The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 46 - September 10, 2014


Hot, and getting hotter
Carol Whitmore


Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon, along with other
officials, had to work to keep his composure during last
week’s commission meeting

BRADENTON BEACH – Summer may be winding down, but things are heating up in this little beachside community.

Thursday’s city commission meeting was a tense and turbulent affair that resulted in multiple city officials issuing emotionally charged remarks.

The meeting started on an off-note, when Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon introduced it as a work meeting instead of the regular commission meeting.

Recently hired City Clerk Gia Lancaster then delivered an unexplained emotional outburst that brought the proceedings to a temporary halt.

When the meeting resumed, the commission outvoted Shearon 4-1 on a previously-tabled $35,500 stormwater design expenditure.

Shearon’s composure reached a breaking point when Vice Mayor Jack Clarke asked City Attorney Ricinda Perry to revisit a commission decision reached in May that was supposed to result in commissioners receiving the same information that is sent to the mayor.

Clarke questioned why recent e-mail correspondence pertaining to city matters has been placed in the public read file rather than being forwarded to commissioners, as requested.

This triggered an emotional response from Shearon, who said, “It’s simple; if you only get half of something just request it.”

Shearon attributed the lack of shared information to an overworked staff that includes a clerk’s office bogged down by public records requests and a building department that is struggling to keep up.

“I don’t even get my e-mails. Sorry people, but this is what I am working with every day. You’ve got a city clerk…you saw her today, and then want more things done? Jiminy Christmas, we can’t even get through the basics,” Shearon said.

The visibly distraught mayor then sat with eyes closed, lightly pounding his fist on the dais until he regained his composure.

He became upset again when City Attorney Ricinda Perry suggested hiring a board certified labor attorney to help address verbal complaints made to her by members of the Public Works Department concerning the mayor.

She also suggested that the labor attorney could help evaluate the city’s “problematic” employee handbook.

Commissioner Janie Robertson said, “Are you saying we have employees that require legal counsel?”

Perry said, “I have a department head who’s lodged a complaint and two of his employees that have also made complaints, so yes, there is a personnel matter that needs attention. Given the complexities of the issues, it would be best for the city if we had a board certified labor attorney.”

When Perry tried to explain the nature of the verbal complaints, Shearon brought the discussion to an abrupt end.

“As chairman, I’m not going to allow this anymore,” he said, noting that he will not discuss the matter further until it is placed on an agenda for a future meeting or work session.

Before the meeting reached its conclusion, Commissioner Jan Vosburgh took offense to Shearon’s response to communications she has had with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to have a crosswalk installed on Gulf Drive, near the Runaway Bay condominiums.

Shearon asked to be copied on any communication Vosburgh has with FDOT, because the city is working on multiple projects that involve them and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Vosburgh reminded Shearon that he was already aware of her efforts. She then asked to be excused from the meeting.

“I don’t like to be at a meeting with a mayor who’s so angry at everybody,” she said, before she left.

DNA analysis could yield Sabine clues

ANNA MARIA – With a trial looming next month, detectives investigating the 2008 disappearance of an Island motel owner are working against time and hoping for a break.

It’s a long shot, but they may have just caught one.

Women’s underwear found last week by crews installing water pipes on the farthest end of the Island is being tested for DNA that authorities hope is connected to the case of Sabine Musil-Buehler, who went missing just before Halloween six years ago.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Detective John Kenney said Monday he hopes the results of the lab tests can obtained quickly. He said the department is spending a little extra to expedite the turnaround time of the testing.

The latest pieces to the Musil-Buehler puzzle surfaced when workers using heavy equipment on a water pipe project accidentally dug up some tattered clothing that turned out to be women’s underwear. The project is on land previously searched by the Sheriff’s Office after detectives learned that the man accused of murdering Musil-Buehler might have been spotted there following her disappearance.

Kenney brought in cadaver dogs to sniff out clues and earth movers to dig up suspect areas of the land.

Since then, Manatee County has been busy on the land, owned by Jack Fisk, installing water pipes to help alleviate a water pressure shortage on the north end of the Island.

One of the crew members, Lorri Yoder, who works for Spectrum Underground, first spotted the panties.

“I was cleaning the brush out and the panties had already churned to the surface,” Yoder said. “They were green and blue and they looked shredded and faded with a white band that said Hanes.”

The crew called the sheriff’s office and a deputy took them and forwarded them to Kenney. He sent them to a lab for the quick DNA testing. Authorities have not released when they hope to have the results.

Yoder said she was told the area where she found the underwear was where cadaver dogs indicated there might be something buried. She said she hoped this find might answer some questions people have been asking for the past six years.

Musil-Buehler’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, William Cumber, has been charged with second-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Anyone with information in the case is urged to call Det. Kenney at 941-747-3011, ext. 2216.

Thieves nab equipment valued at $13,000
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Submitted | SUN

Holmes Beach Police are looking for the occupants of the white Dodge Dakota pickup in this photo who stole fishing equipment and tools from the garage at 8000 Marina Isles at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29.

According to police, the truck stopped at the residence to load two freezers set out for Waste Management to take. While there, they entered the victim’s closed garage and stole the items, estimated to be worth $13,000. A neighbor’s security system captures the burglars driving away in the truck.

Anyone with information on the owner or the occupants of this truck can call the Holmes Beach Police Department at 941-708-COPS (2677) and ask for Detective Brian Hall.

Tips can be made anonymously with the Manatee County Crimestoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477).

Island Time remembers 9/11

BRADENTON BEACH – In memory and honor of the tragic events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001, the folks at Island Time Bar & Grill will host their fourth annual 9/11 memorial from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13.

“It’s our way of showing our appreciation for all the first responders,” said Island Time owner Bill Herlihy.

“We want our veterans, police officers, firemen and women, active military personnel, EMTs and others to know how much we appreciate what they do for their country and their communities. We don’t want to ever forget what happened, and we do this on the weekend so more people can attend,” Herlihy said.

In this spirit, Island Time will provide all veterans and first responders who arrive in uniform or show a valid ID with a complimentary, all you can eat, all-American buffet that includes burgers, hot dogs, sausages, picnic-style dishes, beer, wine and more.

The memorial event will also serve as a fundraiser for the Manatee County Emergency Services Memorial Fund that provides assistance to first responders and their families in the event of an injury or casualty suffered in the line of duty.

The public is invited to join the celebration and enjoy the $15 buffet. Festivities will include music, a 50-50 drawing, T-shirt sales, raffles, prize packages, and a silent auction that includes guest packages from BridgeWalk Resorts, the Island Time Inn and many other local businesses who want to show their appreciation.

All proceeds will go the local memorial fund, as will 100 percent of the net profit generated at Island Time during the four-hour period.

Last year’s event, which even included firefighters from Orlando, raised $2,500 and Herlihy hopes that figure will jump to $3,000 this year.

“If a firefighter from California shows up, they’re getting free buffet,” Herlihy said.

“The sponsors have really stepped up this year. We want thank Sysco for helping us with the buffet, and Gold Coast Eagle Distributors, Budweiser, Coastal Wine & Spirits and Transatlantic Wine & Spirits for donating the beer and wine and prize packages, including a Budweiser Beach Cruiser. We also want to thank Ross from Key Signs for the T-shirts,” Herlihy said.

Island Time Bar & Grill is located at 111 Gulf Drive S. in Bradenton Beach. Visit them online at

Anna Maria candidates report donations

ANNA MARIA – The primary election is over and candidates for city commission and mayor have filed their financial reports. So far, the lots and yards have been free of candidate signs, but that’s expected to change soon. Here’s what the candidates filed in their latest reports.

Mayoral challenger Dan Murphy did not bring in any money during July to add to the $450 he loaned his campaign in June. He spent $394.12 in June for qualifying and campaign essentials such as decorations, signs, banners and T-shirts.

Mayor SueLynn loaned her campaign $200 on June 11, spent $96 to qualify on the same date and got $50 from former mayor Fran Barford and her husband, George, on July 25.

City Commission challenger David Bouchard had no new activity for the month of July, according to the report he filed Aug. 11. He still had $52 of the $100 he loaned his campaign on June 12. He spent $48 to qualify.

Commissioner Chuck Webb got $50 from the Barfords to add to the $60 he loaned his campaign in June. He spent $48 to qualify and nothing else, according to his second report.

Commissioner Nancy Yetter got $50 on July 3 from Fran and George Barford, $25 on July 7 from former commissioner Christine Tollette, $200 on July 21 from Norman Mansour and $100 from Weld, Inc., the corporate owner of the Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants. That money supplements the $200 she loaned her campaign. The only money she spent, according to the reports, was $48 for qualifying.

Campaign fundraising picks up

According to the most recent campaign finance reports, donors are becoming more active in the Bradenton Beach Ward 4 city commission race between incumbent commissioner Jan Vosburgh and challenger Tjet Martin.

During the period of Aug. 1-29, Vosburgh received $3,650 from eight donors: Laurie Higgins, Karen Clarke, David Teitelbaum, Doreen Flynn, Island Time Lodge, Silver Surf Beach Resort, Bridgewalk Partners LLC, and the Bridge Tender Inn.

To date, Vosburgh has raised a total of $3,998, including a $348 loan to herself; and she has spent $297.20 on her campaign, including $200 on campaign T-shirts.

During the August reporting period, Martin received a single donation of $250 from Lee Ann Metz. Including the $80 she loaned herself, Martin’s campaign account total is $330, with the $48 qualifying fee as her only listed campaign expenditure.

As of Monday, the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website contained no August reports for the five commission and mayoral candidates in Holmes Beach.

Island voters prefer mail-in ballots

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office has released the final numbers for the Tuesday, Aug. 26 primary election.

The 22 percent total voter turnout on the Island was slightly higher than the 20.6 percent turnout countywide, with more islanders voting by mail than voting in person.

In all, 1,103 of Anna Maria Island’s 5,013 registered voters participated in the primary election, with 526 voters (10.4 percent) casting ballots on primary election day, 560 (11.1 percent) voting by mail or absentee ballot, and 17 (.003 percent) voting early.

In Precinct 301, 139 of Anna Maria’s 1,231 registered voters cast their ballots on primary election day at Roser Memorial Church. An additional 156 voters cast absentee/vote by mail ballots, and five residents voted early at off-Island locations. The citywide participation was 24.37 percent.

In Precinct 303, 170 of the 1,470 registered voters cast ballots at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Holmes Beach, with 155 absentee/vote by mail ballots cast and two early votes, for a precinct total of 22.24 percent.

In Precinct 305, at the southern end of Holmes Beach, 150 of the precinct’s 1,552 registered voters cast ballots at St. Bernard Catholic Church, compared to 178 absentee/vote by mail ballots and six early voters, for a precinct total of 21.52 percent.

In Precinct 307, 67 of the city’s 760 registered voters cast ballots at the Annie Silver Community Center in Bradenton Beach, with 71 absentee/vote by mail ballots cast, and four early votes, for a precinct total of 18.68 percent.

Voter participation is expected to increase during the Nov. 4 general election cycle, when Island voters will help decide a multitude of city, county and state races.

You can register to vote or request a vote by mail ballot at

Clerk in crisis

joe hendricks | sun

City Clerk Gia Lancaster made an emotional, but
unexplained, plea to commissioners Thursday night.

BRADENTON BEACH – City Clerk Gia Lancaster was absent from work on Friday and Monday after she made emotionally charged remarks at Thursday’s commission meeting.

Without any explanation, she told commissioners, “I am shocked and dismayed and I come before you to answer any questions you might have. My personal life is my personal life. I am here to do a job that I am confident I can do.”

Lancaster said that she had no money other than the change in her pocket, which she produced for all to see. She also mentioned that her aunt had fallen into a coma.

She said she came to the city hoping to make a difference in the community, but was now having second thoughts.

“I’m asking you to give me a vote of confidence. Please give me the opportunity to show you how I can be of benefit to the city,” she said to commissioners.

She told them she would be available Friday if her services were still desired. If not, she would return home to her family.

“Gia, we will handle it tomorrow,” said the mayor.

Lancaster then headed for the parking lot, followed by City Attorney Ricinda Perry, who requested a five-minute recess.

Lancaster said that initial criticism of her hiring and treatment by an unnamed public official contributed to her distress.

At Perry’s encouragement, Lancaster At Perry’s encouragement, Lancaster spent the rest of the commission meeting inside the administrative offices, accompanied by Perry and Police Chief Sam Speciale.

When the meeting resumed, no vote of confidence was given and no further discussion ensued, but Perry presented Vice Mayor Jack Clarke with a paycheck for Lancaster that required his or the mayor’s signature. A delay in syncing Lancaster’s bank account with the city’s automated payroll system reportedly led to a delay in her getting paid.

No timetable for her anticipated return has been given. A labor attorney is assisting the city and Lancaster in the matter and no further details have been disclosed.

“This is a private employee matter, and as such, we will not be providing any further comment,” Perry said Friday afternoon.

“The clerk has requested the city’s assistance and we are providing it,” Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said Friday afternoon. He attributed the matter to personal issues and not a work-related conflict.

Lancaster also failed to report to work on Thursday. The borrowed moving van she used to transport her personal possessions to the area was towed, and a dead cell phone hindered her efforts to retrieve the vehicle and report to work, according to Perry.

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