The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 32 - May 11, 2011


100 years of the pier

Harry Stoltzfus


It's been 100 years since the Anna Maria City Pier was built and in honor of that milestone we've put together a special collection of stories and photographs of the pier's history. Inside the commemorative section you will find:

* What life was like for a family of seven that lived on the pier.

* How the pier was used as a way to attract wealthy visitors

* The history of Belle Haven Cottage, once a pier fixture.

* How a wealthy banker built his own slice of paradise on the pier.

Take a stroll back through 100 years of the pier.


View the Downloadable PDF

New state laws affect Island

The Florida Legislature closed its 2011 session on Saturday, passing some laws and passing over others that affect Anna Maria Island residents.

Vacation rentals

In the final hours of the session, the Legislature passed a bill that prohibits local governments from regulating or banning vacation rentals based solely on their classification, use or occupancy, unless they already have such ordinances in effect, or adopt them before June 1.

If signed by the governor, the law will prohibit municipalities from treating vacation rentals, including condominiums and single family homes, differently than residential property, forcing cities and counties to allow short-term rentals wherever they permit residential uses, according to Allison Payne, of the Florida League of Cities.

Critics say the law will prevent cities from passing new ordinances that would curb short-term rental problems such as noise, trash and parking violations.

Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach do not have ordinances regulating vacation rentals, according to city officials, while Holmes Beach ordinances require minimum stays ranging from seven to 30 days on rental property in certain zoning districts.

Fertilizer ban

The House and Senate did not enact proposals that would have invalidated city and county fertilizer ordinances that differed from the state's model fertilizer ordinance.

However, other legislation passed that prohibits communities from enacting ordinances after July 1 banning the sale of products that do not comply with their ordinances, according to the Sarasota Sierra Club's Red Tide Campaign Coordinator, Cris Costello.

The Manatee County Commission is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, May 24, to discuss enacting a proposed county ordinance regulating fertilizer application that includes sales restrictions.

Anna Maria Island's three cities have not passed fertilizer ordinances.

Local groups favoring fertilizer regulation include ManaSota-88, Sarasota Bay Watch and Solutions to Avoid Red Tide.

Oil drilling ban

Legislators did not act on a joint resolution in the House and Senate proposing a state Constitutional amendment prohibiting "exploration, drilling, extraction and production of oil beneath Florida waters."

While offshore drilling already is banned in state waters, a constitutional ban, which requires voter approval, would have reinforced the statutory ban, which members of the Legislature have tried to lift in recent sessions.

Egmont Key funding

A proposal to cut $351,044 from three Florida parks, including historic Egmont Key, was not enacted.

The proposal would have eliminated five salaries, including the salary for Egmont's live-in park ranger, whom state lawmakers hoped would be paid by the federal government.

Egmont Key, north of Anna Maria Island in the mouth of Tampa Bay, is both a federal preserve and a state park, operating on federal and state funds.

It contains the ruins of the U.S. Army Fort Dade Military Reservation, a base for the Tampa Bay Pilots, who guide ships through the Tampa Bay channel, and a lighthouse, built in 1848 and rebuilt in 1858, that operates as an aid to navigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. It also is a bird and sea turtle nesting preserve.

Parasail regulation

The Legislature did not enact a bill that would have regulated commercial parasailing businesses.

The Alejandra White Act, named for a woman who died in a parasailing accident in Clearwater, would have required parasail operators to carry liability insurance with mimimum limits of $1 million per person and $2 million per event, provide a designated observer on board, require life vests on all participants and have a quick-release harness system for emergency evacuations, among other requirements.

Segways scrutinized


Segways, those self-propelled one-person vehicles that look like scooters on steroids, are growing in popularity, especially in resort areas like Anna Maria Island, and Manatee County is considering new rules to deal with them.

Manatee County Parks and Recreation Director Cindy Turner appeared before the county commission on Tuesday, May 3, to discuss allowing Segways at Leffis Key and on the Coquina Beach Trail at the beach.

Earlier this year, the parks and recreation department approved Segs by the Sea to be the franchise renter of Segways at Coquina Beach. However, the county commission had some questions about whether to allow Segway rentals at all or whether to allow private Segway owners to use the trail.

Turner said Segways are already on the trail and at Leffis Key because there are no rules against them. She said her department chose Coquina Beach and Leffis Key because they are popular with walkers and the clearly marked trails make it easy for them to get around. She said they would require riders to be at least 14 years old.

Commissioner Larry Bustle said they should address the three-wheel scooters and motorized wheelchairs as well.

Commissioner Joe McClash was opposed to allowing them in those areas. He said when they discussed Segways earlier, it appeared to him that the majority of the commissioners were against it, and he wondered why the parks department went ahead and selected a vendor. He said he opposed the Segways because they appear to be a conflict, especially in the preserves. He also asked what would prevent a private Segway owner from using the trail.

Turner said the county would prohibit all Segways from using the trail or Leffis Key unless they were rented from the vendor.

Commissioner John Chappie, former mayor of Bradenton Beach where Coquina Beach and Leffis Key are located, said the county should seek the city's permission to have the Segways there.

"I am concerned about the prospect of Segways at Leffis Key," he added.

"This is a pilot program," said County Administrator Ed Hunzeker. "We'll see how it works."

When Commissioner Carol Whitmore asked about the franchise house of operation, Turner said they had set them at 10 a.m. to sunset.

"I don't know if that's a good idea because a lot of people would love to use a Segway to get to a good spot to watch a sunset," Whitmore said. "If you want to be customer-friendly and tourist-friendly, consider it."

Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby attended the meeting, and he spoke about the number of people who use Segways in his city.

"You're lucky dealing with Segways on the trails, we have to deal with them on our streets," he said. "I think there should be not only an age limit but also a size limit, since some 14 year olds might still be physically too short to use them."

Turner said their proposed regulation would require riders to weight at least 100 pounds. Selby and Whitmore both recommended a height minimum as well.

Turner agreed to contact Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt about getting his city's permission before pursuing the issue more. She also agreed to see how the program goes after they get it started and then report back to the county commission.

Residents view pier boardwalk plans
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay
talks with Darren Alfonso, director of communications
for the Valerin Group, and Manon LaVoie,
of the Florida Department of Transportation, at the forum.

ANNA MARIA – Residents met with Florida Department of Transportation and construction officials last week in an open forum at the Community Center on the city pier boardwalk grant project.

"After five long years of waiting, planning, and dreaming on the part of the Transportation Enhancement Grant Committee, the time has finally arrived when construction will begin on our new boardwalk/nature walk," Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said.

"The project will begin at the humpback bridge walkway from Bayfront Park, turn east parallel to Lake LaVista inlet, then turn south parallel to the shoreline, ultimately extending for a total of approximately 575 feet."

The project, to be constructed by Woodruff and Sons, will begin on May 16 following the centennial celebration and is expected to be completed in the fall. The project grant amount is $698,200.

The project includes:

• Parking on the north side will be relocated from the bay side to the street side and traffic flow will become one way;

• A boardwalk with benches will run along the bay the length of the project;

• New shelters will contain benches and picnic tables and the trolley will stop at the north shelter;

• Newspaper and bike racks and a historical marker will be placed at the entrance;

• Landscaping will enhance the area.

"In keeping with the goals and objectives of our Comprehensive Plan, this project will provide access to park and recreational facilities for the elderly and handicapped and will be responsive to the special needs of our permanent and seasonal population," Mattick said. "We also see this as a location where community-oriented events can take place throughout the year that will bring us together and enrich our lives."

Boardwalk construction timeline

North side

May 16: Demolition of existing structures and split rail fence
May 17 - 31: Parking lot rehabilitation and installation of storm drain
June 1 – 23: Boardwalk construction
June 2 – 15: North shelter
June 3 – 23: Lighting for boardwalk and shelter
June 7 – 20: Dumpster pad and walls
June 8 – 10: Irrigation system
June 16 - 29: South shelter
June 24 - 28: Landscaping
June 29 - July 11: Final grade of parking lot and installation of wheel stops
July 11: Open north leg of boardwalk

South side

July 12: Demolition of existing structures and salvage split rail fence
July 12 - 18: Parking lot rehabilitation
July 19 - Aug 3: Boardwalk construction
July 21 - Aug 3: Lighting for boardwalk and shelter
July 26 - 28: Irrigation system
Aug 4 – 8: Landscaping
Aug 9 - 16: Final grade of parking lot, pour handicap parking pads, install wheel stops
Aug 16: Open south leg of boardwalk

Changes to Kingfish Boat Ramp on the way
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

New trees, plants, lights and zoning are planned
for Kingfish Park in Holmes Beach.


HOLMES BEACH – New lights, new plants and a new zoning ordinance are in the works for Kingfish Park this week and next.

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive, to consider a zoning ordinance that would apply public recreation/open space zoning to the boat ramp and picnic area.

The park is being annexed from Manatee County to the city of Holmes Beach.

Beginning next week, Turner Tree and Landscape is scheduled to begin planting 64 trees between West Bay Cove and the Manatee Avenue bridge, including buttonwood, gumbo limbo, live oak, Jamaican dogwood, sabal palm and tamarind. Native wildflowers and grasses also will be added to the landscape with grant funds from the Florida Division of Forestry and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

In addition, six 30-foot, 200-watt sodium lights with full turtle shields will be installed under an agreement with Holmes Beach and Manatee County public works officials and Suzi Fox of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shore Bird Monitoring.

Four lights will be placed in the parking lot and two at the boat ramp, with installation of the lights expected to begin in late summer, according to the county.

Not a lot to love about love bugs
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Right, Smashed love bugs coat the front of Dennis Joslin's
SUV. The Vero Beach resident said he was washing his vehicle
for the second time since leaving home a few hours earlier.

The latest emergence of the small black flies with the little red markings is in decline, thankfully. We won't see them again until fall.

Their scientific name is plecia nearctica, but you won't hear anyone outside a university actually call them that.

They're members of the family of March flies. You may have heard them called honeymoon fly, double-headed bug, kissing bug or any of a list of other names that wouldn't be appropriate for a family newspaper.

Females are about a third of an inch long, while the smaller males are only about a quarter inch long.

The ladylove bugs get their way as a rule, and mate almost as soon as they emerge from their larval stage.

It's the mating that gives rise to the variety of names. Once mated, the female continues to fly around dragging the male with her.

Within three or four days, the female lays 350-to-400 eggs in decaying vegetation and then dies.

The eggs hatch and the larval stage of the creatures feeds among the leaves, dead grass and other plant matter.

Myths and fantasies

Love bugs are not, as urban legend would have it, the synthetic results of a University of Florida genetics experiment gone awry.

The fact that they are around for only a brief period gives rise to a lot of inaccurate speculation.

The immature stage of this insect is largely invisible.

And technically, they do not eat paint. That is, they don't remove it from the body of automobiles, ingest it and leave pitted paint behind.

What happens is that they die as they're smashed against windshields or the front of cars. When they're smashed, their body chemistry is actually neutral, according to Dr. Philip Koehler, and urban entomologist with the University of Florida. Then they become acidic if they're left on the car, and the acidic remains, especially the egg masses of the females, can cause pitting as it etches its way into the body paint and chrome of vehicles.

Car wash bonanza

Preventing that pitting and etching gives a boost to car wash businesses twice a year.

"We've been really busy this season," said Zack Kallis, a 17-year veteran of the car wash business. "It's worse than ever this time. We've seen almost a doubling in our business from what we usually see."

Walter Roman, who has worked on the back end of Kallis' business for the past ten years, said he's never seen it like this.

"We've been moving cars through here like I've never seen before," he said.

Jim Boyd of Bradenton was one of his customers this past Saturday.

"This is brutal," Boyd said. "You should see it out east. It's like a blizzard of black snow."

Dennis Joslin couldn't agree more. He was lined up to get his SUV cleaned off for the second time that day.

"I left home this morning in Vero Beach," he said. "I stopped half way here to get the bugs washed off, and now I'm doing it again."

Joslin said he'd do the same on his trip home after spending some time with relatives in Bradenton.

Ick factor

The bugs can be pesty, there's no question. If you have any white or light-colored painted surfaces around your house, you'll see more than your neighbors who have different colors.

Some visitors who haven't seen them before can become a bit unnerved.

"We do get some calls from renters demanding that we send a pest control company right out," said Carol Bernard, rental manager at Island Real Estate. "But mostly people are just curious, and when they find out the love bugs don't bite, they find it all interesting.

There's no question. The bugs are a nuisance, but since they don't cause any real harm, no one's taken the trouble to develop control methods. Any pesticides used would be harmful to bees and birds and other beneficial creatures.

And besides the love bugs would just be back as soon as the pesticide residue dissipates.

Gone but not forgotten

As the love bugs dwindle and fade from our consciousness, they're actually still among us.

"They're down there in the vegetation," Dr. Koehler said. "When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat all that decaying vegetation, which is of great benefit to the environment.

So next time a swarm of the bugs, which are not really bugs at all but flies, is flying around your head, be grateful for the decay of the vegetation. OK?


Volunteers sow seeds of Hope
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Ruth Burkhead and Donna Hyman package seeds
at Roser Memorial Community Church on Thursday mornings.

ANNA MARIA – Somewhere in the world a child dies from hunger every six seconds, and one in six people suffer from a lack of proper food.

Members of Hope Seeds, a Christian charitable organization, in cooperation with local churches, are helping address those issues by living up to their motto – Teaching the Hungry to Feed Themselves.

They meet each week in a different church to package vegetable seeds to send to developing nations. In the past 12 years, they have sent eight million seed packets to 51 different countries.

"Today, we are making family garden packs for Haiti," explained Bethany Matzke, Hope Seeds program manager, while working with a group of volunteers at Roser Memorial Community Church in March.

"They will be distributed by missionaries to families, and each pack has the potential to grow a quarter acre of food. Families also can combine their seeds for a community garden."

These packs contain okra, beet, cabbage, Roma tomato, eggplant, cucumber, carrot, collard, lettuce and grape tomato seeds, as well as a devotion and nutritional and cooking information in their native language. There also are extra seeds to account for possible flooding or to grow extra produce for families to take to market.

Volunteers help

Hope Seeds is a licensed seed dealer and purchases seeds wholesale in 50-pound bags. Volunteers break them down into packets.

Volunteers meet each week at one of four local churches – Hope Lutheran in Bradenton on the first Thursday of the month, Westminster Presbyterian in Bradenton on the second Tuesday, Ellenton United Methodist on the third Monday and Roser on the fourth Wednesday.

Once a month, middle school students at St. Stephens Episcopal School collate the family packs, producing 1,000 during each session, and Roser's Sunday school kids have packaged seeds under the direction of Denise Landers, Hope Seeds' Children's Ministry Director.

"We also receive seed donations from local farms such as 4 Star and Taylor Fulton, and the Earth Box Research Center has provided 500 Earth Boxes for missionaries," Matzke said. "We are thankful to have all the help we can get."

Missionary Flights International flies them at the rate of 100 boxes of 200 seed packets each to their destinations, which are mostly developing nations. Matzke said future requests have come from Mozambique, Honduras, Peru and Uganda.

"We also work with colder climates," she added. "My grandparents in Cape Girdeau, Mo., grew a strain of okra developed for a colder climate. It took three years to get 15 pounds of seeds."

Some U.S. locations, such as Appalachia, also receive seeds, and in the Tampa area, churches with community gardens produce food for their food pantries and for parishioners.

In addition to seeds, the group has a Bible-based garden curriculum, which it teaches in vacation Bible school style in developing nations.

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