Vol. 16 No. 5 - December 2, 2015


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryLighting up Bridge Street

BRADENTON BEACH – Saturday night marked the ceremonial lighting of the Bridge Street Christmas tree, with former Bradenton Beach Mayor and City Commissioner Jack Clarke serving as the guest of honor.

The 14-foot Douglas fir that sits in the Bridge Street Market lot features a turquoise, lime green and white mermaid theme designed by Bridge Street Interiors/Mermaid Haven owner Debbie Myers and decorated by Myers and her husband, Matt.

“We’ve got over 1,000 feet of ribbon, 750 large bulbs and I made the mermaid. We’re doing a mermaid theme this year because we’ve got a new product in our store called Mermaid Life, and we have some live mermaids coming for our Christmas open house,” Myers said. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPort Dolphin pipeline dead in the water

Citing “catastrophic changes” in the natural gas market, Port Dolphin Energy LLC has abandoned its plans to build both a liquid natural gas port in 100 feet of water 28 miles off Anna Maria Island and a 42-mile-long underwater pipeline to Port Manatee.

“Since the inception of Port Dolphin’s plan for the Deepwater Port, the natural gas industry has substantially changed,” lawyers for the subsidiary of Norway-based Höegh LNG wrote in a motion to vacate the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) certificate allowing the construction and operation of the onshore portion of the project. More...

Billy O’Connor remembered for his sense of humor

BRADENTON – Billy O’Connor, the man known for his pranks and sense of humor, died at 12:35 a.m. Nov. 27 in the hospital following a stroke.

O’Connor, who lived in Cortez, teamed with his identical twin brother, George, who lived on the Island, to start the O’Connor Bowling Challenge more than 20 years ago. George explained how that began.

“We decided to go bowling one day and we had so much fun, he suggested we hold a tournament and give the money we raised to The (Anna Maria Island Community) Center,” he said. “It drew hundreds of people off the Island and really became a fun way to raise money. It was his pride and joy.”

Peggi Davenport, co-owner of Duffy’s Tavern, remembers how Billy found something for her to do one year when she couldn’t bowl. More...

Revisions continue on vacation rental ordinance

HOLMES BEACH – City commissioners continued revising their vacation rental ordinance at last week’s City Commission work session by going through each section.

Human services Analyst Mary Buonagura asked why there are separate definitions of bedroom and sleeping room, and City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the definition of sleeping room contains the safety measures the owner must comply with such as having an emergency escape route and installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Commissioners were asked to determine the date owners must submit an application for a vacation rental certificate, and Petruff suggested 45 to 60 days after the approval of the ordinance. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryUnicorn ride fulfills her wish

PALMA SOLA CAUSEWAY – Joe and Becky Ketarkus and their 10 adopted children arrived in Manatee County by Ford Transit van, the only vehicle large enough to hold them all. They were there to fulfill their daughter’s dream, thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Four-year-old Tess Ketarkus has survived several operations for congenital heart disease and she faces more. But there is confidence that her story will have an ending as happy as their trek to the Palma Sola Causeway on Thanksgiving morning.

“When the Make-a-Wish people asked Tess what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to stay at the beach and ride a horse,” Joe Ketarkus said. “They sent the request to the Make-a-Wish branch in Sarasota.” More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Sign up for lighted boat parade

Get on board for the 12th Annual Cortez Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade, which will sparkle down the Intracoastal Waterway on Saturday, Dec. 19.

Cash prizes will be awarded for the best decorated boat in each category, and the best overall boat will win a $500 grand prize. All boats are welcome to participate in the fun.

The parade will leave from the Seafood Shack in Cortez at 6:30 p.m. Spectators can enjoy the show from the Seafood Shack, the Cortez bridge, the Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach and Coquina Bayside Park. More...

Commission immersed in front yard pools

HOLMES BEACH – After considerable discussion, city commissioners agreed not to allow any exceptions to the draft ordinance banning pools in front yards.

The issue arose when the building department received an application for one in Seaside Gardens. Residents there signed a petition opposing front yard pools in their neighborhood.

In November, commissioners agreed that they do not want to allow it, but asked the City Planner Bill Brisson to explore the possibility of a special exception.

In last week’s work session, Brisson said he added a section outlining exceptions. He said there is no exception if someone is building a new home, but only for existing homes. More...

Ethics complaints fell short

BRADENTON BEACH – It turns out the ethics complaints Bradenton resident Barbara Schelin attempted to file against Mayor Jack Clarke and City Attorney Ricinda Perry were dismissed upon receipt and never acted upon by the Florida Commission on Ethics.

On Sept. 14, Schelin sent numerous documents to the Commission on Ethics alleging Perry and Clarke, who was mayor at the time, violated state Sunshine Law by meeting privately with Anna Maria Oyster Bar owner John Horne when negotiating the terms of the commission-approved lease for three city-owned structures on the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

Schelin informed one media outlet of her intentions, but Clarke and Perry never received formal notification of the complaints, so the specific details remained a mystery to them, the city and the public. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryBirds to be removed from imperiled list

Three bird species that frequent Anna Maria Island’s beaches, including the iconic brown pelican, are on their way off Florida’s imperiled species list.

Brown pelicans, snowy egrets and white ibis are currently listed as species of special concern in Florida.

Last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) completed a revised draft of its Florida Imperiled Species Management Plan, which would change the way 57 imperiled animals, including the three bird species, are protected. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryKnots: as good as the weakest link

Fishing tackle and techniques may seem to be very technical, but the most important components of the angling experience never change. Even with the latest tackle, the most refined technique and lots of luck you still risk a failure if you haven’t been vigilant when tying knots. Tying knots properly may appear a small part of the fishing equation, but it is one of the most critical and overlooked. Chances are you won’t meet many anglers who haven’t lost a fish to an improperly tied knot! You don’t need to master a lot of knots, but learn the basic ones, tie them properly and you’ll improve the likelihood of landing that fish you’ve worked so hard to entice.

The best place to learn and practice knots isn’t on the water, but on the table. With good instruction, a pair of clippers and some spools of line, it won’t take long to learn a number of important knots. This article isn’t the place to instruct you on how to tie these knots, but hopefully it will hopefully inspire you to take the time to explore knot tying. Here are some knots that you’ll find useful for fishing in the Gulf or the bay. More...

real estate

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Purchasing out of the country

Shortly before I left for an extensive trip to Europe in October, I came across the following comment, “If I were really really ridiculously wealthy, I wouldn’t buy a mansion, just tiny apartments in every city I love.” Unfortunately I don’t remember who wrote it but I can tell you that it will stay with me forever since I totally agree with the concept.

I started out in New York City, which, of course, has ridiculous prices for what most of us would consider tiny apartments. A million will get you about 700 square feet in Manhattan with Brooklyn now demanding the same numbers. Although most European capitals still command prices similar to New York City, there are some regions in Europe that have become more affordable for those buyers looking overseas. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

High-income earners can still use a Roth IRA

Investment Corner

Have you ever known something was right for you and been told you couldn’t have it? It can be pretty frustrating. Many high-income earners, who would like to contribute directly to Roth accounts, cannot do so because of IRS income limits. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for high-earners to reap the benefits associated with Roth accounts, such as tax-free growth, tax-free distributions and no required minimum distributions. They may be able to participate in Roth accounts by:

1. Converting an existing Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Anyone can move the assets accumulated in a traditional IRA account to a Roth IRA account, regardless of income. The catch is you’ll owe current income tax on the amount converted. This may be a sound choice if: More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryLaPensee edges out Gator Squad for championship

The Gator Squad, sponsored by Gator-Man Pool Service, attempted to defend its adult basketball championship at the Center on Tuesday, Nov. 24, against the #1 seeded LaPensee Plumbing and Pools. With friends and family supporting each team, this was a game to watch, and the teams did not disappoint.

The scoring started quickly with Dale Smith putting two points on the scoreboard for the #2 seeded Gator Squad. Captain Jonathan Moss attempted to tie up the game with a layup for LaPensee, but the shot was deflected by Smith. Moss quickly got the ball back and made his third shot attempt of the game taking the score to 2-2. More...


Turtle ‘terrorist’ case closed, unsolved

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has closed the unsolved case of who ran over and killed three black skimmer chicks, a state species of special concern, and ran over five nests, each holding up to 100 eggs of loggerhead sea turtles, a federally threatened species.

The investigation was closed because of insufficient evidence to bring charges against the unidentified person of interest in the case, FWC spokesman Gary Morse said, adding that the state attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case.

Witnesses to the June 27 incident described a laughing couple in their late 20s in a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a single headlight around 10:30 p.m. near the Holmes Beach/Bradenton Beach line, aiming at yellow-staked turtle nests and driving over them, running over three flightless baby birds in the process.

The crimes are violations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, ranging from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, carrying penalties of $500 to $1,500 in fines with jail time of 60 days to five years. More...