The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 45 - July 29, 2009


N.Y. Times features AMI

HOLMES BEACH – A New York Times article last Sunday on the restaurants of Anna Maria Island had the Island Chamber feasting on requests for information Monday morning.

"A Florida Island, end to end, table by table," by Cindy Price, highlights the Sandbar restaurant, the Sign of the Mermaid, and the Rod & Reel in Anna Maria; Beach Bistro, Duffy’s Tavern and Skinny’s Place, in Holmes Beach; and Star Fish Company, in Cortez. She also wrote about Ginny’s and Jane E’s at the Old IGA, "a café and bakery that doubles as an unspeakably cute boutique."

The article pointed out that there are few chain restaurants on the Island and praised the Island for its laid-back style, "where you can dump the car, rent a bike, swim in smooth, teal waters and eat remarkably well."

Reaction was swift

"We have been seeing an influx of inquiries from New York," said Chamber President Mary Ann Brockman. "Our volunteers are preparing packets to mail out to them."

Brockman said she found out about the article from her son, Kevin, who lives in Los Angeles and read it on the Times’ website. She said the article will create more interest in the Island.

"I think this will really help the Fall," she said. "People like to eat and there’s that picture of the hamburger."

The Internet version of the story includes a seven-photo "slide show" featuring a sunset, a picture of the Sandbar’s gazebo and other local scenes, including an extreme closeup of a tasty-looking Duffy’s burger.

"I thought it was wonderful," said Bradenton Beach resort owner David Teitelbaum, who is the vice chairman of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council. "It was well written and it covered a lot of aspects that make the Island so wonderful."

Teitelbaum said the area has great restaurants, and that’s just one reason people come here.

The article is the product of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (CVB) efforts to attract travel writers to the area, according to Jessica Grace, marketing and public relations director for the group.

"We hosted travel and food writers at a culinary loft last year under the theme that it’s a great time to be a food writer," she said. "She came on her own and paid for her food and room herself."

Grace said part of the job of the CVB is to get the attention of travel writers.

"We’re constantly pitching different ideas to the different writers," she said. "The topics can run the gamut from food to resorts to the beaches."

Teitelbaum praised Gentry Baumline-Robinson of Hayworth Creative, the CVB’s public relations firm that worked with the author.

"She worked with Price for almost a year to get that article," he said. "Price took a keen interest in the Island and that’s why she spent her own money to come down here."

The article can be seen online at and search for Anna Maria Island.

Cafe patrons want county to back off
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD Hungry customers look over
the menu at Cafe on the Beach’s outdoor patio window.

HOLMES BEACH — More than a thousand patrons of Cafe on the Beach have added their names to a petition asking county commissioners to renew the lease with the current concessionaires at Manatee County Public Beach.

"I don’t see why they want to change things, when this place is so well run," said Sam Bauer, who was visiting the beach on Sunday. "They do a good job. The food’s good. The prices are good, the staff’s friendly and it’s always clean here."

Mike Knox put it more succinctly.

"If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," he said.

All but Commissioner Carol Whitmore voted to put out a request for proposals rather than sign off on a five-year extension to the lease with the current concessionaires.

Gene Shaefer and Dee Percifield-Shaefer have held the beach concession since 1992 under the name of P.S. Beach Associates.

Joan Bauer remembers when P.S. Beach Associates took over.

"You should have seen it here then," she said. "They have really done a great job. It’s a wonderful place now."

"We were expecting to have a renewal for another five years," Percifield-Shaefer said. "We’ve done a good job. I feel shocked. I just don’t understand this."

Commissioner John Chappie, who voted in favor soliciting new bids on the concession, said at an Island Kiwanis Club meeting July 25 that he will ask the county to reconsider the vote on July 28.

"I made a mistake," Chappie said. "I’ll make a motion to reconsider our vote to ask for bids on the concession at the beach."

Chappie said that under parliamentary rules, once a final vote is taken the issue cannot be reopened unless a commissioner who voted with the majority makes a motion to reopen the vote.

‘I’ll make that motion Tuesday," Chappie said. "We’ll need a second from another commissioner who voted in favor."

Commission Chair Dr. Gwendolyn Brown is expected to be absent from the meeting. Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who is recovering at home from surgery, will attend the meeting via conference call.

"Hopefully, we’ll have the votes to make the change and renew with the current concessionaires," Chappie said.

"I hope they do the right thing," Percifield-Shaefer said.

Shoreline anglers to pay more this Sat.

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
John Peerson

Fishing from the beach – as well as from many bridges, piers or docks – will require a saltwater shoreline fishing license beginning Aug. 1.

The $9 annual license – plus a handling charge at some outlets – will be required for saltwater anglers fishing from land or structures attached to land, or fishing in water accessed by land. The fine for fishing without a license is $50 plus the cost of a license and county fees.

Anglers with a $17 resident recreational saltwater fishing license are covered for shoreline fishing in addition to fishing from boats.

Fisheries regulators say the new licenses will help them survey more anglers and better monitor their impact on fisheries stock.

License fees are expected to raise between $1.8 million to $2.9 million annually, and will fund Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission programs for law enforcement, research, conservation and and management.

You do not need the new license if:

• you have a resident recreational saltwater fishing license.
• you are fishing from a pier that has a blanket license, such as the Anna Maria City Pier, Rod n’ Reel Pier or Bradenton Beach Pier.
• you are fishing in your home county with a pole or line not equipped with a line retrieval device.
• you are 65 or over and are a Florida resident.
• you are under 16 from any state.
• you are a Florida resident and a member of the U.S. Armed Forces not stationed in Florida and are here on leave for 30 days or less.
• you are eligible for food stamps, temporary cash assistance or Medicaid through the Florida Department of Children and Family Services.

The licenses are available at tax collectors’ offices, retailers such as sports outfitters or bait and tackle shops, or by calling 888-347-4356 or visiting

Structural inspection ok’d for city pier
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD The Anna Maria City Pier is due
for an inspection that will cost $5,200.

ANNA MARIA — It’s going to cost $5,200, but city commissioners voted unanimously to shell out the funds for a structural inspection of the city pier.

M.T. Causley will do the inspection.

The underwater pilings of the pier are inspected quarterly, according to Public Works Director George McKay. "We have to replace one or two pilings, but for the most part, the underwater portion of the pier is in good shape."

But the part of the pier that’s above water hasn’t been inspected in almost a decade.

Opinions on just how sound the structure is vary widely.

"It’s a rustic fishing pier," County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said recently. "It’s supposed to be rough."

City Commissioner Dale Woodland said he’d rather not be spending the money, but he thinks it’s necessary.

"I’ve been saying for years that I think we have major problems with the structure out there," he said. "And I think that’s what the inspection will show. I can go under there myself in my canoe and see that the stringers and understructure are in terrible shape."

Commissioner John Quam expressed worries about the soundness of the pier at a recent city commission meeting.

"What if all those people attending the upcoming centennial celebration walk out on the pier and it collapses," he asked.

The historic and iconic Anna Maria city fishing pier began life in 1911 when it was used as a place for steamboats to dock and offload passengers coming to the Island.

"George Bean, the original settler, and Sam Roser had a development company, and they brought people to the Island to look at land," Sissy Quinn, the chairman of the City Pier Centennial Committee, said. "Some people were day-trippers, and they walked down to the Gulf to swim, but some stayed overnight at Angler’s Lodge."

Quinn heads the Anna Maria Preservation Trust, an organization working to save the old Angler’s Lodge just north of the pier.

Her committee is meeting monthly to plan and organize the 100th anniversary celebration of the pier.

McKay said he expects the inspection to take place sometime during the first half of August.

Longboat disputes environmental report

LONGBOAT KEY – A key environmental assessment of Port Dolphin’s proposed natural gas port and pipeline contains "serious errors" about the project’s impact on submerged beach renourishment sand resources, according to Longboat Key officials.

The town disputes the U.S. Coast Guard’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on Port Dolphin’s proposed pipeline route, which would make sand off limits that could otherwise be used for beach renourishment on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.

The document concludes that the pipeline will have only a minor impact on sand resources, while town officials believe the impact will be so large that beach renourishment programs and the town’s tourism-based economy will be threatened, according to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis.

The document overstates the amount of sand that would be available for beach renourishment if the pipeline is built along Port Dolphin’s proposed route, he said.

"There are serious errors," St. Denis said. "The data is seriously flawed."

For example, Borrow Area IX, the town’s sand source, contains about 800,000 cubic yards of sand, while the document cites between 14 million to 36 million cubic yards, he said, making it appear that more sand is available for beach renourishment than actually exists.

Buffer zones around the pipeline cited in the document are 2.5 to five times smaller than required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and recommended by the U.S. Minerals Management Service, while actual buffers would make more sand off limits for renourishment, he said.

The document also includes a 538,000 acre area as a "mapped sand resource" that has not been confirmed to contain sand, he said, adding that another citation erroneously inflating the amount of available sand appears to be the result of a miscalculation.

A miscalculation did occur in converting acres to square feet and cubic yards, said Mark Prescott, chief of the Deepwater Ports Standards division of the U.S. Coast Guard, which produced the report. The agency is analyzing the report and plans to advise state regulators, including the governor and DEP, of any errors, and possibly publish a supplement to the report if necessary, he said.

St. Denis also has asked U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to investigate before a Tuesday, July 28 public hearing on the proposed project at the Manatee Convention Center.

Port Dolphin has consistently used figures supplied by Coastal Planning and Engineering, which is Longboat Key and Manatee County’s consultant for beach renourishment, in its reports, according to Port Dolphin spokesman Wayne Hopkins.

Don’t pass the trolley

If you pass the trolley when it’s stopped or when it’s in motion in Bradenton Beach and get caught, it’s going to cost you $166.

Mayor Michael Pierce said he’s worried that people whisking around the trolleys are going to cause somebody to get hurt.

"I’ve seen some awful, awful close calls myself," Pierce said at the Island Transportation Planning Organization meeting last week. "Someone’s going to get killed."

Pierce spoke to Police Chief Sam Speciale about the problem and asked about stepping up enforcement.

"All of Bradenton Beach has a double yellow line down Gulf Drive, and that means passing is illegal here," Pierce said. "We’re going to start writing tickets."

Pierce said he’d like to see the other Island cities follow suit.

Passing a trolley, or anything else on Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach is a moving violation that could result in a $166 fine.

It’s not illegal to pass the trolleys on other parts of the Island, provided there isn’t a double line.

In other business at the ITPO meeting, Manatee County Planning Manager Bob Herrington said his department is working hard with federal officials to try to secure some funding for the trolley system.

"But the federal funds are pretty much stagnant," Herrington said. "We won’t stop looking, and we certainly don’t want to lose our trolleys."

Herrington said the trolleys are a win-win thing.

The ITPO last month agreed to seek grant money to keep trolley rides free after the county said it could no longer fund them to that point.

This year, businessman and Tourist Development Council Vice Chairman David Teitelbaum is asking that each Island city contribute $8,000 and the county give $26,000 to keep the trolleys free for another year while he puts together a package of projects, such as voluntary contribution boxes in the trolleys and a super-festival to raise the money on an ongoing basis.

Bradenton Beach keeps same millage rate

BRADENTON BEACH – Property owners in this city will get to pocket all of the money they saved through lower tax valuations – at least from the city’s portion of their bills.

That’s the message the city commissioners gave when they accepted the city clerk’s recommendation to take money from reserves instead of raising the rate of taxation to pay for a drop of $207,000 in income from the current budget year. The proposed budget would be $2,795,096, down from the $3,152,125 of this current budget.

City Clerk Nora Idso made her budget presentation on Tuesday, July 21 at a commission work meeting. She thanked the city employees for not taking a pay raise for the second year in a row and talked about the drop in revenues brought on initially by a state mandate and compounded by the falling value of real estate.

"We’re not in great shape, but we’re not as bad off as some of the others," she said.

Idso said that when Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie was mayor and the economy was good, the city socked away $200,000 in reserves in case things got tight. The city used some of that money to balance the 2008-2009 budget. Idso said that city auditor Ed Leonard told her that the city could no longer do that, so they will use up the rest of the money to help make up the difference in the 2009-2010 budget.

Bradenton Beach Police Lieutenant John Cosby helped Idso with the budget, as he has for several years past, and he praised the way Chappie changed the budget process.

"Before John Chappie was mayor, we would have marathon budget sessions," he said. "When he became mayor, he took control of the process and made it a lot easier."

Idso also recommended the city take $11,700 from the sanitation reserve to pay off the recycling truck and lower the city’s overall operating expenses in its sanitation department. Bradenton Beach is the only city on the Island that collects its own trash, yard waste and recyclables.

The commissioners voted to accept the changes and to keep the millage rate at 2.1539. At that rate, property owners pay $215.39 for each $100,000 of taxable property value.

Cosby had a warning for the commissioners if the value of property continues to drop.

"Next year, there will have to be some serious cutting and possibly raising of taxes," he said, "Right now, we’re not replacing old equipment but we cannot keep not replacing equipment that’s vital to the day to day operations."

Cosby suggested that the city start looking at the budget process as early as February and make plans on what to cut at different levels of an income shortage.

"I don’t want everyone to think, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do?’"

Emergency officials promote hurricane preparedness
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND Steve Simpson of the Manatee
County Emergency Management department advised Island
residents about returning home after a hurricane.

ANNA MARIA –The small turnout didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the presenters at the Community Center’s first hurricane forum Saturday.

Paul Morrison, of the American Red Cross of Manatee County, and Steve Simpson, of Manatee County Emergency Management, were thorough and informative in discussing evacuation and re-entry, shelters, where to get information and storm experiences.

"The biggest fear that emergency management has is that people are becoming very complacent," Morrison said. "It doesn’t matter how many storms are forecast. If one comes through our county, that’s all that matters.

"Storms are incredibly unpredictable. Decide before the storm where you will go, and you may need to change your plans as the storm’s movement changes. Keep an eye on the media. If it’s a Category 3 or above, hit the road."

Morrison stressed that evacuating to a shelter is a last resort.

"We supply a place for you to stay alive and nourishment," he said.

Shelter life

Morrison said supplies to bring to a shelter include a blanket, a pillow, a twin-sized air mattress and medications. You can also bring light snacks because the first meal may not be served for awhile. The Red Cross does not supply cots, and your allotted space will be about the size of a large table.

Do not bring weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, microwave ovens, television sets or other large items.

In a shelter, special dietary requirements may not be available, you must sign in and out (confidentiality is guaranteed) and you cannot go outside when conditions are unsafe. Weather updates will be provided and after the storm, you will not be allowed out until conditions are safe.

At least one shelter will be designated for people with special medical needs, and only those who meet specific criteria will be admitted. Pre-registration is required; call 749-3500, ext. 1667.

There also will be a pet shelter, which is operated by the county’s animal services department. The location will be announced for each storm event. For information on the pet shelter location, call 742-5933, ext. 222.

Returning home

To learn about local conditions before returning home, go to the county’s Web site –, watch the MGA (Manatee Government Access) channel or tune in to a local television station.

Simpson said those first to re-enter will be public safety officials, and when conditions are safe, residents can re-enter. He said re-entry may be limited to daylight hours and people may have to be bussed in.

Morrison cautioned Island residents to make sure they have their re-entry hang tags or identification because deputies at the checkpoints may be from other cities or states.

Simpson was part of the county’s team that aided Hancock County, Miss. after Hurricane Katrina. It was ground zero for the landfall and has nearly identical topography as Manatee County.

"The damage was Biblical," he said. "There was a 30-foot storm surge near the coast and a 14-foot storm surge 10 miles inland. There were 63 deaths.

"They had absolutely no communications and no security. Their entire infrastructure was gone. It was two days before we found a building that was standing where we could put the government in."

He said the recovery efforts continued from August 2005 to March 2006.

To contact the county’s emergency management department, call 749-3505. For information during an emergency, call the county’s citizen information center at 748-4501. To be a Red Cross volunteer, call 792-8686 to learn about free training classes.

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