The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 45 - September 7, 2016


Hermine drenches Island

Carol Whitmore


Roselyn Ward, of Anna Maria, kayaks home Wednesday
because her school bus had to let her off short of her house.

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The first hurricane to hit Florida in a decade began as a tropical disturbance that passed over the Island last week, leaving flooded homes, flooded streets, downed trees and sunken boats in its wake.

The tropical disturbance entered the Gulf of Mexico as a disorganized bunch of storm clouds Wednesday. As it formed, the moisture in the air around it developed into rainstorms causing problems for the flood prone streets and yards on the Island and in Cortez.

The city of Holmes Beach put up signs at low-lying streets, with parts of Marina Drive near Holmes Beach City Hall, the Island Branch Library and Wells Fargo Bank having water so deep it forced motorists to proceed at little more than idle speed.

One of the canals that ends at Marina Drive overflowed, but there was no damage. The roof of the laundromat at the Holmes Beach Shopping Center was damaged, and a tree fell down in the front yard of a home on 83rd Street, according to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.

"We were blessed compared with the cities in the path of the hurricane," Tokajer said.

Thursday morning saw more rain, but there were patches of calm until the storm tracked north and the winds picked up again. Thursday night saw tropical squalls, but the amount of rain was less than before, allowing some of the saturated areas to drain.

Holmes Beach

On Friday morning, Tokajer appeared on television asking non-essential visitors to stay away from the Island until the flooding receded.

On Saturday, he said, "We had a considerable amount of streets flooded. Our worst day was Wednesday, and Thursday we had some flooding as well. Friday is when it started to really subside and everything was passable."

He estimated the water to be at least two feet deep on Marina Drive, near city hall, at various times on Wednesday and Thursday.

After noting that he received no reports of storm-related injuries, Tokajer said, "We had a tree down off of 83rd (Street) and Marina Drive and then we had some damage to the roof of the laundromat in the Holmes Plaza. Other than that, we had some minor damage. There were some roofs that were damaged, but overall as a community we were truly blessed."

Anna Maria

The street flooding was heavy enough in the city of Anna Maria on Friday morning to cause Mayor Dan Murphy and Sgt. Russell Schnering to limit access to the city to residents, vacation rental guests and essential personnel, with Sheriff's deputies determining who came in.

"After we stopped some of the cars driving too fast through the water, we found out many of them didn't need to be here," Schneering said. "They were just looking."

"We were trying to discourage sightseers, and we were successful at that. Things look better now. We still have some significant flooding on the north end, around Fern, Jacaranda, North Shore and North Bay," Murphy said on Saturday.

Some residents reported water flooding into their homes and on Friday Murphy authorized the leasing of five trailer-style pumps at a cost of $3,500.

"We are pumping still, but expect things to be back to normal by tomorrow," he said Saturday morning.

"Our public works people did a fantastic job of responding during this storm crisis. We received many compliments from residents. They are a credit to our city, and I'm very proud of them. We also need to thank The Center and Crosspointe Fellowship for stepping up and offering shelter to any victims who had flooding in their homes," he added.

By Sunday morning, it was all blue skies and sunshine on the Island, and Labor Day weekend was starting to kick off.


Docked in front of the Seafood Shack in Cortez, the historic schooner San Francesco was among the storm's earliest casualties. By Thursday morning, the 66-foot wooden schooner was sitting on the bottom of the bay mostly submerged, and she was still in that condition Sunday morning.

Bradenton Beach

Street flooding was prevalent in Bradenton Beach along Gulf Drive, in the avenues at the north end of the city, along Highland Avenue and on Bridge Street.

On Thursday, a sailboat broke loose from the anchorage and struck the Historic Bridge Street Pier doing some damage to the decking. Police Chief Sam Speciale said the vessel was later tied to the protective dolphin pilings at the east end of the pier, and he is going to request additional dolphin pilings be installed.

The Planning and Zoning Board was able to conduct their meeting Wednesday afternoon, but Thursday's City Commission meeting was cancelled; as was Thursday's County Commission's land use meeting. Manatee County schools were closed Thursday and Friday and the free Island Trolley system was out of service Friday due to widespread street flooding.

Some residents' yards and streets were so flooded that they were stuck at home for a couple days. By Thursday afternoon, Mike Cunningham's yard on Bay Drive looked like an extension of the bay, with the waves continuing past the shoreline and into his yard.

Things had improved significantly by mid-day Friday.

"They're delivering the mail and it's pretty much business as usual," Speciale said, reporting no known injuries or significant storm damage.

The Bridge Street business district was lively Friday night, offering folks a chance to get out after being cooped up for a few days.

The storm pushed through Georgia and as it left Florida, it served as a reminder that those quiet hurricane seasons we enjoyed recently could be things of the past.

Waterline Resort NOT owned by Marriott

HOLMES BEACH – "Marriott does not own one iota of Waterline," declared Joe Collier, after published reports that the hotel chain purchased some or all of Mainsail's investment in the resort.

Collier is president of Mainsail Lodging and Development, of Tampa, which is developing Waterline, the Island's first full service hotel at the corner of Marina and Gulf drives. It includes 37 hotel suites; a lodge with a restaurant, ballroom and meeting spaces; and a 50-boat slip marina.

"It's a part of Marriott's Autograph Collection of hotels, which are boutique establishments that are fiercely independent, but have the advantage of distribution and buying power from Marriot," Collier explained.

"In the world of financing, having a company with that horsepower is good for finance. Look at the hotels in the Autograph Collection. It's an impressive showing. All are unique and independent."

Collier emphasized that in addition to owning Waterline, Mainsail will operate it, as it does with all of its properties. Two of those also are in the Autograph Collection –The Epicurean Hotel in Tampa and Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina in the British Virgin Islands.

Four star hotels

Mainsail Vice President Brian Check added, "All the hotels in the Autograph Collection are four star and above. It's something that insures quality standards and allows us to access marketing.

"It assures anyone who stays there that it will be a certain quality and standard. There will be no big red M on it. Mainsail owns it and is not selling it."

City Commissioner Jean Peelen, who has watched the project evolve over the years, said, "After speaking with Joe Collier and understanding the facts, I am very relieved that Waterline is and will remain a totally locally owned and operated hotel."

Other questions arose regarding the company's involvement in the EB-5 Visa Program.

"It's a method of funding that's no different from any other equity or debt," Check explained. "It's been in place since the Clinton administration.

"It's a method by which foreign nationals can invest in the U.S. They have to document that the investment created 10 full time jobs for Americans in no less than two years. We are not hiring foreign nationals, and they are not an owner of the property."

"Our senior loan is still with Centennial Bank, and we still have the same small group of investors who are sold on the independent boutique nature of Anna Maria Island," Collier added. "We have bought into what Anna Maria is all about."

Term limits maintained

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

joe hendricks | SUN

Vice Mayor Ed Straight's will have a successor after
the November elections.

BRADENTON BEACH – By retaining term limits during the Aug. 30 primary election, city voters have determined that Vice Mayor Ed Straight will not be allowed to serve a fourth consecutive elected term on the City Commission.

City voters also determined that the two-year residency requirement for those seeking elected office will remain in effect.

Bradenton Beach voters favored keeping term limits 213 (75.53 percent) to 69 (24.47 percent). The city remains the only one on the Island with term limits for elected officials.

In regard to residency requirements for commission candidates, 165 primary voters (58.72 percent) favored maintaining the current two-year residency requirement adopted last fall, while 116 voters (41.28 percent) favored reverting back to the nine-month residency requirement suggested by City Attorney Ricinda Perry.

Straight talk

When asked about the primary results, Straight said, "I can't say that I'm really surprised, but that's fine. I was willing to do it again if the people wanted me to, but they'll have to find someone else. There is an upside because we continue to get busier with Wildlife Inc., and I have plenty to keep me busy with the wildlife. There were times when being a commissioner interfered with that."

Straight also serves as the vice mayor and as the chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency.

Because no other candidates qualified to run for the Ward 2 seat during the June qualifying period, there is no one running to fill the seat Straight will vacate in mid-November. Due to the uncertain status of term limits at the time of qualifying, he decided to qualify, but knew there was a chance the term limit vote would render him ineligible to seek another elected term in office.

Straight's successor will be chosen by the four commission members in office after the Nov. 8 general elections. After the winner of the Ward 4 race between Bill Vincent and John Chappie is sworn into office, the new commissioner will join Mayor Bill Shearon and commissioners Ralph Cole and Jake Spooner at the next meeting in nominating and trying to reach consensus on the person who will serve as the next Ward 2 commissioner.

To be considered for the seat, potential nominees must have lived in Ward 2 for at least two years. Ward 2 encompasses the area from 17th Street to 23rd Street North.

The commission will have two meetings to reach consensus on a nominee. If no nominee receives the support of at least three commission members, the winner will be determined by lot, which means cutting cards, drawing straws, throwing dice or engaging in some other game of chance.

As the only candidate to express serious interest in representing Ward 2 for the next two years, Straight addressed the challenges the commission may encounter when trying to replace him.

"The problem with trying to find a commissioner is it's almost a full-time job with all the meetings, and people don't have the time," he said.

In exchange for their time, commissioners earn $4,800 a year. Commissioner Jan Vosburgh will also term-limit out of office in November when she completes her third consecutive two-year term.

Island voters weigh in



Democrat Patrick Murphy, left, will face incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio
in the general election in November.



MANATEE COUNTY – Island voters helped determine the outcomes of several county, state and federal and primary races during the primary election that concluded Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Island voters joined voters countywide and statewide in supporting a constitutional amendment that will provide tax exemptions for property owners who use solar power and other renewable energy sources.

County voters on the mainland determined the winners of two Manatee County Commission primary races in which the winners will face no additional challengers in November.

U.S. Senate

In the race for one of Florida's two U.S. senate seats, Manatee County's Republican primary voters favored incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio over local developer Carlos Beruff 68.41 percent to 23.55 percent. Rubio received 23,018 votes in Manatee County and Beruff received 7,922. Dwight Mark Anthony Young received 1,575 and Ernie Rivera received 1,131.

Statewide, Rubio received 1,029,829 votes (71.99 percent) to Beruff's 264,427 votes (18.49 percent).

Rubio will now face Democrat Patrick Murphy in the general election in November.

In Manatee County, Murphy received 12,989 votes (70.44 percent), followed by Pam Keith at 15.22 percent and Alan Grayson at 10.04 percent. Statewide, Murphy had received 58.95 percent of the votes. Grayson finished second with 17.7 percent of the vote and Pam Keith finished third with 15.39 percent of the vote.

Solar Initiative

By a 72.78 percent to 27.22 percent margin, Manatee County voters supported an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to exempt the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices from property owners' assessed ad valorem property tax value. A total of 40,699 county voters supported the tax exemption and 15,225 opposed it.

Statewide, 1,975,249 Florida voters (72.62 percent) voted in favor of the amendment and 744,888 (27.38 percent) opposed it. The solar initiative will take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and expire on Dec. 31, 2037.

Manatee County Property Appraiser:

Incumbent Manatee County Property Appraiser Charles Hackney received 21,779 votes (70.07 percent) in defeating challenger Chester Bullock, who received 9,301 votes (29.93 percent) in the Republican primary.

The only other candidate listed in this race is write-in candidate Lauren Ramirez, who has not raised or spent any money in this race.

Representative in Congress, District 16

Incumbent Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan received 26,786 votes (80.97 percent) in Manatee County compared to 6,296 votes (19.03 percent) for challenger James Satcher.

District-wide, Buchanan received 53,706 votes (80.63 percent) and Satcher received 12,900 votes (19.37 percent). Buchanan will face Democratic challenger Jan Schneider in the general election.

In Manatee County, Schneider received 13,633 votes (76.55 percent) to Brent King's 4,176 votes (23.45 percent. District-wide, Schneider had received 76.24 percent of the vote compared to 23.76 for King.

School Board

In the races to fill two seats on the Manatee County School Board seats, Gina Messenger and Edward Viltz emerged from the four-candidate District 1 race and will face off again in November. In the District 3 race, incumbent Dave "Watchdog" Miner and Misty Servia were the top two vote-getters and they, too, will square off in November.

Non-Island races

Island voters did not have a say in the two county commission primary races decided last week, but they will be impacted by the decisions these commissioners make when they take office in November.

In the Republican primary race for the District 1 seat being vacated by longtime Commissioner Larry Bustle, Priscilla Whisenant Trace won the seat with 5,402 votes (40.42 percent), followed by Ron Reagan's 4,148 votes (31.04 percent) and Corie Holmes' 3,814 votes (28.54 percent).

In the District 5 Republican primary, incumbent Commissioner Vanessa Baugh received 7,358 votes (53.12 percent) and challenger Kathleen S. Grant received 6,493 votes (46.88 percent).

Two more county commission races will be determined in the November elections and Island voters will have a say in both of those races.

Countywide, voter turnout was 26.86 percent.


Man found dead on beach

HOLMES BEACH – Police are investigating the death of 41-year-old Samuel Collins Jr., of Bradenton after a beach walker found his body face up on the shore Sunday morning, They believe it is tied to a drug-related incident hours earlier, when 26-year-old Nathan Swann was found running naked on the beach around 2:40 a.m.

According Bradenton Beach Police Detective Lenard Diaz, Swann's eyes were dilated and it was apparent he was high on something, but Swann could not recall what happened. He said he had come to the beach with Collins, but did not know what happened to him. Police sent Swann to the hospital under the Baker Act.

Diaz said they believe Collins took drugs and he either died from an overdose or drowned.

"It was apparent he had taken drugs because there was foam coming from his mouth," Diaz said. "We'll know when we get the toxicology report, but that could take 30 days or more."

Diaz said the coroner's office did an autopsy of Collins and there was no sign of trauma.

Island Time never forgets

Sun file photo

From left, Angelina Crooks, Madeline Hume, Amariah Burns
and Adelina Baggett were among those who attended
last year's Never Forget fund-raiser.

BRADENTON BEACH – On Saturday, Sept. 10, Island Time Bar & Grill and Bridge Street Bistro in Bradenton Beach will host its sixth annual Never Forget 9/11 fund-raiser.

Continuing an annual tradition of honoring first responders and military personnel while also remembering the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, the Never Forget event will take place at Island Time, 111 Gulf Dr. in Bradenton Beach, from noon until 4 p.m.

All EMT personnel, firefighters, police officers and active and retired military personnel will receive a complimentary all you can eat all-American buffet with beer, wine and soft drinks included, if they present a valid ID.

"In these trying times, it's really important for us and our community to show our support for the people that are out there every day risking their lives for us. Now more than ever, Island Time and Bridge Street Bistro stand behind our first responders. We want to show our appreciation, and this is the least we can do," owner Bill Herlihy said.

The buffet offerings will include hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, barbeque chicken, chicken wings, baked beans, macaroni salad and more. As part of the fund-raising efforts, the general public can also purchase buffet tickets for $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. Drink specials will also be offered.

The fund-raising endeavors will include a 50/50 raffle and auctions featuring items donated by local sponsors and members of the Bridge Street Merchants association, and there will be lots of Budweiser and Bud Light swag and other prizes given away. Valued at more than $600, the grand prize package will include a stay at the neighboring BridgeWalk Resort, dinner for two at Bridge Street Bistro and more.

Sponsored in part by The Sun, proceeds will benefit Manatee County Emergency Services Memorial Fund. Last year's event raised $5,000.

The live entertainment will be provided by True Blue, a musical group consisting of Manatee County firefighters.

As was the case last year, there will also be plenty of kid's activities taking place at this family-friendly event, and the vacant lot across the street will be filled with emergency vehicles for youngsters and adults to take a closer look at.

For advance tickets, stop by Island Time or call 941-782-1122. You can also visit Island Time on Facebook and at

Have fun and compete at the LaPensee Bowling Tournament

BRADENTON – As summer slowly moves on toward autumn, a chance to have air-conditioned fun is always a treat, especially if there's a good cause.

The LaPensee Plumbing, Pools and Air Bowling Tournament, sponsored in part by the Anna Maria Island Sun, is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 10, at AMF Bradenton Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, starting at 5 p.m., and the cause is The Center, of Anna Maria Island.

Thee cost is $30 per person and that gets you three games of bowling and shoe rental, if needed.

Enjoy a little competition and for those who are bowling-challenged, you could bring home a trophy if you're bad enough. Awards will be presented to the male and female highest and lowest games and series in a ceremony at the alley following the tournament. Bring some money for snacks, refreshments and raffle drawings and it all goes toward children's programming at The Center.

The tournament is looking for lane sponsors. Those interested in sponsoring, who have questions about the tournament or would like to register may call The Center at 941-778-1908 or register at Duffy's Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Beach turnout dips on Labor Day

While Tropical Depression 9 rushed north along the west coast of Florida last week, it disrupted many things, including the Labor Day weekend turnout on Anna Maria Island's beaches.

First came the rain last Wednesday, then Tropical Storm Hermine's feeder bands bringing wind gusts and more rain and by the time Labor Day Monday rolled around, it should have been time for many to hit the beaches. That wasn't the case. While the beaches were busy, they weren't Labor Day weekend busy, according to law enforcement and beach rescue professionals.

Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby said Labor Day at Coquina Beach was just another busy weekend day, not a beach holiday as in the past. Asked about the activity at the beach, he answered, "It's dead. It's just another day at the beach."

Cosby should know. He patrols Coquina Beach during holidays and has for years. He offered an explanation.

"Maybe the storm threw people off," he said. "Some of them might be cleaning up their yards or making repairs around the house after the storm."

At the Coquina Beach Lifeguard Tower, Colin Schmidt said it was just like a normal weekend as well.

"Yesterday was busier than today," he said. "It's been mainly families having a good time. There have been a couple of people who ran into stingrays or lost kids, but we found them."

He estimated the crowd at Coquina at 6,000 to 7,000 people as opposed to 15,000 to 18,000 people on a normal Labor Day holiday.

At Manatee Public Beach, it was a similar story Monday.

"It hasn't been real busy today, not as busy as yesterday," said lifeguard Karl Payne. "It's close to a normal weekend."

Payne said they were prepared for more beachgoers, but it's always nice to be over-prepared than overwhelmed. Payne estimated the crowd Monday at 5,000 to 6,000 people, about half of a normal Labor Day or other beach holiday.

While the nation celebrated what has become to be known as the end of summer holiday, people on Anna Maria Island were cleaning up, drying off and saying "Good riddance" to the storm named Hermine.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper