Vol. 16 No. 48 - September 28, 2016


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPersistent red tide causes fish kill

Dead fish suffocated by red tide continue to wash up on Anna Maria Island's beaches, causing some beachgoers to get back in their cars and visitors to cancel their vacations.

Red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of the microscopic organism Karenia brevis, which contains a neurotoxin that can kill fish and marine mammals, poison shellfish, making it unfit to eat, and cause respiratory distress in people, especially those with asthma, emphysema and other respiratory conditions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts high levels of red tide through Thursday in Manatee County waters. More...

Bert Harris purchase offer accepted

ANNA MARIA – The city of Anna Maria is on the cusp of entering the vacation rental business, at least on a short-term basis.

The business entity known as 117 Willow LLC has accepted the city's offer to purchase a vacation rental property at 117 Willow Ave. for $1.21 million as a means of settling a Bert Harris claim.

State records list attorney Louis Najmy as the LLC's registered agent and Joe Varner and Shawn Kaleta as its authorized persons. The appraisal package that accompanied the Bert Harris claim filed on May 23 mentions AMI Vacations as the property's group finance entity, and the vacation rental known as Ocean Walk is listed at the Anna Maria Vacations website. More...

Candidates share their views

BRADENTON BEACH – City Commission candidates Bill Vincent and John Chappie participated in a candidate's forum hosted by The Sun at Bradenton Beach City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Both men are vying for the Ward 4 commission seat being vacated by Jan Vosburgh.

The forum began with the candidates' opening statements.

"I am a novice at this. I've never been elected to office and never campaigned for office before," Vincent said. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCandidates discuss Bert Harris claims

ANNA MARIA – During the candidates' forum that took place last week, commission candidates Nancy Yetter, Chuck Webb and Brian Seymour discussed the Bert Harris claim settlement offers recommended by City Attorney Becky Vose.

On three occasions, Webb and Yetter have voted against the settlement offers and have been outvoted by commissioners Carol Carter, Doug Copeland and Dale Woodland, who supported the offers Vose recommended.

When asked during the forum to explain these opposition votes, Webb said he would not answer the question because it might reveal the city attorney's litigation strategies. He then referenced his belief that the city's comprehensive plan prohibits commercial activity in residential zones. More...

Vacation rental certificate program begins

HOLMES BEACH – In a series of three meetings, the city's code enforcement and police officers outlined the application and inspection process for owners and agents to obtain vacation rental certificates.

Every property owner who rents for seven days or less or is in the R-2 zoning district must have a vacation rental certificate. Properties will be inspected for life safety issues, and the owner will be issued a decal for their property that is valid for two years.

"This program will help takeout city to the next level," Code Enforcement Officer James Thomas said adding that city officials listened to stakeholders when crafting the vacation rental ordinance and certificate. More...

Permits up for home improvements

HOLMES BEACH – Building Official Jim McGuinness presented city commissioners with a series of charts to show the numbers and types of building permits, which showed a dramatic increase in owners improving existing homes.

McGuinness presented charts featuring permitted major construction from 2005 to 2015 in the categories of single-family units and duplex units, which were tear down and rebuilds, and 49 percent improvements of existing ground level structures (as per the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 50 percent rule), as well as demolitions and major and minor work in 2016. More...

West Nile virus found in Manatee county

The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County today advised residents that there has been an increase in mosquito-borne activity. A sentinel chicken flock has tested positive for the West Nile virus.

While the risk of transmission to humans has increased, the Manatee County Mosquito Control District and DOH-Manatee are continuing surveillance and prevention efforts to help protect residents and visitors. To protect against mosquitoes, the department urges the public to drain and cover: More...

Attorney challenges decision to deny street vacation

HOLMES BEACH – Attorneys for AMI 105 39th Street LLC have filed a lawsuit over the city commission's denial in March of a request to vacate a portion of Second Avenue between 38th and 39th streets and adjacent to Manatee Public Beach.

At the time, City Planner Bill Brisson said he agreed with the building official who rejected the application because he felt it violated the comprehensive plan.

In addition, a Manatee County attorney said the board of county commissioners objected to the vacation, and an attorney representing adjacent property owners also objected to the vacation. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCreation of a craft bar

When you're involved in the operations of a business, any conscientious owner or manager is always aware of what's happening in their trade. At the very least, you want to be up to date with what's trending in your business at the moment. When we went out to eat, my wife would frequently remind me that she was having dinner with me, and I was more than welcome to include her in whatever it was that I was thinking about at the given moment. She was right though, I was usually busy observing something about the business and wondering how it could be improved upon.

Whenever Jason or any of his management team were out and about we all acted about the same. We would take notice of some aspect of an operation, and next time we were together we would discuss it. This method was particularly effective when you were in a different environment. The equipment and products used in New York City, for example, were not the same as those in New Orleans. Part of that difference could be attributed to the history of the area. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryTails of the Toccoa

Gossamer veils of mist floated over the mirror smooth surface of the water as our guide, Hunter Barnes, launched the drift boat into the Toccoa river near Blue Ridge, Ga. My friend Bob Seeger (no relation to the singer) and I stood on the bank, fly rods in hand, eager to begin a morning adventure. Loading the boat and pushing off with the oars Barnes primed our enthusiasm with stories of the big brown and rainbow trout that inhabited the river. The quantity of fish in the river is amazing, considering that it is one of the most southerly water courses that hold populations of trout. This river is special, yielding wild fish that top 30 inches,

Barnes had rigged our five-weight outfits with three flies, a small worm imitation, a nymph and a large dry fly, that would also serve as a strike indicator signaling a bite on the other two flies. The oars hadn't even pushed us down the river before Seeger lifted his rod, setting the hook on a small rainbow trout. Barnes and Seeger commented on what a good omen that fish was. I reserved judgement based on trips when a fish was landed on the first cast followed by a less than spectacular day. As it turned out they were right. More...

real estate

Make your home ready for the competition

Last week you learned a few competitive tricks to pretty up your home, make it feel more spacious and set it apart from the competition. This week we need to get down to the nitty gritty and pick apart the things that a potential buyer is looking at on the second visit and more importantly what their home inspector is looking for when that day happens.

So what are all buyers looking for is, "It's the kitchen stupid." Everyone wants a clean, fresh kitchen with appliances in not only working order, but equally clean and fresh. If you don't have the funds or the time to completely renovate the kitchen, there are a few things you can do for a lot less money. If your appliances are older and certainly if they're not in working order, make the investment in new ones. If your choice is between high end white appliances or low end stainless go for the low end stainless. The look is much better, and at least it will all be new and working. Be realistic about the condition of the kitchen cabinets. If simply cleaning isn't going to be enough consider resurfacing or new doors or some nice high gloss paint. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Reverse mortgages worth another look

Investment 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...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryYouth basketball champs: Team Waterfront

Recreational sports at the Island's community center brought about unexpected wins and reminded everyone that anything is possible on any given night.

The youth basketball league focused on the four teams that played this season at The Center. Despite having less than 25 kids hitting the hard court and the need to combine two age groups creating a single five-to nine-year old age group, friendly competition and exciting games were watched by friends and family each week leading up to the playoffs last week. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryTurtle laws still apply

It ain't over 'til it's over, Suzi Fox reminds Anna Maria Island beachfront residents and visitors.

Sea turtle nesting season does not end until Oct. 31, and in the meantime, turtle laws apply, including those prohibiting beachfront lighting and leaving furniture and other objects on the beach after dark, the director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring said.

People are saying they don't see any nests on the beach and are turning on their beachfront lights in violation of the law, she said. More...

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