shearon briefly floated the idea of increasing the millage in order to maintain what he believes to be a balanced budget, but this idea garnered no significant discussion or commission support. The maximum rate could be lowered before the final budget adoption later this summer, but that is not expected to happen. More...
Tentative Anna Maria millage unchanged
ANNA MARIA – Last week, the Anna Maria City Commission set the tentative millage rate for 2016-17 at 2.05 mills, which is the same rate as the current fiscal year.
The commission also agreed that the first public hearing for the formal adoption of the millage and the 2016-17 fiscal year budget would be scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
The commission also scheduled three budget work sessions for August. Mayor Dan Murphy said these would take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 3, Wednesday, Aug. 10 and Wednesday, Aug. 17.
When the proposed adopted millage was first discussed at the July 14 meeting, Murphy said, "If we keep it the same, the increase in the value of the homes in Anna Maria will net the city an additional $191,000." More...
Crows cause poor shorebird nesting season
Shorebird nesting season ended last week on Anna Maria Island with no least tern or black skimmer chicks surviving an onslaught of crows, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox.
For eight years, the two imperiled species have successfully raised chicks until they could fly, she said, but this year, only snowy plovers had success, with a mere eight chicks hatched.
"We watched the crows, and one group would flush the birds off their nests while the other one came in and got the eggs," she said.
Crows also are predators to sea turtles eggs and hatchlings, Fox said. More...
Moratorium would have unintended consequences
BRADENTON BEACH – If Bradenton Beach voters approve a citizen-initiated building moratorium in November, the city will be forced to enact a moratorium that is more restrictive than its proponents intended.
This was the conclusion reached at last Thursday's City Commission meeting, when the commission was asked to approve an ordinance that contained ballot language based on a moratorium ordinance previously presented by resident Priscilla VonAhnen on June 16 as the result of a petition initiative she spearheaded.
The citizen-initiated moratorium ordinance presented to commissioners last month called for a six-month moratorium on structures containing more than four bedrooms in the city's R-1 and R-2 residential zone districts.
A reference to rooms being used as sleeping areas, and the lack of clarifying language regarding living rooms and dining rooms, prompted City Planner Alan Garrett to say then, "If I have two living rooms, I can only have two bedrooms. The wording needs clarification." More...
Arnold restitution set at $92,830.50
HOLMES BEACH – The other shoe has dropped in the saga of Christopher Arnold, the former contractor convicted of scheming to defraud the city of Holmes Beach in a 2012 curb replacement project.
Arnold, 64, pled no contest in 2015 to grand theft and served 364 days in the Manatee County Jail. Last Monday, he was ordered to pay the city $92,830.50 in restitution and $3,069.19 to the police department in investigative expenses.
He was arrested in 2013 after an investigation by Holmes Beach Police Detective Sgt. Brian Hall concluded he did not replace all of the curbing marked with orange paint for replacement. Hall's report claimed some of the curbs with the orange paint were painted over with gray paint, instead of being replaced. More...
Harles gets a new judge
HOLMES BEACH –Gerald Harles II might be able to come home soon after the judge in his case disqualified himself.
The 30-year-old lived with his mother, Judy, until May 31, when his actions after drinking caused his mother to call police. According to the police report, an officer thought he saw and heard Harles with a weapon and the Holmes Beach Police Department called in the Manatee County Sheriff's Office SWAT team.
Harles surrendered peacefully and was taken to jail. He was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and was released on bail, but the judge put a "no-contact" order in effect, for his mother's safety. His mother complained about having to pay for her son's motel room and entered a request to change the order to a "no harmful contact" order. More...
Get your sustainable seafood here
Here on the Gulf coast, we are no strangers to the formula of a good time: great food, great friends, and great atmosphere. Fortunately, with access to some of the best fresh-caught seafood, great food isn't too hard to come by. Fortunately, those living near the Gulf Coast (and bound) get to reap the delicious benefits of some of the freshest seafood in the world, a beautiful and picturesque atmosphere, and a community dedicated to just that – this community.
Truly great food doesn't always require the fanciest gourmet ingredients and the most expensive wine, but it does require fresh, quality ingredients and the love put into making the dish. This begins long before the food even gets to the our kitchens. It begins in the early mornings and late nights when Cortez fishermen slide on their boots and their favorite cap and head out onto the water to catch our next delicious meal. More...
Angler's motto: Be prepared
For many anglers, a day on the water is hard won. These days are often too widely spaced, and not enough attention is paid to preparation before we grab our gear, put it on the boat and head out. This can mean we forget to check the basic components that can make or break a potentially successful fishing trip.
A solution is to have a check list to follow before you ever head out to make the first cast. With a little due diligence, we can avoid the mistakes that cause you to lose fish. These mistakes can be easily avoided.
The hook is one of the most important components of an effective rig. It's also one of the easiest things to forget to check. A hook can be razor sharp the last time you used it and can become dulled with contact to the rub rail of the boat, objects in the water, guides and many other things. More...
The psychology of home ownership
About a month ago right after July 4th, I wrote a column supporting the valuable assets of owning your own home and the freedom it promotes. Being a homeowner is good for society, good for our self esteem and good for our tax bracket, but is the process of buying and selling good for our emotional well being?
Buying and selling the home we live in is one of the most emotional factors in our lives. You literally fall in love with your home and even though it represents a major financial investment most homeowners view their home as much more than that. So how do you control the emotional aspect of the buying and selling process so that you don't go completely off the psychology rails?
First of all if you're buying a home, falling in love with a property at first sight is the worst thing you can do; save the falling in love part till after you own the property. You need to understand there are no perfect properties, especially in the current environment we're in where there is a shortage of inventory. Starting the process with a firm wish list will only serve to raise your emotional level even higher when your exact desires can't be met. Focus in on the most important part of buying property, the location. More...
Fresh fish, right off the boat
There's something fishy on Cortez Road and believe me you can't miss it. Smack dab in the middle of the colorful strip of stores containing the Cortez Post Office is the new Cortez Fish Market, which isn't really new at all.
John Banyas has owned Cortez Bait & Seafood, a fixture in the Cortez Fishing Village, since 1996, in addition to the Swordfish Grill, Taylor Boatworks and other local businesses. Last year he purchased the small strip of stores along Cortez Road West near 121st Street and added yet another business to his portfolio. The Cortez Fish Market officially opened the week of July 18 on Cortez Road West next to the Post Office.
The large bright space is managed by James "Wyre" Lee who knows more about fish then the old man and the sea and has five more people to help him pull in the nets. The expansion is obvious with a very substantial display of fresh seafood including; royal red shrimp, snapper, cobia, swordfish, mahi mahi, tuna, hog fish, grouper and whatever else is caught fresh from the Gulf waters surrounding us. Most of the seafood at the Cortez Fish Market comes right off the boats from the Cortez Fishing Fleet. More...
Reverse mortgages worth another lookInvestment Corner
I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn't the worst idea in the world.
I'm bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime
Space limitations don't' allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let's hit some of the highlights. More...
Wash Family Construction captures its first Hayward Cup
The top two teams of the adult co-ed recreational soccer league faced each other in the Paul "Ace" Hayward Cup championship game Thursday night. In the rare occurrence, the top seeded team Wash Family Construction (WFC) played second seed Eason Builders Group (EBG) in 46 minutes of intense action on the pitch.
Adult soccer at the Island's community center brings out players from other teams, family and friends to cheer on individual players and teams. This championship night was no different – both stands were full with a dozen other spectators along the sideline.
With strong veteran players on both team rosters, neither team played the championship game with their veteran starter goalies. Both Jason Sato, starting goalkeeper for Wash Family Construction, and Scott Rudacille, Eason Builders Group goalie, had to miss the game. More...
Tents, chairs impeding turtle nesting
With the increasing popularity of large tents on the beach, mother sea turtles trying to nest on Anna Maria Island's coastline are running a gauntlet of metal frames and are not always succeeding.
Turtles are getting caught in the accordion-style frames that people fold up and leave on the beach overnight, in violation of Island city ordinances, said Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.
"Tent cities" – several tents right next to each other – sometimes stay up all night, and sometimes tents are erected before dawn, also a violation, she said. More...