The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 12 - January 4, 2012


2011: Familiar, unforgettable
Carol Whitmore

More than 1,100 bikers participated
in a Remembrance Ride in September
to comemmorate the
10th anniversary of the 9/11
terrorist attacks.

As 2012 dawns and 2011 becomes history, we look back on the events that made the last 12 months another memorable year on the Island. There were some familiar topics from parking on Pine to Australian pines and new ones like a green village and green turtles. Here are a few month-by-month highlights:


• Consensus grows on a Pine Avenue parking agreement in Anna Maria after a year of debate.

• Privateers begin their 40th year fund-raising campaign by invading Anna Maria and taking Mayor Mike Selby hostage. Arrrgh!

• A record number of manatee deaths, largely due to unusually cold weather, are reported statewide for 2010.

• The Anna Maria City Pier Centennial year kicks off with banners blowin' in the wind from utility poles throughout the city. Celebration plans take shape. Party like it's 1911.

• Despite the cold weather, a record number of runners take off in Anna Maria Elementary's Dolphin Dash.

• A replacement study for the Cortez Bridge is set for 2012-13.


• Officials say there is no funding for Anna Maria bayside beach renourishment.

• Manatee County chooses an Island vendor for Segway tours and rentals at Coquina Beach Trail and Leffis Key.

• The Island is featured on the Discovery channel.

• Landscape plans for Kingfish Boat Ramp that include trees, grasses and flowers are presented to the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee.

• Anna Maria's Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue unveils its green innovations including a geothermal system for heating and cooling, a cistern system for irrigation and photo voltaic cells for electricity. It's easy to be green.

• The new location of the Cortez Commercial Fishing festival at the east end of the village is a hit with crowds. Let them eat mullet.


• The Island Wedding festival attracts a huge crowd. "Goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get married."

• Anna Maria asks Community Center officials to study the possibility of a cell tower. Not in my back yard.

• Holmes Beach commissioners object to plans for 11 lights at Kingfish Boat Ramp, but after a tour of the ramp with county officials, they OK the plan. Later, objections to the lighting plan are rekindled and the city requires a site plan. Without one, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger says he will shut down the project. Blinded by the light.

• Former Island resident and Bradenton Beach restaurateur David Viens is charged with murdering his wife Dawn in California. Prior to the arrest, Viens jumped off a cliff and severely injured himself in a suicicde attempt.

• Harbor Isles, Minto Communities development on Perico Island welcomes 700 prospective buyers to its first model home. Pave paradise and put up a condo.

• Gov. Rick Scott takes future beach renourishment funding out of the state budget proposal for next year.

• The Island's tourist season is declared one of the busiest ever, but the census shows that the number of residents is declining.


• David Viens pleads not guilty to a charge of murder in a Los Anglees courtroom.

• Gov. Rick Scott agrees to allow funds for a 2015 renourishment project after Manatee County commissioners explain its importance to the local economy. It's the economy, stupid.

• State legislators discuss cutting funding for Egmont Key.

• The Anna Maria City Pier Centennial celebration will include a Food and Wine on Pine event with upscale food booths, wine, art and music. I'll drink to that.

• Country music star Lee Greenwood brings down the house at the 27th annual Affaire to Remember at the Island Community Center in Anna Maria.

• Chef Andrea Spring of the Sign of the Mermaid takes first and second place honors in two categories at the American Pie Council Crisco Pie Championship in Orlando. How sweet it is.

• Holmes Beach and county officials come to an agreement on Kingfish Boat Ramp lighting plan.

• The Sheriff's Office begins investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by an Island Community Center employee.

• The renourishment project is completed in Bradenton Beach and moves to Anna Maria.

• More than a year in the making, Anna Maria's Pine Avenue parking plan is approved.


• The Center's board of directors appoints a committee to review its policies and procedures in the wake of recent allegations of sexual misconduct by an employee and the Sheriff's Office closes its investigation finding nothing that would result in criminal charges.

• Bradenton Beach commissioners adopt a new cell tower ordinance giving the city the power to regulate cell towers within city limits.

• Anna Maria City Pier Centennial celebration kicks off with a parade and a dedication of the new pier historical marker; continues with a street fair with food, wine, arts, crafts, games, costumed actors and demonstrations and concludes with fireworks. A downpour during Saturday afternoon's festivities didn't dampen spirits.

• Manatee County commissioners discuss regulating Segways in parks and preserves including the Coquina Beach Trail and Leffis Key in Bradenton Beach.

• The Angler's Inn (aka Thelma by the Sea) built in 1913 is moved to Anna Maria's Historic Green Village in a two-day operation.

• Anna Maria Elementary School Principal. Tom Levingood retires after four years at the school and 35 in education.

• Island Sun columnist Ellen Jaffe Jones' book "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day" is published.


• Anne Kinnan retires after 31 years at Anna Maria Elementary School and 35 years in education.

• The Anna Maria City Pier boardwalk project begins following the centennial celebration.

• Ronee and Jim Brady decide to sell their West Coast Surf Shop in Holmes Beach after 47 years of good vibrations.

• Island Blood Drive sets records for the number of donors and collections for non-profits.

• LePensee Plumbing in Holmes Beach is named Business of the Year by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.

• Anna Maria commissioners begin discussions on purchasing the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

• Anna Maria officials decline to act on a request to ban shark fishing from the Rod and Reel and City piers.

• Manatee County commissioners vote to allow Segways on the Coquina Beach Trail for a trial period of six months, but not at Leffis Key.

• The city of Bradenton considers banning horses on the Palma Sola Causeway.

• Pine Avenue in Anna Maria becomes a shopping destination for locals and tourists.


• The season's first turtle nest hatches in front of Club Bamboo in Bradenton Beach.

• A South Carolina tourist dies in a parasailing accident off Longboat Key.

• A weekend storm washes out five sea turtle nests and kills 12 shorebird chicks.

• The Key Royale Club loses approximately $485,000 to embezzlement by an employee.

• Bradenton Beach commissioners approve an ordinance allowing Waste Pro to take over waste collection in the city.

• The Sheriff's Office resumes its search for Sabine Musil-Buehler in a wooded area near Willow Avenue after a resident finds items that belonged to her. She has been missing since 2008.

• West Manatee Fire commissioners appoint David Bishop to replace John Rigney who moved out of the district.


• Police arrest former Key Royale Club bookkeeper Holly Elaine Connelly on charges of scheming to defraud.

• Members of Diana Nyad's team are in Cuba waiting for the weather to clear so the long distance swimmer can attempt her historic swim from Cuba to Key West. However, Nyad is forced to end her attempt a week later.

• The first of the new trolleys arrive and is being prepped by Manatee County Area Transit.

• A new generation takes over the O'Connor Bowling Challenge in its 21st year. Mike and Katie O'Connor take it over from dad George and uncle Billy.

• The search for Sabine Musil-Buehler along the beach near willow Avenue in Anna Maria ends.

• Anna Maria commissioners vote to purchase the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard for $2.8 million.

• Grassy Point Preserve in Holmes Beach gets grant money to build a boardwalk, an observation tower and an observation deck.

• Tourism, which usually slows down in the summer months, remains strong.

• Bradenton Beach commissioners agree to rebuild Seventh Street dock.

• A Longboat Key dog owner starts a movement to seek a dog beach on the island.

• West Manatee and Cedar Hammock fire districts begin a merger study.

• The Bradenton City Council decides not to pursue a ban on horses on the Palma Sola Causeway after learning that it is Florida Department of Transportation right of way.

• The first phase of restoration at the FISH Preserve in Cortez is completed and hikers and kayakers are invited to explore it.

• Agnelli Pools & Spa Dolphins are crowned flag football Super Bowl champions.

• Four qualify for three commission seats in Anna Maria, and Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt decides not to run. "It ain't me babe."


• Five candidates qualify for three commission seats in Holmes Beach.

• Bradenton Beach commissioners approve a café, gift shop and pergola for the Tortuga Inn.

• Greg Spahn, the son of baseball legend Warren Spahn, offers Infield, one of the remaining "baseball houses" in Anna Maria to the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. Play ball.

• There were no qualifiers for Bradenton Beach's Ward 3 commission seat and no challengers for the mayor's seat or the Ward 1 commission seat.

• Ruth Uecker starts an effort to establish a dog beach on the Island.

• Anna Maria commissioners agree to poll residents on removing the Australian pines at Gulf Front Park.

• More than 1,000 bikers participate in a Sept. 11 remembrance ride marking the10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

• Rare green turtle nest hatches on Coquina Beach and yields 95 baby turtles.

• Friends rescue C.J. Wickersham after a shark attacked him in the Gulf of Mexico. "I get by with a little help from my friends."

• Long distance swimmer Diana Nyad is forced to end another attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West due to jellyfish stings.

• Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach officials plan to attempt to settle a dispute over a gate added to a fence along the boundary between the cities on 27th Street North. "Good fences make good neighbors."

• Anna Maria closes on the purchase of the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

• Jose's Real Cuban Food in Cortez is featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" on the Food Channel.

• Anna Maria Elementary students celebrate 10th Annual Peace Day. "Give peace a chance."


• Shark bite victim C.J. Wickersham comes home to Longboat Key after six days at Bayfront Medical Center.

• Holmes Beach residents express frustrations to commissioners over problems with vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.

• The Anna Maria City Pier project, which included a boardwalk with benches and lights, new shelter with benches and picnic tables and a new parking configuration, is completed.

• After hearing a presentation on consolidation from their chiefs, West Manatee and Cedar Hammock fire commissioners give themselves 90 days to decide whether to pursue the issue. However, a week later, Cedar Hammock commissioners send it down in flames.

• Manatee County commissioners vote adopt a no-kill policy for pets brought into shelters.

• The 11th annual Bayfest on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria was blessed with cool weather and great crowds.

• Stone crab season begins.


• Holmes Beach commissioners initiate a dispute resolution proceeding against the city of Bradenton Beach over a gate installed along 27th Street between the two cities.

• Longboat Key commissioners vote to create a committee to explore the establishment of a dog beach on the island.

• A crackdown on owners of short-term rentals that violate city ordinances has owners upset.

• Holmes Beach business owners form the Holmes Beach Merchants Association.

• Darcie Duncan, owner of Duncan Real Estate Inc. in Anna Maria is named the Island Rotary Club's Business Person of the Year.

• Art lovers delight in artsHOP activities including a gallery walk, a play, a vintage boat show, a concert and a drum circle.

• Incumbent Commissioners Dale Woodland and John Quam and former mayor SueLynn win commission seats in Anna Maria, and incumbents Pat Morton and David Zaccagnino and newcomer Jean Peelan win commission seats in Holmes Beach.

• Anna Maria Commissioners Gene Aubry and Jo Ann Mattick each present plans for the six lots the city purchased at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

• The annual SandBlast sand sculpting contest sponsored by Keep Manatee Beautiful moves from the BeachHouse in Bradenton Beach to Manatee County Public Beach in Holmes Beach.

• After hearing residents' pleas, Anna Maria commissioner agrees not to remove any Australian pines at Gulf Front Park.

• A developer buys the beachfront property on Gulf Drive North in Bradenton Beach once owned by GSR Development.


• Students in art clubs at Southeast High School and Manatee School for the Arts paint colorful murals on blank walls at Manatee County Public Beach.

• A weekend of activities includes Anna Maria's Holiday of Treasures open house, which attracted 1,500 people to the city, the Privateer's Christmas Parade and Winterfest Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts.

•The Cortez Yacht Club's Holiday Lighted Boat Parade was a record breaker.

• Holmes Beach commissioners draw a packed house with a work session on rental issues.

• Holmes Beach commissioners offer a settlement proposal to Bradenton Beach commissioners to resolve a dispute regarding a gate installed along 27th Street between the two cities.

• WAMi radio at 1700 AM is ready to air on the Island on New Year's Eve at 10 p.m. It will play commercial-free music from local musicians throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties.

• Sabine Musil-Buehler is still missing.

Vital need served by Food Pantry

Roser Church Food Pantry Coordinator Pam Leckie processes
food donations with the help of Charles Wade, church custodian.



ANNA MARIA — It's called the Roser Food Pantry. It's the vehicle through which Island residents are feeding their neighbors who have fallen on tough economic times.

It's a community-wide effort involving school children, seniors, Boy Scouts, the churched and the unchurched and a wide array of Island people just quietly giving each other a hand.

For this reason – for the work it does to feed the hungry on our Island and for the Island-wide effort to provide for people who need help – The Anna Maria Island Sun has selected The Roser Food Pantry as our Organization of the Year.

Who does the Roser Food Pantry serve?

The food pantry serves any Island resident who needs help with groceries.

"We see people of all ages," said Charles Wade, the church's custodian. "Sometimes it's a family with young children. Sometimes it's an elderly couple or a single person in their 20s or 30s. Everyone needs help sometimes."

The food pantry works with people who've been laid off from their jobs. They work with people who are employed in the tourist industry such as wait staff, cleaners and desk clerks, who can fall behind during the off season when their hours are cut.

In serving this broadly varied group of Island residents, the food pantry gives out as many as 200 bags of groceries a week.

"Sometimes when it's slow, we might only give out a hundred bags," noted Pam Leckie, volunteer coordinator of the food pantry.

Each member of the family gets a bag, according to Leckie.

And when there is a family with young children, they are given a $10 voucher for Publix so they can purchase milk and other fresh items that growing children need for a healthy start in life.

The captain and BP

"People need to know that anyone, and I do mean anyone, can fall on hard times," commented Roser Pastor Gary Batey. "These are not lazy people or bums looking to live off their neighbors."

Batey related the story of a fishing charter captain whose luck took a hit broadside during the BP oil spill.

"He was really hurting," Batey said. "He was losing his house and his boat. He came to us for food, and we were able to help him during the weeks while he was waiting for his BP settlement check to come in."

Finally, that check did arrive, and the first thing the captain did was to go to the Roser office, write out a check for $1,000 and donate it to the Roser Food Pantry.

Giving back

That giving back is by no means unique, according to Wade, the Roser staff member who works most closely with the food pantry patrons.

"Almost everyone wants to express appreciation," he said. "They might not have any money to donate, but they volunteer to help in other ways."

There is a men's group that meets on Tuesdays and helps out with painting or yard work or cleaning.

"We get people who've been given food helping the men's group all the time," he said.

Then there are the people who begin contributing non-perishable food items to the pantry themselves when they're back on their feet.

"Everyone wants to pay it back," Leckie said. "These are good people we help."

Faith test

One of the unusual things about the Roser Food Pantry is that there is no faith test required by people who need food.

"If they're hungry, they get food," Batey said. "It's not up to us to tell them what to believe. We at this church feel called to help regardless of whether or not they believe as we do."

If someone does want some prayers of spiritual comfort, that's available, but no one pushes it on the pantry patrons.

Community support

The Roser Food Pantry is supported by All Island Denominations, an organization of all the Island churches. Members of the various churches collect food and bring it regularly to the pantry's new headquarters on Pine Avenue across from the church at the other end of the building that houses the Roser Thrift Shop.

"And we have 40 regular volunteers who help fill the bags with food," Leckie said. "They come from all the various churches, and some are not connected with a church at all."

Leckie said the pantry maintains a close connection with Publix, which really helps.

"We can take advantage of their two-for-one sales when we have to fill in with non-perishables we purchase during the summer when donations are down," she said.

"They also allowed us to put a barrel in the store during holiday times to collect for the food pantry."

Formerly, the contents of the donation barrels in Publix went to off-Island charities.

"Barry Gould really helped us with that," Leckie said.

And if you're a member of the Kiwanis Club or the Rotary Club, you'll be used to bringing a can or box of something to each meeting that gets passed onto the food pantry.

The Moose Lodge collects nonperishables as well and regularly brings several big boxes of food to the pantry.

"Now, we have the business community helping out, and it's wonderful!" Leckie noted. "They collect donations for us at their porch parties or other events like they did at the holiday open house on Bridge Street. Caryn Hodge really got that going."

How can you help?

Anyone can donate nonperishable food items to the Roser Food Pantry. You can drop goods off at the Moose Lodge, at the church or at other locations around the Island.

Cash also is needed to provide the vouchers to Publix and to supplement the food stock when it's running low.

Make checks payable to Roser Food Pantry and mail or bring them to Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Avenue, P.O. Box 247, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

Need food?

Call Cyndy at the church office 778-0414, and she'll help you make arrangements.

Island loses Jackie Webb

HOLMES BEACH – Jacqueline Lovett Webb touched many lives on Anna Maria Island and beyond until her death last week at age 86.

Webb, born Feb. 3, 1925, in Wrightsville, Ga., passed peacefully in her sleep on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. She is survived by her three children, Paulette, Joseph and Benjamin, and five grandchildren, Erica, J.D., Joey III, Nicole and Ben Jr.

For the kids

Mrs. Webb gave Island kids a place to go in the 1980s when she converted Webb's Island Pharmacy into Webb's Island Arcade, a recreation center with pool tables and pinball machines.

"She knew it wouldn't make any money," said her son, Joe Webb, "but she did it for the kids of the Island."

A longtime deacon at Roser Memorial Church and a librarian at Bradenton Christian School, Mrs. Webb and her husband, J.D. "Doc" Webb, took over the Island Pharmacy in Holmes Beach in 1954, located where the Sand Dollar Gift Shop now stands.

"Mom and Dad used to sit out front in beach chairs" to welcome the one or two customers that came in each day, her son, Joe Webb, said, recalling the store's soda fountain with its chrome swivel stools.

The new place

In 1962, Doc Webb built a new store, Webb's Island Pharmacy, for $6,500 in the 5900 block of Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, where the cell tower now stands. He jokingly called it the "No Gate Shopping Center," a reference to the West Gate Shopping Center in Bradenton, Joe recalled.

Webb owned a chain of Rexall Drug stores at the time of his death in 1982, but Webb's Island Pharmacy could not compete with Eckerd Drugs when it opened on the Island, and the store was sold to the chain in the late 1980s.

The Webbs first came to Anna Maria Island in the early 1950s from Georgia. Jackie attended Georgia Women's College, graduated from the University of Georgia and earned her master's degree in social work at Tulane University. She worked in social services and worked for DeKalb County and Washington County, Georgia.

In 1953, she and her husband and their young daughter, Paulette, visited Jackie's parents, Fred and Polly Archer, on Anna Maria Island; Polly worked as the Holmes Beach city clerk for many years. When they left, Paulette recalled, her dad said he would never come back because it was hot and full of mosquitoes.

A new job

The next year, Webb graduated from the Mercer School of Pharmacy in Atlanta and answered an ad in the Atlanta newspaper for a pharmacist in Florida. When he called about the job position, Charles Mundell, of Arcadia, told him it was on a "tiny little island in the Gulf called Anna Maria."

"Mom and Dad about fell over backwards," Joe Webb said.

He took the job.

At the time, Fred Archer was developing Laguna Maria between Oak Street and what is now CrossPointe Fellowship on Marina Drive, including Archer Way and Periwinkle Plaza. Archer dug the canal between Periwinkle Plaza and Oak Street and used the fill to raise the land for homes. Laguna Maria covered 17 acres adjoining Bimini Bay Estates on the north, Anna Maria Bayou on the east, Snapper Street on the west and what was then the Island Baptist Chapel on the south. Mrs. Webb lived in the family home on Periwinkle Plaza until her death.

Joe Webb fondly recalls pretending that he didn't see his mom running out onto the Manatee County Public Beach Pier and trying to get him and his brother, Ben, to come in out of the water and get to school.

It didn't work; the boys grew up and became professional surfers and watermen; Ben's son, J.D. Webb, named for his grandfather, is a pro wakeboarder.

Jacqueline was born with spina bifida, but never considered it a disability, nor did her family and friends. Still, her daughter, Paulette Webb, remembers her mom saying that without the condition, "she'd have been out dancing every night."

A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held at Roser Memorial Community Church on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria on Sunday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. with a reception following in the Fellowship Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Anna Maria Island Historical Society.

Discarded mullet washing ashore
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Dead white roe mullet littered
Beer Can Island
at the north end of Longboat
Key last week.

CORTEZ – This winter's mullet season has been so good that the fish are overflowing – literally.

Dead mullet are washing up on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key shorelines from both Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Mark Taylor, a former commercial fisherman who rakes the beaches on Anna Maria Island for Manatee County, said he cleaned up mullet along the Gulf beaches last week and from Bayfront Park in Anna Maria, calling it "wasteful."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received reports about the dead fish, spokesman Gary Morse said, adding that fishermen often discard unwanted fish, which is not illegal unless it creates a health risk.

Local fishermen say out-of-town fishermen are keeping the more valuable red roe (female) mullet and discarding the less desirable white roe (male) mullet, something most locals say they don't do. Others say it's more complicated than that.

Perfect conditions have produced so much mullet that both fish houses in Cortez have been overwhelmed. One December day, the street in front of A.P. Bell Fish Co. was completely blocked with trucks loading mullet for market.

This year has been "phenomenal," said Kim McVey, of Cortez Bait and Seafood, better than the previous record year of 2007, with the fish house buying ice daily for the past three weeks to keep the mullet fresh.

Nearly 99 percent of the fish have been processed for food with a tiny percent going for stone crab bait, she said, adding that the fish house has not discarded any fish.

But due to the glut of mullet, the fish house had to close intermittently last month.

"You can only handle what you can handle," she said, leaving fishermen with fish in their boats. "They can hold them for a day or two on ice."

But if they can't find a buyer, they may go to waste.

Fish houses closing all along the Gulf coast from Florida to Louisiana are partly to blame, said Karen Bell, of A.P. Bell Fish Co.

"Production got so high that with the price difference from females to males, we stopped taking males," she said. "We didn't have the capacity to run what they were catching. It's hard to say to people to slow up fishing, especially with the economy."

When fishermen catch too many mullet, they should immediately throw the white mullet overboard before they die, she said, but not all do, some waiting until they get to the dock to grade the fish, when they're already dead.

"It's kind of a shame," she said. "You hate to see something die for no reason."

Cast nets also are partly to blame for the problem, Bell said.

Gill nets, which are now illegal, allowed the males – which are smaller this time of year – to swim through the mesh, while cast nets catch everything, she said, adding, "The gill net fishery was a much healthier fishery."

Bell Fish discarded some gutted fish that were not good even for bait 20 miles offshore, far enough that they would not wash ashore, she said.

Local water quality was normal last week, according to reports, said Tom Larkin, director of the environmental division of the Manatee County Health Department, adding that the department has received no complaints about the fish.

To report a fish kill, call 800-636-0511.

State bill could cut city revenue

HOLMES BEACH - Holmes Beach could lose revenue if twin bills proposed in the Florida Legislature pass in the 2012 session, which opens on Jan. 10.

House Bill 4025 and Senate Bill 760 would eliminate Florida Statute Chapter 205, the "Local Business Tax Act," which allows cities to collect local business taxes called business tax receipts. If passed, the bill would take effect on July 1.

"If they're successful it will cost Holmes Beach $80,000 to $100,000 a year," Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said, adding that the city's operating budget is about $2.5 million. "It's a big chunk of change for a city like ours. If they reduce our income, we've got to make it up somewhere, and the only place we can get it is property taxes."

The city collects business tax receipts from about 1,700 businesses and rental properties, Bohnenberger said, adding that the state limits the amount of the fees. The annual fee for rental properties is $26.25 per unit (for example, a duplex owner would pay $52.50), and annual business fees range from $52.50 to $105. The funds are used to monitor businesses for compliance with local ordinances.

In addition to drying up a funding source for the city, the bill also imposes state control in an area where home rule should apply, he said, much as a state law passed last year prevented local governments without ordinances on minimum stay restrictions for rentals from passing such laws.

"Local government should decide what's good for local government," Bohnenberger said. "At the state level, they need to stay out of our city budgets."

The bill probably will pass, predicted state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, saying that it is designed to help small businesses.

The benefits to businesses outweigh the detriments to cities, he said.

"People are having a difficult time going to work," Bennett said. "Do we really have to pay a fee to go to work?"

Before a Holmes Beach resident asks a relative in Sarasota who's a plumber to fix his sink, the plumber has to get a business tax receipt from Holmes Beach, he said, adding, "A lot of people don't think that's fair."

Bennett is wrong, Bohnenberger said, adding, "We only charge a fee if the business is based in Holmes Beach."

"You have to have a business receipt if your headquarters are here, not if you're just doing business in the city," Holmes Beach Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said.

The Holmes Beach Commission does not meet until a week after the legislative session begins, Bohnenberger said, adding, "People need to contact their state legislative delegation."

Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key also collect business taxes. Bradenton Beach will lose about $50,000 in annual revenue if the bill passes, according to City Clerk Nora Idso. The Longboat Key Commission recently passed a resolution opposing the bill; the town collects about $165,000 annually in business taxes.

The city of Anna Maria stopped collections several years ago due to a glitch in adopting its ordinance. Manatee County does not have a business tax receipt program.

Contact your state officials

Sen. Mike Bennett
Wildewood Professional Park
Suite 90 Bradenton, FL 34210

Rep. Jim Boyd
717 Manatee Ave. W.
Suite 100 Bradenton, FL 34205

New book includes Rotten Ralph
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Lyn and Sharon Clarke have written a number of books
separately at their home in Bradenton Beach. He writes
recollections and she writes fiction and together they
publish their works and those of other authors in the area.


BRADENTON BEACH – Seven years after his death, "Rotten" Ralph Russell is still the talk of the town and his heroism has been documented in a new book recently released.

Lyn Clarke, of Bradenton Beach, recently published his fifth book, "Echoes in My Mind," and in it he talks about when Russell saved the life of a young man in a fiery car accident in 1999, while vacationing in Ireland.

"I knew Ralph from his restaurant and he told me the story about pulling the young boy from the car in Ireland," he said. "I asked his widow, Doreen, about (using) the story and she said yes."

According to Clarke, "Echoes in My Mind" is the fifth in a series of autobiographical books that starts with his life in Wales, where he was born, and then to England, Michigan, and finally, Florida. He said the reference to Russell goes for two to three pages in the book, which is a compilation of stories about Clarke and the people he has met.

Clarke has been writing for several years, since he retired, and his wife, Sharon, is also a writer. She also works at Paradise Café in Holmes Beach. He says after he published his first book, he decided to self publish the rest. Now they own Clarke Books, which also publishes other authors' works.

"I had an agent when I was trying to get my first book published and nothing happened so I asked to be released when my second book came out and I took over publishing it," he said. "Having somebody else be your agent and publisher doubles the expense."

Clarke Books has an arrangement with Amazon so his books get circulated through it, Kindle and Nook. Locally, his books are available at Ginny and Jane E's in Anna Maria, Paradise Café, Back Alley in Bradenton Beach and Circle Books on St. Armands Circle. He also arranges book signings on the Island and elsewhere.

Clarke, a self-described rugby, soccer, tennis and pool expert, returns to his home country on a regular basis, always looking for subjects for his books. The walls of his office in his Bradenton Beach home track some of his history, including a meeting with some of the Beatles while living in Liverpool. He met Sharon while living in Michigan.

"We moved here and got married on the beach," he said. "Sharon writes novels, historical drama."

His website,, lists the works by both authors. His include "Memoirs of a Welshman," "Ramblings of a Welshman," "Reflections of a Welshman" and "Amazing States: A Welshman's Odyssey in America." Sharon wrote "Mourning Redemption" and "Morgan's Crossing."

Clarke said Sharon always wanted to be a writer while he only started writing after he retired. He said despite the fact they were born in separate countries, there are some similarities in their lives.

"I took her to Wales and showed her the mountains," he said. "She said they reminded her of Pennsylvania, where she grew up."

Clarke will continue to write his memoirs with characters from where he has lived. His story about "Rotten" Ralph, though, might be most interesting to those who knew him and enjoy eating at the restaurant that bears his name at the Bridge Street Pier.

Local consultant turns author
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Rick Bisio works out of his office at home, and
he also travels to customers around the country.


BRADENTON BEACH – He's a best-selling author, although he's nowhere near Stephen King's numbers. His readers are more likely to learn how to make money from his book than get terrified.

Rick Bisio wrote the book, "The Educated Franchisee," because he felt it would make his job easier. He also wrote "A Glossary of Franchise Terms" and "The Franchisee Workbook" as study guides for his customers. Bisio is a franchise consultant who puts couples wanting to operate their own business with franchise opportunities.

"If they read the book, they understand more exactly what I'm doing," he said. "I wrote it for myself as much as my customers."

"I operate like an executive recruiter or a buyer's agent in real estate," he said. "When an individual or couple wants to run a franchise business, there are lots of things they need to know."

But before he can help them, Bisio needs to know a lot about them.

"What are your skills and what is your lifestyle," he said. "It's a matter of what they're good at or what they want to do and I need to put them into something that has a good track record and will be a good match."

Bisio said he can get an idea about franchise opportunities by how a franchisee, who has already opened a business, feels about it. If a franchisee is happy, then it's a good venture.

"Franchising is all about risk reduction," he said. "If it doesn't reduce the risks, then it's a waste of time."

Last year, Bisio was a finalist for Small Business of the Year in the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. He has been in franchising for 20 years and a consultant for 10, and during that time, he has traveled the world. He earned a master's degree in business administration from the Thunderbird School of International Business in Arizona and spent 10 years as a franchise director with AFC, the company that owns Popeye's Chicken, Churchills and Cinnabons. He then joined FranChoice, a nationwide network of 100 consultants. After three years there, he began writing "The Educated Franchisee."

He loves his work, especially seeing the results.

"I like working with people and matching them with opportunities," he said.

In addition to his consulting, Bisio volunteers some time at Bradenton Beach City Hall as chairman of the planning and zoning board and as a board member for the Tingley Memorial Library.

"That's my way of giving back to my city," he said,

For now, this best-selling author is happy knowing he is putting people together with opportunities that might make a positive difference in their lives.

You can reach Rick Bisio at or by calling 800-708-0040 or 941-778-4660.

Moerk publishes first book in second series


ANNA MARIA – It started with an opera and ended as the first novel in her historical Pastimes series, Island author Alice Moerk said of her new book, "Ain's Song," which was recently published by Pineapple Press.

"I started 'Ain's Song' mentally 15 years ago when I was writing my opera, 'Alainor,' about Eleanor of Aquatane in the 12th century, and it just grew," Moerk explained.

"Eleanor of Aquatane is my heroine. She's lambasted by critics and historians, but I couldn't see how anybody was that bad. I did some research and found a lady I really admired."

Moerk, who has a doctorate in musicology, said her musical studies focused on the Middle Ages, and when she was a college professor, she taught classes in music appreciation.

"One part of the class was history," she recalled. "The students had to go back before the 20th century, become a person of the times, write about that person and include the music of the times.

"As an example, I said I would live in the Middle Ages as a myopic singing barmaid. In the book, I became the barmaid and made her the illegitimate cousin of Eleanor. Their lives ran parallel and they met at the age of 8, which is where the book begins."

Moerk said the history in the book is accurate and most of the characters really lived during that time, but some are fictional. She is currently working on the second book in the series, which begins at the end of Ain's and Eleanor's lives.

"I have to do lot of historical reading, and I read about the Cathars," she said. "They were Christians in the south of France and did not believe in many things the Catholic Church taught. They were branded heretics and the church went after them with a vengeance

"The story wouldn't leave me because the persecutions were so awful. In the second book Ain's family leaves her for three different directions, and one is Provence, where the Cathars are."

She also is working on Book V of her new Found Souls series and is composer in residence at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

"I wrote a piece for the dedication of their new organ, a piece for Advent for voice and organ and a "A Christmas Proclamation" for voice and organ, which premiered on Christmas Eve," she said.

"In June, I will premier my folk musical, "A Mountain Mother Goose," at the West Virginia Folk Life Center in Fairmont, W. Va.

"Ain's Song," with a cover illustration by Joan Peters, of Peters Gallery in Bradenton's Village of the Arts, is the 2009 winner of the Florida National League of American Pen Women's award for best unpublished fiction.

Currently, Moerk's books are available on, at Island events or by calling Moerk at 778-7923.

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