Vol 8 No. 23 - February 27, 2008


Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper State likes more sand for Island’s north end

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Prosecutor fired, not charged

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Supporters rally for dogs on trail

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Shooting suspect’s trial delayed

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Farmer’s market a first-time success

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Cortez Festival surpasses itself

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Code board finds violations in two cases

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper City must show cause in Gee suit




State likes more sand for Island’s north end

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – The state has opened the door toward getting some relief for the beaches on the north end of the Island. The only question remaining is whether the county will follow through.

In a memo to local renourishment officials, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Specialist Catherine Florko said that the state would be willing to cost share on a project that would go farther than the range monuments that defined the limits of renourishment along the beach.

The project in question is the one that the state and Manatee County would each pay half of the expense to put new sand on the beaches just south of and just north of Bean Point. During an information session at Anna Maria City Hall on Feb. 12, resident Joan Dickinson said a cove was forming along the beach where she lives, close to the Rod and Reel Pier. Her home was located out of the area where the county wanted to renourishment and she said that if they do stop short of her home, the cove would become more pronounced. At that meeting, Dickinson asked if the county could convince the state to move or replace the survey monument that defined the limit of the project so that her beach would get some sand.

In a memo to Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Department Director and renourishment specialist Charlie Hunsicker spoke of Dickinson.

"I would like to personally call the woman who spoke up first about her home, south of the R-1 monument, who challenged us in the first place to not accept the status quo and make the appropriate request," he wrote. "Thanks to her and the rest of the city council, we did get this surprising good news."

In explaining how the state could do the project outside of the monuments marking the limits, Florko said that the primary criteria for state cost sharing is critically eroded status (of the beach). She wrote that her office would start the critically eroded shoreline report revision process in May and her department would recommend that the area up to the Rod and Reel Pier be added to the list of critically eroded shoreline.

"It was a job well done by the resident (Dickinson) who spoke up and the county, which followed up on it," said Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford. "I’m glad the county took it a step further and found out it could be done."

The status of the renourishment, which would occur as early as 2011, is in doubt because of the expense the county would have to bear. According to Hunsicker, the county would have to borrow money to help pay its share of the projects and pay off the loan with the tourist tax the county collects.

Whitmore warned the city that many county commissioners appear to be balking at paying for that portion of the renourishment because of the small amount of tourism in that part of the Island. Barford is working to convince the county commission that Anna Maria needs renourishment.

"I’m going to keep in touch with the (county commission) chair (Jane von Hahmann) to see if we can get together and discuss it," she said, "I’d really like to get them out here and show them where the problem is."

Prosecutor fired, not charged

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – No charges were filed against an assistant state attorney, but he was dismissed Thursday for violating office policy on confidentiality when he allowed his brother to gain information on a case he was prosecuting against a Bradenton Beach woman.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Dennis Nales said Andrew Mikos facing trial on felony drug charges. David Mikos then approached Boyd and her boyfriend, Adam Dean Arling, at their Bradenton Beach home offering to get her charges dropped for $1,000.

David Mikos reportedly showed the two a cell phone picture of his brother, whom they recognized as the prosecutor, to make them believe he had the influence to make it happen.

Arling and Boyd told David Mikos they needed to think it over and when he left, they called Bradenton Beach police. Sgt. John Cosby went to their residence and when David Mikos returned, Cosby detained and questioned him.

During the interview, David Mikos told Cosby his brother did not know about the plot and was not involved. He said he was planning on taking the money and leaving town.

When the state attorney’s office found out about the case, they placed Andrew Mikos on paid suspension and made their own investigation.

Bradenton Beach Police Detective Lenard Diaz made an investigation of the case and concluded last week that no charges would be filed against Andrew Mikos but he did file charges of solicitation to grand theft against David Mikos.

Andrew Mikos had worked for the state attorney’ office since November 2004.

Supporters rally for dogs on trail

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Dog owners who want to be able to walk their pets on the Coquina Beach Trail got a boost last Thursday from City Commissioner John Chappie, who was mayor when the city joined forces with Manatee County to get a grant to build the trail.

"It was always our intent to allow pets on this trail," Chappie told the audience after Jim Merrigan asked the commission to support his cause. "When we partnered with the county, it was out intent to allow pets on the trail."

Merrigan, whose letter protesting the ban on pets appeared in last week’s issue of The Sun newspaper, said that as of last Thursday morning, the county had put up a new sign at Coquina Beach saying dogs were not allowed on the beach or in the parking lot.

"When the lifeguards told me that dogs were not allowed on the trail, I asked about the other dogs I saw there," he said. "We would like to use that portion where the trail is for our pets."

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, whose officers patrol the county beaches in the city, said that the county enacted an ordinance banning pets from the beaches.

"As of yesterday, there are no dogs allowed at the beach, in the parking lot or anywhere," he said. "What needs to be done is you need to get a hold of your county commissioner. Commissioner Carol Whitmore questioned the county attorney about the ban and was told that they would have to change the ordinance banning pets."

Chappie wanted the commission to send a letter to the county commission saying they support allowing pets on the trail, but Mayor Michael Pierce said they would have to address that at a future meeting after it gets on an agenda.

Following that, BridgeWalk Resort and Sun House restaurant owner Barbara Rodocker talked about the shortage of parking spaces and enforcing the two-hour limit on parking in the public lot.

"After consulting with the police department and public works, it appears that some of the parking spots have not been utilized to our maximum benefit," she said. "The solution involves signs telling people that there is a two-hour limit on the spaces."

Rodocker said the city should post signs at all of the entrances to the city telling them about the limit and then use the electric vehicle in public works to enforce the limit.

"Violators should have to pay a $35 fine, which could be more the longer they park over the limit," she said. "There have been several studies costing thousands of dollars and so far, there has been no solution to the problem. I think the city should begin enforcing the limit on March 1."

Rodocker, who is a member of the Historic Bridge Street Merchants Association, said that the merchants would like to have the city install more lighting on Bridge Street, "Florida Power and Light has said it could install more 70-watt lights on poles at no cost to the city except electricity," she said. "We could replace the bulbs with 200-watt ones and it would cost around $15 per bulb per month for the electricity."

Mayor Pierce said they would bring up the issue at a later meeting.


Shooting suspect’s trial delayed

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

The man who is suspected of shooting Island Mail and More owner Sue Normand on Dec. 5 has gotten a delay in his trial and the reason might be his mental condition.

The trial had been initially set for April 7 in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Diana Moreland, but she agreed to a request from Mark Koenig’s attorney to reschedule it for June 2. Koenigs, 54, faces charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer after he pointed a pistol at Manatee County Sheriff’s officers who had apprehended him on the beach near Fourth Street South, in Bradenton Beach. The officers opened fire on Koenigs, who has since recovered from his wounds.

The assistant state attorney prosecuting the trial said that her office anticipates a competency issue or possibly an insanity defense. Koenig’s public defender Peter Belmont said that Koenigs had seen a doctor, but the court has yet to order a psychiatric examination.

After Koenigs was jailed, he refused to talk with authorities about his actions. He apparently only opened up to his defense attorney. Witnesses in the shopping center where Normand was shot said that Koenigs acted strangely the morning he entered her store and shot her. He came in with a small box and laid it on the counter. When Normand asked if he wanted to mail the box, he reportedly opened it, took out the small pistol and shot her once in the stomach. The bullet hit her pelvis and shattered it. Since then, she has been unable to walk for any period of time and then only with a walker. She uses a wheelchair and while she was waiting to have an elevator installed in her elevated house, she stayed in rental units donated by generous Island property owners.

A Web site has been set up for Normand, who faces medical and related expenses and was uninsured at the time of the shooting. Go to www.supportsue.com for information on donating to help Normand.

Meanwhile, Koenigs remains incarcerated on a $2.4 million bond.


Farmer’s market a first-time success

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The bright red of fresh Manatee County tomatoes stood out under the produce tent and the smell of mushrooms topped with tomato and basil wafted throughout the empty lot on Bridge Street as hundreds of people showed up to look and shop.

It was the first-ever Bridge Street Farmer’s Market and organizers are calling it a success.

"We had more than 35 vendors," said Caryn Hodge of the Chiles Group, a member of the Historic Bridge Street Merchants Association and an organizer. "We have had vendors come to us today to sign up for the other two farmers’ markets."

There will be more – March 29 and April 26 – and the merchants on Bridge Street appeared to be doing a good business as well.

One of the more interesting vendors was Del Harley, who was selling Changes: a Starter Kit. The kits were boxed in recycled packaging and they contained items such as an Arbor Day barely-out-of-the-seedling-stage tree, treeless writing paper, a gratitude card, a package of Fair Trade cocoa and a reusable cloth shopping bag.

"We call it a feel-good, go green kit," she said.

Connie Rosko, owner of Connie’s Produce on Cortez Road W., was there with an assortment of veggies and fruit. There was a kid’s area in a corner of the lot where Dana Schnell entertained the kids with lawn games and Hula Hoops.

In another corner of the lot, next to the hot dog vendor, assistant chef Patrick Bowles from the BeachHouse was giving cooking demonstrations and handing out samples in the morning. Chef Darrell Mizell from the Sun House came later to demonstrate his techniques and share recipes.

“Every vedor did well,” Hidge said. “Police estimated 1,000 people were there throughout the day.”

Hodge said that the hot dog vendor volunteered to coordinate the other vendors, which would take a load off the Bridge Street Merchants. She said she is already planning the next farmers market.

“I plan on having more produce vendors and more plant vendors,” Hodge said. “That’s what people said they wanted more of, so we’ll do it.”


Cortez Festival surpasses itself

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – The 26th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival surpassed previous attendance records last weekend with an estimated 14,500 paid visitors and gross sales of $205,000, up from $180,000 last year, according to treasurer Karen Bell.

Festival proceeds are used to purchase and restore property in the 95-acre FISH Preserve on Sarasota Bay, including removing invasive plants and trash and planting native species.

Cortez Community Service Recognition Awards were presented at the festival to Roger Allen, Sam and Kaye Bell, John and Carole Brigham and John McDonald for their help getting the new Florida Maritime Museum operational and to Ed Niezpodziany and Janet Diseroad for their help with the fishing festival.

Allen, the museum’s site coordinator, has overseen all aspects of the museum’s creation, from the restoration of the 1912 schoolhouse to the acquisition of two historic buildings – the Burton/Bratton store and the Pillsbury Boatworks – that were moved to the museum site.

The Bells spent several months identifying people in historic Cortez photographs and computer scanning them, and assisted with the "Families" section of the exhibit. McDonald gathered important artifacts from the community and produced the "Commercial Fishing Timeline" in the exhibit. The Brighams helped move and catalogue the museum’s library collection.

Niezpodziany and Diseroad, both teachers, have volunteered for several years running the educational Cortez Film Festival during the fishing festival.



Code board finds violations in two cases

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – The code enforcement board found David Sandoro, of 6210-6214 Marina Way in violation for doing work without a permit and for not cleaning up trash and yard debris in a timely fashion.

The first case came to the board in December. At that time, Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall said Sandoro had a window installed and plumbing and electrical work done without obtaining permits. She also said due to clutter, the building inspector was unable to inspect for the plumbing and electrical violations.

Board members voted to continue the public hearing to allow time for Sandoro, who maintained that he replaced two windowpanes but not the frame, to find the bill for the glass and allow another inspection of the appliances.

At last week’s hearing, Hall said Sandoro had not produced a bill or allowed an inspection.

Sandoro’s attorney, John Fleck, maintained that Building Inspector Bob Shaffer had not testified truthfully at the December hearing, therefore, they had lost all faith in him and would not allow him to re-inspect the property. Fleck produced a signed statement from a handyman that he had replaced two windowpanes.

Testimony gets testy

Chairman Don Schroder asked why Sandoro did not ask for another inspector from the city.

"We feel our rights have been violated clearly," Fleck responded. "Mr. Sandoro does not have to willy-nilly open his property for anybody who wants to come in. It’s not proper for the board to try and pressure him into allowing somebody into his house."

"In my experience, people who take that kind of position have something to hide," board member Chuck Stealey observed. "We’re just trying to gather the facts to make a decision. What is the problem with allowing the city inspector to verify the facts?"

"That’s the position of totalitarian governments and that’s what this country was founded against," Fleck retorted. "Anybody who has fought and died for his country has fought against the position that the Soviet Union and all Communist countries take that …"

Schroder pounded the gavel, told Fleck to stick to the issue, restated his question and noted, "I think you’re off-base. I’m not going to argue with you."

"You denied Mr. Sandoro’s rights and taken an adversary position with me, and you think we’re going to sit here and feel like we got a fair hearing?" Fleck replied. "You have done nothing but show your bias."

This prompted new board member Michael Faarup, a contractor, to ask everyone to "cool down." He then pointed out that having a handyman do work on a rental is illegal because the code requires a licensed contractor.

Fleck then said Faarup should step down because he is a contractor, which is a conflict of interest. City Attorney Jim Dye said state statute calls for a contractor on the board.

Making a decision

Dye said the evidence is in conflict and the board has to decide whether to believe Hall and Shaffer or Sandoro.

Board Attorney Michael Connolly said there are three possible permit violations –plumbing, electrical work and window installation.

"He did indicate to us that a handyman had done the work (on the window)," Hall testified. "He told us that the work (plumbing and electrical) had been done and he was more than willing to work with the city to acquire permits or do anything he had to do."

Faarup pointed out that the plumbing and electrical work are life safety issues.

All board members except for John Wize agreed that there are three violations.

"I don’t agree on the plumbing and electrical," Wize said. "If there was evidence, there would be no need for a second inspection."

The board found Sandoro in violation on all three issues and gave him until March 6 to correct the violations, ordered him to pay all fines and penalties for doing the work without a permit, obtain permits or remove the work and pay the city’s costs of $250.

Second case

The second case involved Sandoro and yard debris and trash at the same addresses.

Hall said the complaint was filed in October and she contacted Sandoro to remove the trash. On Nov. 1, Hall called Waste Management and learned that Sandoro’s properties are on stop service for non-payment.

She said she sent a notice of hearing on Nov. 8, and by the end of December, the yard was mowed and cleared of most debris except a damaged awning. She said as of the morning of the hearing, the awning material as well as some other material remained.

"The property abuts Seaside Gardens recreation common area, so this is their view," Hall said. "There has been continuous issue with this property going back to March 2005."

New board member Rose Quin-Bare pointed out that it is mandatory for property owners in the city to have garbage collection, but Dye said that Sandoro was not cited for that.

Fleck said Quinn-Bare should disqualify herself from the board because she used to work for Waste Management.

"I will not benefit economically by anything I’ve said," Quinn-Bare responded.

Connolly pointed out that she is retired from the company.

Violation corrected

Stealey asked, "If the violation has been corrected, is the city still asking for a finding of violation?"

Connolly said according to the code, "If the violation is corrected and then re-occurs or if it is not corrected by the time specified by the code inspector, the violation may be presented to the code enforcement board, even if the violation has been corrected prior to the hearing."

Sandoro testified that he left the awning in place because he had filed a claim with his insurance company and had to wait for an inspection. He said an insurance representative came a week ago and he had the awning cut up for removal.

Stealey asked Sandoro why he left the debris and trash in the yard for two months.

"I was somewhat derelict for not removing them on a timely basis," Sandoro replied. "I’ve been overwhelmed with family issues. I became overwhelmed with my property and the maintenance and upkeep."

Dye said the city is seeking a finding of violation because of the nuisance issues and on-going nature of the problem. He said if it happens again in the future, he won’t have to come before the board but can act immediately.

"Consider he has greatly improved the property, cleaned up the mess, taken care the problem," Fleck countered. "Consider common sense."

The board found Sandoro in violation by a unanimous vote and gave him until March 6 to remove the remainder of the debris and pay the city’s costs of $200.


City must show cause in Gee suit

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — The city has been ordered to show cause for its action in approving several variances for the Olesen residence at 504 South Bay Blvd.

Judge Paul E. Logan reviewed a petition filed by Ricinda Perry, the attorney for Laura Gee, who is suing the city for granting those variances.

Logan’s review found that Gee has demonstrated preliminary basis for relief. Now the city must show cause as to why relief should not be granted.

Gee is suing the city because they approved variances at the troubled Olesen property, which is just to the south of the Gee property.

Olesen sued the city after construction on his remodeling job was halted by a former building official. That lawsuit resulted in a mediation agreement between Olesen and the city whereby eight separate variances were granted.

It’s Gee’s contention that the city commission approved those variances to avoid further litigation and not because the variances were warranted. She contends that the variances go against the city’s own cause.

Of particular concern to Gee is a variance that allows the Olesen’s air conditioning equipment to be placed in the setback just under her master bedroom window.

In a counter move, Darren Inverso, attorney for the Olesens, contends that the city is violating the mediated settlement agreement because the city has indicated that a certificate of occupancy will not be granted until a roof overhang and front issues are settled.

Gee claimed in her letter that both the front wall and the roof overhang are in violation of city codes. No variance was granted for either, and City Attorney Jim Dye has advised the city to withhold the CO until the issue is resolved.

Inverso further asserts that Gee has an illegal bathroom in her downstairs area.

The city’s date to show cause in circuit court is March 6.


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