The Observer LONGBOAT
Happy Mother’s Day!
SEASON Black Tie
The Standouts Issue
The Observer’s Social Yearbook 2005-2006
TO DYE FOR
DID YOU STAND OUT Condos are THIS YEAR? making all kinds Check out Black Tie Season — The Standouts Issue.
of improvements and changes ... and it’s not cheap. PAGE 1C
The Colony hosts a colorful benefit for two local women’s charities. PAGE 1D
You. Your neighbors. Your neighborhood.
OUR TOWN PEOPLE, PLACES AND PICS
sluggish season by Roger Drouin | City Editor
Tourism rates down Concerns over red tide, hurricanes and the economy impact the season. A combination of factors — from red tide and hurricanes to warm weather up North — contributed to a sluggish tourist season on Longboat Key. The season got off to a slow start in January, February and March but improved in April, as more people arrived on the island for the late Easter holiday. Resort occupancy rates on the Manatee County portion of the island for January, February and March hit a four-year low, as shown in statistics from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visi-
tors Bureau. Sarasota County does not break down occupancy by region, so there are no statistics available for the Sarasota County portion of Longboat Key. But overall hotel occupancy rates were down throughout the county for January and February. “It was a slow start,” said Gail Loefgren, president of the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St Armands Key Chamber of Commerce. “Overall it was as slow as it has been since 9/11.” Loefgren attributed the sluggish season to a
See OUR town page 2A
Arts & Entertainment . . . . 8B Bridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2D Key Real Estate . . . . . . . . . 4C Classifieds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4D Community calendar . . 10A+ Cops Corner . . . . . . . . . . . 13A Crossword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6D Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6A Golf Gambits . . . . . . . . . . . 10C Weather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3D Vol. 27, No. 41 Five sections www.longboatobserver.com
Manatee county portion of Longboat Key 2003 2004 2005 2006 January 51.9 52.8 58.4 56.2 February 72.3 82 78.7 71.5 March 87.3 97.7 87.4 80.2 combination of factors, including concerns about red tide and hurricanes, the perception that the economy has worsened and rising fuel prices. “It took us a while to pick it up again after 9/11,”
See TOURISM page 5A
+ Ruth’s tree
Although Ruth Seager said she didn’t want a funeral or memorial, a group of her golf friends decided they needed to do something in her memory. As an informal tribute, Seager’s friends pooled together money to buy a tree to place on the golf course at the Longboat Key Club, along with a granite marker. At the planting, all the friends placed a stone at the base of the tree in Seager’s memory, as Sheri Lublin explained the Jewish tradition of using stones or shells to remember those who have died. Keeping the planting informal, the event was kept discreet to try to honor Seager’s wishes, and the tree is a symbol that encompasses the many friendships Seager fostered during her time on Longboat Key.
Thursday, MAY 11, 2006
Club Manager Rob Edwards, Jockey Vicki Fry, Buck Fry and Sally Kessler playing horse, with Bevalie Brunson at the Bird Key Yacht Club’s Kentucky Derby party May 6. For more photos and the full story, see page 8A+.
island fire by Roger Drouin | City Editor
Sister Keys blaze chars five-acre tract Multi-agency effort contained the fire by Wednesday afternoon. Smoke rose from smoldering ashes and several small fires reignited on Sister Keys’ largest island Saturday, five days after a brush fire erupted. The island’s mangrove-lined shoreline was spared from the blaze, giving the impression that the fire had little impact. But tracts of land were charred gray and black in the middle of the island. Florida Division of Forestry officials estimated that five acres were damaged. Longboat Key firefighters, police and
public works crews, along with Division of Forestry crews, were transported by boat to the island throughout the week. Into the weekend, crews continued to build a small firebreak line and rigged a series of floating pumps that feed water from Sarasota Bay into a fire hose connected to a row of sprinklers. The sprinkler system was used to spread water onto the perimeter of the fire. Photos by Roger Drouin
See SISTER page 5A
The blaze burned undergrowth across a five-acre section of Sister Keys’ largest island.
The Longboat Observer THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2006
OUR TOWN continued from 1A
+ High school seniors
Itâ€™s our last call to include high school seniors who are graduating this spring in our May 25 graduate section. To include a senior you know who lives on Longboat Key, Bird Key, Lido Key or St. Armands Key, call Kat Wingert, community editor, at 383-5509 Ext. 31, or e-mail her at kwingert@longboatobserver. com. The deadline for the section is May 19.
+ Mourning muffins
+ Book signing
Jennifer Schwirzer will be signing copies of her book, â€œDying to be Beautiful,â€? at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 11 at Circle Books, 478 John Ringling Blvd and at 5 p.m. Friday, May 12 at Living Word Christian Store, 5421 Fruitville Road. The daughter of Longboat Key resident Jill Wilson, Schwirzer began a three-year battle against anorexia nervosa at the age of 19. Today, at age 49, she remains fully recovered. She is concerned that the lifethreatening eating disorder that has traditionally affected girls in their late teens and early 20s is now becoming more prevalent in younger girls of ages 13 or 14. Founder of Michael Ministries, a music/speaking/writing ministry, Schwirzer has written three religious-themed books and is a talented musician. On Motherâ€™s Day, May 14, she will be a soloist at Christ Church of Longboat Key and will have a book signing at 4 p.m., May 15 at The Market, Whitney Beach Plaza.
For our muffin-capers, we want to let you know youâ€™ll have to get your fill on May 10, because it is our last Wednesday muffin-andcoffee session of the season. We regret to tell you that youâ€™ll have a little spare room in your stomachs (and purses, for some of you), but you are still welcome to be the first ones to pick up your new Longboat Observer on Wednesday mornings during the summer.
+ Doggone good time
Most every day at 5:30 p.m., Dog 30 takes place in the Village, as residents and their dogs gather for some informal socializing. While Sugar and Maddie romp with Bacchus and Eli chasing balls and Frisbees, their owners enjoy a glass of wine and conversation. While well-trained, some dogs have their squabbles, but all the toys are shared.
grandchildren of Penny and Gus Swoboda are just enjoying the beautiful white sand and sunsets on Longboat Key beach. Visiting their grandparents are Max, Gwen, Edie, Gus and Lex Dahlin, the children of Chip and Andrea Dahlin.
+ Christmas in ... May? Although it may look like a Green Bay snow bank, the
+ Proud parents
Longboat Key residents Jim and Ellen Shields recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attended a special event. Their son, James, a civil-
ian with more than 20 years of service, was presented the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. The honor was presented at the ceremony, with Francis J. Harvey, secretary of the Army, and Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, United States Army chief of staff, making the presentation. Shields is program manager, Joint Lightweight Howitzer, Program Executive OfficeGround Combat Systems. He was specifically recognized for his leadership.
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