New Year's bird count finds fine feathered friends
An unusual bird was spotted during the 117th National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count on New Year's Day by volunteers in the Fort De Soto Circle, which covers the northern half of Anna Maria Island, Egmont Key, Passage Key and part of southern Pinellas County.
A yellow common House Finch on a wire near Bayfront Park in Anna Maria briefly befuddled birders Janet Paisley, Karen Jensen and John van Zandt, according to the latter, but team members Dick Comeau and John Ginaven identified the bird, noting that sometimes the rosy breast of a common House Finch can be yellow, or even orange. More...
Water ferry service coming soon
The word of the year for 2016 seems to be Bert as in Harris, not Bert and Ernie, although a little comic relief from that pair could be welcome.
Bert Harris is author of the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act. This act basically states that when the action of a local government limits the use of a property, the government must pay the property owner for the loss of value. After the city receives a Bert Harris claim, it has 150 days to make a settlement offer to the property owner.
When the cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach approved regulations that included limiting the occupancy of vacation rentals, the race was on with property owners filing suit as fast as rabbits beget bunnies. More...
Wet slip offer accepted
The Bradenton Beach City Commission has tentatively accepted an offer that would provide Police Chief Sam Speciale the ability to place the city's trailered police boat in a wet slip at the Bradenton Beach Marina until a permanent boat lift can be installed along the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
Marina president Mike Bazzy offered the city the use of a slip for $1 for the remainder of the year. City Attorney Ricinda Perry will review the contract Bazzy provided, and it will be discussed again on Jan. 19. When making his motion for approval, Vice-Mayor John Chappie stated the use or non-use of the slip would be entirely at the discretion of Speciale. More...
Fences present safety concerns
ANNA MARIA – Privacy fences installed along the unpaved alley known as Spring Lane have drawn the attention of West Manatee Fire Recue Fire Chief Tom Sousa and Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy.
The new vinyl fence that borders two sides of a vacant lot at 103 Spring Lane and another at the rear property line of 108 Magnolia Ave. were installed in compliance with city-issued permits, but their placement has narrowed the alley to the point where a firetruck or EMS coach could have trouble getting through.
Spring Lane is an L-shaped, one-lane alley between Spring and Magnolia avenues. Part of it runs east and west and connects to Gulf Drive near Rudy's Subs. At the west end, the single lane makes a 90-degree turn and runs north and south parallel to the beachfront and connects with Spring Avenue near the Sandbar restaurant. More...
Island waste collection set
The annual Hazardous Household Waste and E-Scrap Collection for Island Residents will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Coquina Beachside parking lot.
Island residents can bring in those items that fall under the definition to that location for collection.
A substance is hazardous if it's:
• Toxic: Directly or indirectly poisons living things;
• Ignitable: Capable of catching fire;
• Corrosive: Capable of chemically eroding another substance such as cloth, metal, or skin; More...
Day dock contractor selected
BRADENTON BEACH – Meeting for the first time, the newly configured and expanded Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) selected Technomarine to design and install the new floating day dock system next to the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
Technomarine submitted the lowest bid at $119,980, which was lower than the other two bids received for $128,965 and $139,500.
Technomarine was also the only firm that correctly based its bid on the city's desire to restore the public day dock to the original 220 feet first permitted by the state when the existing dock was installed 10 years ago. Due to damages incurred over the years, the dock was gradually reduced to its current length of 147 feet, which is what the two other firms based their bids on. More...
Food and Wine on Pine discontinued
It's official. Last year's Food and Wine on Pine on May 7 was the last one. The event began six years ago, an idea from Ed Chiles, owner of the Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista waterfront restaurants, who wanted to include a Taste of Anna Maria as part of the 2011 Anna Maria City Pier Centennial. Chiles wanted to showcase the best of the community's food, art, wine, and music. It gained popularity and continued each year with, 2014 being rained out.
Food and Wine on Pine developed into what many called one of the best events on the Island and one that successfully showed the unique aspects of the Island and all it has to offer. Drawing, on average, approximately 5,000 people each year to Pine Avenue, it attracted people from all over the world.
"People from Europe and across the U.S. would contact me throughout the year wanting to know the date, so they can plan their visit accordingly," event chair Caryn Hodge said. More...
Manatee deaths up in Manatee County, state
About 9 percent of the state's 6,250 manatees counted last February in an annual survey died last year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Statewide, 509 manatees died, up from 405 manatees in 2015, including 102 from watercraft collisions, up from 87 in 2015.
In their namesake Manatee County, four manatees were killed in watercraft collisions in 2016. The four are among the 15 manatees that died in the county last year, one more than in the previous year, according to the mortality report covering Jan.1 to Dec. 31, 2016. More...
Once in a lifetime
Last week, I was lucky enough to have an experience that I would like to share with all of you, but first a little background. As many of you remember, we held wine tastings at the Waterfront for many years. Every Thursday evening we would bring in a vendor and pick a theme for the night, usually six wines from a given region or timed with a holiday. We would ask the chef to pair hors-d'oeuvres with the given wines for everyone's enjoyment.
We were able to taste and learn about a lot of wines over the years. We had a lot of regular clients who became friends with us and each other during that time. One of these people, Larry, and his wife, Deb, became good friends.
One year, Larry was gracious enough to extend to me an invitation to his home in Georgia for a Super Bowl tasting. Each year he and a group of his buddies, all wine enthusiasts and collectors, would each bring a special bottle for a blind tasting, and they would all vote for their favorites. It became a special night for the guys to win bragging rights for the year. More...
An angler's New Year's resolutions
I'm always conflicted about making New Year's resolutions related to fishing because I remember how many I've made and broken in the past. Thinking back over the years, I've come up with a list of things that if I practice consistently might render resolutions obsolete. Here's my short list of things to do regularly:
• I'll keep tackle in order, so I can find what I want when I need it. It's amazing how many times I've come across something I've been looking for when I have no use for it. I'll have a place for everything when I'm out fishing. My fishing bag will have a place for hooks, flies, leader, glasses, sun protection, as well as a knife and pliers. More...
We're not alone with our rental problems
You'll be happy to know that our short-term rental issues are right up there with one of the major cities in the world and for mostly the same reasons.
In spite of fears of terrorism since 911, New York City continues to be one of the most visited places on earth. Just imagine 50 million annual visitors to an island that is 13.4 miles long and just 2.3 miles wide. By comparison, Anna Maria Island is 7 miles long and 2 miles wide, not that much smaller than Manhattan. So where do these 50 million stay during the course of the year? It's a problem that has been somewhat addressed by Airbnb.
Airbnb is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes or space within their homes with people who are looking for accommodations. It has been hugely successful and fills a much needed void for visitors to New York and other expensive regions who can't afford a $400 a night hotel room. 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...
The Center's pitch: One big family
As another adult basketball season came to an end Wednesday night with third ranked Team Mike Walter & Associates capturing the championship against the top seed Team Beach to Bay, the thought of what made adult co-ed soccer so much different than any other adult recreational sport at The Center filled my mind.
During the 365 days of the year, as many as five different sports might be forming leagues, but soccer stands out in my mind as the one that is different. There is a spirit that fills the air at the field that no other sport brings. It is the one sport that calls out to so many, even those who have never played before.
When the adult co-ed soccer league started in the fall of 2010, the pitch was filled with mostly holdovers from the fall flag football league, a sprinkling from the Island's pickup soccer group and a few odds and ends players who happened to hear about the new league. With many husband-wife pairings and very few dedicated goalies, the league was mostly for fun, but still had the competitive fire that every game at any level should have. Many individuals dusted off their boots from high school and college, and some like me borrowed their children's cleats. More...
Turtles crawl to a record year
Sea turtles had a record year in more ways than one on Anna Maria Island, according to Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.
The record of 435 nests is higher than the next closest record year of 2013 by 66 nests, and higher than the 15-year average by 246 nests.
Why, especially in a year with two hurricanes and a severe tropical storm that destroyed 145 nests?
Mostly, it’s due to 34 years of Turtle Watch volunteers caring for turtles and educating visitors, residents and business owners, Fox told volunteers on Saturday at an appreciation luncheon marking the end of the 2016 turtle season. More...