Siesta Key Island Chatter

Siesta Key Association Update

The SKA Directors met on March 10th recently for the Annual Election of Directors and Officers. The meeting resulted in 12 directors for 2020-21.

The 2020-21 SKE Directors and Officers are: Jean Cannon (Secretary), Roland Clark, Tim Cookerly (Treasurer), Natalie Gutwein, Joyce Kouba, Erin Kreis, Catehrine Lucknner (President), Robert Luckner, Daniel Lundy (Vice-President), Tom Surprise, Eddie Ward, and Todd Zerega.

The SKA Annual Breakfast Meeting scheduled for March 28th has been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our breakfast meeting has been a lot of fun these past nine years,” said Catherine Luckner, President of the SKA. “We always look forward to this event. However, with many members being within the most vulnerable age range for the COVID-19, it was the best decision for everyone. We’ll hold another event later this year,” Luckner added.

Cancelations Aplenty

Obviously, with the COVID-19 pandemic there have been many cancelations, postponements, and closures.

The 42nd Annual Siesta Fiesta scheduled for April 25th-26th has been postponed. No final decision has been made on rescheduling the event. By the show organizer. All new information will be reported as it becomes available.

Another casualty of the current health crisis was the Chamber’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt scheduled for April 11th at Turtle Beach.

Additionally, all Siesta Key beach events including Drum Circle have been canceled at least until April 12th. Also, all Sarasota County events have been cancelled until then, too.

Chamber announces new members

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce welcome three new members to the organization: All Seasons Concierge, Save Our Y, and Michael’s On East.

The Fire Department’s 2019 report for the Key

As part of the Feb. 18 program of the Siesta Key Condominium Council meeting, Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier offered detailed statistics for Fire Station 23 for 2019.

That station is located at the intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road, adjacent to the public beach park.

Noting that the department is “quite busy out here on the Key,” Regnier explained that, not surprisingly, given the older population, the majority of the calls were for emergency medical services (EMS).

The total number of fire and rescue incidents for Siesta last year was 1,569, out of 64,372 countywide, according to the slide Regnier presented to the audience. “About 88% of the overall volume,” he continued, involved EMS calls: 1,258.

The stats showed that 32 of those EMS calls dealt with motor vehicle collisions — including one extraction of a person; 37 were elevator rescues; 10 were water/surf rescues; and another 10 were watercraft rescues.

Of the 311 fire-related incidents, the report said, 157 were false alarms; 105 were service calls; 12 involved fires not on the Key; 29 were related to hazardous conditions; three were structure fires; and one involved a lightning strike that did not result in a fire.

The month with the largest number of EMS calls was March, with 145; followed by May, with 113.

May had the highest count of fire calls: 35, followed by March 2019, with 33.

As for the mean response time: The slide said that was 6.01 minutes from receipt of a call by Dispatch to the time of arrival on the scene. The mean time it took for a unit to reach the scene after it left Fire Station 13 was 5.05 minutes, the slide noted.

Regnier noted that a common question he receives from Siesta residents is how the department handles traffic congestion on the island if equipment has to come over from the mainland to respond to a call. EMS and fire units have direct communication with the bridge tenders, he said, so personnel can ensure the drawbridges are down.

Additionally, he pointed out, the department uses a system called Opticom, which allows personnel approaching intersections to make certain the traffic signals are green. “We can take control of [an] intersection,” he said, as a unit approaches with its lights and siren operating.

That system is in place at most county intersections, he Regnier added; implementation took place close to seven years ago.

Bird stewards sought on Siesta once again

Holley Short, project manager for Florida Audubon’s Bird Monitoring & Stewardship Program, has announced that training for volunteers on Siesta Key will be conducted from 9 to 11 a.m. on March 28.

“Some of you may be returning,” she wrote, “but there are a few new volunteers coming in. For those new volunteers, welcome!”

Then Short explained, “Bird stewards are one of the most important aspects for shorebird and seabird conservation. Stewards are stationed at sites where nests and/or chicks are located and provide education to the public through brochures, signage, and visuals through a scope,” she wrote.

During a training session, she continued, Audubon Florida staff members, along with their partners in environmental protection, “provide information about the shorebird species, the stewardship site, and how to successfully educate [the public].”

The March 28 session on Siesta will cover all of those topics Short added, “so attendance is strongly encouraged,” even for those who have been stewards in the past. “We always provide new and updated information each year, and you will also have the chance to meet new stewards and seasonal Audubon staff,” she wrote in the email. “You will also be able to pick up your new volunteer shirt, if you have been a steward before.”

The Siesta training will be conducted at the Sea Turtle Pavilion at Siesta Public Beach, near the north section of the parking lot and the north snack bar, Short pointed out. For the first half of the session, she added, “we will go over the training.” The second half will feature “a short beach walk” to explore nesting sites “and see potential nesting species.

Those interested in attending the event are asked to click on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2357737297664663/.

During the March 5 Siesta Key Association meeting, SKA Director Robert Luckner noted that he has heard reports that three pairs of snowy plovers have been seen “courting” on the beach this nesting season. He was hopeful, he added, that Siesta this year would see success with chicks “fledging,” which means they can fly and survive on their own.

Over the past couple of years, Luckner noted, no chicks had survived. The culprits were natural predators and human interference, he said.

Snowy plovers have been in decline in the state over the past years.