Vol. 17 No. 19 - February 22, 2017
Fishing festival celebrates 35
CORTEZ – At the edge of the main parking lot at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival is a fringe of green, the edge of the 95-acre FISH Preserve, made possible by the modest admission price paid by thousands of festival fans over the past 35 years.
The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) purchased the last, long-coveted privately owned parcel last summer from Iris LeMasters, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who had offered it at $1.2 million 12 years ago, inviting buyers to "Build your Florida dream home on this one-of-a-kind half-acre bayfront lot completely surrounded by preserve."
FISH paid $185,000 for the land, making the preserve 95 contiguous acres of uplands and wetlands bordered by Cortez Road to the north and mangrove-fringed Sarasota Bay to the south, serving as a buffer between the historic fishing village of Cortez and development to the east. More...
Commissioners turn back time on speed limit changes
HOLMES BEACH — Commissioners may not be able to undo the speed limit changes of the past 18 months, but they're giving it their best shot.
After hearing from 17 Island residents and business owners during public comment, Holmes Beach commissioners voted unanimously Feb. 14 to request the Florida Department of Transportation return the speed limit on a stretch of Manatee Avenue to 35 miles per hour.
The speed limit on the span of state road from the west end of the Anna Maria Island Bridge to Gulf Drive was reduced to 25 mph at the end of January, angering local motorists.
The change came after conversations between Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer, Mayor Bob Johnson and FDOT representatives regarding potentially lowering the speed limit to alleviate shared road safety concerns. More...
Water taxi vendor seeks support from island cities
ANNA MARIA — The Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Official is willing to support island water taxis, but not individual vendors.
Sherman Baldwin, general manager of Paradise Boat Tours, appeared before BIEO members Feb. 15 during a meeting at Anna Maria City Hall to request a letter of support for his proposed water taxi and ferry services from Sarasota to Bradenton Beach.
Baldwin said he would be pleading his case Feb. 21 before Sarasota County commissioners with the hope of receiving a permit to dock and allow customers to park at one of three proposed downtown Sarasota locations. If he receives the permit, Baldwin said ferry service could begin in early March to Bradenton Beach. More...
Citizens' efforts assist with arrest
ANNA MARIA – The computer skills of an Island teen and information circulated by some Island moms contributed to the arrest of 20-year-old Richard Parker on charges of petty theft.
Parker was arrested twice last week. The first arrest occurred mid-week due to his suspected involvement in the theft and sale of fishing equipment stolen from a Longboat Key condominium complex in November, which was then sold under false pretenses to a pawn shop in Manatee County. Parker's court records list the Longboat Key charge for dealing stolen property as a second degree felony.
While in custody on the Longboat Key charges, Parker was arrested a second time for his suspected involvement in a petty theft that occurred in Anna Maria in January. More...
Ugly Grouper expansion approved
HOLMES BEACH — It's official, The Ugly Grouper is expanding.
Project manager Bob Dwyer received good news from city commissioners Feb. 14. After months of negotiations, the restaurant, located across the street from city hall, is being allowed to expand its seating, increasing from 96 to 173 during the day and 239 seats after 5 p.m. The amount of allowed seats approved was slightly less than the 281 nighttime seats restaurant owners were hoping for, but made for an acceptable compromise based on the restaurant's available parking.
Despite previously agreeing to count golf cart parking spaces as available spaces, commissioners decided to not include the spaces in the final count, citing a need to hold every business in the city to the same standard of one space for every three seats. More...
Holmes Beach residents protest boat canopy installation
HOLMES BEACH — Boat canopies have gone up over two private boat lifts at the public boat ramp on Marina Way and neighboring residents are not happy.
City commissioners approved the installation of two boat canopies over the boat lifts installed at the ramp for use by West Manatee Fire Rescue and the city's police department back in the fall of 2016. At the time, city attorney Patricia Petruff determined the canopies would not detract from the view of neighboring properties, particularly the residences at Westbay Point & Moorings condominiums located immediately to the north of the boat ramp.
While residents were assured at the time of installation their views wouldn't be affected, now that the mangroves shielding the boat lifts and canopies from the property have been trimmed, the structures are causing a problem. More...
Coast Guard seeks input on bridge openings
Elected officials who have been talking about improving traffic flow got good news recently when the U.S. Coast Guard agreed to consider changing the times the drawbridges open to let boats pass from three to two times per hour.
The notice was published in the Federal Register, and if enough people ask for the change, they will stand a good chance of getting their way.
Drawbridges have been a bane to motorists, especially when the open for boats during rush hour. It backs up traffic from the Cortez Bridge south toward Longboat Key. More...
Holmes Beach begins lobbyist search
HOLMES BEACH — City commissioners are ready to join those in Anna Maria by sending a legislative lobbyist to Tallahassee to represent the city's interests.
Commissioners agreed during a Feb. 16 special meeting to instruct Mayor Bob Johnson to begin the process of selecting a candidate from a list of recommended lobbyists provided by city attorney Patricia Petruff. The commission set an initial not to exceed amount of $25,000 for the remaining duration of the Florida state legislative session.
Johnson agreed to begin the vetting process and bring a recommendation back to commissioners at an upcoming meeting.
Once engaged, the lobbyist will be expected to oppose two proposed bills on the city's behalf. One is Senate Bill 188 which would prevent local governments from imposing regulations on vacation rentals. The bill was filed by Sen. Gregg Steube.
"If that bill passes, we might as well all go home," Commissioner Jean Peelen said. "The city as a city will be pretty much done. For me, it's desperate times need desperate measures." More...
Gulf shrimp is the star
Blue Marlin Seafood will only serve shrimp that have been caught in the Gulf of Mexico. We make a great effort to get the most coveted shrimp, the pink ones from Key West. Key West pink shrimp have always had the reputation for being the sweetest and cleanest of all the shrimp in the sea. Most of the time we have these tender crustaceans on our plates.
If the boat is late or fishing is slow, we search out the next best thing, which would be white Gulf shrimp from the northern Gulf of Mexico. There are many different species of shrimp that come from our local waters, so there are always plenty of options at the fish house.
If you have the chance to sample the Gulf rock shrimp, which are caught by a local boat from A.P. Bell, don't hesitate! These are going to remind you of the best lobster you ever had. Rock shrimp only come around a few times a year, so eat them up if you are lucky enough get your hands on a box. The boats at AP Bell also make runs to the Keys to harvest pink shrimp, so we even get to have fresh shrimp delivered to our docks. More...
Follow the leader
I've heard it said before that if you follow your intuition, you're likely to have a better outcome on whatever you might be pursuing. To me that means paying attention to the things that might not be apparent that could have a profound effect on your desired outcome. For the fisherman, there's nothing more important and often overlooked than leader construction.
For the average angler this could be as simple as a 30-pound section of mono tied to the standing line of a spinning reel. It could also be as complex as a tapered leader for fly fishing. Not all leaders are as simple as a single piece of mono or as complex as a tarpon leader.
The variations of leader construction should be tailored to the specific fishing situation. While there are more combinations than could ever be covered in a short article, let's review a few specific scenarios and suggestions for leader construction. More...
Sightseeing a million and over
There's an old, overused expression and probably mostly untrue in the real estate business, "Buyers are liars." Not to put a fine point on it but buyers may not actually be lying. They more than likely don't have a clue what they want. Just watch a few episodes of House Hunters on HGTV and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
For the most part this is just a lack of experience in looking for a property and changes fast once they have a little realtor education under their belts. However, there are buyers among us who aren't really buyers; they are sightseers. The problem is how do you tell the difference?
Experienced real estate professionals become pretty savvy at spotting the sightseers and are particularly careful with the more expensive homes. If a potential buyer shows up at an open house, takes a look around admiring the furniture and decorating then says they'll get back to you, he/she is sightseeing. But if they keep coming back to look at the property and never make an offer, a red flag should go up. More...
A bit of France on the beach
What do southern Florida and the south of France have in common? They both border magnificent bodies of water, they both have temperate weather and they both have great food. Now some of the great food from the south of France bordering the Mediterranean Sea is available right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico.
Last summer Marieke and Christophe Celis sold their home in France, packed up their three daughters and moved to Florida. After years of working as a chef, Christophe was ready for his own bistro, and after 10 years of visiting Anna Maria the family was ready for a move. Everyone was on board when Marieke found an on-line advertisement for a French restaurant for sale in Bradenton Beach. A week later they were on a plane headed for the Island and their new adventure. 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...
Tyler's freezes out Mason Martin
The lights at the Island's community center were on Thursday night as the adults hit the football field for the first week of the adult co-ed flag football season. Team Tyler's Ice Cream's speed and agility could not be stopped by Team Mason Martin in the damp cold Island air.
Team captain Ray Gardner found himself on opposite sides of the field against his former team captain Frank Agnelli, of Mason Martin.
The wealth of talent seen on Tyler's Ice Cream was witnessed Thursday night with Jordan Ganey, Dina Calvary, KD Belton, Rob Alderson and Zach Shield, all sharing the stats sheet with Gardner on both sides of the football.
The first three plays of the game set the tone for the night with quick yardage by Shield and Calvary before the long sprint by Gardner to put the first six points on the scoreboard. Mason Martin's defense stopped the point after leaving the score 6-0. More...
Balloon release concerns Turtle Watch
BRADENTON BEACH – Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring was notified through an anonymous tip that on Friday, Feb. 10, at sunset, about 50 people walked out of a restaurant and released "dozens of green and yellow balloons over the sea."
Other callers reported to Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox that the balloons were delivered to the restaurant around 4:30 p.m. that night in a minivan, she said.
Fox said she is asking city officials to remind business owners that they should not allow balloon releases from their business.
Florida Statute 379.233 makes it unlawful to intentionally release 10 or more balloons in 24 hours; violators can incur a $250 fine. The law calls balloons "a danger and nuisance to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals." More...