The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 17 - January 20, 2010


Island responds to Haitian tragedy

The massive earthquake that struck Haiti has promoted an international response with aid for the victims and Anna Maria Island is playing its part.

Agencies are collecting food, clothing and other necessities plus money to help the victims. Here is a rundown of what is happening.

For the third time in recent years, Ed Chiles had employees take the dollar bills off the wall at the Pub at Mar Vista. Chiles said the $3,100 along with a corporate donation will go to Haitian relief but he hasn’t decided how he will distribute it.

Direct help

Publix Super Markets has established a program to offer its Florida customers and associates a way to directly assist those areas in Haiti affected by a recent 7.0 earthquake. Customers may donate any amount by adding it to their grocery totals when checking out at Publix registers.

Collected money will be channeled through the American Red Cross and designated specifically for the Haiti Relief and Development Fund. The program will continue for a few weeks, based on customer response.

“Our customers and associates have trusted Publix to react quickly and help those affected by tragic circumstances,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations. “This devastating disaster to Haiti hits close to home as we have many associates and their families from the island.”

In a separate donation, Publix Super Markets Charities is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts for the areas affected by the earthquake.

The Anna Maria Island Community Center Teen Scene Program is taking donations of supplies for the victims. Teens are looking for hygiene items such as body wash, first-aid supplies, hair and tooth brushes, rubbing alcohol, toilet paper, lotion, bottled water plus blankets children’s clothes, shoes and socks and non-perishable food, that they will collect until Monday, Jan. 25. They ask that you bring the items to the Community Center at 407 Magnolia, Anna Maria.

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church is accepting donations of cash and checks at the church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. The money will be forwarded to Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and 100 percent will go to Haitian relief. Donations by credit card can be made at

The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation will give money through the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund for Haitian relief, according to a church official. It also is soliciting church members in the weekly bulletin for contributions.

More businesses join in

Help is coming from the business community, also. Lorie Hegele, owner of Cut and Color 2 Dye 4, 5386 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, is holding a fund-raiser on Saturday, Jan. 23. All proceeds from hair styles and cuts will go toward Haitian relief. The charge is $15, or customers can give a love offering of more. Hegele asks that customers come with clean hair so she won’t have to take the time to shampoo. She said the more customers she can get, the more money goes to Haiti. Service is on a first-come, first-served basis, and reservations won’t be taken. She will also accept donations of clothing, bottled water and non-perishable foods. Her number is 704-5392.

Kellie Spring, who works at the Sign of the Mermaid restaurant, 9707 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, is trying to collect items to send there.

“We want to make the restaurant a drop-off center for dry goods including clothes, towels and blankets plus water and dry food,” she said. “My boyfriend found a church off 301 that will be able to get them to Haiti.

Rotary and Kiwanis

The Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island has donated $1,000 to purchase a Shelter Box, a self-contained unit that offers minimal shelter for as many as 10 people for six months. It comes with a 10-person tent, blankets and ground mats, a stove and cooking equipment, water containers and purification tablets, a tool kit and other essentials.

The club is also donating $2,000 to Rotary International for Haitian relief.

“We’ve set up a link on our Web site, for anybody to donate to Rotary International,” said Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island President Judy Rup. “Only one percent of the money they receive goes for administration. Ninety-nine percent goes to Haiti.”

The Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club is asking its members to donate to the Kiwanis Foundation, which will send the money to the Red Cross, said Kiwanis President Sandy Haas-Martens.

Waiting for news

Father Jean-Woady Louise, of St. Bernard Catholic Church, is from Haiti, and he is awaiting word from his home country.

“I still belong to the Archdiocese of Port Au Prince, and I now work for the Venice Archdiocese with Haitians in the Wauchula area,” he said. “All of my relatives are still there, my father and my cousins and others.”

Father Woady found out late last week that they are all well, but they lost everything.

Another Haitian on the Island is Michel Dorisca, the dishwasher at the Sign of the Mermaid restaurant.

He did not find out about his family until Saturday. He has two brothers and four nephews there and they are all alive and in good condition, although they lost their home and possessions.

He said one of his nephews returned to Haiti three weeks ago after spending time here with him on vacation.

The BeachHouse restaurant has three Haitian employees. Nacius Badio learned that one of his daughters was killed and two more family members are still missing, Emmanuel Philoxene lost eight counsins and Rodney Atenor's family home is located outside of Port A Prince so he is presumed to be safe, according to BeachHouse manager Michael Shannon.

Anna Maria Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Pidge Taylor’s daughter just returned from Haiti where she distributed hygiene items such as combs and toothbrushes to the children there.

“I just saw some pictures of the children there holding their new items,” she said. “It’s terrible to see them and not know if they are OK.”

The school is participating in the Manatee County School District’s Hope for Haiti drive. The district is taking donations until Feb. 1, and the school will have donation jars in the classrooms and at the main desk to take money. They ask that donors make checks payable to the Red Cross or the Manatee Education Foundation.

Efforts under way to save Twin Piers
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Several surfers catch a single wave
at Twin Piers in Bradenton Beach.

BRADENTON BEACH – A plan is in the works to save three crumbling erosion control groins, including two that form the popular Twin Piers surf spot, according to a Manatee County official.

The structures, which are subject to removal in the beach renourishment project planned for 2014, serve an important purpose in protecting Gulf Drive – a hurricane evacuation route – from erosion, according to Charlie Hunsicker, Director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department.

They also provide recreational opportunities for surfers, anglers and divers, who are outspoken advocates to save the structures.

An erosion control project at the Islander Club condo on Longboat Key, due to be completed by spring, may hold the key to saving them, Hunsicker said.

The town is building two adjustable, permeable groins modified from the late engineer Sidney Makepeace Wood’s original design used in building the three structures in Bradenton Beach, said Rick Spadoni of Coastal Planning and Engineering, the beach engineering firm for both Manatee County and Longboat Key.

Making the groins adjustable allows engineers to monitor the accumulation and erosion of sand, and slide panels in and out to fine tune the performance of the structures, he said.

Making them permeable allows some sand to flow through, like mangrove roots, building the beach on the side facing prevailing currents while keeping it from being eroded from the other side, which occurs with solid groins.

Permeable structures appear to be exempt from a state law that allows DEP to require a landowner to alter or remove solid, or impermeable, coastal structures on state sovereign land below the mean high-water line if they serve no public purpose or endanger human life, health or welfare.

The town of Longboat Key received permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to build the two permeable groins on Longboat Key, Spadoni said.

If the county proposes to rebuild the three Bradenton Beach groins in a similar style, DEP could approve them as well, Hunsicker said.

The county will work on a redesign of the erosion control groins, he said, adding that applying for a permit to replace the structures with pedestrian accessible piers like the one planned at Manatee Public Beach would require more stringent building standards and would likely be unsuccessful.

“We’re hoping DEP will allow the county to refurbish them,” Spadoni said, adding that the agency will require an evaluation of whether the structures are derelict. “There is a purpose for those structures to be there. Gulf Drive is very vulnerable at those locations. That’s a hurricane evacuation route we can’t afford to lose.”

Tourists look on sunny side

It’s been in the 60s, 50s, 40s, even the 30s, but for many Northern visitors, our local weather beats the snow, ice and below-zero wind chills back home.

It’s hard to imagine for dyed-in-the-wool Island transplants who retired their heavy winter coats years ago, but visitors are renting rooms, walking the beaches and even sunbathing in swimsuits by the pool, despite an unusually long cold snap.

While some walk the beach bundled up in genuine winter gear that local shops don’t carry, others venture forth in vacation attire. One intrepid swimsuit-clad visitor from Grand Rapids, Mich., came to get a tan, and, by golly, he said, he was going to get one while the sun is out, Bradenton Beach hotelier David Teitelbaum laughed.

“It is amazing considering the weather,” he said, but tourism seems to be steady.

A promotion to attract visitors with free nights tacked on to two- or three-night stays has been “a great success,” said Teitelbaum, whose participating properties include Seaside Inn Beach Resort, Tortuga Inn Beach Resort and Tradewinds Resort in Bradenton Beach.

Eight Anna Maria Island rentals, including Bridgewalk, Dawg Daze Villa and the SilverSurf Gulf Beach Resort, and two on the mainland are offering free room nights, some through February.

Officials at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hope that visitors will use the extra day to explore off-Island attractions including the South Florida Museum and the Village of the Arts.

“It’s working great,” said Cory Huffman, general manager at Bungalow Beach Resort in Bradenton Beach, which is offering the promotion until Valentine’s Day. Despite the cold, “Guests are saying ‘At least we don’t have to shovel the driveway.’ They’re just happy that the sun is shining.”

Bookings are better than this time last year, she said, with strong reservations in the near future.

Even with 10 straight days of cold, visitors didn’t cancel outright, but postponed their trips, rebooking for later, Teitelbaum said.

For more information on the free night promotion, visit

Mainsail selects architect

HOLMES BEACH – Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Development of Tampa, announced last week that the company has selected architect Steve Smith, of Cooper, Johnson Smith, as the architect for the Mainsail Lodge at 5325 Marina Drive.

“They did the Mansour house (on Bean Point in Anna Maria), have done work in Seaside and recently did a Ritz Hotel in the Bahamas,” Collier explained. “They have great experience in lodging and understand coastal architecture.”

“We did a tour last week with the architects and marketing people to show them everything we like about Anna Maria – what makes it look like Anna Maria. We took them to Cortez and all around to give them a good feeling for the area.”

Collier said once the architect’s drawings are ready, Mainsail will begin selling the units.

“We have a list of reservations,” he said. “The business model is based on the success of the Beach Inn. The activity there has been impressive with the way the market has been.

“We have closed on two units there and another is coming up. People seem to really like it. The reaction has been fantastic.”

The combined projects include marina and beach residences, a 62-slip marina with boats and fishing guides and a lodge. Units at the Beach Inn at 101 66th Street are being sold as a modified condo/hotel. When the owner is not using a unit, it is a hotel rental.

“We’re cranking up operations at the marina and have some enhancement planned,” Collier continued. “We have met with the guides and plan to make room for more guides. We have received inquiries from individual boat owners, so more boats will be moving in.”

The Mainsail Lodge and Marina, formerly the Tidemark Lodge and Marina, was begun by Nick Easterling in 2001. Easterling filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and in 2005, Reliance Realty Partners joined the project and the bankruptcy was resolved.

In May 2007 Reliance bought out Easterling, however, in June 2009 banks foreclosed on the properties and they were purchased by Mainsail. In July, Pine Avenue Restoration joined Mainsail as a limited partner in the project.

Oil issue on front burner

Several groups are busily preparing for a second proposal to allow oil and natural gas exploration and drilling in Florida state waters in the legislative session that begins on March 2.

A last-minute proposal by Florida Energy Associates was voted down last year after taking lawmakers by surprise in the waning days of the session.

Among the groups studying the pros and cons of the issue is the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, a 15-member group created by the Legislature in 2005 to develop and recommend long-term policies to strengthen Florida’s future.

The commission is expected to report on its findings next month, Glenn Compton of environmental group ManaSota-88 told a League of Women Voters group last week.

Summarizing his group’s position on oil drilling as “Not here, not now, not ever,” Compton said that the commission and other research groups will provide much-needed hard facts about oil drilling.

The commission’s conclusions will be analyzed with findings from the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, which was commissioned by Senate President Jeff Atwater in November to review the implications of oil drilling off Florida. Other groups that will contribute are the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research and the Florida State University Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability.

The groups will generate findings on potential oil and gas resources, their quantities and locations, probable environmental impacts, emergency management analyses, potential economic contributions to the state, leasing, drilling and decommissioning laws and best management practices in the industry.

The oil debate is sapping energy from more necessary activities such as the development of alternative energy and conservation methods, Compton told the group.

Opponents of oil drilling say that leaks and spills from rigs, pipelines, barges and storage facilities would devastate the state’s waters, beaches and tourism industry.

Proponents cite decreased dependence on foreign oil sources, lower gas prices, improved technology, and an economic boost to the state, including leasing revenues and new jobs.

Compton questioned whether new jobs would go to state residents, and whether new technology would eliminate spills, citing a recent spill off Australia.

Don Baldauf of the not-for-profit group Inc. told the group that the Australian spill could not have happened here because U.S. rules would have prohibited the operation. proposes that Gov. Charlie Crist claim the submerged lands surrounding the state of Florida to a distance of 125 miles as state-owned land.

Oil protesters to draw line in sand

A public protest against oil exploration and drilling off Florida’s coast is scheduled for Feb. 13 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Manatee Public Beach main lifeguard stand.

The Sierra Conservation Committee of Manatee County is sponsoring the local event, one of hundreds scheduled in the national Hands Across the Sand project.

Organizers will ask participants to metaphorically and actually draw a human line in the sand, holding hands in protest against drilling. Participants are asked to use only approved beach accesses and parking areas and be courteous and respectful to those who disagree.

The event will be held rain or shine.

A proposal during the 2009 Florida legislative session to allow drilling as close as 3 to 10 miles from shore prompted the event, designed to unite people from all political and economic backgrounds.

Organizers hope to raise awareness about state legislation on oil exploration and drilling while mobilizing a statewide coastal movement to protest any upcoming legislation.

Anna Maria named Tree City USA
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND From left, Historical Society
Director Betty Yanger, Deputy Mayor John Quam, public
works employee Gary Thorpe, EEEC committee member
Arlene Clarke, Keep Manatee Beautiful Chair Patrick
Gallagher and public works employee Steve Stott plant
a red cedar by the Old City Jail in Anna Maria.

How fitting that Anna Maria’s Deputy Mayor John Quam announced at Friday’s Florida Arbor Day celebration that the city’s application to be a Tree City USA was approved.

As the crowd gathered around the red cedar to be planted next to the Old City Jail at the Island Historical complex, Quam thanked the city staff, Tim Eiseler and members of the Environmental Education and Enhancement Committee for their work to complete all the steps required for the application.

“Congratulations,” exclaimed Ed Flowers, of the Florida Division of Forestry. “It takes a definite commitment from the government and the citizens of the community to achieve this honor.”

Quam read a proclamation that outlined the benefits of trees and noted that Arbor Day was proposed by Sterling Morton in 1872. Flowers said that National Arbor Day was proclaimed by President Nixon in 1970 and is celebrated the last Friday in April.

“Trees have always played a crucial role in the long-term health, beauty and vitality of the community,” said Patrick Gallagher, chairman of Keep Manatee Beautiful. “Enlarging our urban forest at public buildings, parks, preserves, as well as on gateways and thoroughfares, will create a positive impression reflective of the overall community’s quality of life and be beneficial to residents and visitors alike.”

Volunteer Mike Miller said the red cedar is particularly suited for the Island and it could grow to 30 to 40 feet and is drought tolerant.

Holmes Beach

In Holmes Beach, residents and city officials gathered at Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th streets to plant two Jamaican dogwood trees.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger read the city’s Arbor Day proclamation and Gallagher noted, “Keep Manatee Beautiful brings together volunteers, businesses and local government s to become involved in enhancing our community’s image. Because of this partnership in tree planting and landscaping activities, the Manatee County community has been adding horticultural beauty to public spaces.”

John Molyneux, chair of the city’s beautification board, said the board has just begun the process to become a Tree City USA, and noted, “Trees are a most important part of our environment. We recognize what Joe (Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes) and his staff do for us on Arbor Day.”

Molyneux thanked public works employee Lorenzo Rediker, who cares for the Arbor Day and memorial trees planted by the city over the years.

Flowers said the Jamaican dogwood is fast growing tree and this area is its northern edge of growth. He said it could grow to 50 feet and has flowers in the spring and berries in the fall.

Board approves project despite objections
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

shows the boat and vehicle storage on the ground level,
the elevated first story above ground level and a large
dock behind the building, where marine rescue and
Sheriff's Office vessels would be docked,

BRADENTON BEACH – Holmes Beach City Commissioner Al Robinson continues to preach frugality three months after winning his election as Al “Lower Taxes” Robinson. His campaign crossed city borders last week as he spoke against a county project at Coquina Park Bayside.

Robinson said he was speaking as a private citizen as he submitted a letter and spoke out against a new $1.1 million Manatee County Marine Rescue Headquarters and Sheriff’s Marine Division building.

“Our county commission cannot print dollars,” he said, addressed the Bradenton Beach Planning and Zoning Board, “You folks have a reason to nix this project.”

In his letter, Robinson said the county should abandon this project because the country is in a very deep recession, even perhaps a depression.

“We have done without this up until now,” his letter said. “We can continue to do without it.”

He called for all governments to tighten their belts and lower taxes on the citizenry, “whose collective knees are buckling.”

Despite his appeal, the board approved the project, which calls for a closed area with large doors for vehicles and boats beneath the elevated first story. The building itself is one-story and would service the department of marine rescue and the Sheriff’s Office, which currently leases space in Palmetto for its patrol boats. The county would construct a large dock for the watercraft belonging to the county, but that project was not considered at the P&Z hearing.

Bradenton Beach Building Official Stephen Gilbert said that the board’s job would be easy, since the project is considered a secure facility with nobody living in it. Because of that, there is no density assigned to the building. He said that the building is considerd a necessary appurtenance for the park functions.

He said that since the building would be staffed, but there would be limited visits by the public, so the parking plan was adequate, He recommended approval of the project with the stipulation that the county comply with turtle lighting standards.

As far as adding to the security of the county’s equipment, the marine rescue division currently stores its ground and sea equipment next to the public restrooms at the park in a shed. The county’s plans also call for it to renovate the restrooms and pavilions at the bayside park and add two new pavilions.

Bradenton Beach designer Emily Anne Smith earlier submitted a letter suggesting the county add some architectural details, which she called “Key West” design, to match those in new construction throughout the city. When confronted with this suggestion, builder Charles Ugarte said that despite Smith’s offer to design the added touches for free, it would add too much to the cost because of the cost of materials and time.

The P&Z voted unanimously for the project.

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