The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 7 - November 17, 2010


ArtsHOP draws thousands to Island

Harry Stoltzfus
Sisters Holly, left and Trina Rizzo sing
the Rogers and Hammerstein classic
"Sisters, Sisters," during
the Sunday afternoon performance of the
Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and
Orchestra, part of the third annual
artsHOP weekend.

With perfect weather and people in a party mood, the third annual artsHOP was called the best ever by organizers from Cultural Connections, which represents nine Island arts and cultural groups that present the weekend of activities.

“It was for the people to celebrate the arts and for the arts to celebrate each other,” organizer Marsha Bard said.

“It was a great weekend for Anna Maria Island’s arts and culture. Something I feel we can all hold our heads up and be proud of,” event chair Melissa Williams declared.

“All reports coming in from each of the events suggest this has been the best year yet: sold out performances at the theater and concert, higher than usual attendance throughout the entire gallery walk, a fantastic garden party and turn out for the Historical Society’s book launch and loads of enthusiasm throughout the weekend for the drum circle.”

“It was a wonderful sense of community,” organizer Dorothy Blum, added.

Outdoor art

On Friday, Holmes Beach hummed with activity at the Gallery Walk. People strolled through the courtyard of the AMI Art League admiring the hand-painted floor cloths and watching artists’ demonstrations, while listening to the bluegrass sounds of Myakka.

“I feel it went very well,” League Director Holly Collier said. “It took a community effort to make this a success.”

Collier said three of the top four award winners in the Island Gems show sold their work. Winners were Dee Pastorius, best in show for her watercolor, “Sea Turtle;” Bettina Sego, first place for her triptych, “Paradise Lost;” Robert Harper, second place for his oil painting, “Sea Oats Silhouette;” and Bonnie Murray, third place for her mixed media, “Aquarium,”

At Island Gallery West, pianist Sam Wade played blues piano, and artists were on hand to explain their techniques, while merchants in the area were generating record crowds.

Marlane Wurzbach, of Island Gallery West, said, “Our members enjoyed showing the more than 400 visitors a good time.”

Wall to wall

At the Artists Guild of AMI, people purchased art and danced to bluegrass played by State Road 64.

“The feedback from the merchants and people attending was wonderful,” Midge Pippel, co-president of the Guild said. “I visited all the sites and there were record crowds.”

“The Guild was wall to wall people, and many people commented on the quality of the art they saw. They were in a celebratory mood and loved the music.”

“People were so happy,” Joan Voyles, co-president of the Guild, added. “There was a wonderful ambiance. People were discovering places they didn’t know were there.

“I really appreciated the business sponsors and growing support for the event. More businesses are seeing an economic benefit by cooperating and supporting the arts. It improves the quality of life, and that’s what it’s all about.”

In Anna Maria, people stopped by The Studio at Gulf and Pine to make their silent auction bids on the turtle art, and owner Rhea Chiles noted, “The art was so much finer and creative than we anticipated. It’s one of the best shows we’ve ever had in the gallery.

“People were so inspired by their love of the turtles and what Turtle Watch does on the Island. It was wildly successful.”

The one act plays at the Island Playhouse generated an overflow audience on Friday and nearly sold out on Saturday, said Island Players President Dolores Harrell, who added, “The audience loved them. It was a good program for artsHOP because people didn’t have to concentrate on an entire play.”

The winner of Friday’s raffle basket of $150 in art supplies from Keeton's Art and Office Supply was Dorothy Kelly, of Holmes Beach.

Book a hit

On Saturday morning, the mood also was festive as people lined up at Belle Haven Cottage waiting to purchase autographed copies of Carolyne Norwood’ second volume of Island history. Many bought multiple copies for Christmas gifts, and Historical Society Treasurer George McKay reported that 136 were sold.

“Everyone was so enthusiastic,” Norwood said. “It made my five years of writing worthwhile. It was very uplifting to have such a successful day.”

After receiving their books, visitors were ushered into Belle Haven garden for refreshments and old timers including Elizabeth Moss, John, Jim and Judy Adams and Renal Hook traded stories.

Late Saturday afternoon, people gathered at The Studio to learn the winning bidders of the turtle art auction. At press time, the preliminary total was $3,500, but some art has not yet been claimed.

Sunday’s concert by the Anna Maria Island Concert Orchestra and Chorus also was a huge success.

"What a performance and absolutely amazing, are words that were repeated by concertgoers again and again.” AMICCO Executive Director Jeanie Pickwick reported. “The Rizzo sisters opened the program with a stirring rendition of the national anthem. The violin concerto performed by Daniel Andai received a standing ovation.

“AMICCO chorus member Martha DiPalma who sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," nearly brought down the house, and there was a rousing round of applause after each soloist performed, including Joy Leitner, Chalyce Sullivan and the incomparable voices of Robert Lischetti and Douglas Renfroe.”

For the final event of the weekend, a group of about 30 gathered at Manatee County Public Beach late Sunday afternoon for a drum circle. Beachgoers danced in the sand as the rhythms filled the air and the sun set behind them.

Scientists call for oil spill agency

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s ripple effect on life in and around the Gulf of Mexico could become a tsunami, affecting everything from the tiniest plankton to the largest animal in the sea, experts say.

Trophic cascades – chain reactions that occur when the health of species declines – could lead to dramatic shifts in the balance of Gulf ecosystems, according to stakeholders who met last week at a national symposium at Mote Marine Laboratory.

After comparing notes on the oil’s effect on the Gulf, the panel called for a fulltime, Gulf-wide response organization - paid for by British Petroleum - to coordinate monitoring and research efforts for the next decade or more.

The resulting data would be used to develop resource management strategies to protect species, for example, limiting or closing seasons or reducing bag limits to protect fish or limiting or closing areas to boats or adding speed zones to protect manatees.

“One of the key recommendations is a wake-up call to work together with all of the agencies to bring information together in a scientific way to alert us before a fishery crashes,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote’s senior vice president for research.

The proposed organization would have different membership than the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, created in October by President Barack Obama’s executive order.

The task force includes representatives selected by the heads of more than 10 federal departments, agencies and offices, presidential appointees from state governments from the five Gulf states, and allows for tribal government participation. The proposed Gulf-wide organization, meanwhile, would include private research institutions, fisheries regulators, commercial and recreational fishermen, academics and environmentalists.

The task force also will address wider issues of Gulf health, including dead zones caused by Mississippi River runoff and the decrease of freshwater inflow to the Gulf, said Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department, who attended the task force’s first meeting last week in Pensacola.

The two groups could work with each other, providing a “subtle push and pull” between governmental and academic findings regarding the oil spill, he said.

What’s going on down there?

The oil, which flowed for nearly three months from April 20 until the well was capped on July 15, now is largely submerged, according to Dr. William Hogarth, dean of the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida.

“A lot of the opinion is ‘It’s capped and it’s gone,’ and we know that’s not true,” he said.

Agencies studying different aspects of the spill, such as weather patterns, oil distribution, crab reproduction and migrations of large fish, are discovering impacts that should be collected by a central agency and shared with everyone, Crosby said.

“We’re seeing clear evidence of the impacts,” he said, pointing to recent photos of the Gulf floor showing large swaths of deepwater coral – essential habitat for a number of species – covered with what looks like oil.

Oil has been found in the gills of shrimp and is affecting bluefin tuna, Hogarth said. The oil also is affecting algae, plankton, crab, fish and other species that, in turn, will affect predators up the food chain, including birds that eat fish and people who eat seafood.

But it could take years for all the effects of the submerged oil to become apparent.

“A year from now, three years from now, five years from now, things could show up,” Hogarth said.

It took four years for the herring population to crash after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and two decades later, some fish populations have not recovered, he said.

In addition, the oil may have caused some already distressed species “to be on their way out,” Crosby said.

Threatened and endangered species such as sea turtles and manatees are especially at risk due to their declining numbers, and the harm caused to their populations by the oil may not show up for years, as they live for decades, according to scientists.

Sharks are among the most at-risk species, because they are at the top of the food chain, which may be contaminated by oil, Crosby said. Mote already is studying several whale sharks that surprised fishermen by showing up in relatively shallow waters off Sarasota after the oil began gushing into the Gulf.

If sharks move closer to shore, they could have a trophic cascading impact on fish, as well as inshore fishermen, he said.

The panel plans to issue a formal report in January.

Cramer beating suspect acquitted

Drescher                      Gambuzza

One of the two suspects in the April 17, 2008, beating of former Anna Maria City Commissioner Linda Cramer has been acquitted in a jury trial.

Michael Gambuzza, 41, was acquitted on charges of home invasion robbery and false imprisonment. A second man accused of robbing and severely beating Cramer, Christopher Drescher, pleaded guilty on those charges and in August, he received 15 years on the home invasion and five years on false imprisonment to run concurrently and minus time served while waiting for the trial.

“Justice has not been served,” Cramer told The Sun. “I have suffered the past two and a half years from my injuries, complicated by polycystic kidney and liver disease.”

Cramer said she needs a liver transplant.

The incident began around 4 p.m. on April 17 when somebody called her at home asking for Joe Pandolph, with whom she lives. When she told the caller that Pandolph was not there, the caller said he would call him on his cell phone.

About 15 minutes later, Cramer saw an old white work van pull up into the driveway. Two men got out with a box and rang the bell. They told her they were delivering cosmetics.

When she opened the door, the two forced their way in, attacked her, tied her up with large zip ties and ransacked the house, remanding drugs, money, gold and guns. After they left, she got free of the ties and called police.

Police were able to catch the two suspects later and file charges against them.

Selby hits the ground running

Bayfest band Bootleg
PHOTO/JIM CONOLY Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby sits in on
a meeting between the city commission and the planning
and zoning board. At left is Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick.

ANNA MARIA — Mayor Mike Selby sat in his new office in city hall last week learning his job and studying all the aspects of what’s facing the city.

“Frannie (outgoing Mayor Fran Barford) left me notes on everything,” Selby said. “She wrote everything down for me.”

Selby gestured to stacks of folders on his desk, including one stack representing the lawsuits that have been filed against the city in the past year or so – those that remain unresolved.

Selby said he has an appointment to discuss the status of the cases with City Attorney Jim Dye. He’s already talked to Building Official Bob Welch and Planning Consultant Alan Garrett.

“This staff is really professional, really wonderful and competent,” Selby said. “Fran is a very gifted and talented administrator, probably the best the city has ever had. The staff told me that, and I can see for myself.”

Selby said he’s lucky to be following Barford, because she left things in perfect order. All he has to do is study the notes she’s left him and pick up from there.

One thing Selby stressed is the quality of the staff.

“Diane’s been helping me this week, and I’ll tell you, I don’t know how anyone could ask for a better, smarter more patient person,” he said. (Diane Percycoe is the finance director and city clerk.)

Controversy no stranger

Selby acknowledges that the city has been mired in controversy over development and parking for the past year.

“Look, I’ve been part of that myself,” he said. “We saw incivility on both sides, and I freely admit I was part of that, but that time is past, and we have to learn to work together. We all love this city and we want what’s best for it.”

Selby said he saw good people on both sides of the parking and development issues on Pine Avenue, and he’s ready to put all that to rest.

“We have some smart people in this town, some excellent people,” he noted. “If we put our heads together, we will absolutely find some solutions.”

Selby was a developer, buying land for the railroad for many years. When the railroad wanted to divest itself of large storage facilities, Selby and some partners bought those businesses from his former employer.

“I know the pressures and problems of developers, having been one myself, so I know what Pine Avenue Restoration is going through,” he said.

Selby said he’s talked to Micheal Coleman, the managing partner of PAR, LLC.

“Here we have a developer who is willing to change the parking at the businesses he’s already built,” Selby said. “You just don’t see that. They are willing to retrofit what they have and to cooperate in any way we ask.”

Selby said he’s also spoken to Gene Aubry, the visionary who created the Pine Avenue corridor plan that was designed to make the entire street from the Gulf to the Bay into a walkable area for the residents and visitors to the city.

Aubry was elected to replace former City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, who was removed from office in a recall election last September.

“We can find solutions to all our problems if we all just keep our minds open and listen to each other,” Selby said.

Selby acknowledged that the base that was supportive of his candidacy and the group he worked with against some of the Pine Avenue projects in the past is not his only concern.

“I’m everyone’s mayor, not just the mayor of the people who got me elected,” he said. “I have an obligation to everyone in this community to work with an open mind on every problem that comes before us. I hope everyone in this city will join in the search for solutions rather than staying locked in controversy for another year.”

Cities' officers sworn in

City Clerk Alice Baird administers the oath of office
to newly elected Mayor Mike Selby.

ANNA MARIA — Newly elected Mayor Mike Selby was sworn into office on Nov. 9. City Clerk Alice Baird administered the oath of office to Selby and to Commissioners Jo Ann Mattick and Chuck Webb, who were elected two-year terms. Neither commissioner faced opposition in the election earlier this month.

All commissioners and the mayor were asked to sign a code of conduct statement.

After the mayor and commissioners were sworn in, the commission held its annual organizational meeting.

Webb was elected by his fellow commissioners to serve as commission chair for the coming year.

The commission chair sets the agenda for meetings, chairs those meetings and serves as mayor for the city when the mayor is out of town or otherwise unavailable.

When Webb assumed the gavel, his first act as chairman was to publicly thank Commissioner John Quam for the work he’s done as chair for the past six years.

“I think he kept the pot from boiling over at a time when things were quite heated, and I really appreciate what he’s done,” Webb said.

Commissioners selected Mattick to serve as deputy chair of the commission.

Cortez Folk Art Festival Saturday
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

CORTEZ – Folk music, arts and crafts and good food will be served up at the Cortez Village Folk Art Festival on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez.

Musicians include Andrew Eddie, Mike Jorgensen, Brian Smalley, Bee & Boo and the Myakka Blue Grass Band, the Main Hatch Motleys and Soupy Davis and friends.

The festival’s 20 arts and crafts vendors will offer holiday gifts for sale, and kids will enjoy the Tyler’s Ice Cream eating contest, while history buffs can tour the museum, featuring the new Banks Family Marine and Shell Collection.

Local photographer Richard Estabrook will be on hand to take free photographs in the museum's Surprise Garden, and will display his collection of nature photographs.

Admission and parking are free.

The event is co-sponsored by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.), the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, Manatee Clerk of Circuit Court ‘Chips’ Shore and the Cortez Village Historical Society.

You can watch a weaver spin yarn or listen to a fisherman spin a yarn at the Cortez Village Folk Art Festival on Saturday. Linda Martin demonstrated making yarn from dog hair at the 2008 festival. SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE

City seeks new home for cottage
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The Monroe Cottage at 304 Church St. in Bradenton Beach
will be razed if the city cannot find anyone to move it.

BRADENTON BEACH – The white cottage sitting on concrete blocks for the past 64 years at 304 Church St. will be gone soon, one way or another.

Bradenton Beach city commissioners voted on Tuesday, Nov. 9, to approve the removal of the cottage if a new home is not found within 30 days. The vote is a result of the city’s plans to add parking spaces for city employees, employees of the shops in the commercial district and customers of those shops. The city is considering a project that would convert an empty lot next door, at 306 Church Street, into parking as well as the lot on which the old home, known as the Monroe Cottage, is located.

Mayor Bob Bartelt said that he had considered all the alternatives.

“We thought about moving south of the city in a grove of trees by the bay, where other historic structures could also be moved, but it would cost about $100,000 for the move ,and we would have to spend an additional $100,000 to $150,000 on improving it so it could survive the move.

Resident Bona Wortman said that she is interested in preserving it.

“I’m really interested in the history of Bradenton Beach,” she said. “One idea is to let local artists restore it through donations like they did in Bradenton (at the Village of the Arts).”

Rosemary and Paul Georges live next door to the Monroe Cottage.

“If you could save it, fine,” Rosemary said. “If not, we have no objections, except we would hope you wouldn’t park any city trucks outside our bedroom window.”

“We don’t have anything against it being a parking lot as long as only the public parks there,” said Paul Georges. “We would hope there would be no overnight parking.”

Mayor Bob Bartelt explained the history of the cottage, which the city purchased for less than $300,000 in 2006 after purchasing the Bodell House next door on March 31, 2006 for $400,000. The city later tore down the Bodell House, and the lot is being used by the city as a parking lot. Then, Rosemary Georges told him that their house was not for sale.

“We have four grandchildren and they all have plans for the house,” she said.

“We like it here,” Paul Georges added.

“We all do,” Bartelt said.

Other suggestions included looking for a grant to pay for a move and placing an ad on Craig’s List on the Internet.

Face up to social media

To attract tourists to Anna Maria Island, business owners must face up to the reality of social media, according to Steve Berlin of Miles Media.

While using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social media will require business owners to update their skills, one thing hasn’t changed, he said.

“Make sure your business serves your customers because they will share that with others on social media sites,” the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau consultant told a group of local business owners recently.

Social media websites require the same personal touch that business owners use in person with their guests, Berlin said; when a customer comments about their vacation experience on a business website, the owner, not a teenager or techie hired to manage the site, should personally respond.

Even if – and possibly especially when, the comments are negative – the owner should reply. Including negative comments and responses on the site makes it more likely that users will view it as authentic, he said.

Social media sites require an updated approach to advertising and marketing, Berlin said. Followers of the sites engage in conversations and tune out one-way advertisements with someone shouting at them through a virtual megaphone.

“You can only contribute to the conversation,” he said.

Make sure your site accurately reflects your business, Berlin said, citing an example of a hotel site that fails to mention that it’s directly on the beach.

To increase the likelihood that people will find your site using a search engine, add new content, such as special promotions, photos, maps and weather forecasts, he said, adding that a including a site map helps search engines like Google and Yahoo correctly categorize your site.

Be specific in headlines and photo titles, he said – use "Anna Maria Island fishing pier," not "local attraction,” for example. And make the site easy to read, with large type and bold headlines, he suggested.

Once you’re up and running on social media sites, promote them in your e-mail signature, letterhead, business cards and advertisements, Berlin said.

County hopes effort reels in filmmakers
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Ed Chiles, of the Mar Vista Dockside restaurant on
Longboat Key, talks about local dining for a 30-minute
program set to air on the Discovery Channel on Feb. 12. The
production crew stayed in Bradenton Beach at the Silver Surf
and Bridgewalk resorts for several days while they filmed
the beach, area preserves and parks and recreational activities.

Manatee County commissioners have passed a new ordinance designed to make it easier for filmmakers and commercial producers to work here.

“It’s all about economic development,” said Deputy County Attorney Rob Eschenfelder, who revised the 20-year-old ordinance previously on the books to cut through red tape. “The focus needs to be on ease of use for producers of films and commercials."

The new law creates a one-stop shop for permitting in the county’s several municipalities and defines activities that don’t need a permit, he said, such as filming for non-commercial purposes and newsgathering.

It also allows the county to refuse a permit “where the project would not positively influence the county's image,” according to the ordinance, and allows municipalities to opt out of the ordinance.

In addition, the law creates a film commissioner position that will be filled by Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) interim Executive Director Elliott Falcione, who may appoint a staffer as deputy film commissioner to actively solicit business, replacing Kelly Fores, the county’s previous film commissioner, whose contract expired last month.

“We’ll send them to seminars about what producers want,” Eschenfelder said. “We may have assets here that we don’t even know would turn a producer on.”

The ordinance covers requests for using county property in films, such as law enforcement and other emergency vehicles, he said, adding that a recent production filmed a county EMS crew delivering a patient to a hospital.

Last week, a production crew filmed a 30-minute program on Manatee County set to air on the Discovery Channel on Feb. 12 and took still photographs scheduled for publication in Florida Travel & Life’s Affordable Luxury edition, a cooperative venture between the two outlets.

Sites included Anna Maria Island beaches, the Cortez fishing village, Whitney Beach and Mar Vista Dockside restaurant on Longboat Key, Robinson Preserve and DeSoto National Memorial in northwest Bradenton and the Gamble Mansion in Ellenton.

Kelley Davis, regional director of the Travel and Lifestyle Group for the magazine’s parent company, Bonnier, said she was favorably impressed by the variety of potential film locations in the county.

Such productions attract international attention, encouraging local tourism, according to Barbara Rodocker of the county’s Tourist Development Council, who hosted the crews at the Silver Sands and BridgeWalk resorts in Bradenton Beach.

Manatee County has a long history as a film location, including the Esther Williams film “On an Island With You” (1948), which featured Anna Maria Island scenes.

Cortez also has been the backdrop for several productions, including a hit music video, “Second Chance” (2008), by the band Shinedown, which also filmed on Anna Maria Island, “Out of Time” (2003), with Denzel Washington and “Great Expectations” (1998), with Robert DeNiro and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Sandblast competition Saturday at BeachHouse

Keep Manatee Beautiful will celebrate America Recycles Day at Sandblast, its annual sand-sculpting contest, on Nov. 17 through 20 at the BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.

Team Sandtastic, a professional sand sculpture team, will start on Nov. 17 by building an 80-ton exhibition sculpture at the site. In addition, WIL-MATH Metal Art Studio will be exhibiting samples of its recycled art.

The public is invited to free clinics by both groups on Nov. 17 through 19 from 5 to 6 p.m. to learn the tips, tricks and techniques of sand and metal sculpting.

On Nov. 20, teams will arrive at 8 a.m. to pick their 15-by-15 foot plots. Sculpting commences at 9 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. Themes are free form, holiday or nautical. Exhibitors will be displaying and selling their recycled art from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Manager Rebecca Shannon, of the BeachHouse, sand sculptor Mark Mason with Team Sandtastic and sculptor David Wilson with WIL-MATH Metal Art Studio will judge the sculptures.

To enter a team or sponsor one of the teams registered thus far with a $300 tax-deductible donation or exhibit/sell recycled art with $25 for each 10 ft. X 10 ft. plot, call Keep Manatee Beautiful at 795-8272 or visit

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