Vol. 17 No. 16 - February 1, 2017


Anna Maria hires lobbyist

ANNA MARIA – Lobbyist Chip Case and his Tallahassee-based Jefferson Monroe consulting firm have been hired to assist the city of Anna Maria in its attempt to defeat a vacation rental bill filed by state Sen. Greg Steube.

The adoption of Senate Bill 188 and the companion bill, House Bill 425, filed by state Rep. Mike La Rosa, would prevent local governments from adopting new vacation rental regulations or enforcing local regulations adopted after June 1, 2011. This would nullify the vacation rental ordinance adopted in Anna Maria in 2015 and any vacation rental regulations adopted in Holmes Beach or Bradenton Beach after mid-2011.

Based on the recommendation of City Attorney Becky Vose and her son and law firm partner, Wade, the commission authorized Case's hiring last week. At a cost of $5,000 per month for five months of service, Case will work to defeat the proposed vacation rental bills. He also may be asked to lobby for or against other proposed state legislation. Case's contract includes an early termination clause in the event that the proposed vacation rental legislation dies during the committee sessions prior to any final votes taking place on the house and senate floors. More...

Noise debate continues in Holmes Beach

HOLMES BEACH - The city may have a noise ordinance, but that doesn't mean the discussion about noise in residential areas is over.

The issue appeared on the Jan. 24 commission work session agenda. Chair Judy Titsworth said she hoped commissioners could discuss the issue and find a way to give some type of relief to residents with vacation rentals in their neighborhoods.

Commissioner Jean Peelen said she was concerned with how the city's noise ordinance is being enforced by police.

Commissioner Carol Soustek suggested rather than rely on a noise meter, police approach the tenants of a property after a noise complaint is received against them.

"I like the idea that the officer just notifies the people there is a problem and to keep it down," she said. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StorySeafood fans, prepare to feast in Cortez

CORTEZ – It's almost time for February's most salty and delicious local event – the 35th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, set for the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Celebrate "Fishing For Our Future" with eight local bands, including a scurvy group of sea shanty singers, Cortez native Eric Von and Cortez fishing Captain Soupy Davis and his band.

Check out nautical and environmental works by more than 50 artists focused on the historic fishing village's maritime heritage. Take the kids to the expanded children's play area and visit the marine life touch tank. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryFootball Fever pays off

BRADENTON BEACH – Having been declared the winner of The Sun's 2016 Football Fever contest, Bradenton Beach resident Jon Syre left Island Time Bar & Grill last Thursday afternoon with a bounty of prizes worth more than $2,000.

Syre teaches physical education and health at Martha B. King Middle School in Bradenton, where he also serves as the athletic director. He won the season-long Football Fever contest by most accurately picking the weekly winners of the selected NFL and NCAA football games.

Syre's predicting prowess earned him a bicycle, umbrella, chair, cooler and other prizes from Budweiser; a gift certificate for two to Island Time; a wool heritage banner and team hat from AMI Sports Zone; a two-night stay at the Island Time Inn; free scooter, kayak, bicycle, paddle board, boogie board rentals and a long sleeve surf shirt from Island Scooter Rentals; a one-month membership, two personal training sessions and a gift basket from Island Fitness; a $100 gift certificate to the Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar; a $50 gift certificate to Slim's Place; a $50 gift certificate to the Flippin' Mullet Sports Bar and a $50 gift certificate to the Swordfish Grill. And for that special female in his life, Syre won a custom made Anna Maria Island Destination Bracelet from Bridge Street Jewelers. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCounterfeit bill discovered

BRADENTON BEACH – On Thursday, Jan. 26, Paradise Boat Tours employee Terri Lanning contacted the Bradenton Beach Police Department about a $10 bill she suspected might be counterfeit.

"One of my employees noticed a weird bill in the drawer. The police department responded, and it was confirmed counterfeit," General Manager Sherman Baldwin said.

As a courtesy, Baldwin sent an e-mail to Mayor Bill Shearon informing him that a counterfeit bill had been discovered.

"These things tend to happen in waves, so getting the word out is important," Baldwin's e-mail noted. More...

Holmes Beach mayor wants a new form of government

HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Bob Johnson is seeking to bring more change to the city.

During the Jan. 24 work session, Johnson asked commissioners to consider creating an ad-hoc committee of at least five residents to study the possibility of changing Holmes Beach's type of government.

Currently the city has a council-mayor type of government. Johnson would like to see that change to include a city manager before he leaves office in 2018.

The type of government Johnson proposes would be similar to that of Longboat Key and would include a commission, city manager and mayor. The city manager would be a hired, administrative position, unlike a popularly elected mayor who only serves a two year term with no guarantee of re-election. The city manager would take over the day-to-day management tasks currently associated with the mayor. More...

Certificate could drop rates

To slow rising flood insurance premiums, owners of residential, rental and business properties should consider getting elevation certificates, FEMA advises.

Letters are on their way to local mailboxes notifying property owners that hiring a licensed surveyor, engineer or architect to obtain an elevation certificate could lower premiums, said Janice Mitchell, a FEMA regional insurance specialist in Atlanta.

Even if the certificate does not result in lower premiums, it would not trigger an increase higher than the existing rate increase schedule, she said.

For some policyholders who own property in high-risk flood areas like Anna Maria Island, annual flood insurance premiums are increasing from 5 to 18 percent for primary residences and up to 25 percent for non-primary residences insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Mermaids on display

Bridge Street Merchants' Mermaids public art project, art show and online auction that serves as an extension of the recent artsHOP festival can now be viewed at the Bradenton Beach locations listed below. Online bids can be submitted at www.visitbridgestreeet.com, under the Public Art menu option and then clicking on the arrow next to the green box that says "view items." The online bidding closes at midnight on Sunday, Feb. 26. The creations were unveiled during an artists' reception at the Bridge Tender Inn on Tuesday, Jan. 24.


• BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Dr. N.

• Bridge Street Bistro, 111 Gulf Dr. S.

• Adventure Away, 102 Bridge St. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryHBPD officers report for presidential security detail

HOLMES BEACH – Four police officers joined more than 28,000 members of law enforcement from around the county to help provide security along more than 100 city blocks Jan. 21 during the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Sgt. Vern McGowan was joined by officers Tommy Fraiser, Joel Pierce and Mike Walker in Washington, D.C., in protecting a section of the inauguration parade route as a part of the National Law Enforcement Protection Detail Team.

"It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience," McGowan said. "It was just amazing. I was impressed with how well our officers represented the county and their dedication to what they were doing. It was an honor, not a little vacation." More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Cold weather strategy

When winter weather comes to southwest Florida, anglers have to alter their strategy to meet the changing conditions. Cold fronts not only drop water temperatures, but can cloud local waters and produce shifting cold winds. Fortunately, the passing fronts yield to periods of calm and often balmy weather. While weather conditions can vary significantly, the first strong fronts put fish into a winter pattern.

One factor that remains consistent during our winters is a change in the water temperatures.  Knowing the way different species respond to the chilling waters gives anglers an advantage. While winter fishing can be challenging, excellent action is available to fishers that use their senses and think like a fish. Awareness and persistence really pays dividends when the thermometer begins to plunge.   More...

real estate

Be prepared for closing day

If you've dealt with your cold feet and are ready to walk down the aisle to the closing table, make sure you have some extra cash in the pocket of that tux. Closing costs can be the biggest surprise when purchasing a home, even bigger than the leaking roof.

One of the responses of the financial crisis is more transparency on the part of lenders when disclosing closing costs. However, there are plenty of other surprises that buyers could be facing that are not required to be disclosed. Typically closing costs can run as high as 5 percent of the purchase price, exclusive of the down payment. Here are some of the costs that may be disclosed and others that may be a surprise:

Lender fees to the bank are disclosed and specific, however, buyers may also need to pay for an appraiser, home inspectors and settlement agents the day of closing. In addition, title insurance and homeowners' insurance are required by lenders and must be in place by the day of closing. If you purchase a property without a mortgage, title and homeowners' insurance are optional but not recommended not to have. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryIsland Gourmet: Good food, good value

If you're born and raised in New Orleans and you grew up with Ruth Fertal's children of Ruth's Chris Steak House fame, working in the restaurant business seems an obvious choice. Well, it must also have been obvious to Ruth because Scott St. Blanc ended up working for her for 23 years, at one point overseeing nine of Ruth's Chris Steak House restaurants in Florida.

Like many restaurant owners, Scott St. Blanc started out washing dishes and moving up the restaurant ladder from waiter to assistant manager, manager and regional director for Ruth's Chris. When he decided it was time for him to open his own restaurant, he looked close to home in Holmes Beach, opening Island Gourmet Grill in August 2012.

St. Blanc's philosophy is "You want to make people feel good about opening their wallets." He wants to provide food and service that will not only encourage his patrons to come back again and again but also make them feel they are receiving good value for their money. 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 StoryHayward Cup Championship: Mason Martin hammers Anna Maria CrossFit

In the much-anticipated final game of the adult co-ed recreational soccer league season at The Center, more than 50 fans and spectators anxiously awaited the arrival of the referees to start the championship match. With great expectations, Team Mason Martin took the initial kick against Team Anna Maria CrossFit in the battle for the Paul "Ace" Hayward Championship Cup.

Unexpectedly, Anna Maria CrossFit dominated the ball to start the game. Striking hard and striking fast, Ryan Moss took the first shot near mid-field for Team CrossFit. The soccer ball sailed just over the crossbar.

With the support of family, Mason Martin's Lexi Braxton Sato played to win, taking a shot that went just right of the post. Rico Beissert followed with shot of his own for Team CrossFit that soared just left of the post.

Lighting up the field, Beissert carried the ball down the field to find teammate Will Kretzmann in the box. Beissert's crossing pass was just out of Kretzmann's reach, resulting in a save by starting goalie Ben Sato. More...

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