Lois Guthrie Fulford, age 84, a Cortez native, passed away yesterday in Bradenton. The funeral services will be announced as soon as they are available.
Paul M. Roat, 56, a longtime area newsman of Sarasota and formerly of Bradenton Beach, died Saturday, Feb. 15.
He was a lifelong resident of the area who served as a valued source of historical perspective during his tenure as frequent writer and editor for two newspapers on Anna Maria Island from the 1970s to the present day.
He earned a scholarship to the University of Florida from then-publisher of The Islander, Don Moore.
He was the son of a Bradenton Beach postmaster, his mother was familiar to islanders at the Bridge Street hardware store, and later worked at a law firm, and he grew up in Bradenton Beach in an idyllic fashion, while acquiring an early appreciation for news and photo journalism at Manatee High School.
Moore gave Mr. Roat his first job out of college.
And Mr. Roat soon figured in coverage of some of the area’s notable moments.
His work spanned coverage of news for the former Islander newspaper in the 1970s-80s, including photos taken from the top of the remaining span of the Skyway Bridge within moments of the disaster at the bridge in 1980 that sent 35 people to their deaths.
He also took pride in his photos in August 1993 from a small craft shortly after a three-ship collision that resulted in fire aboard one ship and the release of 30,000 gallons of crude oil from another ship into the Tampa shipping channel.
In 1984-87, Mr. Roat served as a legislative aide to state Rep. Jim Lombard. In 1989, he became the first staff member for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, contributing to the fundraising effort that enabled the program to flourish.
He contributed to numerous SBEP publications and was co-editor of the 1992 SBEP “Framework for Action,” and co-writer and editor of the 1995 SBEP management plan, “Sarasota Bay, the Voyage to Paradise Reclaimed.”
Mr. Roat’s career included work for Clubhouse magazine, later Sarasota magazine, and the Siesta Key Pelican Press. He was a writer for SiestaSand.net at the time of his death.
He also authored two volumes of “The Insider’s Guide to Sarasota & Bradenton” guide book and various other guide publications over the years.
He was editor of The Islander newspaper for 17 years, starting at its launch date in November 1992, and wrote a column titled “Sandscript,” always seeking to improve environmental conditions for Anna Maria Island and beyond.
Most recently he rallied in a column to derail a developers’ plans for Long Bar Pointe.
He oversaw several Islander projects, stories and features recognized and honored by the Florida Press Association.
He acquired an extensive collection of work by Florida-based authors and was a founding member of Mystery Florida, a nonprofit group that sponsors an annual gathering of mystery writers and aficionados in Sarasota.
“He was a great friend who eagerly shared his love for news, John D. MacDonald’s series of books featuring Travis McGee, and his upbringing in Bradenton Beach. He will be dearly missed and remembered with each night’s flash of green at sunsets on Anna Maria Island,” said Islander publisher Bonner Joy.
“He was raised on the waters of Sarasota Bay and he liked to often write from his perspective as a ‘little Roat.’ One such story recalled harvesting sand dollars and selling them to tourist shops for 3 cents each.”
Mr. Roat was molded into a savior for the environment and a great reader and thinker.
The Islander is planning a memorial for the Tingley Library in Bradenton Beach, where Mr. Roat served many years as a board member, a journalism scholarship and a mystery book sale to benefit the library.
Memorial donations may be made at The Islander, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach FL 34217.
No services are planned.
Mr. Roat is survived by his aunt Margaret Roat of Ludington, Mich., several cousins in Michigan and Colorado, and his “almost children,” Kendra Presswood of Holmes Beach, and Damon Presswood of Bradenton.
Thomas "Blue" Fulford, a longtime Cortez resident and president of the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.)
speaks to the crowd gathered for the dedication of the Florida Commercial Fishermen’s statue at the Cortez Fishing Village. ALEX DIAZ/Herald file photo
‘Diamonds Along the Highway’ series focuses on Cortez people, history
By MARTY CLEAR
February 11, 2014
It’s called "Cortez time," which refers to the clock and the milieu.
The work days starts at 4:30 a.m. and ends at 11:30 p.m. The benign, modern-day equivalent of a company store gives the residents credit that the banks and mortgage companies won’t.
The people are holding on, happily and defiantly, to an anachronistic lifestyle.
The people who live their lives on Cortez time, the residents of Cortez Fishing Village, have names like Soupy, Red Dog and Blue.
They and their neighbors are featured in "Gone Fishing for Old Florida: Voices of Cortez." The half-hour documentary will air on WEDU at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s part of a PBS series called "Diamonds Along the Highway" that features fascinating and often little-known aspects of Florida culture.
"It’s one of the last old fishing villages anywhere," said Gus Mollasis, show narrator and co-writer. "Once they banned (gill) net fishing it really had an impact on Cortez, but there are still people going out fishing every day.
"The net ban, which took effect in 1995, changed life forever in Cortez. One shot in the documentary shows a sign, sort of a makeshift headstone, that reads "Cortez 1890-1995."But still, Mollasis said, he and co-writer Mark Reese found the spirit of old Cortez lives on in the dwindling number of stalwart fishermen who revel in the area and its lifestyle.
"They’re really independent," said Karen Bell, owner of A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez, in the documentary. "Their personality lends itself to doing what they want, when they want. The only thing that’s really controlling them is the weather, and maybe their wife, if she’s lucky.
Mollasis and Reese filmed the documentary over a few months last fall. It’s affectionate and even sentimental, but it’s mostly a tribute to a community and the colorful people who have found a way to revel, if not thrive, in their anachronistic lifestyle.
"Every day’s a holiday and every meal’s a feast," said a 30-year Cortex resident named Red Dog who rides a Harley and wears a T-shirt that says "Fish or Die!""I was back home and sittin’ on a river bank and somebody told me I could make a livin’ fishin’," Red Dog tells Mollasis in the film. "I was here a week later and I’ve been fishin’ ever since."
Mollasis, who lives in Sarasota, and Reese, who lives part of the year in Venice, met a few years back at the Sarasota Film Festival. Reese was there with his award-winning documentary, "The Boys in Winter: The Toughest Season," which deals with the last year in the life of his father, baseball legend Pee Wee Reese, and with other baseball legends.
Mollasis loved the film and introduced himself to Reese, and they became instant friends. A few years later, Reese phoned Mollasis with the idea to produce a documentary series about Florida. Mollasis loved the concept and they got to work immediately. It’s now in its second season. It airs on the second Thursday of each month.
The film that provided the impetus and the inspiration for the series, Reese’s "The Boys in Winter," will air as a segment of "Diamonds Along the Highway" in April, during a WEDU pledge drive. It will be the television premiere of the film, which earned critical praise from the Washington Post and the New York Times. In May, "Diamonds Along the Highway" will feature "Embracing Our Differences," the annual Sarasota art exhibit that celebrates diversity.
This week’s show is a celebration of the golden age of Cortez, but it doesn’t glamorize it. It’s about people working hard to make a modest living.
Thomas "Blue" Fulford, a patriarch of the community who lost his leg in a fishing accident years ago, talks about what it takes to become a great mullet fisherman
"Being hungry," he says. "You want something to put in your belly to eat. You go out and get it, and that puts the mullet in jeopardy."
Attached is the February issue of The Cortezian. The newsletter of the Cortez Village Historical Society.
32ND Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival
February 15-16, 2014
It will be held on the waterfront at end of and along 119th Street. Check the FISH web page for details.
Springfest on Anna Maria Island
March 8-9, 2014
CVHS will have a booth to sell books and shirts.
There will be food vendors and artists plus music. If you can volunteer please do so. Call Kaye at 538-0945.
Cortez Annual Community Picnic is scheduled for April, 22, 2014 at the Public Dock next to Star Fish.
Leatrice Mora Eaton, age 86, of Ellenboro, NC passed away on January 23, 2014. She was born on July 14, 1927 in Cortez, Florida to the late Albert "Gator" and Estella Mora.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Allen L. Eaton, one son Randolph Richard Rysanek, one grandson Lewis H. Wynns II and brothers Albert "Junie" and Josey Mora.
She is survived by two daughters, Linda Dangar ( Phil ) Hill of Georgia and Diane ( Alan ) Alvarez of Ellenboro, NC. Grandsons, Leslie and Randy Andress of Bradenton, FL and Joe Warman of Ellenboro, NC. Granddaughters, Sharon Kirkland of Hendersonville, NC; and Shelly Kidd of Canton, GA. Great grandchildren, Emily and Lindsey Kidd of Georgia; John and C.J. Kirkland of Hendersonville, Allison Kirkland of Ellenboro , Leslie T. Andress, Jr., Laura Dean Andress, Josh White, Jessica and Casey Andress of Florida. Also surviving are a sister Nola Jewel of Ocala, Florida and a brother Virgil Mora of Mooresville, NC.
By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter
The Florida Department of Transportation said it will hold a meeting this spring to update people on the status of its project development and engineering study for the Cortez Bridge.
The DOT has not set a date for the meeting.
And, according to DOT spokesman Anton Sherrard, recommendations for the bridge’s future will not be presented at the meeting.
The PD&E study is ongoing and it’s not expected to be completed until January 2015, when the DOT will hold present the study and its recommendations.
The PD&E will explore several options — repairing the bridge every 10 years, a major rehabilitation to extend the life of the bridge 25 years, or a replacement of the bridge with a low, mid or high-level bridge.
Meanwhile, the DOT is set to begin a $10 million maintenance project on the bridge in April, Sherrard said. The project will give the bridge another 10 years of functional use.
The maintenance work is expected to take 8-10 months and the bridge could be closed for several days during that period. The DOT said any closing of the Cortez Bridge would be during summer or early fall, when tourism on the island is at its lowest.
The last time the Cortez Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic was for a rehab project in 1999 and the closure lasted about 45 days.
Democrat senior writer
Enforcement of Florida’s so-called “net ban” may continue for now, the First District Court of Appeal decided Wednesday.
The court granted an emergency request by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to reinstate an automatic stay rejected by Leon Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford last week that halted enforcement of the state’s 1994 constitutional amendment limiting net fishing in state coastal waters.
On Oct. 22, Fulford ruled in favor of the Wakulla Commercial Fisherman’s Association, Panacea bait-and-tackle shop owner Ronald Fred Crum and county mullet fishermen Jonas Porter and Keith Ward, who sued FWC in 2011 over agency rules limiting the mesh size of their nets to 2 inches. The fishermen argued in a daylong trial last year the gear FWC mandates them to use kills huge amounts of juvenile mullet, thereby violating the very constitutional amendment the agency rules are meant to protect. After considering the case for a year, Fulford ordered enforcement to cease until the “legal absurdity” created by contradictions between the amendment and implementing rules adopted later by FWC be worked out.
FWC, which has been victorious in nearly 20 years of legal wrangling over the issue, immediately appealed her decision, triggering the stay, which Fulford struck down and the appeals court reinstated. The 1st DCA’s decision means what has been the enforcement status quo will continue while the issue makes its way through the court system.
In a memo issued on Friday, FWC Col. Calvin L. Adams Jr. had directed agency officers to cease all enforcement of the amendment, its rules and related state laws. In the subsequent days, FWC officials began receiving reports of large catches. But following the 1st DCA order late Wednesday, the agency issued a new directive that immediately called for all enforcement to resume.
“We should all be aware that this continues to be a sensitive issue. With the First District Court of Appeals overruling the Circuit Judge’s most recent order there is great potential for confusion among fishermen and other members of the public,” Adams wrote in his Wednesday memo. “Officers should use ample discretion and seek to educate any fishermen that may have misinformation or be unclear on the current circumstances. In situations where that might not be sufficient, use the appropriate skills acquired through your training and education to enforce the law.”
News that the net ban will continue to be enforced as litigation continues, came as a relief to some, who worried a lack of enforcement would decimate fish populations.
“Thank goodness the District Court responded quickly. In the long run, I predict the court will side for conservation and against gill nets exceeding 2- inch stretch mesh,” said Dave Lear, a retired charter boat captain who was involved in advocating for the net ban, which was approved overwhelmingly by voters.
“But from what I’m hearing around the state, mullet stocks have been hammered the last few days and just as we predicted there are already incidents of non-targeted redfish and other protected species washing up with gill marks on them,” Lear said. “Gill nets are destructive, indiscriminate gear and they need to stay banned like they have been for the last 18 years.”
Tallahassee attorney Ron Mowrey, who represents the commercial mullet fishermen, could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening on the appeals court action, which also included a denial of his motion to bypass the 1st DCA and send the case directly to the Florida Supreme Court.
Before Wednesday’s ruling, Crum said he and his fellow plaintiffs did not want enforcement of the amendment to stop, which would allow for the use of large nets. He said he had worked out an agreement with FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley to ask Fulford to only cease enforcement of the FWC rules limiting the net mesh size to avoid a free-for-all on the water, but the deal fell through at the last minute.
“The FWC does not want to fix this problem, they want to defend their position,” Crum said. “Now the cat is out of the bag. Once the people get used to freedom it is harder to take it from them. Now people have gotten a taste of something they shouldn’t have gotten a taste of again.”
Leon Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford reaffirmed Wednesday her order of last week that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stop enforcing the state’s so-called “net ban” until contradictions between the constitutional amendment and rules designed to implement it are resolved.
Fulford granted a request by attorneys for the Wakulla Commercial Fisherman’s Association, Panacea bait-and-tackle shop owner Ronald Fred Crum and mullet fishermen Jonas Porter and Keith Ward that she lift an automatic stay of her order triggered when FWC appealed it hours after being issued to the 1st District Court of Appeal.
Fulford said she did not think it likely that stopping enforcement of the net ban while court action continues would cause “irreparable harm” and she doubted FWC’s arguments on the merits of the case would prevail on appeal.
“There is in fact irreparable harm if I do not lift the stay,” Fulford said at the end of an hour-long hearing. “The status quo, I believe, has resulted in unnecessary killing and waste, and by the adoption of the FWC rules after the net ban amendment it’s resulted in an unfair application of the net ban to some and not others.”
FWC plans to file as soon as possible an emergency appeal to the 1st DCA asking that it reimpose the stop to Fulford’s order while the case is being further litigated. It will be just the latest legal skirmish surrounding the 1994 amendment limiting net fishing in state coastal waters and rules adopted later by FWC defining any net with a mesh size greater than 2 inches a gill net and thereby prohibited under state law. The legality of the amendment and rules has been argued in court rooms for nearly 20 years, with the law and FWC ultimately prevailing.
The fishermen’s attorney, Ron Mowrey of Tallahassee, said they tried to avoid more litigation and negotiate with FWC officials, with Crum talking as late as Tuesday afternoon with the agency’s executive director. Mowrey said he thought they were going to work out an arrangement to temporarily resolve the matter, but the effort was shut down by FWC attorneys.
“So it’s blood and guts, black and white, no deal,” Mowrey said. “They don’t acknowledge that they ever do anything wrong so they wouldn’t even talk to us.”
In addition to the reinstatement of the stay on Fulford’s order to be sought by FWC, Mowrey also has filed an emergency motion with the appeals court asking that it pass the case along to the Florida Supreme Court.
“The DCA should not hear this case, it should go straight to the Supreme Court,” Mowrey said.
Jonathan Glogau, the Attorney General’s Office chief of complex litigation and FWC’s lead attorney in the case, declined to comment on Fulford’s ruling. During the hearing, Glogau told the judge lifting the stay of her order would “effectively unleash a war of epic proportions” on mullet populations by commercial fishermen unfettered by net regulations.
But Crum said being able to use nets with a greater mesh size than has been allowed under FWC rules will permit mullet fishermen to catch more marketable fish without needless killing and waste of juveniles. Crum said the lucrative mullet row season is beginning, and the ability to use gear targeted to those fish will help struggling commercial fishermen. With more jobs, the pressure of over-harvesting on the struggling oyster population also will be lessened, he said.
Fulford, who took a year to rule on the case, said she read and re-read the transcript from last year’s trial, went over prior cases and carefully studied the amendment and FWC rules. In her ruling last week, Fulford said the amendment, which bans all nets except a hand-cast net, and FWC’s rules defining gill and entangling nets, create a “legal absurdity.” She sided with the fishermen that the nets FWC requires them to use defeats the purpose of the amendment and they have been unfairly targeted by the agency for prosecution.
“I sit today with the same opinion I have had for the last year,” Fulford said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”