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Vol. 14 No. 47 - September 17, 2014

headlines

GRANNY GET YOUR GUN
Carol Whitmore

MAGGIE FIELD | SUN

NJ Logan demonstrates how she held her .38 caliber
revolver when burglars broke into her Holmes Beach home.
On the table is the National Enquirer, which ran a full
page on her story.

HOLMES BEACH – NJ Logan has the distinction of likely being the only Island resident to have graced the pages of the National Enquirer, the Washington Times and the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail.

Labeled by multiple headline writers as “The pistol-packing Granny,” Logan experienced a flash of notoriety in August, when the 80-year-old grabbed her loaded .38-caliber revolver and chased a couple of burglars from her Holmes Beach town home that she shares with her husband, Ray Maguire. At the time of the incident, Maguire was at a local country club playing bridge.

Logan’s exploits were first reported by a local FOX News affiliate, and her legend quickly spread from Florida’s Gulf Coast to England and beyond, with her story eventually being picked up by the Inside Edition television show.

The good-natured octogenarian recently spent a few minutes reflecting on her newfound celebrity status.

“It just got all out of proportion. I’m kind of a shy person and I don’t like a lot of publicity. Because I’m a grandma, they made a big deal out of it.

“I consider it my five minutes of fame and my grandkids enjoyed it,” Logan said, with a chuckle.

She then recalled the incidents of the August afternoon that landed her on page 18 of the National Enquirer.

“I was on the third floor when it happened. They threw a rock through the window of our first floor lanai and then cut the screen. When I heard the rock come through, I grabbed my gun and my cell phone. I went downstairs and said, ‘I have a gun…I have a gun’ while using my cell phone to call 911,” she said.

Some media outlets reported that the Holmes Beach police dispatcher ordered Logan to put down her gun. Having reviewed the 911 recording, Police Chief Bill Tokajer provided clarification on Logan’s comment that she would put the gun down only when she saw the police.

“It was put out that our dispatcher told her to put the gun down, and that’s not what happened.

"When she said ‘I have a pistol but I don’t know how to use it,’ that’s when our dispatcher said ‘Please put the gun down if you don’t know how to use it,'” Tokajer clarified.

Logan’s efforts were enough to chase the culprits away and the police arrived within a few minutes. She was unable to identify any suspects and no arrests were made, but no one was hurt, no valuables went missing, and the incident inspired Logan and Maguire to take additional steps to protect themselves.

“Now we have an alarm system, because there seems to be a lot of break-ins recently,” Logan said.

She also paid a visit to a gun range in Palmetto, where she received personal instruction on the use of the handgun she purchased in 2002.

Tuesday night, she traveled to a gun range in Sarasota as the invited guest of a women’s group interested in self-defense.

Many years ago, Logan used to carry a small Derringer in her purse when she went out after dark and she is now considering getting a concealed weapons permit.

Tokajer offered some advice for those who exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.

“I have no problems with citizens arming themselves in self-defense, but there are three main things that you need to make sure you’re aware of. One: Are your actions going to be legally justifiable? Two: Are you trained and experienced in the use of the weapon you are about to utilize? Three: Do you have the mindset that you’re willing to pull the trigger if you have to, and you’re not just adding a gun to a situation where somebody could take it away from you and use it?”

When informed of Logan’s recent trip to the Palmetto gun range, Tokajer said, “I am happy to hear that she received some firearms training.”

Millage, budget criticized

HOLMES BEACH –Several residents protested the millage rate and questioned the budget process during the city’s first budget public hearing last week.

Treasurer Lori Hill said the proposed millage rate is 1.75, a 7.02 increase from the rollback millage rate of 1.6352, and explained, “The rollback rate is the millage rate that would have to be levied to generate the same amount of revenue as last year.”

“I see it as a tax increase,” resident James Kihm said. “You’re looking for an opportunity to spend our money.”

And resident Bob Johnson pointed out, “The standard is what millage rate do we need to raise the money to do the things we need to do and must do and must do efficiently.”

Commissioner Jean Peelen agreed and stressed, “Whether you call it a tax increase or not, more money is coming out of the pockets of our citizens. I would like to see us cut some things out of the budget or go to the rollback rate. We’re just rubber stamping.”

Commissioner David Zaccagnino disagreed and said, it would be “penny wise and pound foolish” to go to the roll back rate.

Mayor Carmel Monti stressed that he, as the city’s CEO, and the city commissioners determine the need and added, “The other avenue is to raise revenue in another way.”

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said they should keep the proposed millage rate and find other ways to raise revenue.

“We should pledge to trim some parts if the budget so this doesn’t happen the third year in a row,” Zaccagnino said.

The millage rate was approved with Peelen dissenting.

The budget

During the budget hearing, Kihm said he has been corresponding with Hill and some commissioners regarding the reserves and asked why the city has three months of reserves instead of two, why does it require more than other cities, how is the amount decided and how much do other cities require?

Hill said she thought she had answered Kihm’s questions, but Kihm said he received “generalities and platitudes and no concrete answers.”

Zaccagnino said there is “no hard number. We don’t know how much a storm would cost. We’ve always had this storm fund, and I don’t think it’s enough.”

Kihm asked what process the city uses to determine the amount of reserves, and Peelen said she is proud that the city has the reserve fund, but there is no process.

Monti said they could develop one, and Human Services Analyst Mary Buonagura said she would research other Gulf coast cities of the same size.

Peelen also pointed out that the commission has “never publicly examined the budget, but rubber stamps it,” and “there are new expenses that are not critical to the operations of the city.”

Zaccagnino again said he hopes to trim the budget next year, and Chair Judy Titsworth said, “This is the time to tell us those things. We don’t have an approved budget yet, so if you have a list, let’s do it.”

Peelen agreed and said, “You’re saying next year we’ll tighten up. How do you suggest we tighten up this year?”

Titsworth said Zaccagnino could bring a list of potential cuts to the second public hearing on Sept. 24, and commissioners approved the budget with Peelen dissenting.

City seeks bids for trash collection

HOLMES BEACH – After hearing a litany of complaints about Waste Management solid waste collection, city commissioners agreed to seek proposals for the service.

One resident said he purchased a condo on 74th Street and the beach access trash barrels were full over Labor Day weekend and still have not been emptied.

A property manager for Island Vacation Properties said he spends “countless hours on the phone with Waste Management” regarding issues such as non-pickup, no back door pickup and lids left off the cans.

Commissioner Pat Morton, the city commission liaison to Waste Management said. “No one’s been telling me. There’s a missing link. I should have been involved. Give me a call.”

Waste collection report

Human Services Analyst Mary Buonagura said two weeks ago, commissioners asked her to report on waste collection. She worked with Code Enforcement Officer David Forbes as well as three rental management companies to identify problems and solutions.

“The city is changing, and our needs are different than they were when we first entered into an agreement with Waste Management,” she said. "Perhaps the tail should not be wagging the dog. The city needs to decide what’s important in terms of what we need.”

She listed the following problems with service:

• The pickup days do not meet the needs of the city because of the proliferation of rentals and Saturday check in and out.
• Rental houses with four bedrooms or more do not have an adequate number of cans for trash.
• Erroneous information is given to the code officer regarding stop service addresses and past due accounts.
• Landscape debris is unbundled or containerized and not picked up.
• Recycle bins are not big enough.
• Rear door service is inconsistent.
Buonagura also offered potential solutions for the problems.

Commission discussion

“I’m very unsatisfied; we’re hearing complaints all the time,” Commissioner David Zaccagnino said. ‘It’s a health and safety issue.”

Forbes told the board that reliable rear door service would eliminate 80 percent of the problems with recyclables and that the city should require it for non-homesteaded properties, as does the city of Anna Maria.

Larry Chatt, of Island Real Estate, said his company removed the recycling bins from its rental units because of problems and created a recycling hub on Marina Drive for renters to bring their recyclables.

“The number one thing to is to require rear door recycling and pick up like Anna Maria,” he said.

Commissioner Jean Peelen said the city should ask Waste Management to fix the problems that are subject to the current franchise agreement, such as rear door service, yard waste collection and stop service reports.

Mayor Carmel Monti asked Morton to talk with the company manager.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the city also could require large rentals to have more cans.

After commissioners came to a consensus to ask Waste Management to fix the problems it can fix and to draft an RFP (request for proposals) for waste services, Petruff advised them to begin the process immediately.

Two waste collection companies had representatives at the meeting – Waste Pro and Waste Corporation of America.

Commissioners air concerns about county agreement

HOLMES BEACH – Calling it a document with phrases “you can drive a Mack truck through,” Human Services Analyst Mary Buonagura advised city commissioners to highlight language they are unhappy with in a Manatee County resolution on the use of beach concession revenues.

County officials have said they plan to use surplus beach concession revenues for Island projects that all three cities agree on and have submitted a draft resolution establishing the guidelines.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino enumerated issues with language in several sections including:

• The surplus revenue should be a percentage instead of a dollar amount;
• The language, “the funding of public projects that benefit Anna Maria Island,” is vague;
• The language, “A project may be undertaken directly by the county,” could eliminate Island input;
• A provision requiring matching funds from the Island cities should be removed;
• The language, “Surplus concession revenues are not reserved for the uses described in this resolution,” implies the county could use the money for whatever it wants.

Not a contract

However, Commissioner Jean Peelen pointed out, “This is not a contract. It’s the county’s money, and they’re saying, ‘It is our intension that the Island should benefit from this money,’ but never in a million years are they going to say, ‘This is your money and we will not use it for any other purpose.’”

Chair Judy Titsworth said the money should be used at the public beach for such things as fixing the parking lot and hiring more lifeguards. She said she did not think it should be given to the Community Center, as requested by Community Center board of director’s member David Teitelbaum.

Zaccagnino agreed with Titsworth regarding the Community Center.

Mayor Carmel Monti said the intention is for the money to be used for a variety of projects, for example to fund an Island-wide traffic study. He also said the matching funds do not necessarily mean 50/50 and could be in kind.

Monti said he wants clarification on what matching funds means and that commissioners should put their concerns in writing.

Island Time honors first responders

From left, Island Time’s Christina Merenda, Paula Riley,
Eric Fleishman and Bill Herlihy gather near the Tribute
to Heroes souvenir table.

joe hendricks | sun

 

 

BRADENTON BEACH – Saturday afternoon, the staff and patrons of Island Time Bar & Grill helped raise more than $3,000 for the Manatee County Emergency Services Memorial Fund.

Sponsored in part by The Sun, the four-hour, 9/11-inspired Tribute to Heroes fund-raiser included a free buffet for first responders and veterans, a silent auction, a 50-50 raffle, T-shirt sales and the donation of the business establishment’s afternoon net profits.

“We obtained our goal, raising $500 more than we did last year,” said Island Time owner Bill Herlihy, as the fourth annual event concluded.

“It’s for a wonderful cause, and we can never forget. Thanks to all our great sponsors and to everyone on Bridge Street who helped out. We all believe in supporting our first responders,” Herlihy said.

Retired Nassau County Police Department Det. Lt. Bob Lucas was among those on hand. He and his wife, Jan, live in Long Island and have a second home here on the Island.

Lucas was near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was going into the city at around 8:30 a.m. because I had a meeting at FBI headquarters in Manhattan. When we pulled into the subway station our train became smoke-filled and only half the train was in the station because part of the first building had come down. We were told to exit the station. When we got to the top of the stairs, we were directed by NYPD to leave the area. I looked at the officer, whose eyes were as wide as silver dollars, and he said, ‘Lieutenant you gotta get out of here. The buildings are coming down.’”

After he discovered the FBI building in lockdown mode, Lucas walked to 1 Police Plaza, where he was directed to the Brooklyn Bridge.

“As I was walking, I turned around and looked at the World Trade Center. I saw people jumping out the windows, holding hands and going down. I then heard a large rumble and the first building collapsed. I was in the dust cloud running down the street, and I can still hear the twisting and the turning of the steel that gave me nightmares for days.

“As I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, I turned and looked and the second building went down. It was the most horrifying sight you could see. I think about it all the time.”

He and his wife Jan visited ground zero two weeks later.

“We went in the evening. It was dark, and it reminded me of hell, with all the dust and debris.

"I remember turning the corner and seeing two beams in the shape of a cross. It brought me to tears," Jan recalled.

When asked how 9/11 impacted his life, Lucas said, “It gave me more of an appreciation for the things we have, for life itself and for how short life can be.”

Sarasota County Fire Department EMT Cheryl Douma was still in training on that fateful day.

“I was in EMT school. When I walked in that morning, someone said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. They wheeled in a TV, and we watched the tower collapse. It’s etched in my memory forever, and it gave me more respect for what I was doing,” she said.

“Being an EMT gives my life greater purpose and allows me to be more involved in my community,” Douma said.

Noise ordinance approved in Holmes Beach

HOLMES BEACH – After yet another revision since its January introduction, city commissioners approved the second reading of the city’s noise ordinance last week.

At the ordinance’s first reading, resident Maro Lorimer, asked that continuous equipment noise be limited to 40 decibels, and commissioners lowered it to 50 decibels.

Lorimer again asked commissioner to lower it further, and Chair Judy Titsworth said she could be comfortable with 45 decibels.

“We need to be reasonable,” Commissioner David Zaccagnino protested. ‘We haven’t had many complaints unless it’s a loud party house.”

Commissioner Pat Morton agreed with Zaccagnino, and City Attorney Patricia Petruff cautioned commissioners.

“I don’t know how 45 or 50 sounds,” she pointed out. “I’m concerned that without field work, you may put three-fourths of the town out of compliance.

“You don’t understand the impacts of the decision. If you want to lower it, don’t take action tonight, but ask the chief to take the decibel meter out and investigate.”

Commissioners agreed to leave it at 50 decibels. They also agreed to add language suggested by resident Andy Sheridan regarding revving engines.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer supplied the following language from Sarasota’s noise ordinance: “Rapid throttle advance (revving) of an internal combustion engine on the public right-of-way resulting in increased sound from the engine for the purpose of drawing attention to the source of the sound.”

City Attorney Patricia Petruff suggested they put it in under Section 6. Prohibited Acts.

Anna Maria raises a grand for ALS

tOM VAUGHT | SUN

Brian Seymour and Tammy and Paul Foster pour
ice water over Sergeant Paul David, who wore a
tuxedo he bought from the Roser Church Thrift Store for $5.

ANNA MARIA – The city turned into a village Friday afternoon as residents joined in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at the entrance to the city pier to raise money for local victims of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Paul Davis, who heads the city’s sheriff’s patrol, quickly put together the project, which worked seamlessly. Tickets were available at city hall, and staff drew a winning ticket at the pier for the person to pour the icy water over Davis. The money raised goes to the ALS Association’s local Loaner Closet, where victims of the debilitating disease get special equipment needed during a certain stage, and when the need passes, they return it for someone else to use.

Paul and Tammy Foster, owners of Ginny and Jane E’s, won the first draw and Mayor SueLynn announced the winners could auction off their opportunity to raise even more money. Michelle and Douglas Shaw, who were dressed for the beach, won the auction with a bid of $25, and they auctioned the winning ticket again to Anna Maria General Store owner Brian Seymour for $50. The winners decided that all three of them would soak the sergeant.

Davis showed up looking quite dapper in a tuxedo he bought from the Roser Church Store for $5. That didn’t last too long, however, as a big, blue container was hoisted over his head and a cascade of ice cubes framed his face for a second before the water and the rest of the ice caught up.

As announced last week, a second victim was scheduled, and it was Mayor SueLynn. Again, they drew a ticket and Anna Maria Code Enforcement Officer Gerry Rathvon won. In order to get more money and possibly because the mayor signs her paychecks, Rathvon put her ticket up for bid. The ticket changed hands again and Carol Ann Magill won. Davis helped her as they slowly poured the ice water over the mayor. When it was over, she jumped up shivering, finding that she was surrounded by ice on the deck. She navigated away carefully avoiding the ice cubes.

The last victim was Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie who joined the fun, and another ticket was chosen. Michelle and Douglas Shaw ended up doing the honors, pouring slowly over the commissioner’s head.

Public works employees were there to sweep away the ice so the people coming from and going to the pier would not slip and fall. Someone remarked that slipping on ice in September on Anna Maria Island would be hard to explain.

In all, more than $1,000 was raised. Sgt. Davis remarked he would like to try it again, maybe in conjunction with the other cities and perhaps in a central Island location.

Millage and budget tentatively approved

BRADENTON BEACH – Commissioners agreed to leave the current millage rate in place for the 2014-2015 fiscal year with no rollback rate to account for increased property values, but they remain divided on the use of cell tower revenue to pay for stormwater improvements.

City Treasurer Sheila Dalton presented the proposed millage rate and new fiscal year budget on Wednesday, during the first of two scheduled public hearings.

At 2.3329 mills per $1,000, Bradenton Beach property owners will pay the city $233.29 per $100,000 of assessed property value. With no rollback rate proposed to offset increased property values, taxpayers will see an estimated 4.51 percent tax increase that amounts to approximately $10.5 per $100,000 property value.

The commission tentatively approved, by way of a 3-2 vote, the proposed 2014-2015 fiscal year budget, with Vice Mayor Jack Clarke and Commissioner Jan Vosburgh opposing the treasurer’s suggestion that the city borrow $225,000 of the $320,000 the city received as a cell tower down payment to cover the cost of approved storm water improvements. The proposed budget provision does not include the use of future quarterly cell tower revenues.

Clarke and Vosburgh expressed surprise that the cell tower funding mechanism was included in the budget, even though Dalton previously consulted with each commission member about the possibility of doing so.

In May, the commission unanimously agreed that the cell tower down payment, when received, would remain as separate budget line item in the general fund and not be used without commission approval.

“We went to great pains and a lot of paperwork to make sure we segregated that $320,000 out. What we’re doing now, is exactly what we intended not to do,” Clarke said, during last week’s meeting.

He argued that committing cell tower money to stormwater improvements, even on a temporary basis, prevents those funds from being used for other purposes, until repaid.

Mayor Bill Shearon and Commissioners Janie Robertson and Ed Straight supported the use of the cell tower money.

“It either has to come out of that source or it has to come out of reserves, and if we take it out of reserves, then we’re not balancing the budget,” Shearon said.

The general fund has a current balance of $1,000,050 and serves as the city’s reserve fund in case of emergency or unexpected financial need.

Serving as the tiebreaker, Straight said, “I discussed it with her (Dalton), and it seems to me the way to go.”

If approved on final reading, the cell tower money would be replenished using future stormwater fee revenues. The debate will continue at the final budget hearing on Wed. Sept. 24. Dalton said commission’s final approval of the budget would also constitute approval of the cell tower money expenditure, despite objections from two commissioners.

The 2014-2015 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The new budget projects $2.79 million in city revenues and $3.03 million in total expenditures. Use of the cell tower money, combined with an insurance reimbursement, reimbursed funds for a police vehicle and Chappie Park donations would make up for the $247,000 shortfall and produce a balanced budget.

Anticipated expenditures include $1,009,985 for the police department, $512,351 on administration, $284,935 for street and roads, $273,344 on planning services, $142,554 for storm water management, $108,460 in commission costs; $81,897 for facilities management and $58,155 for code enforcement.

The new budget also includes Clarke’s suggested 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment for all city employees.


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