Vol. 16 No. 42 - August 17, 2016
Tears and new adventures at AME
HOLMES BEACH – One school bus arrived early, and another arrived late, but that didn't stop teachers and staff from getting the children into their classrooms for the first day of the 2016-17 school year at Anna Maria Elementary School.
An ambulance was parked on the side of Gulf Drive north of the school, its emergency lights flashing to remind drivers that school was open and that they needed to exercise caution.
Holmes Beach Police Officer and AME crossing guard Rob Velardi was on duty at the roadside. He'll also administer the DARE anti-substance abuse class to the fifth graders, although officer Josh Fleischer will be training to take over later in the year when Velardi retires. More...
Hurricane season: Busy second half expected
As we near the halfway mark of the 2016 hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) is sticking to its prediction of a busier than normal season.
New numbers show an increase of 10 percent that the season will be normal or above normal. In May, that chance was 75 percent, and the latest prediction, released last week, says there is now 85 percent chance. The chance of a near normal season dropped from 25 percent in May to 15 percent. According to the latest report, this season is expected to be the strongest since 2012. More...
Crowd attends Cortez Bridge meeting
HOLMES BEACH – A crowd of around 100 people attended the Cortez Bridge replacement alternatives meeting at St. Bernard Catholic Church Tuesday, Aug. 9, to gather information and give opinions on what kind of a bridge should replace the aging drawbridge that connects the Island at Bradenton Beach to the mainland.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has plans to repair the 17.5-foot clearance drawbridge or replace it with one of three options: a 21-foot clearance drawbridge; a 35-foot clearance drawbridge: or a 60-foot clearance fixed span bridge.
The no-build (repair) alternative would fix the bridge to last 10 years. It would tentatively begin in 2025. Repairs made in 2015 would last until then. It would require the bridge to be closed for nine weeks while work is done on the structure. More...
Animals survive Egmont fire
EGMONT KEY – Most of the wildlife on Egmont Key survived a wildfire that lasted four days late last month, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A biological assessment last Thursday revealed that about a dozen of the key's approximately 1,000 box turtles perished in the fire, but the key's gopher tortoises dug safely into their burrows as the fire passed over them, federal wildlife officer Stan Garner said.
"They were out the morning after the fire," he said. More...
Man drowns near bridge
A 51-year-old man drowned in the Intracoastal Waterway near the Anna Maria Island Bridge around noon on Wednesday, Aug. 10.
According to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office report, Andy Lewis Milton, Sr., whose city of residence is unknown, was bicycling across the bridge when his straw hat blew off his head and landed in the water. Milton reportedly rode his bike back to the end of the bridge, removed his clothing and went into the water to retrieve it.
A Florida Wildlife Commission officer was driving over the bridge at the time the incident happened and he saw Milton in the water, clinging to a channel marker. Milton told him he was trying to retrieve his hat. Milton started swimming back to shore but ended up going under the water, where he drowned. More...
Kaleta arraigned, hearing set
BRADENTON – Island vacation homebuilder Shawn Kaleta, 38, was arraigned Monday, Aug. 8, for an auto accident that occurred July 8, in Bradenton. Police arrested him and charged him with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage.
District Judge Charles Sniffen set a pre-trial conference for Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 1:30 p.m. in his chambers.
The accident occurred on Manatee Avenue and 64th Street East Court. According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, Kaleta' s Tesla rear-ended a Kia, which was pushed into another Kia. When a state patrolman responded, Kaleta was gone. More...
A growing concern
ANNA MARIA ISLAND – No one in the Island's law enforcement community is suggesting there is a heroin epidemic on the Island, but three recent, non-fatal overdoses in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach have elevated concerns.
During the Thursday, Aug. 11, City Commission meeting, Sgt. Russell Schnering, from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, addressed commissioners on this topic. Schnering serves as the city's chief law enforcement officer.
"I wanted to talk about the heroin epidemic we're having in Manatee County. I'm not talking about Anna Maria Island per se, but in Manatee County," he said. More...
Another view of the situation
ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Brad Lisk and William Thomas (not his real name) don't work in law enforcement but their chosen professions have provided them with their own unique perspectives on the spike in heroin use taking place in Manatee County.
A bartender's view
Lisk, a former Island resident, has spent the past six years working as a bartender at a Holmes Beach bar that has not had a heroin overdose. He previously spent 13 years coaching baseball to Island youngsters and six years coaching football and soccer.
"As a bartender, I'm seeing them as adults. When I see a kid I know and coached and they're on this stuff, I pull them aside and tell them to look in the mirror and wake up. I grab one of their friends and say get them out of here," he said. More...
Aesthetics team to choose a theme
BRADENTON – The new bridge to the Island will have input from a team of on- and off-Island residents as to what it will look like.
The AMI Bridge Aesthetics Committee will meet once a month to discuss facets of the design and make recommendations to the engineers and designers assigned to the job, but at last month's meeting, they were asked to decide an overriding theme. Designers gave three examples and asked the Island representatives to gather opinions from residents and elected officials, noting the choices were not limited to the three. However, they're going to want to settle on a theme before they get too far, because the theme might guide them on their choices of other aspects of the design as the process progresses. More...
FISH hooks reluctant owner
CORTEZ – After a decade of trying to get Iris LeMasters to sell a vacant half acre in the interior of the FISH Preserve, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage has reached an agreement to buy the property for $185,000.
With the purchase, the not-for-profit organization will own nearly 100 acres of contiguous property on a mangrove-fringed portion of Sarasota Bay, serving as a buffer between the historic fishing village of Cortez and development to the east.
The property, at 4435 114th St. W., was not on the market, but FISH board member Karen Bell, of A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, negotiated the deal, offering half the price in cash and half financed, FISH board member Linda Molto said. More...
Big turn out at annual scallop search
Sarasota Bay Watch held its Ninth Annual Scallop Search at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron on Saturday Aug. 13. The event, which continues to grow in popularity, included over 120 volunteers and 60 boats that combed the waters of Sarasota from Big Pass to Longboat Pass.
Before they headed out, searchers were addressed by Sarasota Bay Watch President Larry Stults on how to identify scallops and the method used to locate them. Stults also made the participants aware of the many projects that Sarasota Bay Watch is involved in including the upcoming Scallopalooza Fund Raiser at the Sarasota Yacht Club.
Unfortunately, the water was cloudy over most of the search area, the result of heavy rains in the past two weeks. There also was a red tide event this past summer that might have negatively affected the scallops. Although there were few live scallops found this year, there were many other forms of sea life recorded including clams, welks and starfish. More...
Visualize your décor
To some people, redecorating is an endurance test, to others a passion and for most of us, in the middle. It's an eventual necessity particularly if you're thinking of selling your home. And like all things digital in this century, your home decorating and design can be done on line with the help of a virtual decorator.
I've written before about many of the major paint manufacturers providing on line color visualizers on their websites. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams and Glidden among others have areas on their websites providing sample rooms that can be "repainted" with any of the colors they have available. You can also upload a picture of your room and try out different color schemes. It's a productive and fun way to get comfortable with different colors without testing it on a wall and committing to an expensive gallon of paint and it doesn't cost a penny. 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...
Teamwork is taught at The Center
Starting the first week of school last week, the seven players rostered on each team in the five-to nine-year old youth basketball league found themselves matching up on the basketball court in the first games of the season at the Island's community center Thursday night. Playing 5v5, each of the players got their time on the court to not only show their skills, but also learn more about the game with the help of the referees and coaches.
Big man Grayson Mitchell, for Team Harry's Grill, faced Salty Printing's Kieran Cloutier in the jump ball to start the first game of the season. Quick to start the scoring action, Mitchell scored the first points in the game after effective passing by his teammates. More...
Listen to a Turtle Talk
About 20 visitors got a close up look at what Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring's 92 volunteers do out on the beach every morning at a Turtle Talk on Wednesday night.
Each takes a one-mile stretch of beach once or twice a week and walks it up and down, checking for tracks that look like commas in the sand, if a loggerhead sea turtle made them, or hyphens, if a green turtle made them, Turtle Watch Education Director Karen Anderson said.
Looking for nests where between 80 and 100 eggs were laid the night before, volunteers are trained to identify the fluffy sand hills that indicate a mother turtle has buried her eggs and covered them up, trying to camouflage them.
When they identify a nest, volunteers dig until they find one egg, then re-cover it and stake it off to protect it from beachgoers. More...