The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 43 - August 10, 2011


Beach Bucs
Carol Whitmore

Steve Schwacke holds the reflector while Leslie Harms fixes
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader Nikki Fraser's hair
during the photo session on the beach.


ANNA MARIA – With a little more than a week before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play their first exhibition game, against the Kansas City Chiefs, a lot of men's thought are turning to another season of NFL football. If any of them were walking along the northern beaches of the Island at the right time last week, they might have been treated to another kind of exhibition – the Tampa Bay Bucs' Cheerleaders posing for photos for their annual calendar.

Anna Maria Island was chosen this year for the shoot, with what many consider the world's most beautiful beaches in the background.

Cheerleaders director Catherine Boyd and her troupe stayed at a beachfront house in Anna Maria and made the trek to the beach twice each day. On the final morning, Friday, model Sarah Nelson was the first to come out. Jorge Alvarez, of, was shooting his second calendar for the Bucs. His assistants were Steve Schwake, who held the large light reflector, and James Whittinghill, who kept busy with other details. Stylist Cori Norton made sure the cheerleaders looked their best and other assistants included Leslee Harms, Tomoko Kojima and Cori Lindley.

As Alvarez directed Nelson, a rainbow appeared to the northwest, providing further testimony of the natural beauty of our Island beaches.

The second model up was Nikki Fraser, who sported a two-piece suit with a crossed top. As she posed, a thunderhead formed and appeared to be heading toward the Island. Alvarez hurried to finish before they got rained out, even though the cloud later disbursed without raining on the operation.

The calendar will be available in about a month, according to Boyd. For more information on the shoot, log onto and click onto the cheerleaders section on the home page.

Sabine search halted
Carol Whitmore

Osceola County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chris Brewer holds
the leash while cadaver dog Bones sniffs the beach
at Anna Maria.


ANNA MARIA – More than three weeks of tramping through overgrown foliage and sifting sand ended last Wednesday with one final attempt to find Sabine Musil-Buehler at the Park Avenue beach entrance where one might have easily buried a body almost three years ago.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office homicide Detective John Kenney said his next step is to talk with the person of interest in the mysterious disappearance of the popular motel owner shortly after Halloween 2008.

"I'll be travelling to the panhandle to talk with Mr. Cumber," he said last Wednesday, Aug. 3, referring to William Cumber, who is serving a 13-year sentence in Panama City for violating his parole shortly after she disappeared. Cumber is the last person to see Musil-Buehler alive.

Kenney, who retired as the sergeant in charge of the sheriff's patrol in the city of Anna Maria, returned to duty as a homicide detective two years ago following a spike in the murder rate countywide. He is assigned to the Musil-Buehler case and has said several times he wants to solve this mystery.

He called in the state's premier cadaver dog, a 9-year-old German Shepherd named Bones and his handler, Sgt. Chris Brewer, from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office to sniff for clues last Tuesday and Wednesday, but the heat cut short the amount of time Bones could spend on the beach. Kenney said there were no surprises.

The search was triggered by the discovery of items that belonged to Musil-Buehler behind the Moss family property just south of the Willow Avenue beach entrance on July 13. Ed Moss, who was clearing the foliage behind the home of his parents, called authorities and when it was confirmed the items belonged to the missing woman, the search began.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office brought in three front-end loaders and drivers from the jail's farming operation to dig in the sand and the search moved into some of the foliage after the state gave them permission to take out protected sea oats and sea grapes, as long as they replaced them.

The search and rescue cadaver dog from Sarasota was used to sniff those areas before the heavy machinery came in, with negative results.

Members of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch were on hand during the digging to make sure no nests were disturbed. During the search, AMI Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox said she looks forward to some closure on the case.

"She was one of our volunteers and she loved all animals," Fox said.

As for the search for Sabine Musil-Buehler, Kenney is undaunted.

"We'll continue to investigate and anytime there is a clue, we'll be back out here," he said.

Musil Buehler disappeared Nov. 4, 2008, a couple of days after she and her estranged husband, Tom Buehler, hosted a Halloween party at Haley's Motel. At the time, she was living with Cumber, who told police they had gotten into an argument and she had left the apartment.

Her car was seen at the Gator Lounge in Bradenton that night. Police stopped Robert Corona while he was driving the car and arrested him for grand theft auto. He initially told police that he had partied with her the night before, but finally admitted he stole the Pontiac Sunbird convertible when he saw it parked with the keys in the ignition. He was convicted of the theft and is serving a four-year sentence.

Diana Nyad forced to quit swim

Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad ended her two-year quest to swim from Cuba to Florida early Tuesday when strong currents and physical ailments forced her from the water. The 61-year-old athlete was attempting to be the first person to make the 103-mile swim from Havana to Key West. She ended the effort after 29 hours in the water, roughly halfway through the journey. Sun contributor Dee Brady is part of the support team that accompanied Nyad, who did much of her training on Anna Maria Island last year. Log onto to read Dee's blog about being part of Nyad's crew.

Court date set for bookkeeper

The suspect in the Key Royale Club embezzlement case will appear before District Judge Gilbert Smith, Jr., on Friday, Sept. 2 at 8:55 a.m. for arraignment.

Holly Elaine Connelly, 29, of Bradenton, is the former bookkeeper for the private golf and country club who is accused of taking more than $300,000 in funds by forging and cashing checks and illegal use of the club's credit card. The charge, scheming to defraud, is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Connelly is being held on $500,000 bond and the prosecution has moved to make sure that if her bond is paid, the money does not come from any funds embezzled from the club.

Connelly has filed to have the state provide her with a defense attorney and in doing so, has testified that she has no monetary assets, which leads to the question, where did the money go?

Holmes Beach Detective Mike Leonard, who spent a lot of time investigating the case, said he does not know and since the case is in the hands of the state attorney's office, details won't likely be released until the trial.

Bowlers head for mainland

It takes a lot to get some residents to go off the Island, but the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat works in funny ways, especially if it's surrounded by beer, food and the sound of bowling balls hitting pins.

Once again, the faithful will make the trek to AMF Bowling Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, to raise money for the Anna Maria Island Community Center. Those who bowl the best, and the worst, might qualify for a high or low game trophy. Whether you're a pro or a novice, the real winners will be the kids at the Community Center who participate in the sports programs.

This year, as in the past, the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6696 Cortez Road W., will host the after-bowling party Oyster Bar owner John Horne will provide beer and margarita stations, a full bar and bowlers' specials.

Raffle tickets for a big screen television donated by the Island Sun and hundreds of prizes from local merchants and restaurants will be available at the bowling alley. Tickets are six for $5.

If you haven't registered yet, get down to Duffy's Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, to sign up. Pre-payment is required by Thursday, Aug. 25.

This is the 21st O'Conner Bowling Challenge and this year, there is a new generation of O'Connors running it. Mike and his wife, Katie, took the reigns from his father, George, and his Uncle Billy. This year, Mike diagrammed all the lanes so bowlers can choose the one they want, as long as they register early.

Something else that is new is a photo booth by Lenna and Jeanne, of Enna/Anne, for teams to have their photos taken.

For more information, call Mike at 545-3121,

Count scallops this weekend

Volunteers are needed to find and count scallops in the 2011 Sarasota Bay Watch Scallop Search on Saturday, Aug. 13.

The event begins with a captain's meeting at 8 a.m., followed by the search at 9 a.m. and a complimentary lunch at 12:30 p.m. at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant, 760 Broadway, Longboat Key.

The event is limited to 50 boats, including kayaks; volunteers without boats may sign up as crew members.

Participants will be trained how to search for scallops in seagrass, and should bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, mask, snorkel and water shoes (fins optional).

Experts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will be on hand to answer questions and there will be a touch tank on display.

The event is funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County from the Robert R. Harlan and Susan H. Lowy Harlan Fund.

Register for the event at

Demolished pier on commissioner's mind
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Above, a view of the pier at Manatee Public Beach in the
1960s includes kids (from left) Matt Borden in red shorts,
Joe Bernard in striped shirt and Michelle Bernard Garden
in white shorts standing in front of the group on the pier.
The Bernard's parents ran the concession stand.


HOLMES BEACH – The clock is ticking on the replacement of the Manatee Public Beach pier, Manatee County Commission Chair Carol Whitmore says.

Commissioners, who promised to replace the pier before it was demolished in 2009, are waiting for county staff to advise them whether the pier effectively controlled beach erosion, she wrote in an e-mail to Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker.

"We only have five years to replace it under the permit," she said.

The pier was closed in February 2009 due to safety concerns, then demolished in December 2009.

Commissioners initially approved $1.5 million to replace the 312-foot pier, but county officials proposed an alternative 700-foot pier that would cost $2.76 million.

Commissioners debated taking the extra $1 million from the portion of county tourist tax revenues earmarked for beach renourishment, but never approved the idea.

"I have made a commitment to Holmes Beach commissioners and many other citizens that I would not let the replacing of the pier fall by the wayside," Whitmore wrote to Hunzeker.

"Our commitment is to monitor the beach erosion over time and to determine if the state and federal governments continue to fund their respective shares of the fiscal year 2014 renourishment project," Hunzeker replied. "If it is determined that there is an erosion problem and the governments continue to share in the cost of renourishment then we can determine what type of pier is appropriate."

The pier was built to control erosion, said Whitmore, who favors naming the new pier after county lifeguard Dave Miller.

Built in the early 1960s, the pier originally had lengthwise beams underwater that slowed down the lateral current at the public beach, which can "rip down the beach" in a heavy wind, said Island native, surfer and boat captain Joe Webb, who proposed the idea of naming the pier for Miller and favors a new pier.

The pier was a surf spot, a fishing spot and a good place for rescue boats to bring in victims from the water, as well as a place for lifeguards to dive from to save swimmers without having to waste time and effort swimming through the wave break zone, he said.

"It was one of the main landmarks of the Island," Webb said. "If we miss our chance, we'll never have another one."

Maritime program to be overhauled

Christian Ramos, 10, a student in the
Turner Maritime Challenge Program from
Rogers Garden Elementary School in
Bradenton, sails a handmade
wooden boat for the first
time in May in Palma Sola Bay.


CORTEZ – The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) has decided not to suspend its Turner Maritime Challenge Program, but to continue to overhaul it before its next semester begins on Sept. 19.

The board voted to suspend the program earlier this month after informally agreeing to suspend it at the end of the semester on July 29, taking Jaime Canfield, its director and the program’s developer, by surprise.

“Nobody has ever talked to me” about suspending the program, Canfield told the board at its August meeting, noting that the program’s steering committee never met on the issue.

Suspending the program is unfair to Canfield, FISH board member Karen Bell said.

Economics - not Canfield - is to blame, board members said.

In its first year of operation, the program spent $42,000 on eight to 10 students, FISH Treasurer Jane von Hahmann said, adding, “We’re not getting our bang for the buck.”

The existing program wastes assets, agreed FISH board member Turner Matthews, a local attorney who worked with Jay K. Turner to leave the bequest that funds the program.

“It isn’t what the program is supposed to be,” Matthews said, suggesting the program be more competitive. “It’s supposed to be about turning kids into men and women. It’s not a sailing club.

The program committee met this week with Canfield and decided to continue the program’s regular semester next month while discussing changes in the program.

For more information on the program, call Canfield at 941-792-8200 or 941-704-7782.

In other business, the board:

  • Accepted the resignation of Sheila Mora from the board and appointed John Banyas to fill her position.
  • Learned that Solutions To Avoid Red Tide (START) has withdrawn its request to participate in the Cortez Folk Arts Festival in November.
  • Received a report that seven volunteers donated 658 hours during July at the FISH boat shop.
  • Received a report that 140 visitors signed the guest book at the Florida Maritime Museum during July.

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