The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 48 - September 14, 2011


Carol Whitmore

More than 1,100 bikers participate
in a September 11 Remembrance Ride
Sunday afternoon marking the
10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

BRADENTON BEACH – The weather Sunday was perfect for a ride and between 1,000 and 2,000 motorcyclists did that to commemorate the terrorist attacks 10 years earlier and to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.

The ride ended for many at the Bridge Street Bistro's Island Time Bar and Grill, where most enjoyed a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet lunch, except for men and women in the military, law enforcement or fire departments, who ate for free.

The large bar was packed with people, many of them wearing the red white and blue colors of the unique day as many recalled what had happened 10 years ago when terrorists hijacked three passenger planes and took down the World Trade Center towers in New York, crashed one into the Pentagon and another crashed as passengers fought the hijackers for control of the plane.

The phrase "We will never forget" was seen on T-shirts as many recalled how the mastermind of the attacks, Osama Bin Laden, was captured and killed earlier this year.

"At least we got him," said Steve Bonanno, organizer of the motorcycle run who was sitting with his daughter, Kara. "We said we would never forget and we meant it."

Bonanno was sitting with Christine and Hugh Holmes Jr., Island residents who ride motorcycles.

The wait staff at Island Time Bar and Grill all wore patriotic T-shirts and in a corner of the large outdoor bar, Lorrin Wagner was painting faces – an American flag on Will Gresham and a My Little Pony design on Claire Van Norwick, the three-year-old daughter of Angela and Craig Van Norwick. She sat patiently as the coloring was applied around her eyes and on her cheeks. Her mom was sporting a balloon hat made by Jeff Wagner, the husband of the face painter.

There was live music and raffles for prizes, including a vacation getaway on Anna Maria Island. Property owner Barbara Rodocker was there and she enjoyed the day.

"We're happy to see such a good turnout," she said. "This is a time to commemorate what went on and remember those who gave their lives."

Bonanno was also pleased with the crowd.

"I knew they would turn out for this," he said. "It took a lot of work to get it organized, but they all wanted to show how they feel."

Police estimated up top 2,000 riders went through Bradenton Beach Sunday. There were no incidents as everyone was united in making this a peaceful demonstration against those behind the attacks.

People to be polled on pines
Carol Whitmore

City commissioners want to know if
residents want the Australian pines
at Gulf Front Park removed.


ANNA MARIA – City commissioners are asking residents of Cedar, Willow and Mangrove avenues for their input regarding removing the Australian pines in Gulf Front Park.

Public Works Director George McKay said since the Sheriff's Office excavated the site looking for clues in the disappearance of Sabine Musil Buehler, it needs attention. In addition to the pines, there are large areas of the invasive sansevieria or mother in law's tongue.

"A donor would like to install native plants and remove the exotics," he told the board. "The exotics are not going to make the natives survivable.

"During the police matter, some natives were removed and the exotics outnumber the natives. I want to know where you stand on it."

Commissioner John Quam asked how many pines are there, and McKay said six or seven.

"Everybody agreed on removing the Brazilian peppers," Commissioner Dale Woodland pointed out, "but the Australian pines are not a consensus. People feel strongly on both sides. Based on that, I would like to make sure we notify people on Cedar and Willow."

"Nothing ever grows underneath the pines,' Chair Chuck Webb said "They excrete an herbicide, so we can't plant natives next to them.

"I'd pull out the pines and plant gumbo limbos, live oaks, mahogany, black mangrove, sand live oak. There are many trees that are better for us."

City Attorney Jim Dye advised the board to have the donor commit the money before doing any work.

Commissioners agreed to bring back the issue at the next work session in October to give people time to make their feelings known.


Cell tower issue raised again

ANNA MARIA –The city is irresponsible for not having a cell tower, Commissioner Gene Aubry told his fellow city commissioners last week.

"I really don't understand what the delay is," he said. "Put a flagpole on the six lots (the city is purchasing on North Bay Boulevard). It's not any worse than a telephone pole or the power poles that run the wires overhead "Why we can't admit we need this is beyond me. I don't think that you should be in Anna Maria and take a cell phone and call 911 and have call drops. I think it's irresponsible on the part of the city."

Resident Micheal Coleman agreed and said he was with a group of attorneys who were discussing the responsibility of cities for providing emergency communications and added, "It's not far off before a city gets sued for failing to meet its obligation to provide communications facilities to people in case of emergency."

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick asked if one could be placed at Bayfront Park, and City Attorney Jim Dye said it could, but it would involve researching land use regulations and the lease agreement with the county.

"Everybody's OK with a 30-foot tower that looks like a flagpole, but it's not profitable for the facility builders," Chair Chuck Webb pointed out and added that no company has applied.

"That's because our ordinance is so tight they don't want to bother with it," responded Aubry.

"The current ordinance has a fall-down ratio," Dye explained. "That is a big hindrance because you can't put a tower location anywhere where the public gathers. There's no place in the city that the public doesn't gather."

"A tower will blow down if there's a 120 mph wind gust, so we're not going to have a gathering of people," Aubry said, provoking laughter.

Dye said the consulting firm the city hired to help revise its cell tower ordinance is ready to make a presentation to the board, and Mattick suggested inviting providers to make presentations. Webb said he would ask the mayor to put the topic on a future agenda.

Dog beach sought on Island
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Wheaton terrier Max Goldner of Longboat Key
enjoys Rehoboth dog beach while on
vacation in Delaware.

A man's effort to establish a dog beach on Longboat Key has inspired a woman to do the same on Anna Maria Island.

An article in The Sun (Aug. 17) about Nelson Goldner's proposal to allow dogs on Longboat Key's beaches prompted Ruth Uecker to write a letter to the editor requesting people to contact her about establishing contact her about establishing a dog beach on Anna Maria Island.

So far, most of the responses have been in favor of the idea, she said, adding that she plans to have a petition drive for a dog beach at a table at Bayfest on Oct. 14 and 15.

Many Island residents have dogs, and many tourists bring dogs with them, said Uecker, an Anna Maria resident, suggesting that a section of beach could be designated during certain times of the year and at certain hours of the day for dogs on leashes and their owners to enjoy.

Pet friendly

The Island is marketed by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau website as "pet friendly," listing certain accommodations and restaurants and the roadside beach at Palma Sola Causeway as allowing dogs, although dogs are not allowed on Gulf beaches.

Shared recreation spaces such as the Causeway, which also allows horses, are important to a community, said Anna Maria hair stylist Laurie Crawford, who was instrumental in establishing Happy Tails dog park at G.T. Bray Park in Bradenton more than 10 years ago and Dog Leg Park at Buffalo Creek Park in east Manatee County.

"It's so hard to exercise your dog in the summer," she said, adding that if dogs and owners can jump in the water to cool off, it's good for everyone.

A time-share dog beach, open before 9 a.m. and after 7 p.m. to dogs, would make sense for the Island, she said, adding that if local dog owners are anything like those who use the Venice dog beach – the nearest Gulf dog beach in Florida – they won't leave dog waste on the beach. "They know the privilege can be taken away."

Trial period

"People should be given the chance to try," said Muffet Daniel of Anna Maria, echoing Goldner's proposal for Longboat Key, which includes a year trial period for a dog beach.

"My granddog, a shepherd, is used to running on the beach on the east coast," Daniel said. "She looks so longingly at the beach. She doesn't understand why she can't go out and play."

"It would be nice for us humans to get some exercise with our dogs, as long as they're responsible," she said, adding that people would probably pick up after each other if anyone left dog waste on the beach.

Dog owners would police each other to preserve the privilege, said Tracy Cibischino, a dog owner on Key Royale in Holmes Beach, adding that most people have cell phones and can call law enforcement or take photos of offenders.

Dog owners could pay a fee to the municipality to offset any costs, she suggested, adding that each of the Island's three cities could designate a small place for dogs.

"It would be nice for people who come on vacation," she said.

"I have always had a dog and I think it would be wonderful to have a dog beach," said Carolyne Norwood, an Anna Maria Island resident for more than 50 years. She recalls people taking their dogs to the beach to swim in the 1950s, but not walking them on the beach until years later. Dogs were prohibited after owners failed to clean up after them, she said.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shore Bird Monitoring officials would prefer not to have dogs on the beach while sea turtles or shore birds are nesting or hatching, Director Suzi Fox said.

Sea turtles nest and hatch from May 1 to Oct. 31 and bird nesting season begins in March, ending in the summer.

The best place would be a short stretch of Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach because the area has parking, trash bins and signs, all of which are necessary for a dog park, she said.

Fox predicted that enforcement by police and code enforcement officers will be an issue, as some people do not obey turtle and bird laws.

Uecker plans to meet soon with Goldner to discuss their ideas, Uecker said. Meanwhile, they both welcome comments from people on both sides of the issue, to learn about potential problems and identify potential solutions.

Goldner said he is receiving primarily supportive responses by e-mail and from customers of the Paw Spa in Holmes Beach, where his dog, Max, is groomed. He also has been in contact with "Sarasota Dog" magazine and "The Bark," a national magazine, about the proposal. He can be reached by e-mail at

Uecker can be reached by e-mail at, or by phone at 252-599-0604 or 941-201-6158.

Buchannan draws praise at Holmes Beach town hall
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Congressman Vern Buchannan uses graphs to discuss the
national debt to a packed Holmes Beach City Hall meeting room.

HOLMES BEACH – It was standing room only for U.S. Congressman Vern Buchannan's town hall meeting on Saturday, Sept. 10, and an Anna Maria man's complaints about his experience with Medicare fraud might have gotten him an opportunity to go to Washington to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Charles Cawein, who spent years in health care administration, spoke about unknown sources who used his personal information to bill Medicare for services that were never performed. He said he didn't even know the bills were paid until his quarterly information sheet was mailed to him.

"I moved here from New York and the bills Medicare paid were from states like California, where I was not even here," he said. "By the time I find out what they did, they've moved somewhere else."

Cawein said he calls Medicare and they tell him they have to pay the bills within 30 days. He said if they would check out the claims, they could put these insidious people out of business. When he was done, Buchannan said he had been appointed to serve on the House Ways Committee, which oversees Medicare.

"I'm going to have one of my people get your information and I would like to have you come to Washington to testify," he said to some applause. "This is what we need to hear in Congress so we can make changes."

Buchannan heard from a diverse bunch of citizens at the meeting and fielded questions about the national debt, wars and the state insurance catastrophe fund.

On Standard and Poors downgrading the nation's credit, he said he was devastated. He had a chart showing the country could add trillions of dollars to the national debt during the next fiscal year, and he said they need to look into entitlement programs, like Social Security and Medicare, to cut into the debt.

Local artist Barbara Hines thanked Buchannan for opposing offshore drilling in the Gulf, despite some support from other Republicans, and mentioned talk about drilling in the Everglades.

"When I was growing up in Michigan, I used to fish in Lake Erie," he said. "The water was so polluted if you could catch a fish, you wouldn't be able to eat it.

"I think drilling in the Gulf would put everything we have at risk," he added. "I feel a moral obligation to our children to prevent drilling in the Gulf."

He said, however, we still need to cut back out use of oil because options like solar energy are not going to replace fossil fuel use in the short term.

One citizen complained of the political division in Washington.

"I think you and every member of Congress should be ashamed," she said. "You have taken a perfectly good county and made us look like fools who can't get anything done."

Buchannan admitted a lot of people are upset with members of Congress, whose approval rating was around nine percent.

"I'm thinking of going back to selling used cars," he joked. "Their approval rate is 18 percent."

He said he works with both parties to try to find solutions and said that there are portions of President Obama's jobs plan he thinks they should use.

Surfer injured on Labor Day

HOLMES BEACH – A Parrish man was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg Monday when he suffered a possible spinal injury while surfing in the roiling waters of the Gulf.

The unidentified man told emergency officials he had hit his head and neck in the Gulf bottom, according to Manatee County EMS Chief Ron Koper.

"We found him laying curled up on his board," Koper said. "He told us he was concerned because he could not feel his legs.

The water was very active on Labor Day, and it drew a lot of surfers, according to lifeguards. Hurricane Lee went ashore generating considerable amounts of rain, and its winds caused the high waves.

The incident occurred just before noon at the White Avenue beach.

July resort tax collections up

An increase in resort tax collections this summer is due in part to increased enforcement efforts by the Manatee County Tax Collector's office, according to Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr.

The office is cracking down on owners of short-term rentals, which include hotels, motels, single family homes, trailers and condominiums that are rented for less than six months. Property owners owe a 5 percent resort tax in addition to the 6.5 percent state sales tax on short-term rental income.

"The resort tax team is conducting audits and educating our community on their legal responsibilities in submitting this tax," according to Burton. "The tax collector has been targeting the bed, or tourist tax, evaders for several years. There is even a hotline (941-741-4809) for anonymous tips about rentals that are suspected to be in noncompliance with paying the tax."

Short-term rental owners must register with the tax collector at the hotline number or online at

The resort tax funds the $3.9 million budget of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), which attracts tourists to the county, as well as beach renourishment projects.

Countywide resort tax collections for July were $632,048, up nearly 20 percent from $527,985 last July and up from $577,624 in June 2011.

Accommodations occupancy rates were up 4.5 percent from last year for the first six months of the year, the most recent data available, according to a report by Research Data Services, a consultant for the CVB.

July collections were up for the second month in a row in all three cities on Anna Maria Island compared to July 2010 and compared to June 2011, according to the tax collector's office.

Collections in Anna Maria were $54,126, up from $33,631 last July and up from $49,802 in June 2011. Bradenton Beach collected $66,639, up from $60,497 last July and up from $62,947 in June 2011. Holmes Beach collected $229,371, up from $194,513 last July and up from $200,870 in June 2011.

Mattick unveils grant and fund-raising ideas for six lots

ANNA MARIA – Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick reported to the board last week on grant and fund-raising opportunities for the six lots the city is purchasing on North Bay Boulevard.

"Because this is a time sensitive issue with some of these grants, I would suggest we form a planning group that would consist of myself, Mayor Michael Selby, former Mayor Fran Barford, Public Works Director George McKay and native plant specialist Mike Miller. I'm looking for support from my fellow commissioners," she said.

Commissioner Gene Aubry, who is not running for re-election, also volunteered for the committee.

Three grants she listed were:

• Tampa Bay Estuary Program grant, up to $5,000 for projects that help to protect or restore Tampa Bay while involving the local community, deadline Oct. 3;

• Sarasota Bay Estuary Program grant, up to $3,000 for bay friendly landscapes that include designs which focus on Florida native plants, deadline March 1, 2012;

• Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, $600,000 for a local enhancement project, deadlines Feb. 1, 2012, and June 15, 2012.

Commissioner Dale Woodland advised her to get information from the FDOT on what it needs for future bridge replacement and factor that into the committee's decisions.

Mattick said she has already met with FDOT's Community Liaison Manon LaVoie. She noted that if they got the small grants from the estuary programs every year, they could have the landscaping completed in five years.

She also suggested levels of giving for donors to participate and identifying their contributions with plaques, pavers or something similar. A significant donor could be offered naming rights.

"We could do fund-raising activities that would bring in money and bring the community together," she said.

Some suggestions included ice cream socials, chili cook-offs, farmer's markets and big band nights.

In a consensus, commissioners approved forming the committee, and Chair Chuck Webb suggested that the city attorney draw up a resolution to establish it.

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