The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper


Vol. 16 No. 10 - January 6, 2016

headlines

No shivering at New Year’s event

Carol Whitmore

tom vaught | SUN

Elvis left the beach and entered the water on New Year’s Day
for the Eighth Annual Clancy’s Shamrock Shiver, a fund-raiser
for local charities, which included a costume competition,
won by Bill Capobianco (Elvis).

BRADENTON BEACH – It was a party on the beach New Year’s Day as nearly 100 people came out to watch, or participate in, Clancy’s Irish Pub’s Eighth Annual Shamrock Shiver at Cortez Beach. The purpose of the event is to raise money as people enlist friends and loved ones to donate a certain amount to see them run into the chilly waters of the Gulf of Mexico during winter.

If those generous friends and loved ones had donated by the number of goose bumps raised, they wouldn’t have raised any money. The temperature was in the 70s, and so was the Gulf.

On a day where the only people in the water would be those daring participants, they had to ask some kids in the water to move out of the way before they made their dash into the water.

Fair weather didn’t put a damper on the daring escapade. There was a new angle this year, a costume contest, and there was a group of Island residents dressed like honeybees, a priest in a long robe, a snowman with a red nose, and Elvis was on the beach as well. In fact, Bill Capibianco, the man in the Elvis suit, took first place in the costume contest.

The Shamrock Shiver has its roots in the real shivers in those polar bear events up North, according to organizer Jan Crudelle.

“A bunch of ladies from the New York area and Rhode Island were sitting on the beach during Thanksgiving when one of them suggested it as a way to raise money for charity,” she said. “They decided to come back during New Year’s Day and try it, and they made $11,000 that first year.”

According to another participant, Don Rothgery, 30 people made the plunge that first year.

The money raised goes to the Florida Winefest Auction, a group that directs the donations to local charities in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

At press time, the organizers were still expecting more money to be collected and they could not provide a total amount at this time. Overall, the have collected more than $144,000 for the charity.

The mantra of the Shamrock Shiver’s organizers is, “Give where you live.”

Sun Person of the Year: Kenneth A. Price, Jr.

HOLMES BEACH – Since growing up on the Island, Kenneth A. Price, Jr. or Andy, as everyone knows him, has been an integral part of Island life.

Price rose from a boy attending programs at the Island Community Center to coach to chairman of the board and from child of a chief to volunteer to chief of the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District, from which he retired in April. Both friends and colleagues praise Price for his dedication to the community and contributions to the safety of its citizens.

“Andy Price has always been like the modern day Andy Taylor from the old Andy Griffith show,” friend Suki Janisch said. “A man who is looked up to and respected by his friends, family and especially the community. You always know he's going to be truthful, honest and thoughtful.

“He loves where he lives and treasures the many characters that help give the small town its charm. His service to us has been invaluable, as a first responder and a valued citizen. But it's his commitment to his family and friends that cannot be equaled, and I am forever grateful to be included in that group.”

Price’s father was chief of the Bradenton Beach Volunteer Fire Department and childhood friend John Banyas, whose father also was a fire volunteer, recalls helping their fathers raise money for the department.

“We used to have chicken barbecues and the fire truck would go up and down the Island selling tickets. We would help sell tickets and then help with the barbecue,” Banyas said.

Shaping the fire department

Price’s father encouraged him to join the fire department and after serving with Sarasota and Longboat Key, he became fire marshal with the Anna Maria Fire District in 1987, then chief in 1992. It was here that he dedicated his career to making it a first class department.

Mary Stephens, administrative assistant for the fire district for 30 years, said, “Since Andy’s family were long-time Islanders, he had a vested interest and a vision in making our fire district the most effective possible and takes pride in the service we provide.

“He made it most effective by fostering change for firefighters to become EMTs; requiring more education and training; expanding the use of technology; adding the fire-rescue boat, bike team for parades and street fairs, ATV for parks and preserves, hazmat team, search and rescue team and rescue swimmers; strengthening cooperation between all public safety agencies throughout the county; and developing strong fiscal planning to build reserve funding and commit funds for equipment replacements.”

Tom Sousa who followed Price as chief, said, “Andy’s leadership was instrumental in the successful merger of Anna Maria and Westside fire districts (in 2000). He also was responsible for the planning and development of our current facility plan. Andy’s contributions will have a lasting benefit to the community for years.

“As the fire chief, he created an organizational culture of 'Excellence through commitment,’ Innovation in the delivery of fire and emergency medical service will be his legacy.”

Friends and colleagues

Deputy Chief Brett Pollock said he and Price have been friends since middle school and that “he lead us through the merger and the growth of the district by ensuring our facilities, equipment and technology were state of the art as possible.”

Julius Halas, director, Florida State Fire Marshal's Office, said the two met in 1980 when they were both young firefighters and added, “Since then we have become not only good friends, but also fellow fire chiefs with a great working relationship.

“While I served as fire chief for 10 years at the town of Longboat Key (1999-2009), I could always rely on Chief Price for assistance and advice based on his excellent judgment and his strong integrity. He is surely deserving of this prestigious award.”

Friend Dave Schuckert, who was a fire commissioner when Price became chief, said, “ Andy Price's dedication, taking the fire department reins from a volunteer organization, to a full time highly respected area department, his community service to youth and the community center, his contributions to the health, welfare and safety of the Island and area, are all statements of his deserving of this award.”

Capt. Scott Moore, praised the department for the professionalism established through Price’s leadership and said, “What a job he has done over the years. My son’s boat caught fire because the battery's blew up, and the department put it out knowing what to do. This could have turn into a big marina fire, which is hard to put out.”

Community service

Price has always had time for community service as a baseball coach at the community center and as chairman of its board of directors for many years.

Sandee Pruett, formerly of the community center, said she first met Price when she began working there is 1999 and he was chairman of the board.

“When I think of Andy Price, I think of his devotion for his family, loyalty to his friends, pride in his job and the joy he found in fishing. He is a humble guy who always has a big smile and a big hug ready for you.”

Pierrette Kelly, community center executive director from 1989 to 2012, said, “His positive attitude and passion for the Center was backed up by his devotion of time, energy and his willingness to ask others for support.

“Andy had a knack for blending diverse backgrounds and personalities together in order to achieve positive results. Being around Andy made life more fun. Andy exuded infectious enthusiasm for the Center.”

Darcie Duncan, of Duncan Real Estate, who served on the Island Community Center’s board of directors when Price was chair, said, “Andy is a gracious islander who gave so much of himself to our community through the countless hours of time he spent volunteering for numerous non-profit boards.

“Words that come to my mind to describe him are selfless, calm, having integrity and forward thinking. He is a true islander who has served our community well.”

Praise from friends and neighbors

“We have had the pleasure of being neighbors to Andy Price for almost 30 years,” said Chris and John Rudacille. “He has been the best neighbor anyone could ask for. Not only is he helpful but humorous, as well.

“We have shared many funny moments over the years. We have watched each other's children grow up, and he was our son's baseball coach when he played ball at the community center.

“And, it always helps living next door to the fire chief when your husband sets the roll up blinds on fire when using the gas grill! We couldn't think of anyone better to receive this award.”

Carol Whitmore, Manatee County commissioner and former mayor of Holmes Beach said she has known Price and his family since she was 14 and added, “I’m so proud of him as an islander growing up and becoming fire chief It’s an honor to be friends with him.”

“He’s an outstanding guy in my book,” Banyas said.

“Andy has given so much to his community for decades. Congratulations for being the AMI Sun's Person of the Year. It couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving guy,” Pruett declared.

“I am so grateful for all the years we worked together and all we accomplished and so happy for you to receive this great honor. You are so deserving. I always knew you were Irish,” Kelly said.

“Thank you for all you have done for this island,” Moore concluded. “And by the way, you still owe me a fishing trip!”

Top 10 stories of 2015

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN FILE PHOTO

Forensic specialists sift through sand and dirt
excavated from the site where the remains of
Sabine Musil- Buehler were found on Anna Maria Island.

For such a small place, Anna Maria Island had more than its share of newsworthy stories in 2015. Everything from the incredible increase in tourism, which prompted many to joke that the Island would sink, to the solving of an eight-year-old murder mystery, could be found in the 52 editions of The Sun.

We’ve put together our own list, in no particular order, of the top 10 stories of the year for you to review, but there certainly were dozens more that could have been included.

Vacation rental boom

To address an increase in vacation rental construction, a proposed building moratorium in Bradenton Beach was proposed but rejected by commissioners in September. It continues to be debated, along with a quality of life ordinance that would address concerns about vacation rentals.

Anna Maria commissioners adopted a new vacation rental ordinance in November limiting occupancy and providing for increased enforcement. One lawsuit challenging it has been dismissed so far.

In January, Holmes Beach imposed a building moratorium on homes with four or more bedrooms, commonly used as vacation rentals.

Pier restaurants open

The Anna Maria Island Oyster Bar (AMOB) opened in December on the historic Bradenton Beach Pier with A Room with a Hue and Tide & Moon 2 in the outparcels, re-enlivening the Bridge Street shopping district after Cast n’ Cage was evicted for nonpayment of rent.

In February, the Rod n’ Reel Pier in Anna Maria reopened after renovations from a 2014 fire.

Your vote counts

Recalled Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon was re-elected to the position over incumbent Jack Clarke when he drew the high card after a tie election in November.

Shored up

Renourishment of Anna Maria Island beaches was completed in March, shoring up businesses, vacation rentals, homes and roads from storms.

BP debris finally hits beaches

No oil ever hit the beach from the BP spill in 2010, but beachgoers discovered vibration suppressor panels, also known as tendon strake sheaths, on the beach in August. The objects are wrapped around pipes descending from oil rigs into the Gulf to minimize their movement in currents, and are thought to be from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Dead in the water

Citing changes in the natural gas market, Port Dolphin abandoned its plans to build a highly controversial 42-mile-long pipeline from Port Manatee that would have connected to a liquefied natural gas port it planned to build in the Gulf of Mexico 28 miles off Bean Point in Anna Maria.

The Florida Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by commercial fishermen and supported by the Cortez chapter of Fishing for Freedom challenging the 1995 gill net ban as unconstitutional.

Guilty

William Cumber confessed in October to the murder of Anna Maria Island hotelier Sabine Musil-Buehler in a plea deal for a 20-year prison sentence he received in exchange for leading authorities to the site where he buried her eight years ago on the beach at 79th Street in Holmes Beach.

Michael Carleton, formerly of Coast Line Realtors and Coast Line Accommodations, pled guilty in November to one count of federal mail fraud for double-booking accommodations online and refusing to return $200,000 in deposits paid by more than 70 visitors who found themselves without a place to stay upon their arrival to the Island in 2012 and 2013.

Not guilty

The U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 in March to overturn the 2011 conviction of former commercial fisherman John Yates for destroying undersized grouper in a federal fisheries investigation. He served 30 days in jail for disposing of evidence under a federal law passed in the wake of the Enron fraud scandal that criminalized destruction of certain types of evidence by shredding and other means.

Escaped

State wildlife officials in October closed the unsolved case of who ran over and killed three black skimmer chicks, a state species of special concern, and five loggerhead sea turtle nests, a federally threatened species, with an ATV in June near the Holmes Beach/Bradenton Beach line.

Connected

Anna Maria joined Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach in getting a cell phone tower.

Auld acquaintance lost

The Island lost former Florida first lady Rhea Chiles, O’Connor Bowling Challenge founder Billy O’Connor, artist Woody Candish, musician Connie Ferguson Pritchard and charter boat Capt. Glen Corder, among other beloved public figures.

 

Peggy Meyers and Jack Jackson say farewell to PO

Pat copeland | sun

Peggy Meyers and Jack Jackson bid goodbye to the
Holmes Beach Post Office, but not to the friends they made there.

HOLMES BEACH – Saying goodbye is hard for many, but especially so for Peggy Meyers and Jack Jackson, who have served most of the people of Holmes Beach at one time or another over the past 21 years.

The couple spent their last day serving the public at the Holmes Beach Post Office on Dec. 31 before retiring and handing the stamps over to the capable hands of Julie Quinlivan and Sally Woodward.

“We’re thrilled, we’re happy,” but we’ll miss the people like crazy,” Meyers said. “We’ve had tons of wonderful customers.”

Meyers said they came to the post office in 1994 after replying to and ad in the newspaper stating that the contract was available.

“We took it as a lark,” Meyers recalled. “We thought it would be fun.”

“We took it for two years and now it’s 21 years later,” Jackson added.

The pair had card, book and gift shops in Bradenton and eventually brought the merchandise to the Island location. A couple of years later, Jackson opened his sign shop in the rear of the building and produced signs and banners.

Odd things mailed

Meyers said they couldn’t tell about any funny incidents with their customers because of post office confidentiality regulations, but they did recall some of the oddest things that people mailed.

“Beach balls, dried grape leaves so brittle that they fell apart, coconuts and flip flops,” Jackson answered. ‘Most of the coconuts had pictures painted on them. We had to wrap the postage on with tape, and I åhated that because sometimes it pulled the paint off.”

Meyers said their two Chinese Shar Peis, Arruga and Izzy, were a delight for customers, who brought them treats. One customer even mailed a box of treats to the dogs.

“Older people who had to give up their pets to live in condos came every day to see them and bring them treats,” Jackson added.

“How do you say goodbye to people who have become like family? Meyers asked. “People whose babies have grown up and come back as customers.”

Keeping the boxes

Meyers also said she would like to give “a big shout out to all the people who helped keep this post office here.”

She was referring to the issue that began in April when the couple said they planned to retire, and USPS officials said they could keep the contract post office, but not the 230 post office boxes, which they said could be relocated to Anna Maria or Bradenton Beach.

The couple maintained that without the post office boxes, the contract would be financially unfeasible, and if no one took the contract, it could result in the loss of all postal services at that location.

Mayor Bob Johnson sought help from U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan, who called for a town hall meeting with representatives of the USPS. Residents rallied for their post office, and Buchanan took their case to USPS officials in Washington, D.C. A couple weeks later their request to keep the post office boxes was granted.

Jackson said they would relax at their home in Bradenton until the spring when they plan on taking an extended RV trip to visit friends and relatives in several Western states.

“In mid-June we plan to be in South Dakota,” Jackson said. “There’s a town reunion in Pickstown, where I went to school.”

“Now we’ll have time to travel,” Meyers said. “We’ve always been limited because we never liked to leave here too long because of the responsibility.

“Tell people we’re so grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity. It was a great job, and we loved every minute of it.”

Mary Stephens retires from WMFR

pat copeland | SUN

Mary Stephens has been a part of the history of the Island's
fire departments for 30 years.

BRADENTON – Although she is retiring as administrative assistant for the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District after 30 years, Mary Stephens said she and her husband, Danny, would always remain a part of the extended family of emergency personal.

“Everything we’ve ever done has involved fire, police and EMS friends,” she said. “I don’t know what our life would have been without that.”

Stephens credits the Holmes family for getting them involved in the fire service after they followed their parents to the Island from Xenia, Ohio, in 1981. Both worked for Holmes Construction and through the company, Danny joined the Anna Maria Volunteer Fire Department (AMVFD) in 1983.

‘”It was community based volunteerism, and all the volunteers had to live in the district,” she recalled. “The volunteers were Island business owners who would close their doors and go on fire calls.

“In 1986, Mr. Holmes Sr. was chairman of the fire district and he and secretary/treasurer George Wagner hired me as secretary. The office was at the AMVFD station at Oak Avenue and Gulf Drive in Anna Maria.

Three volunteer departments

“Back then the district was comprised of three separate volunteer departments – Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Cortez and each had its own chain of command and fundraisers. The fire district didn’t respond to rescue calls – that was done by volunteers with Island Rescue, who also were volunteer firefighters from the three departments. Eventually those groups all merged and the district began running rescue calls.”

Dan was hired by Cedar Hammock Fire District in 1987, and the couple served as officers for the volunteer association assisting with fundraisers and activities such as the district’s Halloween dances and haunted houses and spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts and fish fries.

The district built Station 2 in Holmes Beach in 1987 and hired its first two full time firefighters, Jack Williams and Rich Losek, in 1989. Stephens said they had one computer in the office, the radio system was VHF and the governor appointed the fire commissioners.

“The volunteers had plectrons, which were alerting devices, in their homes so they could be notified when there was a call,” she recalled. “Then pagers came in so they could be notified if thy weren’t home.

“The changes in technology and how they affected everything are huge. Now our guys carry mobile 800 radios and cell phones. With the radios, they can talk to each other, other agencies and other districts.

Volunteer to full time

She said the other biggest change was going from a volunteer, community based department to a full time department.

“It started changing when personnel were not available because they were either working or living outside the district,” she explained. “We had to open it up to other volunteers, but they had to spend time in the district to learn the roads, the businesses and where there were standpipes and alarm systems.

“Then we started the OJT program, which allowed us to pay them to work a day or night shift. The program slowly grew and evolved into what we have now.”

Firefighters, who once had to take a 40-hour course at the local vocational school when it was available, now have to take 400 hours and become state certified. They also must become EMTs.

Then came the biggest merger – the Anna Maria Fire & Rescue District with the Westside Fire District in 2000 to form the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District, which covers the Island, west Bradenton and Cortez.

“As the community and its needs grow and the calls change, it’s irresponsible not to step up,” she stressed. “We kept stepping up to meet the needs.”

Stephens said she is looking forward to spending time with Danny and the kids, traveling and pursuing hobbies, but their life is will forever be entwined with the fire district.

“Our whole life is here,” she concluded. “It’s an enormous amount of people we met and lived with, and everywhere we go, everybody knows everybody.”

Potential bike route unveiled

submitted

The map shows the proposed bike route.

 

HOLMES BEACH – Working with Claudia Carlson and the Holmes Beach Bike/Walk Committee, Terry Green has created a proposed bike route map to present to the City Commission at a later date.

Green made the map using the Google My Maps application he recently familiarized himself with.

When asked why he volunteered his time to these efforts, Green said, “I’m not able to do much biking, but I’m very interested in not hitting a biker with my car. That’s a great motivation for many who are interested in this project and who are afraid there’s going to be a bike fatality. The idea is to get folks off the main roads where there are so many cars, and as we continue to develop the map, we want to highlight where some of the more dangerous areas are.”

Some of this preliminary information has already been presented to the Island Transportation Planning Organization and Green said the committee expects to receive additional input from Mayor Bob Johnson and feedback from the public before presenting the bike route map to commissioners.

The proposed routes

Traveling north from the Bradenton Beach city limits to the Anna Maria city limits, the proposed primary bike route would take cyclists west on 28th Street before turning north onto Avenue E, which runs parallel to Gulf Drive and crosses over to Sixth Avenue near Walgreen’s.

The route would continue on Sixth Avenue and behind the shopping center until connecting with 39th Street, Fourth Avenue or a connecting trail that would lead west, across Gulf Drive and into the Manatee Public Beach.

Continuing north from the beach, the route would take a left turn onto 43rd Street, a right turn on Second Avenue that would take cyclists north and parallel to Gulf Drive and connect with 52nd Street.

A left turn at 52nd Street followed by a right turn on Holmes Boulevard would have cyclists traveling parallel to Marina Drive and Palm Drive to the east and Gulf Drive to the west until reaching 72nd Street. At that point, the route would cross Palm Drive and connect with the northern portion of Marina Drive that leads to 83rd Street, which connects to the Gulf Drive bike lane that leads to Willow Street and the Anna Maria bike route being developed by Amy Tripp.

The proposed map also includes two extensions.

The Flotilla Drive extension would utilize 62nd Street to connect Holmes Boulevard and Flotilla Drive, which passes by the dog park, city field and Holmes Beach City Hall before ending at the Island Branch Library.

The 77th Street extension would begin where Holmes Boulevard ends and take cyclists on a southwesterly route across Gulf Drive and onto 75th Street before ending at the 77th Street Beach Access.

“These proposed first-phase routes are subject to change depending on community and commissioner input,” Carlson said, noting that addressing crosswalks and dangerous areas along the route would be an early priority that would require commission support and possible city funding.

Carlson said a second and more ambitious phase might include redesigning certain intersections and creating protected pathways between Holmes Beach and Anna Maria where travel along Gulf Drive is unavoidable. These larger scale improvements could include roundabouts and the pursuit of grants and other outside funding has already been given committee consideration.

Look back and looking ahead

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – As the holiday season came to a close, some additional elected officials joined their peers in responding to a recent inquiry seeking insight on what was accomplished in 2015 and what remains to be done in 2016.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said, “If I was to list the top four or five accomplishments of 2015 I would say:

• The construction and activation of the cell tower, so we can have good and clear communications within our city and with the rest of the world;

• Finally starting the construction and development of the City Pier Park;

• The establishment of the Building Construction Review Board to help us enforce our codes and ferret out unscrupulous contractors;

• Creating a parking and code enforcement presence seven days a week in order to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe and orderly;

• Hammering out a vacation rental ordinance that will retain our neighborhood charm, while at the same time allowing visitors to enjoy our little slice of paradise.”

Looking ahead to 2016, Murphy said, “Our emphasis will be on making the city of Anna Maria an even better place to live. Projects such as the bike route, improving our parks, reinforcing the City Pier, improving our roads and infrastructure and strengthening our relationships with our fellow cities by seeking opportunities for synergies all lend themselves towards improving the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

Holmes Beach Commissioner Judy Titsworth said, “I feel that the commission has had a very busy past few years trying to restore some balance in our residential communities. My hope for the new year is that the residents will make great strides in bringing the community feel back into our city.

"We are truly blessed to live in this little piece of paradise and it is time for everyone to put down the swords and enjoy sharing this beautiful city with our neighbors, friends, visitors and families once again.”

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jake Spooner said, “What stands out to me looking back at 2105 is AMOB returned to the Island, the Bridge Street drainage and stormwater projects got underway and the mayor’s race ended in a tie. In 2016, I hope we can find a city planner that is as good for our city as Alan Garrett has been and that we can help with the continued efforts to improve our downtown.”

New Year’s Eve rocks on Bridge Street

Doreen Flynn | submitted

David Marshall playing the role of Father Time.

BRADENTON BEACH – From one end to the other, Bridge Street was rocking Thursday night as revelers said farewell to 2015 and hello to 2016.

At one end of the street, the new year was ushered in with midnight fireworks on the beach courtesy of Ed Chiles and the BeachHouse restaurant. In the Drift In parking lot at the other end of street, Father Time (David Marshall) and bar owner Joe Cuervo dropped the lighted ball that signaled the arrival of 2016.

In between these two end points, Bridge Street was filled with partiers making their way to and from celebratory locations that included the Moose lodge, Island Time Bar & Grill, Bridge Street Bistro, The Freckled Fin, the Blue Marlin Grill, Sports Lounge and the Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar.