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Vol. 14 No. 39 - July 22, 2014


Drama campers wow audience
Drama Camp at the Island Community Center


Jacqueline Galvano, as the Wicked Witch of the East, sings to
the audience at the beginning of the play.

ANNA MARIA – Campers from the Island Community Center/Island Players Drama Camp wowed audiences in two performances last week at the Island Playhouse.

The play, “Munchkin Mediation: Conflict Resolution in Oz,” took place a year after the events depicted in the “Wizard of Oz,” with the main characters having issues and the Munchkins helping them resolve their problems and learn how to get along with each other.

The Wicked Witch of the East was livid at having a building dropped on her, and the Munchkins implored her to calm down and try counting. She is seen throughout the play walking in the background and counting her steps.

Dorothy and Toto, who were snapping at each other, were advised to be polite and listen to each other. The Scarecrow, who said once he got a brain he saw conflict all around him, was advised to learn to work things through and not run away.

The Lion and the Tin Man were fighting over who should rule Oz and eventually agreed to share the duties. The Yellow Winkies, who were left out of the movie, negotiated a settlement with the moviemakers agreeing to “no public whining” and admitted they must follow though on their promise.

The director was Pam Sikkema and the stage manger was Emily Burm. Cast members included: Alexandra Adams, Sanibel Silenzi, Brenna Heckler and Shelby Freeman as Munchkins; Natalie Blair as the Wicked Witch of the West; Kieran Cloutier as the Hollywood Businessman; Mary Grace Cucci as a Monkey and the Lion; Jacqueline Galvano as the Wicked Witch of the East; Ava Harlan, London Martelo, Chloe Mattick as Winkies; Camille Hill as a Winkie and a Monkey; Scarlett Kiene as a Monkey; Caroline Lehman as the Good Witch; Madelyn Rogers as the Scarecrow and a Winkie; Lance Valadie as the Tin Man and a Monkey; Gabriella Gilbert as Toto; Sam Wright as the Wizard of Oz and a Monkey; Anna Wright as Dorothy; and Brianna Bogad as Monica.

Fish poison victims return home
Carol Whitmore


Ferris Reed, Jake Rodgers, Will Etter and Keagen Murphy visit
Austin Goncalves in his Miami hospital room.

BRADENTON – Fifteen-year-old Bradenton resident Austin Goncalves returned to his Bradenton home Friday afternoon, but continues to suffer the after effects of ciguatera fish poisoning contracted during a Fourth of July vacation in the Bahamas.

Austin, his mother Karen, her boyfriend Allen Smith and 14-year-old Marlin Ellis were stricken with the rare toxic condition after consuming large reef fish, either porgie or mutton snapper, caught while spear fishing and diving.

Ciguatera poisoning produces nausea, vomiting, hallucinations and other neurologic symptoms.

All four were admitted to a Bahamian hospital. The two teens and Ms. Goncalves were later air-lifted to a Miami hospital in order to receive proper medical treatment, while security guards were paid off in order to secure Smith’s release.

Assisted by the U.S. Embassy, Austin’s older sister, Kristy Martin flew to the Bahamas on July 5 to help coordinate her brother and mother’s flights to Miami. She was accompanied by family friend Kennard Chandler.

Chandler’s wife, Beaner, is Karen Goncalves’ best friend, and it was she who drove Austin, Karen and Allen home from Miami.

“Without the two of them, this rescue would have been impossible,” Martin said of the Chandlers’ assistance.

Ellis returned to his parent’s Cortez home the previous week.

Of the four who fell ill, Austin was the sickest. Sunday morning, Martin provided an update on his condition.

“He’s doing good. He gets up out of bed, takes his medicine and goes right back to bed. He’s really lethargic and tired,” she said.

“He can’t really stand up by himself for too long and he’s really weak; and I don’t know if it’s the neurotoxins or the medicine he’s on that’s making him very agitated,” she added.

Ciguatoxins are found in microalgae that grows in certain reefs. Small fish feed on the algae and pass the toxins on to the large fish that prey upon them. When consumed by humans, the odorless, tasteless, heat-resistant toxins are not negated by conventional cooking methods.

When asked about Austin’s long-term prognosis, Martin said, “The doctors weren’t really able to tell us because there’s limited data and research out there on this; some people say six months to a year, others say a lifetime. He’s going to be seeing neurologist, a physical therapist and possibly an occupational therapist.”

In regard to her mom’s condition, Martin said, “She’s doing really well, other than the fact that she gets dizzy and lightheaded and has headaches once in a while,” noting that Smith’s condition was similar.

A community rallies

Martin said the Goncalves family has already accumulated approximately $30,000 in medical and transportation bills, and those costs will climb as Austin’s rehabilitation continues.

Martin said her brother plans to attend the Saturday, Aug. 2, Goncalves family benefit taking place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Blue Marlin restaurant, at 121 Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach.

Austin is an employee of the restaurant owned by Marlin Ellis’ parents, Adam and Marianne.

When asked about her son’s condition Friday afternoon, Marianne Norman-Ellis said, “Marlin’s doing really well. He talked to Austin last night and Austin’s really excited to be finally getting out of the hospital and coming home.”

Jill Capparelli, assistant manager of the Drift-In, is helping to organize the benefit. She can be contacted at 941-526-6641 by those interested in donating raffle prizes and silent auction items, or assisting in other ways.

A 50/50 raffle will help raise additional funds, as will the boat poker run taking place from 10 a.m. until noon. Cards are $20 each. The poker run will begin at the Blue Marlin and include stops at the Drift-In, the Bridge Tender Inn, Mar Vista and the Swordfish Grill.

The live entertainment will include a performance by Trevor Bystrom and The Tribal Trio.

An online fundraising effort has already been established at As of Sunday afternoon, $5,645 of the $30,000 goal had been raised.

“It’s actually been pretty incredible seeing this whole thing come together. So many people have stepped forward to contribute and help set up the trust fund, getting donations and volunteering their time. It’s really been a community effort,’ Martin said.

Duncan gets Bridge Street Pier contract - again

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland urged Island elected officials to ask the county commission to consider purchasing the Manatee Fruit Company property at 75th Street and Cortez Road in Bradenton to prevent a planned housing development.

He also asked them to consider seeking a bridge from 53rd Street in Bradenton to Coquina Beach.

“I think purchasing the farm is an interesting idea,” Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown said. “Those of us on the barrier islands are not going to be able to leave the islands if they build all these developments.”

Brown asked if Woodland is pro bridge, and Woodland said, “Yes I am. It makes common sense to me. We have 50,000 people going to Coquina on a three-day weekend.

“It affects all of us. The impact is greater every year and will continue to get greater. We need to be proactive, and that’s going to take leaders, not letters.”

Brown agreed, as did Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, who said many long time residents are moving off the Island, but “we need to stay here and fight for our quality of life. If you love this place, take a stand and fight for it.”

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti said he is not in favor of a new bridge because it will bring more cars. He urged officials wait for the study to be undertaken by the Urban Land Institute to give the three cities some options.

Speed signs and cameras

In other business, SueLynn said all the cities should install signs that indicate a vehicle’s speed and take traffic counts like Holmes Beach has done.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said the city's new signs record the time of day, the number of vehicles and the speed of each vehicle. He said they cost $3,000 each with the solar units, are portable and can be moved to six different locations.

He said the signs are set up in two locations. The one recording vehicles coming from Anna Maria onto Palm/Marina drives has been counting 5,000 to 7,000 vehicles per day.

Brown said Longboat Key has cameras that record the license plate of every vehicle coming onto or leaving the island.

Tokajer, a former captain with the Longboat Key Police Department, said the cameras could tell if a vehicle is stolen, if the registered owner is wanted, if the driver’s license or the tag is suspended and other information. The cameras cost $100,000 each.

He said all three Island cities could utilize the technology by putting one camera on Manatee Avenue and one on Cortez Road.

Panel: Don't park here - or there

Holmes Beach’s Island Congestion Committee is recommending to the city commission that all street and right of way parking be eliminated in the city’s residential districts except Key Royale.

The committee has discussed a proposal regarding street parking for several months, but added rights of way parking at Monday’s meeting after member Jayne Christenson pointed out that residents are blocking them with fences, boulders and plants to prevent people from parking there.

They also discussed the city’s obligation to provide parking in order to receive beach renourishment funding. Chair Carol Soustek said a new county study shows the city has 364 eligible parking spaces. Members surveyed those spaces and plan to recommend that 41 be relocated to other areas because they are in front of residences or don’t exist.

City official resigns citing health reasons

HOLMES BEACH – Building Official and Superintendent of Public Works Tom O’Brien has resigned due to health reasons.

In the resignation, effective July 15, O’Brien said, “I find that the tasks assigned to me as building official and superintendent of public works are interfering with my health issues, which have been exacerbated over the months resulting in a recent hospitalization.”

Human Resource Analyst Mary Buonagura said O’Brien was given a performance improvement plan (PIP) in March.

“It is not open ended,” she explained. “It allows the employee due process and gives them a chance over a three-month period to improve their performance based on specifics.”

A memo issued on March 25 from Mayor Carmel Monti detailed a remedial action schedule, which asked O’Brien to submit a calendar of bi-weekly staff meetings and a plan to spend two hours per day responding to the public.

It also included the PIP, which is “a process used to resolve persistent performance problems in accordance with documented procedure.” The plan gives the employee an opportunity to correct his/her actions and provides an opportunity for education and training.

The memo listed O’Brien’s performance discrepancies under categories such as inaccurate reporting on time sheets, missed deadlines and behavior and included numerous remedies to cure the discrepancies plus several additional requirements.

A July 2 memo said the June 24 deadline was extended to July 8 due to O’Brien’s health issues. It noted that O’Brien submitted his time sheets in a “consistently correct manner,” but continued to miss deadlines, did not meet “the city’s standard for customer service” and lacks the ability to supervise his staff.

It also said he did not meet the additional requirements listed in the PIP.

Pier contract hammered out

joe hendricks | sun

City Attorney Ricinda Perry and city commissioners
reviewed the pier construction contract at last week’s meeting



BRADENTON BEACH – Last week, City Attorney Ricinda Perry led city commissioners through a page-by-page review of the Bradenton Beach City Pier reconstruction contract with Duncan Seawall, Dock and Boat Lift LLC.

The contract review resulted in a few commission requested changes to the third draft of the 28-page contract prepared by Perry.

The commission granted Mayor Bill Shearon the authority to approve up to $14,837 in change orders and unanticipated cost increases; this equates to one percent of the $1,483,717 pier contract. Any such expenditures will first be reviewed by the Pier Team advisory board headed by Police Chief Sam Speciale and Building Official Steve Gilbert, who will then forward the board’s recommendation to the mayor for his approval or denial.

Expenditures beyond the agreed upon threshold will require commission approval.

The commission granted the Pier Team the authority to give Duncan up to 16 days of additional time to complete the project without incurring financial penalties. Delays extending beyond the 16-day period would require commission consent and would subject Duncan to $1,000 per day in liquidated damages, to be deducted from the final payment.

Shearon also asked Perry to insert an as-built provision that requires Duncan to provide the city with architectural drawings that provide the exact dimensions of the finished product and reflect any design changes made during the reconstruction process.

At Shearon’s request, the commission waited until Monday’s special commission meeting to approve the revised contract. The delay between the two meetings gave the mayor time to review the proposed changes.

Manatee County will share half of the cost of pier reconstruction project, using county commission approved funds generated by the five percent resort tax.

If Duncan uses the county barge dock at the south end of the Island as a staging area for equipment and materials, the contract price will be reduced by $5,000.

The contract provides the city with the option to pursue $14,000 in potential sales tax savings that would occur if the city purchased the pier materials directly. The commission agreed that the added work required on the city’s behalf might not justify the potential savings. It was decided that Duncan will purchase the materials, although the sales tax provision remains an option that could be pursued later.

Duncan will have 161 days to complete its work once the contract is signed by both parties and the contract time commences. The contract calls for the work to be completed in a little more than five months. If the work commences in late July, the completion date would be early January.

A pre-commencement conference attended by representatives from the city, ZNS Engineering and Duncan will take place before the work begins. ZNS Engineering’s Karen Wilson will serve as the city’s engineer and onsite representative, acting as a liaison between the city and Duncan’s project superintendent.

Each month, Duncan will submit to Wilson an application for payment for her review. The city will then issue a certificate of payment and pay the monthly bill, or submit in writing any reasons to withhold payment.

The city will then send a monthly invoice to the county for the matching funds reimbursement.

The final payment to Duncan will be made after the project has been fully completed and a post-completion has been conducted to the city’s satisfaction.

The contract includes a warranty that covers all work and materials for a period of one year after project completion.

Whitmore proposes pelican law


Fishing line retrieved from the mangroves off Anna Maria Island,
where fish hooks are hooking pelicans.

HOLMES BEACH – Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore has asked the four mayors of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key to consider passing municipal ordinances outlawing multiple hooks on fishing lines.

The hooks are decimating the pelican population of the barrier islands, entangling and choking them, she told the Barrier Island Elected Officials (BIEO) last week, adding that other birds and marine life also are affected.

“You have home rule, but it would be good to work together,” said Whitmore, crediting The Sun for finding and publicizing a Naples ordinance that she is distributing to the island cities, Bradenton and Palmetto.

The ordinance prohibits the use of “fish hooks, lures and bait having two or more hooks sharing a single shank” and applies only to the city-owned fishing pier. The city funds enforcement by charging non-resident beach parking fees, which pay for a pelican patrol on the city pier to educate fishermen and rescue hooked pelicans, and a fulltime ATV beach patrol to enforce environmental and safety violations.

Local ordinances could apply to city-owned piers and county-owned parks, Whitmore said.

The Naples ordinance is a “really good first step,” said Jeannie Bystrom, who rescues hooked pelicans hanging from mangroves in Bimini Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier with her friends and family. She played a graphic video of her rescue attempts for the BIEO backed by her son, Trevor Bystrom, singing “Guests on This Earth.”

The city ordinances should outlaw the multiple hook rigs on public beaches, Bystrom said, adding, “You only need one hook to catch a fish.”

The laws also should specify the prohibition of sabiki rigs, consisting of multiple hooks on a lightweight line that breaks easily, she said; when used for catching bait, pelicans dive on the rig, and even if a fisherman tries to reel in the pelican to free it, the lightweight line breaks and the bird is hooked.

Bystrom’s facebook page, “Don’t Cut The Line,” advises fishermen to gently reel in birds and unhook them, as her son, a fishing guide, does.

“They’re easy to handle,” she said.

“People are needlessly intimidated by these birds,” Whitmore said, adding that tourists are uneducated about freeing hooked birds.

“We’re killing poor birds that don’t deserve it,” she said.

Chikungunya virus now locally acquired in Florida

HOLMES BEACH – On Friday, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) announced that the first two cases of locally acquired Chikungunya (ChikV) virus were confirmed in Miami Dade and Palm Beach counties.

In addition, the FDOH in Manatee County announced the second case of the virus in a person who just returned from the Caribbean. Until Friday, all cases of the virus in Florida were acquired by people who were bitten in the Caribbean.

ChikV is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and officials have expressed concerns that once a person who has contracted the disease elsewhere gets bitten in the U.S., the disease could spread very quickly.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have been more than 300 cases of ChikV reported in 31 states. The CDC also reported that as of July 11, a total of 350,580 suspected and 5,037 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease have been reported in 23 countries or territories in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The virus can show up three to seven days after the person is bitten, and symptoms include fever, headache, severe muscle pain and a rash. Symptoms usually last a week to 10 days, but in some cases, can persist for months.

ChikV is not contagious and typically not life threatening, but there is no vaccine or cure. Anyone exhibiting symptoms is urged to contact their doctor or local health department immediately.

According to Manatee County Mosquito Control, the Island has the highest natural population of Aedes aegypti in the county.

Protect yourself

According to the FDOH Manatee County:
• Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
• Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
• Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week.
• Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
• Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
• Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeves.
• Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
• Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective.
• Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out.

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