(For the safety of the children, their nicknames were used in this story rather than their real names)
HOLMES BEACH – Christmas will have a much deeper meaning this year for Holmes Beach residents Amanda Escobio and Dan Ryan because of the pending adoption of the two young children now living with them.
Six weeks ago, the sister and brother tandem of eight-year old “Lily” and six-year old “Lizard” left the group home they were living in and moved in with Escobio and Ryan.
Lily and Lizard’s biological parents were not able to complete the court-ordered drug rehab and other requirements during the two years the kids have been in the system, and their parental rights were terminated in June. Working with the Safe Child Coalition, Escobio and Ryan can formally file for adoption in January. More...
Maro aces card cutting ceremony
BRADENTON BEACH – Marilyn Maro won the Ward 2 City Commission seat last week when she pulled the ace of spades that bested the two of spades drawn by fellow nominee Anne Leister.
Cutting the deck for high cards during the special commission meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, was required because the four sitting commission members on two previous occasions were deadlocked in a 2-2 tie when trying to trying to reach majority consensus on filling the vacant commission seat formerly held by three-term commissioner Ed Straight. Mayor Bill Shearon and Commissioner John Chappie favored Maro, while commissioners Ralph Cole and Jake Spooner favored Leister.
As stipulated in the city charter, City Clerk Terri Sanclemente supervised the tie-breaking effort that was similar to the card cutting ceremony overseen by Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett in 2015 to decide the tied mayor’s race. More...
Grossman appointed to commission seat
HOLMES BEACH – Former Commissioner Marvin Grossman last week was appointed to the commission seat vacated when he failed to qualify for reelection in the fall.
Grossman, who served four years on the commission, had one challenger for the seat Dan Diggins, who has been in commercial aviation as an engineer, a commercial pilot, an air traffic controller and an air safety investigator and is a newcomer to elected office.
Prior to the appointment resident Nancy Deal and Barbara Hines spoke in favor of Grossman.
“He is dedicated to the preservation of this community,” Deal said. “He brings good humor, creativity and hard working dedication.” More...
Bike share program activated
The Bike Share AMI partnership has launched a new bike share initiative aimed at providing eco-friendly alternative transportation solutions for Island residents and visitors.
The founding partners of this new service are The Center of Anna Maria Island, Beach Bums AMI and Adventure Away. The service now features four bike share racks where the bright yellow Bike AMI bikes can be rented for $20 a day.
Rented bikes can be picked up and dropped off any of the four hub locations. One of the bike share hubs is located at The Center at 407 Magnolia Ave. in Anna Maria. The partnership’s first sponsored bike share location is outside the offices of Mike Norman Real Estate and Vacation Rentals, at 3101 Gulf Dr. in Holmes Beach. A third hub is located Adventure Away’s booking office at 102 Bridge St. in Bradenton Beach. There is also an off-island hub located at the AMI Adventure Rental Center at 12208 Cortez Road in Cortez.. More...
Commissioner raises noise issue
HOLMES BEACH – Commissioner Jean Peelen asked Police Chief Bill Tokajer at last week’s meeting about noise complaints and whether officer discretion or the decibel meter is used as the measurement when a complaint is received.
“The code has two criteria – decibels and the seven criteria the officer uses for decision making,” Tokajer explained. More...
Officer Rob Velardi to retire after 30 years
HOLMES BEACH – Police Chief Bill Tokajer recognized Officer Rob Velardi, who has served the city for 30 years and plans to retire on Jan. 2, 2017.
At last week’s city commission meeting, Tokajer said Velardi “was recognized as Officer of the Year twice in 1994 and 1998 and has received commendations including helping thwart an attempted homicide in 2014.
“When I went through his file, it is so thick with citizen comments and accolades for the job he’s done. This community has truly embraced and loved Rob as well as we have as a police department. He will truly be missed.” More...
Churches offer seasonal services
ANNA MARIA ISLAND – As Christmas nears, the Island’s churches prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. They will likely see some visitors, in addition to their regular worshippers. Here is a rundown on activities for each church. Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, some churches offer the regular service.
• CrossPointe Fellowship, Rev, Ed Moss, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-0719: Christmas Day, 9 a.m. service.
• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, Rev. Matthew Grunfeld, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-1638: Christmas Eve, 5 p.m., family Eucharist with music; 10:30 p.m., carol sing; 11 p.m., Festival Eucharist with music.Christmas Day, 9 a.m., Holy Eucharist.
• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Rev. Rosemary Backer, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-1813: Christmas Eve, 7 and 10:30 p.m., carols, candlelight and communion. Christmas Day, 9:30 a.m., worship; 10:30 a.m., fellowship. More...
Code amendment eliminates generators
ANNA MARIA – The city commission recently adopted a series of land development code (LDC) amendments, one of which will eliminate generator noise associated with construction sites in residential neighborhoods.
The Anna Maria Commission adopted the code amendments contained in Ordinance 16-824 on second and final reading during its Dec. 8 meeting. The amendments were first discussed at the Nov. 10 meeting.
The amended ordinance will prohibit the use of generators on future construction projects.
“Temporary utility service, which is protected by telephone pole or limited receptacles, must be available for all construction sites unless the construction is of a nature that no power is required,” the ordinance states.
“Generators were an issue. Now it’s crystal clear you can’t have a generator and you need a temporary utility connection,” City Planner Bruce McLaughlin told the commission. More...
Area shipwrecks uncovered
CORTEZ – Many shipwrecks lie in the waters around Tampa Bay, and Florida Maritime Museum visitors learned about three of them dating from the Civil War last week from Jeff Moates, director of the West Central and Central Regional Centers for the Florida Public Archaeology Network.
The ships were part of the naval blockade known as the “Anaconda Plan,” or “Scott’s Great Snake” which cut off the South from incoming supplies during the war, Moates said.
The Union Navy increased from 80 vessels in 1860 to 671 in 1864, but it was still not easy to block the numerous bays and inlets of Florida, he said. More...
The miracle of Matlacha
Gossamer veils of mist driven by a cool, damp north wind greeted us as we motored into Matlacha Pass. The weather had morphed overnight, from warm fall to early winter with the arrival of a cold front. The wind was gusting to twenty miles an hour and Captain Joe Harley was pondering his game plan.
The trip had been planned a month before and Harley had mapped out a strategy based on prolific fishing he had been experiencing throughout the Matlacha Aquatic Preserve (AP). The change of weather required Harley to access his memory. The 300-plus days he spends on the water every year would prove invaluable.
Rick Hess joined us on our outing. His pin point casts and stamina proved invaluable with the poor visibility we encountered. Over nearly 16 hours, Hess made thousands of casts to and under the mangroves. This was the place we had most of our action. More...
There are gifts and there are gifts
What was the best holiday gift you ever received? Mine was a doll with red braids perched on top of a shiny new sleigh under the Christmas tree. But there is one gift that won’t fit under the Christmas tree, and that’s the gift of a home.
Many people wonder if it is a good idea to give their home to their children. What may seem like a great idea in order to avoid taxes or help out the kids frequently is not. First, there is a real emotional concern that needs to be considered before signing over your home to your child, especially if your intention is to continue living in the home.
What if your child gets divorced and the house becomes an asset that the ex-spouse has a legitimate claim on? Or if your child has financial problems and their creditors place a lien on the property or the very worst thing is if your child sells the house out from under you? More...
Reverse mortgages worth another lookInvestment Corner
I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn’t the worst idea in the world.
I’m bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime
Space limitations don’t’ allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let’s hit some of the highlights. More...
Team Acqua Aveda cleans up against Jiffy Lube
Heading into the seventh week of adult co-ed recreational soccer play at The Center, the top of the charts stays tight with Team Mason Martin and Team Ross Built Construction with the same record, but Mason Martin ranked in first place currently with their win over Ross Built last week.
Also with the same record, Team Acqua Aveda and Jiffy Lube went head-to-head under the lights Wednesday night. Acqua Aveda’s win landed them in the sixth place rank over Jiffy Lube and Team Slim’s Place with one win in the season.
Wednesday night saw the two teams, which on paper have the talent to capture the league championship, work the field with strong passes and teamwork. The break away scoring by team captain Eric Pullen gave Team Acqua Aveda the spark they needed to capture the win. More...
Turtles crawl to a record year
Sea turtles had a record year in more ways than one on Anna Maria Island, according to Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.
The record of 435 nests is higher than the next closest record year of 2013 by 66 nests, and higher than the 15-year average by 246 nests.
Why, especially in a year with two hurricanes and a severe tropical storm that destroyed 145 nests?
Mostly, it’s due to 34 years of Turtle Watch volunteers caring for turtles and educating visitors, residents and business owners, Fox told volunteers on Saturday at an appreciation luncheon marking the end of the 2016 turtle season. More...