Siesta Seen

County Commission candidates forum set for Oct. 31; Safe Treats planned on Halloween; Light Up Siesta Key coming after Thanksgiving; Crystal Classic’s music lineup announced; driver wreaks damage after losing control of car in Higel/Siesta Drive curve; look of new FPL pole criticized; and former Commissioner Thaxton offers SKA members glimpses into his childhood

Wesley Beggs. Image from her campaign website

The candidates for the District 4 seat on the County Commission this year — Democrat Wesley Anne Beggs of Sarasota and Republican Alan Maio of Nokomis, the incumbent — have been invited to appear during a forum scheduled at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31, in the Community Room at the Gulf & Bay Club.

The condominium complex is located at 5830 Midnight Pass Road. Free parking is available on-site, a news release says.

Seating is limited to 150 attendees, the release adds.

Beggs and Maio will focus on issues specific to Siesta Key, the release points out.

The event is scheduled to conclude at 6 p.m.

Commissioner Alan Maio. File photo

In announcing the forum to Siesta Key Association members during their Oct. 4 meeting, President Gene Kusekoski noted that it will provide “more opportunity to get in front of the candidates and ask your questions”

“It is on Halloween,” he said, adding with a laugh, “Wear costumes if you like …”

And speaking of Halloween …

The annual Safe Treats event will take place on Halloween — Oct. 31 — from 3 to 6 p.m. in both Siesta Key Village and the South Village area, the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has announced.

Balloons will mark participating businesses, which will offer treats for the youngsters participating in the event. The Chamber has asked businesses to sign up in advance if they plan to be part of Safe Treats.

And speaking of holidays …

The Blue Skye Pipes and Drums group marches down Ocean Boulevard during the 2016 Holiday Parade. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens

After Halloween, of course, comes Thanksgiving. And the weekend after Thanksgiving means Light Up Siesta Key and the Village Holiday Parade.

The 34th Light Up Siesta Key will be held on Saturday, Nov. 24, from 5 to 9 p.m., the Siesta Chamber has announced. As usual, a community Christmas tree will be erected at the Village gazebo.

The Holiday Parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the intersection of Avenida del Mare and Beach Road, the Siesta Chamber’s October newsletter says. Then the parade will proceed north on Beach Road and onto Ocean Boulevard into the Village.

The application deadline is Nov. 16, the registration form says.

Shops and restaurants will offer refreshments and holiday bargains from 5-9 p.m. during Light Up Siesta Key.

The parade will conclude with Santa Claus’ arrival at Siesta Key Center, where he will welcome youngsters wishing to convey their holiday wishes. He also will hand out gift bags to children.

Additionally, live musical performances will be offered at various venues. Carolers and a live martial arts demonstration will be among the festivities, as well, the newsletter notes.

The Siesta Key Breeze open-air trolley will provide free transportation from Turtle Beach to Siesta Village, running approximately every 20 minutes.

Anyone who would like to participate in the parade is asked to visit the chamber website “and click on the scrolling event banner at the top of the home page.” The entry fee is $25; registration is required, the newsletter points out.

For more information, contact the Siesta Chamber at 349-3800, visit the website or email

Crystal Classic organizers announce musical performances

Crystal Classic attendees dance to the music in the party tent. Photo by Studio F Productions

With the 2018 Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival scheduled for Nov. 9 through Nov. 12, the organizers have announced the musical lineup for the four-day event.

“Nine bands will perform under a massive tent on the beach during the family friendly festival,” a news release says. They comprise “an eclectic roster of popular local and Tampa Bay area acts,” the release adds.

“With last year’s success of nighttime music and sculptures, the festival will be open Saturday and Sunday” until 9 p.m. this year, the release continues. Along with the live music, drinks will be available at the party tent, the release says, and “a fabulous light display” will focus on the sculptures.

“Billy Jack, co-host of the popular Jones and Company morning show on 107.9 WSRZ,” will be on location Saturday, Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the release also notes.

The musical lineup follows:

  • John Patti & Sunny Jim, Friday, from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Ari & the Alibis, Friday, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Island Chill Band, Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Twinkle, Saturday, from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Reverend Barry & The Funk, Saturday, from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Tropical Ave., Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Kettle of Fish, Sunday, from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • 22N, Sunday, from 6 to 9 p.m.
  • A Train, Monday, from noon to 3 p.m.

Among other festival attractions will be free sand-sculpting lessons and demonstrations, an amateur competition on Saturday, artists participating in Quick Sand speed sculpting, and an array of food, drink and retail vendors, the release points out.

Information regarding the 2018 festival schedule, ticket options and parking passes may be found on the website:

Yet another crash at Higel and Siesta Drive

The Sarasota Police Department included this graphic of the vehicle’s path in the report on a Sept. 28 incident. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

When Sgt. Jason Mruczek, leader of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office substation on Siesta Key, took the podium during the Oct. 4 Siesta Key Association meeting, he said he had little to report, other than “a few thefts” from vehicles.

“Keep your cars locked,” he told the audience, and do not leave valuables out in the open, where they can tempt someone.

When he asked whether anyone had questions for him, one woman reported another vehicle crash at the sharp intersection where Higel Avenue intersects Siesta Drive on the north end of the Key.

Because that area of the island is within the city limits, Mruczek responded, the Sarasota Police Department would have handled the incident. He was unaware of it, he said.

Dee Reams, chair of the Make Siesta Drive Safer committee of the Bay Island Siesta Association, told Mruczek, the license tag of the vehicle fell off during the incident, so police officers were able to find the driver of the car.

When The Sarasota News Leader asked Genevieve Judge, public information officer for the Police Department, if the report on the accident was available, she emailed this reporter a copy of it.

The call about the crash came in at 11:28 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, the report said.

The officer who wrote the narrative explained that an anonymous female witness had reported that the driver of an orange car traveling northbound on Higel lost control in the curve and almost struck her vehicle.

The orange car went off the north side of the road and crashed into a sign alerting drivers to the curve ahead, the narrative noted. Then the car continued up an embankment, traveled through the Higel Park landscaping and crashed into a Verizon/Frontier cable box before proceeding across La Paloma Avenue and crashing into the mailbox and water main in front of the home at 3435 La Paloma Ave., the narrative added. The vehicle continued through the landscaping between that residence and the home at 3423 La Paloma Ave. before colliding with the mailbox in front of the house at 3423 La Paloma Ave., the narrative pointed out.

After that crash, the narrative noted that the vehicle “fled through the neighborhood.” The witness reported that the driver came back out onto Siesta Drive, eastbound, and left the scene.

An aerial map shows the location of the house at 3423 La Paloma Ave. on Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps

The officer found “several pieces of the vehicle throughout the crash scene,” the narrative said. “Water was flooding Siesta [Drive] because the water main had been damaged in front of 3435 La Paloma Ave.”

The police notified city staff to shut off the water main, and Dispatch contacted Frontier about the damaged box, the narrative added.

The officer later delivered the pieces of the vehicle to the Police Department’s Property division as evidence, the narrative said, and the officer left business cards for the homeowners. “I was unable to locate the suspect vehicle, but advised the oncoming shift of the situation,” the officer wrote.

Then, at 1:48 p.m. on Sept. 29, the narrative continued, another police officer advised the investigating officer that a New Jersey license tag from the vehicle had been found in front of 3201 Higel Ave. The investigating officer picked it up, the narrative noted, and determined that it was registered to Joseph Adamski Jr., 43. Adamski’s Florida license showed his address as 2564 10th St., Apt. 302, in Sarasota.

When the officer went to that address, the officer saw a damaged orange 2018 Dodge Challenger parked outside, the narrative added.

Adamski told the officer he was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash, the narrative continued, but he had no passengers with him and he was not injured.

“He told me that he left the scene because he didn’t realize that he damaged anything,” the officer wrote in the narrative, adding that Adamski had reported the crash to his insurance company.

“I told Joseph that there was a lot of damage for him not to realize it,” the officer pointed out in the narrative.

Then Adamski admitted to the officer that he had taken a Benadryl earlier in the day after having been stung by a bee, the narrative said. Adamski told another officer that he was using his cellphone when he lost control of the vehicle, the narrative added.

The officer who wrote the narrative issued Adamski citations for careless driving and leaving the scene of a crash with property damage. “I released Joseph’s bumper to him,” the officer concluded the narrative.

Damage to the Verizon/Frontier box was estimated at $1,000; damage to the mailbox, landscaping and water main at 3435 La Paloma Ave. was put at $3,500; damage to the warning sign for the curve and the landscaping by the road was estimated at $1,000; and damage to the landscaping and mailbox at 3423 La Paloma Ave. was put at $500, the report said.

The fine set forth in the state statutes for a moving violation — such as a charge of careless driving — is $166, according to Adamski’s case record in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Sarasota. 

New FPL pole criticized

A new concrete FPL pole stands near the intersection of Avenida Veneccia and Columbus Boulevard. Rachel Hackney photo

During the Oct. 4 SKA meeting, President Gene Kusekoski reported that “a more aesthetically inclined member” of the organization had notified him that Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) has installed a new concrete utility pole near the intersection of Columbus Boulevard and Avenida Veneccia. The member called it “out of place” in the island landscape and questioned the need for it, Kusekoski added.

An FPL representative told Kusekoski, he continued, that the new pole was necessary for two reasons: better hurricane resistance and to upgrade the power system in that part of the Key. “And, hence, you have the big chunky cement pole,” Kusekoski told the SKA audience.

The FPL representative did suggest to Kusekoski that if members of that neighborhood on the Key wanted to “personally pay to get lines buried underground, [FPL] would be happy to do that.” The FLP rep cautioned, though, that the wait for the work probably would be a long one, Kusekoski indicated.

“Maybe we can get an artist to decorate the chunky poles,” he added.

A bit of biography

Former County Commissioner Jon Thaxton. Rachel Hackney photo

When former Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton addressed members of the Siesta Key Association on Oct. 4, he said, “I’m one of the oddballs …” He is a fifth-generation Sarasotan, he explained.

When he was a child, he continued, his family moved to the central part of the county. Osprey, he stressed, is not South County but in the center of the county, almost exactly in the middle, in fact.

Then he asked if audience members were familiar with Roessler’s Restaurant, which is located at 2033 Vamo Way. Many were.

“Roessler’s Restaurant was my childhood home,” Thaxton said. The bar is in what was his family room, he noted. People in the dining area, he said, are “in my living room.”

When he was growing up, Thaxton continued, “All my friends’ fathers were commercial fishermen. … I spent a great deal of time on mullet skiffs.” Commercial fishing “was still a viable industry just that short time ago.”

He also noted, “You never forget the dialogue around the fish house,” calling it “just very memorable.”

Additionally, Thaxton pointed out that even when he was 12 or 13 — “maybe younger” — fishermen would lament the changes they were observing on the land that they felt were producing negative impacts on the water.

As he began his introduction to his topic that day, which was red tide, Thaxton referenced a time much longer ago than the period of his youth.

The first recorded observations of red tide were written in 1575 by Spanish cartographer Juan Lopez de Velasco, Thaxton said. Velasco lived roughly between 1530 and 1598, according to an online check by the News Leader.

Much more recent research had found a dinoflagellate “very closely related” to the red tide algae in the bones of cormorants and fish scales that were dated back 2 million years ago, to the Pleistocene Epoch. That information resulted from the excavation of an eastern Sarasota County site in 1989, Thaxton added.