The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 30 - May 9, 2012


Wedding Day
Carol Whitmore

Danny and Jenan Wood kiss after renewing their
vows at the mock wedding that highlighted the
Fifth Annual Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival.
The couple has been married for 18 years and
the officiant was Rev. Charlie Shook.

HOLMES BEACH – The attendance may have been down but the enthusiasm was up and the wallets were out at the Fifth Annual Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival this past weekend.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce officials said Monday that even though the turnout was slightly smaller than last year, the roughly 350 people who did attend were much more willing to spend money.

"The vendors were really thrilled," said Chamber Vice President and event organizer Deb Wing. "There were some serious buyers out there and a lot of vendors got bookings."

Wing cited Big Jim Allen's Ukulele Weddings and Caladesi Steel Drum Band as two examples of vendors who cashed in on the buying attitudes of attendees.

Chamber President and CEO Mary Ann Brockman said the demographics of those attending were affected when the date of the festival was changed from Feb. 26 – right in the thick of the tourist season – to the first weekend in May, when the visitor ranks are thinning.

"During season, there were a lot of people staying here who decided to attend the wedding festival because it was something for them to do during their stay," Brockman said. "They weren't going to book or buy anything, but they had a nice time eating and visiting the vendors."

Wing said she would recommend the May date again because it was easier for out-of-town visitors to book rooms.

"This worked out," she said. "We were able to put heads in beds because there were beds available."

The festival started on Saturday evening with a reception party at Lobstah's for the vendors and pre-registered attendees. The next morning, there was a New York style fashion show modeled by Brides Against Breast Cancer in the big tent in the Chamber parking lot.

Following that, attendees piled into buses or vans and headed out to the nine vendor sites covering all three cities.

Some stayed to visit the vendors in the parking lot under more tents. Pier 22, the new restaurant on the Bradenton Pier, treated the crowd to tasty samples of itscuisine and The Rental Depot had a liquid refreshment dispenser. Haley's Motel owner Tom Buehler and events coordinator Carol Goodfellow were on hand to talk about their new reception center, which seats 60. It was built after fire destroyed the previous building.

Vendors were on the north deck of the BeachHouse restaurant in Bradenton Beach, under a tent on the beach across from the Tortuga Inn, under the chickee hit at the Gulf Drive Café and Tiki and around the pool behind the Harrington House. The air was cool and dry enough that getting out of the sun was all one had to do to cool down.

Island DJ Chuck Caudill, who books weddings along with his wife, Dara, under the name Island Photography and DJ, said the wedding festival is a worthy event for him.

"I get lots of leads and from that a lot of bookings," he said, "It has been worth my while to be here all day."

At the Tortuga tent, Joe Grund and Allison Reach, of Bradenton, were looking at the various vendors. They are getting married at the Sandbar restaurant next May.

"We fell in love with the Island because of the ambience," she said. "Whenever we think of the beach, we think of Anna Maria Island."

Holly Giese, of Sarasota, was also looking around. She's getting married Nov. 9 in St. Petersburg, but might hold her rehearsal dinner or honeymoon on Anna Maria Island.

This was the fifth festival for Linda Shepard, of A Victorian Bride, and she said it's a worthwhile event for her.

"It's a great way for brides to visit each vendor and make a concise decision," she said.

"Everything's so beautiful here," said Kellee Brockman at the Village Café in Anna Maria, who is getting married Aug. 31, 2013. She's also the granddaughter of Mary Ann Brockman. She's marrying Brent Allen at Lakewood Ranch, but might make the Island part of her wedding.

At Body and Day Spa in Anna Maria, Kristen Slicker was talking about the steady line of attendees who came through. She said she appreciated the smaller crowds this year.

"It's easier to talk with the customers this year because you have more time," she said. "Last year when a trolley or limousine pulled up and dropped off people, you had to keep the conversation brief because you might have a long line of potential customers behind the one you're talking to, waiting for their turns.

Food and Wine on Pine was so fine
Carol Whitmore

John Williams, of J.J. Taylor, distributor of
Sierra Nevada Beer, pours beers for Cathy Dupree,
of Florida, and Martin Votel, of Eaton, Ohio.

ANNA MARIA –About 3,000 people strolled along Pine Avenue Saturday enjoying the afternoon's offerings at the second annual Food and Wine on Pine event.

"We're gratified that we had a great event," said Ed Chiles, who began the festival last year to promote local food, music and art and raise money for local nonprofit groups.

"We had tremendous volunteer support, and they were workers, but it does not happen without Caryn (Caryn Hodge, the Chiles Group Marketing Director and the event coordinator)" Chiles said. "I cannot say enough about what she does for this event."

Chiles said he also was very appreciative of all the vendors, artists and performers who spent the day on the hot street and of the "community that came out and supported it."

"The vendors said it was a fabulous event, and they all want to come back," Hodge added. "The trolleys were filled to the max. The whole feel, the atmosphere was great. I'm happy it turned out well and everyone had a good time."

Hodge praised the committee chairs for "doing a fantastic job of taking care of their assigned sections." She said children enjoyed the activities and games in their area and the AMI Art League "did a great job with the children's art display."

She said the art was "unique and high quality, the music was wonderful and well placed along the street to give it a strolling feeling" and the food lived up to its billing by showcasing local seafood.

Jackie Estes, of Paradise Café, said it was the best and most well organized festival she's ever participated in.

"They set up heavy tents for us and had kits with everything we might need. There were volunteers walking around asking if we needed anything. I've never had that kind of help before.

"Every section had music, food, ticket booths and tables, so people were never far from anything. I brought a ton of food and had to send back to the restaurant twice for more, and then I ran out completely at 5:30."

Ed Moss, pastor of CrossPointe Fellowship, said kids flocked to the children's area for face painting, crafts and carnival games and to paint the Tom Sawyer fence adding, "It was a great turnout with good audience participation.

"We had the Nickelodeon stuff like pulling gummy worms out of mud and eating chocolate donuts on a string, and the winners got to pour green slime over somebody. Our children's leader, Rick Janos, and I spent most of the day covered in slime."

Stacey Johnston and Robyn Kinkopf, of the Holmes Beach city clerk's office, were dressed as characters from the city's history. They said people enjoyed taking photos with them.

Joyce Karp, who was in charge of the art, said, "The artists were really happy and all very positive about the event. The best comment was that their sales were to people that they don't normally see or sell to.

"It brought a lot of fresh, different faces and that reflects back to Caryn and the fabulous job she did marketing the event. I think it has a great future."

Artist Linda Heath, who makes fish prints, echoed he sentiments and said, "There was an all around great feeling to the day and people were happy and buying art. It was one of the best shows I've participated in."

Jimi Gee, whose Junior All Stars stole the show at the end of the day, said the kids had a great time showcasing their talents by singing, playing and dancing for the crowd.

Hodge said although "there were a couple of problems, lessons were learned and we'll assess it all. We plan to do it every year on the first Saturday in May."

Beach erosion part of the cycle
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
tom vaught | sun The water is creeping toward the rocks
and the beach is getting smaller around the
Beach House Resort in Bradenton Beach.

BRADENTON BEACH – If you try the waterfront tables at Gulf Drive Café, you'll notice the waves are coming closer nowadays and if you walk south to the Beach House resort next to it, you'll see waves almost up to the rocks as erosion is taking its toll.

But it's nothing to worry about, according to Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker, because the sand will be carried back in naturally by summer waves.

"We're at that time of the year when the effects of the winter storms are more visible," he said. "We're had a number of aggressive wave fronts pass through the area that have worn away the shoreline but the beach will rebuild during the summer, as long as the big storms stay away."

Hunsicker said the sand that gets eroded doesn't normally go far.

"It washes out a short distance where it makes sandbars and then the gentler waves of summer wash them back on shore," he said. "Every year Mother Nature balances out the loss of sand, but there is some overall loss of sand, and that's why we need to maintain the beaches through our renourishment commitments."

Hunsicker said the high wave action fronts that have passed through the area, cutting escarpments (small cliffs) on the beach will give way to summer wave action that will help wear down those cliffs. The escarpments are making it difficult for sea turtles to come ashore to nest.

As for the smaller beach, he says it's all part of the plan, and the sand loss should be temporary.

"If you want to see where the sand is going, just look where the waves are going," he said.

Making the Green Village greener
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Pat copeland | Sun
Tom Stockebrand monotors the system that pumps
underground water to cool the air conditioners.

ANNA MARIA – Those involved with the Historic Green Village are celebrating a milestone today – achieving net zero energy within 11 months, which means the four buildings in the village generate enough energy to be self- sufficient.

One of the people who helped make this possible is Tom Stockebrand, who was educated at Cal Tech as a mechanical engineer, worked at MIT and then for the Digital Equipment Corporation in Boston for 30 years. It was there that he began educating himself about low energy systems and consulted for a solar company.

He describes his role as "analyzing and suggesting improvements to meet the goals of the Green Village." He said one of those goals of Green Village owners, Lizzie and Mike Thrasher, is to "generate as much power as we use.

"However, we can't put enough panels on these four buildings to be self-sufficient, so we have to figure out ways to reduce our use in order to meet the goal," he explained.

Some of the technologies used in the village are:

• Pumping water from underground to cool the air conditioning system;
• Capturing rainwater to flush the toilets;
• Storing stormwater runoff to irrigate the landscape;
• Generating power with solar panels;
• Insulating to limit the use of air conditioning and heat;
• Heating water with solar panels.
Some of the ways Stockebrand has tweaked their performance are:
• Installing a power indicator in the cafe to show the amount of power being used in order to decrease it's use;
• Improving the performance of the air conditioning and solar hot water systems;
• Suggesting the use of waterless urinals.

One of his most interesting suggestions was to purchase huge batteries that are powered by solar panels. Converters charge the batteries, which power the construction tools being used to renovate the Angler's Lodge, aka Thelma by the Sea.

Stockebrand said another of the Thrasher's goals is "to educate people about green technology. This is done as a showcase and educational tool, so people can carry away pieces that work for them."

Today invited guests will attend a champagne reception and tour at the Cafe to celebrate the achievement.

Donors throng to Georgia Gibbons event

ANNA MARIA – Once again the communities on the Island have rallied for one of their own.

A fund-raiser for Georgia Gibbons, 20, who was hit by a car while crossing a street in Tallahassee, was a success with estimates of between 500 and 600 coming to the Sandbar restaurant gazebo for an evening of giving.

Georgia's family has asked that the amount of money collected not be released, but organizer Dave Bouchard said the amount raised Thursday night was "substantial." He also said he was awed by the crowd.

"We had about 500 wrist bands for people to wear to be able to drink alcohol and we ran out," he said.

Ed Chiles, who hosted the event and contributed the food, said it's just another example of people watching out for their own.

"If this isn't a definition of community, I don 't know what is," he said.

Ashley Wiggins, of Bradenton, was there to support her friend and fellow student.

"She was always a good student," she recalled. "We had a design class together, and she was very creative.

"We know she'll pull through this," she added. "We're all here for her."

There were many items for auction, including a large autographed painting by environmental artist Wyland, which sold for more than $1,000. Bidders also bought jewelry, artwork, clothing and donated items in what looked like an Island-wide auction.

Bouchard said they were working on another fund-raiser. He said Georgia's condition is still critical, and they are trying to awaken her.

"They've taken her off the ventilator and she's breathing on her own," he said. "They're trying to get her to sit up because she has to be able to sit up before she can be sent to rehabilitation."

Gibbons incurred head injuries and brain trauma from the accident, but Bouchard said doctors don't know how serious or permanent those injuries are. Treatment is expensive and she did not have medical insurance at the time of the accident.

If you missed the event, you can bring a donation to Wells Fargo Bank for the Georgia Gibbons Donations Account.

Not red tide but still nasty
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The brown algae that has been washing up on Anna Maria Island beaches for the past three weeks was thought to be red tide when it first appeared, but scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg have determined that it is Trichodesmium erythraeum, a bacteria that converts nitrogen in the water into a form that red tide, a harmful algae, can consume.

Trichodesmium, which can turn water red, brown, blue-green or white, can be a precursor to a red tide bloom.

Water samples this week showed that the red tide that appeared in low concentrations off Manatee County on April 17 had cleared. One of the two local species of Trichodesmium contains a neurotoxin that has been reported to cause respiratory difficulties known as Trichodesmium fever. However, the toxin is mild compared to the one produced by the local species of red tide, Karenia brevis, according to FWRI.


This photo was taken on the Gulf beach at 30th Street last week.
The dark stains in the water and on the sand are the algae, which
had become thick and somewhat solidified.

New system starts for BP claims

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island business owners and employees may be able to make claims against BP for losses suffered as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill without proving that the spill caused the losses, according to attorney Kevin Dean.

Under a proposed settlement agreement approved last week by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier in Louisiana, the entire Island falls within "Zone A," he told about 25 Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce members at the Feast Restaurant last week.

In that zone, claimants automatically pass the legal requirement of causation and only have to prove what their damages were, said Dean, of the South Carolina law firm of Motley Rice, one of several plaintiff's firms in the settlement consortium.

The quality of documentation, such as profit and loss statements over several years, will determine the amount of the recovery, he said.

"A lot of people have given up," he said. "You've got to get that out of your mind and come back to the table."

The settlement will eliminate the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) and replace it with a system more beneficial to claimants, said Tampa attorney Tom Young, the local liaison for Dean's firm.

Claimants who were denied by the GCCF are more likely to be paid under the new system, he said.

Different multipliers will be used to calculate damages for different types of businesses, he said – for example, a business or an individual in the tourist trade with a demonstrated loss of $10,000 would receive the $10,000 plus 2.5 times that amount, or $35,000, he said.

According to court documents, charter fishing businesses in zone A also get a 2.5 multiplier, non-tourist-related businesses get a 1.5 multiplier and festival vendors get a 1.0 multiplier. Losses in zones farther from the Gulf are assigned lower multipliers.

Property devaluation claims are not compensable, but real estate

sales losses for property on the market during the spill, loss of real estate commissions and loss of rental income may be compensable, he said.

Claimants can file on their own or use any of dozens of plaintiff's attorneys in the settlement consortium. Those who are not satisfied with their recoveries can opt out of the settlement and sue, Dean said.

Last week, the judge postponed the first oil spill trial until January 2013, after a scheduled November hearing on the settlement, which governs the payment of $7.8 billion to resolve claims for economic losses and personal injuries.

Opponents say the settlement, which sets aside $600 million for attorney's fees, is designed to rush the claims process, concluding it before the oil spill's environmental and health effects are fully determined.

The April 20, 2010, explosion killed 11 people and unleashed a spill that lasted until July 15, killing marine life, putting commercial fishermen out of business in five states and closing some northern Gulf coast beaches.

Locally, closures in the Gulf kept commercial fishermen at the docks, cancelled sports fishing tournaments and brought protestors – but not oil – to Island beaches.

For more information, visit

Stone crab season 'dismal'

Left, Kyle Ibasfalean and his dad, Bryan Ibasfalean,
prepare to load stone crab claws into the cooker at A.P. Bell Fish
Co. at the start of the season last October. Cindy Lane | Sun

CORTEZ – The last official day of stone crab season is May 15, but in reality, the season is already over, say commercial stone crabbers, who have pulled their traps from the water.

"It just wasn't our year," said Karen Bell, of A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez. "Last year was great. This year was dismal."

"Stone crab season was pretty bad," agreed Kim McVey, of Cortez Bait and Seafood.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), about 70,000 pounds of stone crab claws were landed commercially in Manatee County from the start of the season on Oct. 15, 2011, through January 31, 2012, the most recent data available. That's down about 86 percent from a 10-year average of 130,000 pounds over the same time period, and down about 129 percent from 160,000 pounds over the same time period last season.

The preliminary data indicates this season may be the worst since the turn of this century.

The 2002-03 season was the best in the past decade in Manatee County, followed by 2004-05, according to the FWRI.

Stone crabs probably were not affected by the BP oil spill this far south in the Gulf of Mexico, according to John Stevely, Florida Sea Grant extension agent, but could have been affected by water quality, octopus predation and other factors.

Other Florida crabbers did well, including in Homosassa, Bell said, adding, "Hopefully, next year will be ours."

Stone crabs claws are harvested without killing the crab – crabs sacrifice one and sometimes both claws during the season, but they live on to grow new ones if crabbers are careful not to injure them.

Recreational crabbers can have a maximum of five traps per person and can take claws measuring at least 2¾ inches, except from females carrying eggs, up to one gallon of claws per person or two gallons per vessel, whichever is less. A Florida recreational fishing license is required.

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