The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 29 - May 8, 2013


Sublime time at Wine on Pine
Carol Whitmore

An estimated 10,000 people turn out for Food and
Wine on Pine in Anna Maria to sample some of
the area’s finest food and drink.

ANNA MARIA –Thousands flocked to Pine Avenue Saturday to sample the best in food, wine, beer, music and art that the area has to offer at the third Food and Wine on Pine event.

“We expected 2,500 people and the Sheriff’s Office deputies said there were 10,000,” said event organizer Caryn Hodge, of the Chiles Group. “I was so excited about the turnout; people came from all over. It was a great day.

“All the vendors said people were really interested in the wine and food, and the artists and music were fabulous. I had 150 volunteers who were just wonderful, and the people from CrossPointe were there all day doing what they do best – service.”

“The concept was to do something to showcase the best our area has to offer,” event founder Ed Chiles explained. “I’m so impressed with the quality of everything – the restaurants brought their A game, the music and art were fabulous, there were things for the kids and the historical characters imparted a sense of history.”

“The greenest little Main Street in America sure knows how to put on a party. This happens because of Caryn and her captains and troops of volunteers. They were superb. It was so well organized. It’s a classy event that people go to and say, ‘Wow.’”

Food vendors impressed

The booth of the Waterfront restaurant, of South Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria, was one with a long, steady line of people throughout the day. Owner Jason Suzor said one thing that made the event special was the food vendors that offered was so different from what is usually offered at festivals.

“It was a wonderful event, and there was a lot of great food,” Suzor said. “It was hard work, but a lot of fun. Caryn and her group did a really nice job. I heard a lot of great comments from people.”

Adam Ellis, of the Blue Marlin restaurant on Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, said, “It was good day. We had a crowd all day and sold out of food. It was very well organized, and everything we wanted we got.”

Sean Murphy, of the Beach Bistro and Eat here, said, “It was a great event and it was nice to see so many neighbors. Ed and his staff did a great job of publicizing and developing it.”

Steve Traves, owner of AMI Outfitters on Pine Avenue said it was the best sales day of the year, and the event attracted a quality, refined group of attendees.

“We had a people counter and were thrilled to see 460 people come through the store,” Traves said. “It was a great event, and the people who did the work did a fantastic job. I would like to see more events where the street is closed to traffic.”

An army of volunteers

CrossPointe Fellowship offered not only a host of volunteers, but games for kids including the ever popular green slime event.

Ed Moss, pastor of CrossPointe, said, “We had a blast with the kids and adults. It was an honor to serve with Caryn and the leaders of Food and Wine and slime on Pine. They did an absolutely outstanding job of organizing the event.

“The best part for us was we love anything that brings the community together. I love watching friends get reacquainted and interact. It’s a really good thing to see people connect.”

Moss also thanked Roser Church for the use of its parking lot during the event.

Cindy Thompson, a volunteer who is well known for her festival organizing abilities, said volunteers began arriving at 4 a.m. to set up tents for vendors by 6 a.m.

“I was so proud to be a part of this event,” Thompson said. “I could not be more impressed with Caryn and the job she did. Everything was so organized.

“The entire community worked together and made something magical. It is the best event in Manatee County and then when it’s over, Ed gives all the money away.”

Historical figures

Priscilla Seewald was one of the volunteers who dressed in period costume depicting Island historical figures. Seewald, who played Lena Phelps, the Island’s first school teacher, said, “I was amazed.

People were so interested in everything we said. They were so responsive. It was a great experience.

“The vendors were wonderful, and there was music for everyone from oldies to an Italian singer that I could picture on the back of a gondola. Whoever planned it did a very good job.”

Dusty Crane, a member of the AMI Historical Society who played Annie Silver, said, “It was a fun experience. It added flavor and depth to the event and brought enrichment to our history.”

Her husband, Jon, who played baseball great Warren Spahn, said he got the most reaction out of people who were interested in baseball and wanted to talk about the game and players.

Hodge said the event was dedicated to Carl Miller, who for the past two years played John Roser, but passed away since last year’s event.

“He played the part with so much relish,” she said. “He researched the character and was so enthusiastic and a joy.”

Chiles presented a framed photo of Miller in costume as John Roser to his wife, Ilene, at the event.

Hodge reminded readers to save the date – the first weekend in May – for next year’s event.

Feds to take over Coastline Realty case

HOLMES BEACH – The pile of complaints against Michael Carleton, who owned Coastline Realty, have been transferred to the Postal Inspection Service.

Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer said Monday the investigation by his department had been completed and they turned the case over to the Post Office and the U.S. Department of Justice.

“When criminal charges are filed, Michael Carleton will be charged with federal charges and prosecuted in the Federal Court System,” Tokajer said in a press release.

Holmes Beach Detective Brian Hall investigated more than 60 individual complaints against Carleton from people who said they put down payments on rental homes with Carleton, but were never allowed to stay in those homes. Some said Carleton told them just before they left for Anna Maria Island that the home they had rented had problems and was not available. Other customers claimed he took a long time to return their deposits and some claimed he still owes them money.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Brockman said she is relieved to hear the investigation of Carleton is continuing. She said many victims contacted the Chamber when they found out their accommodations were not available and Chamber personnel spent a lot of time looking for alternate homes or units for them, often when all the rooms on the Island were full.

“I’m afraid he’s already taken money for rentals next year from people who don’t know what went on,” she said. “I just wish he was stopped so we could make it right. We can’t make it right when every room is taken.”

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Real Estate suspended Carleton’s license for a year in February.

Brockman said during the height of the problem, they were looking for renters who found out their rooms were unavailable on a daily basis.

Brockman said she was afraid his website was still on, although a check by The Sun showed it was no longer available.

Anybody who has made an arrangement for a room or vacation home through Carleton is advised to contact the Chamber at 941-778-1541 to get a recommendation for another rental agent. If they paid money down on an accommodation, they should contact Carleton to demand their deposits be returned.

The phone number for the Holmes Beach Police Department is 941-708-5804.

Rotten Ralph’s to leave pier

BRADENTON BEACH – Bradenton Beach commissioners voted last week to terminate the city’s concession agreement with Dave Russell to operate Rotten Ralph’s restaurant on the Bridge Street Pier.

After negotiating with Russell over the amount of unpaid rent, late fees and other charges the city claims he owes, the commission voted 3-2 to accept $15,000 with the provision that Russell pay a past due garbage bill of approximately $14,000 that the city otherwise would be liable to pay, and vacate the premises.

Mayor John Shaughnessy, Commissioner Gay Breuler and Commissioner Jan Vosburgh voted in favor while Vice Mayor Ed Straight and Commissioner Ric Gatehouse were opposed.

The city calculated last month that Russell owed $266,000, including past due rent, retroactive rent increases and late fees, but last week offered to settle for $116,420.

Russell countered with four options: $15,000; $5,000 and some restaurant equipment; or all the restaurant equipment; all with a promise not to challenge the city’s termination of his concession agreement, or $65,000 on condition that he remain the concessionaire for at least 13 years, City Attorney Ricinda Perry told commissioners.

Russell had previously told the commission that he estimated he owed about $54,000, and that the late fees accrued because the city refused to take partial payments, which he said he offered to make. He also said he thought it was unfair to add retroactive rent increases to the bill. Perry has said the city is not allowed to accept partial payments under a law prohibiting municipalities from extending credit.

Neither Russell nor his attorney, Bill Kaklis, appeared at Thursday’s commission meeting. Russell did not return phone calls.

“I think it’s an insult to the city,” Mayor John Shaughnessy said, adding that he did not think that Russell was negotiating in good faith.

“Any other landlords that did not get their rent for almost a year would not be going through this discussion,” said Commissioner Gay Breuler, who suggested that the city accept the $15,000, evict Russell and attempt to collect the remainder of the debt. “We’ve been more than kind for quite a long time and this is not fair to our taxpayers.”

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse suggested accepting the $65,000 figure and offering a two-year lease followed by a series of two-year leases, adding that otherwise, the restaurant could sit empty for six to eight months.

“I think there will be people lining up to take it over,” Breuler said.

Gatehouse also pointed out that only 14 days of the 30-day negotiation period the commission had previously set had elapsed at the time of the meeting, Thursday, May 2.

The first two weeks of the 30-day period was intended for the parties to arrive at a mutually acceptable number and the latter two weeks was intended to give Russell time to pay, Perry said.

She recommended the commission set May 18 as the day by which Russell must vacate the pier.


Burglary sparks police reaction

ANNA MARIA – A burglary in progress can get law enforcement personnel to react quickly. It’s like catching a child with his hand in the cookie jar.

A recent incident on Tuesday night, April 30, just before midnight caused all kinds of reaction in the city of Anna Maria, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow.

It began as a burglary in progress at an apartment on Pine Avenue. A burglar reportedly got the screen off an outside window before being discovered.

The Sheriff’s Office responded with a helicopter for an aerial search, extra personnel to search on the ground and they even blocked access to and from Anna Maria on Gulf Drive, according to witnesses.

They also brought in a K-9 unit, which tracked from the apartment to the Anna Maria City Pier where there were two young men on the pier.

Bristow said they could not get an identity on the burglar and were unable to make an arrest.

Sgt Paul Davis, who heads the Sheriff’s Office division in the city, praised the other Island police agencies, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, for helping with the search for suspects.

“This is the first burglary we’ve had since I took over,” he said. “Our number one priority for the citizens of Anna Maria is to keep them safe.”

Davis said the witness was right to call 911 and he wants everyone to do so if they suspect something is amiss.

“If you have a gut feeling that something’s wrong, there’s a reason for that,” he said. “Call us. It’s better to be wrong than to end up a victim.”

He asked that anyone with information on the attempted burglary call police at 911 for emergencies, 708-8899 for dispatch.”

Davis said whenever there is a crime where the suspect might be on or near the scene, they will set up a perimeter in an attempt to catch him or her before they get off the Island. He also had a warning to those who come on the Island for illegal activity.

“Life is good,” he said. “God forbid you’re the one to spoil it.”

Sandpiper suit dismissed

With little discussion, Bradenton Beach officials unanimously approved a proposal last week by the city of Holmes Beach to file a joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit that Holmes Beach filed in May 2012 against Bradenton Beach and the Sandpiper Resort Co-Op Inc.

Sandpiper officials also are in agreement with the dismissal, said Mayor John Shaughnessy, a Sandpiper property owner.

Bradenton Beach attorney Ricinda Perry congratulated Shaughnessy for his efforts to resolve the case.

“It’s been a struggle,” he said, adding that he worked to resolve the dispute in the political arena rather than in litigation.

Attorney fees for the two cities had reached more than $35,000 by January of this year.

An action for declaratory relief was filed by Holmes Beach last year alleging that Sandpiper wrongly prevented Holmes Beach residents from using 27th Street as a shortcut to the beach by installing “no trespassing” signs and lockable gates in a fence along the street, which borders both cities.

The motion to dismiss had not been filed as of press time.

Wedding Festival was smaller, but better

tom vaught | sun

The fashion show at The Studio at Gulf
and Pine included dresses from Sarasota
Wedding Dresses and makeup and hair
from Salon Salon.


HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce officials Monday were assessing Sunday’s Wedding Festival, and while the numbers were down, the people who attended were willing to commit.

“The vendors said that even though there were fewer visitors, they felt the ones who were there were more in our target market,” said organizer Deb Wing, Chamber vice president.

Chamber President Mary Ann Brockman said that was their goal.

Some vendors were surprised when there wasn’t a rush after the festival opened like in past years, but that was most likely because the traditional fashion show at the Chamber parking lot was changed to two fashion shows near the end of the festival, according to Brockman. In the past, the attendees would crowd onto limousines and buses and head for the stations with vendors set up around the Island.

“She wanted all the focus to be on the members, not the Chamber,” Brockman said. “We wanted them to get out to those stations and meet the vendors instead of spending a lot of time in the Chamber’s parking lot.”

Those vendors reported a stream of attendees all day. The stations were set up at Gulf Drive Café, on the beach across from Tortuga Beach Resort, Harrington House Bed and Breakfast, Body and Sol Day Spa and the Studio at Gulf and Pine.

Holly Kitterman was looking at all the vendors in preparation for her wedding at the Manatee Historical Society on April 5, 2014.

“It’s great,” she said about the festival. “There’s a lot of information here.”

Sarah McWhinney was at the Harrington House with her girlfriends.

“I’m looking at everything,” she said. “That’s why I brought the girls with me to help.”

She is getting married on Oct. 25, 2014.

There was an assortment of wedding vendors including photographers, food and catering outlets, accommodations and wedding locations both on and off the street.

Six models – Ivonne Dunham, Lynda Bailey, Cindy Knowles, Ashley Chiles, Kelli Kary and Julie Snyder - walked the runway at The Studio at Gulf and Pine.

The event wrapped up with a mock wedding at the Gulf Drive Tiki on the beach.

Bridge survey hears familiar suggestions

tom vaught

The Florida Department of Transportation used maps,
charts and pictures as visual aids to help members of
the public attending the hearing understand the choices
for the future of the Cortez Bridge.


CORTEZ – As the bascule to the Cortez Bridge rises for boats and shuts for cars, the question is whether the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) would dare shoehorn a tall, fixed-span bridge into its place.

FDOT held a public information meeting to explain the options for the bridge’s future and collect citizen reaction on Tuesday, May 30, and a group of people who fought off an attempt to replace the Island’s other drawbridge with a fixed span 20 years earlier attended, looking ready as ever to be heard.

The subject of replacing either or both of the drawbridges from the mainland has been a touchy one since 1992, when an FDOT regional director told an astonished audience of Island residents that the Anna Maria Island Bridge, on State Road 64, would be replaced with a 65-foot-tall, fixed-span bridge and it was a, done deal.

That initiated the formation of Save Anna Maria (SAM), a not-for-profit activist group that hired its own attorney and finally defeated the effort due to FDOT’s lack of public information.

Today, the AMI Bridge still stands, although it will likely be replaced in a decade or two with a fixed-span bridge that got the majority of public approval at hearings a few years ago. FDOT has changed its ways and the hearing last week was part of the required method of defining the pros and cons of all options and selecting one that would work.

Unfortunately, one of the options was the fixed-span, which would have to be high enough for ships to pass beneath it and many feel the distance from Cortez to Bradenton Beach is too short to allow a safe bridge within those parameters.

Former Holmes Beach City Councilman Don Howard, who was for the fixed-span replacement of the AMI Bridge, was adamantly against doing the same to the Cortez Bridge. He said they worked out an agreement years ago with FDOT to allow the fixed span on the AMI Bridge as along as they promised not to do the same in Cortez.

“If you started the bridge at the (Cortez) Post Office, you would have to have side-roads,” he said, “and you would still have a bottleneck on the Island.”

Howard said he was trying to find a study they did about the economic and social impacts of a fixed-span at Cortez. He also said a third bridge running from 53rd Avenue on the mainland to north Longboat Key would be a good idea.

“I am desperately looking for that third bridge,” said Former Bradenton Beach City Councilman Jim Kissick, who used his engineering background to find reasons for wanting a bridge closer to ground level as SAM fought with FDOT. Kissick, a member of SAM, was a strong proponent for the third bridge, and he flew over the route as a private pilot and recommended where the bridge pilings should go.

“A third bridge would cut down the gridlock we get five months out of the year,” he said.

Former Bradenton Beach Mayor Katie Pierola, another SAM member, said when FDOT held a charrette to discuss the third bridge, it was a feeble attempt.

“That produced a 21-page report,” she said. “The study to replace the Anna Maria Island Bridge was thousands of pages long.”

Pierola said politics played a part in the rejection of the third bridge. She was also amazed they would hold the hearing in Bradenton, instead of on the Island.

Zach Zacharias, a Cortez resident, was also for the third bridge saying it would take a lot of the traffic away from the Cortez Bridge and make things quieter in the fishing village.

FDOT Public Information Officer Tom Sherrard said they are gathering information from the public on which option would fit their needs. The options include leaving the bridge as-is, rehabbing it, replacing it with another the same size, replacing it with a 35-foot-high drawbridge or the 65-foot-high, fixed-span.

Sherrard said the information gathering phase would last through next year and once they know what they will do, they will look for the money to accomplish the task.

Boston nurses remember bombings

tom vaught | sun

From left to right: Keri Fromme, Kerry LaBarbera,
Christol Cholewinski, Amy Peterson, Sandbar restaurant
owner Ed Chiles, Sandbar Assistant Manager R.D. Chaminski,
Beth DiTullio, Sarah Bauman, Kathleen McAndrew,
Maura Forbes and Jen Kelley pose on the beach at the Sandbar.

ANNA MARIA – The beach behind the Sandbar restaurant bears absolutely no resemblance to the scene at the end of the Boston Marathon April 15. That’s one reason nine nurses from Boston were celebrating their third annual trip to Anna Maria Island to celebrate Mother’s Day last Sunday.

This time, they came with the memories of the horrible bombings and the lives that were lost or torn apart.

The nine professionals gathered at the Sandbar Sunday for the Jazz Brunch and talked about the tragic event from their perspective.

Kathleen McAndrew said most of them were on duty at Boston Medical Center when it happened.

“Everybody was prepared for dehydration, exhaustion, low electrolytes or cardiac problems at the Marathon,” she said.

“We quickly found out about the incident by radio,” said Jen Kelley.

“We were told there was an explosion,” Sarah Bauman said.

McAndrew said their training prepared them for the unexpected.

“This is what we do,” she said. “We saw a lot of lower limb wounds from the schrapnel and there were amputations.

“We got 23 patients in within 40 minutes and 18 of them were missing limbs,” McAndrew added. “When the first person came in missing a leg, I said, ‘Oh my God.’”

Into action

McAndrew, who was in New York during the 9-11 terrorist attacks, said they knew what to do after the Boston bombings.

“Everybody knew what they had to do,” she said. “We had 10 nurses on duty and 20 more came back on duty to help and thank God they did.”

One of the nurses, Maura Forbes, ran most of the Marathon but had to drop out at 25.9 miles. The rest of her day she concentrated on being a nurse.

“I was concerned about what was happening to our medical personnel out there,” she said.

Despite the urgency, they concentrated on what was needed.

“I’m really proud of what the nurses did,” said Bauman. “It was a quiet chaos; there was nobody yelling or screaming.”

The nurses agreed they appreciate the help that they got after the patients were all treated. A group of Marine Corps amputees visited the patients who had lost limbs to help raise their spirits, and they gave the nurses gift cards. Therapy dogs were brought in for emotional support.

“We were thankful for their support,” Bauman said.

Asked if they had second thoughts as they fought to help the patients who were arriving in large numbers, Bauman said no.

“It’s something you are trained to do,” she said, “although it seemed at one time like an out-of-body experience.”

As for panic, she said they didn’t have time for that.

“The patients were very brave,” Kelley said. “Many people lost their lives and many lost limbs.”

McAndrew said many peoples’ lives were turned upside down. She said when she watched the bombings on television, she saw a lot of people she knew on a first name basis.

“It was a lot bigger event than I first thought,” she said, “I watched as the first responders ran toward the explosions while the public ran away. We always have a lot of medical personnel who train for the Marathon.

Boston Medical Center is a Level One Trauma Center, but McAndrew said it was a bit overwhelming. “In my 23 years in nursing, I have never seen anything like this,” she said. “Everyone did a great job.”

She said their trip to Anna Maria Island is a well-deserved vacation.

The nurses said after they got off duty, the city was on a lockdown. They said it was eerie seeing the empty streets, but none of them felt less secure.

As the waves lapped to shore behind the Sandbar, the women put memories of that tragedy behind them and relaxed on the shores of paradise to prepare themselves for whatever lies ahead.

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