By Rachel Brown Hackney
Members of religious group disrupting Drum Circle
Members of a religious group from north Florida have been antagonizing participants during recent gatherings of the Drum Circle on Siesta Public Beach. On Nov. 20, for example, men in the group used a bullhorn to address Drum Circle participants.
Sgt. Jason Mruczek of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that incidents have occurred on more than one recent Sunday. Thanks to the assistance of Kaitlyn Perez, community affairs director of the Sheriff’s Office, SNL reviewed two reports filed in connection with the disruptions.
The first says that just before 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20, a deputy responded to a call about a disturbance on the beach. Upon his arrival, the report continues, he observed protestors Daniel Maguire, 35, and Mark Asher King, 41, “standing with their sign in the middle of the drum circle. They were there exercising their rights and not doing anything illegal.” However, the report notes, people in the crowd became offended “and began to argue with [the men], forcing them back outside of the circle by making a wall of bodies linked together and slowly walking towards them.”
The report says that at one point, Deputy Jason Strom called for a supervisor out of concern that the crowd would get out of control. “Eventually,” the report adds, “the crowd dispersed and both groups were separated.”
According to the report, King told the deputy his home address is on Ashton Road in Sarasota. Maguire provided a Ruskin address and identified his occupation as “Preacher.”
An earlier incident occurred on July 17, Sheriff’s Office records show. McGuire approached a deputy just before 7:30 p.m. to say that someone had poured beer on him, according to the report. The suspect was a Sarasota resident, Duane Myron Dennis, 33, the report notes.
“According to the victim,” the report says, “he was preaching towards the drum circle” when the incident occurred. McGuire at first wanted to press charges, the deputy wrote, “because Dennis was uncooperative at the time.”
When the deputy then spoke with Dennis and informed him of the allegations, the report continues, Dennis “stated that he did not want to speak with me, because I was not a Sergeant,” and that he had “only opened the beer” on McGuire’s head. After the deputy informed Dennis that he was a suspect in a battery case, Dennis agreed to go with the deputy to the pavilion as the deputy proceeded with his investigation, the report adds. While they were at the pavilion, the deputy continued, McGuire decided not to pursue charges, saying he just wanted Dennis to apologize. Dennis agreed to do so, the report notes.
In response to a request for comments from county staff regarding the Drum Circle incidents, Deputy Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler wrote in an email that department staff “will continue to monitor the situation and work with the sheriff’s office to assist with the management of the drum circle to ensure public safety in the event of disorderly conduct.”
North Beach Road lawsuit update
In the latest action involving Siesta resident Mike Cosentino’s lawsuit against Sarasota County over the vacation of a portion of North Beach Road, Cosentino has let the 12th Judicial Circuit Court know that he opposes having a magistrate hear motions in the case, instead of a judge. No hearing date has been set yet.
Most recently, on Oct. 17, the county filed its motion to dismiss Cosentino’s complaint.
On Nov. 15, Cosentino’s attorney, Ralf Brookes of Cape Coral, filed a document saying that Cosentino was complying with Florida Rules of Civil Procedure by giving notice “that he does not consent and objects to the referral to a magistrate under Rule 1.490(c).” That rule, according to the document, says, “No reference shall be to a magistrate, either general or special, without the consent of the parties.”
The Nov. 15 filing says Cosentino “was not served with any order, via [electronic copy] or mailed paper service copy of any order referring matters [in] this case to [a] Magistrate and was … not aware of any such order until today.”
The court file shows no record of any order referring the hearing of the motions to a magistrate. However, such action has become common procedure in the court system.
More than two years ago, a resident submitted a petition to Sarasota County, seeking the reduction of the speed limit on Upper Elmwood Avenue between U.S. 41 and Crestwood Avenue — in Pine Shores Estates — from 30 mph to 25 mph. By Dec. 9, all of the roads in the subdivision are expected to be posted with that lower speed limit.
That was the unanimous decision of the County Commission on Nov. 22 as part of its vote on its Consent Agenda of routine business items.
A memo provided to the board in advance of the Nov. 22 meeting said the original petition was submitted by Patricia Estes on Oct. 27, 2014. After the county’s Traffic Advisory Council (TAC) members considered it on March 9, 2015, the memo continued, the TAC members asked staff to expand the boundary of the affected area to incorporate the entire Pine Shores Estates subdivision, “because there are streets with a posted speed limit of 30 mph and other streets with a posted speed limit of 25 mph.”
The boundary expansion was seen as a way to bring uniformity to the neighborhood speed limits and as a means to “better conform to driver expectations,” as the memo put it.
On June 8, 2015, the TAC held a public hearing on the revised petition and then approved it unanimously, the minutes of that meeting say. Only one public speaker addressed the issue beforehand, and that person pointed out that his primary concern was enforcement of the current speed limit, the Nov. 22 staff memo said.
Asked why it took almost 18 months after the June 2015 TAC approval of the uniform speed limit for the matter to go on a County Commission agenda, county spokesman Drew Winchester responded in an email that because of a vacancy in the position of county traffic engineering manager, staff ended up with “[j]ust a large backlog of TAC items that needed to make it to the [County Commission]. Now that the traffic engineering manager position, currently held by Robert Fakhri, is staffed, the backlog of items should be coming before the board in a more timely fashion.”
The County Commission’s agenda packet for Nov. 22 included only one recent communication staff had received about the matter: In a Sept. 19 email, a couple living on Baywinds Lane wrote that they “thoroughly support the speed reduction ….”
Prior to the June 2015 TAC hearing, the Nov. 22 memo explained, staff “investigated four streets for speed analysis” in Pine Shores Estates: Crestwood Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, North Elmwood Avenue and Brentwood Avenue, all of which the memo described as local roads. Two of the streets — Beechwood and Elmwood — already had the 25 mph posted limit, while the other two had a posted limit of 30 mph, the memo added.
The average speed on Crestwood was 21 mph; on Elmwood, 22 mph; on North Elmwood, 20 mph; and on Brentwood, 10 mph, the analysis showed. Of the four, the memo noted, Crestwood and Brentwood were tied for the highest annual average daily traffic count: 387. North Elmwood had the lowest count: 181.
The 85th percentile speed ranged from 30 mph on Elmwood to 15 mph on Brentwood, the memo added. “[T]he Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) recommends speed limits are set within 5 miles per hour of the 85th percentile speed,” the memo pointed out.
Upon conclusion of the analysis, staff had recommended that the TAC approve the uniform speed limit for the entire neighborhood.
And if anyone who is not a Pine Shores Estates resident thinks the subdivision name sounds familiar, that is because its residents have been very vocal in their opposition to facets of the proposed mixed-use Siesta Promenade project. That development is planned at the northwest corner of the intersection of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41; it would border the neighborhood.
One big concern for people living in Pine Shores is the potential for one of their streets to become an access for Siesta Promenade.
Tobacco and the beach
During the December meeting of the Siesta Key Association (SKA), it was only fitting that an issue near and dear to the heart of special guest Stephen Leatherman — aka Dr. Beach —also was on the agenda that evening.
Kelli Pond, who works with the Tobacco Free Partnership of Sarasota County, addressed the audience briefly regarding that group’s efforts to reduce tobacco-related diseases and deaths in the community. The organization’s recent initiatives, she explained, have been focused on cutting down on the amount of tobacco litter, especially on Siesta Key Beach. The target is a 50% decrease in that type of trash, she noted.
The partnership has been working with Sarasota County’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department and the county’s Keep Sarasota County Beautiful program, she said, as well as other groups in the county.
SKA Environmental Committee member Bob Luckner pointed out that Siesta Key Beach used to be designated as a no-smoking site. “What happened?”
“Pre-emption happened,” she replied.
A Dec. 10, 2012 ruling by Judge Maryann Boehm of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Sarasota found that “prohibiting the use of tobacco products in non-designated areas of city parks … is unenforceable and in conflict with the state statute known as the ‘Clean Indoor Air Act.’”
The purpose of that law, which was passed in 1985 but did not go into effect until 2003, according to the Florida Department of Health, “is to protect people from the health hazards of secondhand tobacco smoke ….”
A July 21, 2011 opinion issued by the Florida Attorney General’s Office in a case involving the St. Johns River Water Management District is one example of the opinions Boehm referenced. It says, “In sum: The Regulation of smoking is preempted to the state pursuant to [the Clean Indoor Air Act], and the … District may not adopt a policy prohibiting smoking or tobacco use that is broader than the terms of [that statute].”
“What about ‘home rule’?” Siesta resident Mike Cosentino asked Pond during the SKA meeting, referring to the fact that Sarasota County has its own charter. She replied that state law prevails over local ordinances. “Wow,” Cosentino said.
When a woman in the audience asked about citing people for littering the beach with cigarette butts, Pond told her, “That might be a strategy that we can consider,” adding that the partnership members are in the “very early” stages of work on potential action.
During an Aug. 23 update to the County Commission regarding issues the board wishes to pursue in the 2017 session of the Legislature, Rob Lewis, the county’s director of community and intergovernmental relations, discussed the issue of smoking on beaches: “We are beginning to test the legislative leadership again.”
It is a priority for both the County Commission and the Florida Association of Counties, he said, to make it possible for home rule to prevail regarding efforts to prevent tobacco use on beaches.
Can Siesta be number one again, butt
After Leatherman concluded his formal remarks related to the Lido Renourishment Project, SKA Second Vice President Catherine Luckner asked him on Dec. 1 to talk about his criteria for his Top 10 beaches list.
“After 25 years, I’ve decided to start over again, using the same 50 criteria” for the list, Leatherman explained. However, he has added extra credit, he continued, for three initiatives: prohibition of smoking on a beach, a good safety record and an emphasis on non-motorized access — support for more use of bicycles and other ways to reach a beach “without having more blacktop.”
He told the audience, “To me, one of the most disgusting things to do” is to sit down on a beach and put his hands down into the sand, only to touch a cigarette butt. Worse, he said, is watching a small child whose parents’ attention has been diverted pick up butts and eat them, as children “eat everything.”
On Miami Beach, he continued, he has at times counted 10 butts per meter. Many foreigners come to that beach, he pointed out, and they “think [of it] as an ashtray, frankly. … These filters last for a long time … and they’re very hard to pick up [during routine cleaning efforts]. … So I’m very much into giving credit to no-smoking beaches …”
Leatherman added that in regard to the third criterion for extra credit for Siesta Public Beach: “You need to work on that. This is a small community, a very beautiful place. The more you can do towards [non-motorized access], the better your ratings will go.”
Leatherman ranked Siesta No. 2 on his 2016 list. It was his No. 1 beach in 2011, as noted in signs still standing along roadways leading to the Key.
At the outset of his remarks during the meeting, Leatherman made his affection for Siesta Beach clear. “It’s part of the community,” he said. “Without that beach, I don’t know what the community would be like. It certainly wouldn’t be what it is today.”
For more information about the Tobacco Prevention Program of the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, call 861-2969.
Dr. Beach’s anecdotes and a history lesson
During the SKA meeting, Leatherman regaled the audience with tales of his travels around the world to handle issues related to beaches and sand.
For one example, Leatherman talked of a trip he took to the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) earlier this year at the request of the owner of the Briars Creek Resort. It is a “quite expensive” place to stay, Leatherman noted, adding that it has three different beaches. To underscore the exclusivity of this particular part of the BVIs, Leatherman pointed out that while he was there, he saw the yacht owned by Sir Richard Branson, who owns the nearby Necker Island.
Regarding the beach considered best for swimming, he continued, the owner reported, “‘I’ve got a big hole … What happened?’”
A neighbor was building a heliport nearby in the water, Leatherman said, so the resort owner suspected that project might have something to do with the hole.
Upon his investigation of the site, Leatherman continued, he could find nothing about the heliport that would explain the significant loss of sand on the resort’s beach. When the owner then asked whether extraordinarily big waves could have carved out the hole, Leatherman discounted that theory as well.
Finally, Leatherman said he told the man, “[Someone] came in here and stole the sand [with a small dredge].”
The resort had been closed for a while, Leatherman pointed out, so the theft probably occurred when the owner was away from the property.
After Leatherman persuaded the man to check with his neighbors, Leatherman said the owner heard reports of a small dredge having shown up. “Sure enough,” Leatherman told the SKA audience, “the sand was stolen.”
Leatherman also noted that he had just returned to the United States after attending a conference in Morocco that focused on coastal management for the Arab States; the government of Dubai paid his way.
Because of the vast amount of construction taking place in Dubai, Leatherman explained, sand is in great demand for making concrete. “The country of Dubai has put out a general notice that they are looking to buy sand,” he added, then asked the SKA audience members to think about that for a moment.
The Sahara Desert is right there, he continued, so it seems incongruous that Dubai would need to buy sand. Yet, he continued, the sand in the Sahara has been moved around for thousands of years, leaving its grains so round that the sand “doesn’t stick to the mortar correctly.” Murmurs of “Oh, my,” circulated in the audience.
Therefore, Leatherman said, Dubai has no choice but to try to purchase sand.
At one point during the program, an audience member pointed out that Lido Key was manmade. SKA Second Vice President Catherine Luckner noted that even a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) letter sent to the County Commission last week acknowledged that fact. However, the USACE made a big mistake in the following sentence, Luckner added: “Lido Key and [Big Sarasota Pass] were created during extensive dredging in the early 1900s, and the [Big Pass] ebb shoal is accumulating sediments from the placement of sand on beaches to the north of Lido Key.”
Luckner said she called the USACE’s Jacksonville District Office to complain that the part about the pass was incorrect. Anyone who had looked at historical maps of the area, she added, would have known that the pass has been there for quite a long time.
The audience member — who left before the I could ask his name — said Lido “was mostly marsh and mangroves” until Harry Higel built it up after he created Bird Key.
The man continued, “It was a disaster from the beginning when Higel went down there and took [spoil material left over as a result of construction on Siesta]” and used it to build up Lido. “Look what happened to him!”
When murmurs among the audience members alluded to Higel’s death, the speaker pointed out. “He didn’t just die! … Don’t mess with Siesta!” Laughter erupted at that point.
According to the Sarasota Times, Higel was found lying unconscious near Siesta Village early on the morning of Jan. 6, 1921. The paper reported that he was “struck down in an insane frenzy or a deliberately planned and cruel murder, left bleeding and dying alone …” He died as the two men who found him tried to transport him to the Tampa Hospital, the paper said.
“Interesting history,” Leatherman replied to the man in the audience. “I didn’t know about all this.”
Assistance to bicyclists
The SKA has sponsored the publication of a Siesta Key bicycle map for visitors and residents, samples of which it provided for attendees at the Dec. 1 meeting.
Director Hal Ashby took a few moments at that session to talk about the project, noting that the brochure with the map was “just off the presses.” This is the first time such a document has been available, he pointed out.
His goal, Ashby said, is to see 2,000 of them distributed to businesses and condominium complexes on the island.
Along with the map, the brochure offers tips to riders who may be unfamiliar with Florida laws. For example, it advises people to “Obey all traffic control signs and signals” and reminds them, “Don’t wear earbuds or headphones while cycling.” The brochure was produced by bikesiestakey.org.
When Deputy Chris McGregor of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office presented his report at the SKA meeting, he noted that in his business, “No news is good news.”
Referring to the “Turkey Trot” hosted by Siesta Village restaurants on Nov. 23, McGregor added, “We did have the pub crawl with minimal issues. Actually, it was a really good pub crawl.” He did not recall any arrests having taken place.
The Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Festival also took place in November, he continued, “pretty much without a hitch.”
Deputies did deal with some illegal parking situations, however, he pointed out. For example, citations were written to drivers who left vehicles on sidewalks.
Condo Council January meeting
The Siesta Key Condo Council will hold a meeting on January 17 at 3:30 PM at the SK Chapel on Gleason Ave on Siesta Key. The main speaker will be Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio. Maio will discuss the State of the County, update on the Big Pass dredging project with a follow-up question and answer session. Other topics to be discussed are the Christmas Decoration Contest and the SK Sheriff’s report.
January SKA meeting date change
Special note to all members of SKA, the January meeting will be held on Thursday January 12. The normal date is the first Thursday of the month. Bob Stein, 1st Vice President/acting President, made the date change at the Dec 1 meeting. Stein stated, the change was being made to monitor the events of the Lido Beach Renourishment/Big Pass Dredging Project. The announcement from the state either to issue or deny a permit is to be announced by December 27. The date allows the SKA board to have a private meeting prior to the monthly open meeting. The meeting will be at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key at 4:30 PM in the Parish Hall.
The Florida Department of Transportation is enhancing drainage at State Road 758 and San Remo Terrace intersection. Improvements include constructing new stormwater drainage inlets, new drainage pipes underneath Siesta Drive, drainage swale paving, sidewalk enhancements and realign sidewalk.
Construction will start January 9 and end in the spring of 2017, weather permitting. Construction crews will be working during the day and at night. Drivers can expect lane closures during the day, please be alert for construction crews.
The cost of the project is estimated at $200,000. The contractor is Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, LLC
For more information about the improvements, contact: Brian Bollas, Public Information Officer, 1-844-359-0844 email@example.com
Trying to get the word out
As people trickled in for the Dec. 7 neighborhood workshop on a proposal that could lead to a new hotel on the Key, talk turned to how the meeting had been advertised.
Robert “Bo” Medred of Genesis Planning & Development in Sarasota said that Allen Parsons, the county’s Planning Division manager, had told him all that was necessary to comply with county guidelines was a legal notice. The ad ran in the Nov. 22 in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
With a rezoning petition, for example, an applicant is required to send notices to all the property owners within a certain radius of the proposed project — up to 750 feet in some situations, county planning documents have shown.
Lourdes Ramirez, a Siesta resident who served as the Siesta Key Association (SKA) president for a number of years, told Medred and Charles Bailey III, a land-use attorney also representing the applicant, that she had posted the notice on her Facebook page. SNL did the same, resulting in more than 2,000 views of the item, thanks to readers sharing it.
Still, by our count, only 10 members of the public were present that evening at St. Boniface Episcopal Church. They were joined by two reporters and a total of three representatives of the applicant, which is a corporation owned by Dr. Gary Kompothecras, known for his “1-800-Ask-Gary” advertisements.
A petition drive
Speaking of the potential hotel project: Lourdes Ramirez has begun a petition drive in an effort to prevent the adoption of a county Comprehensive Plan amendment that would make transient accommodations possible in districts zoned Commercial General on the Key. The website is http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-to-massive-mega-hotel-on-siesta-key.
In a letter on the site, Ramirez writes, “Say NO to massive mega hotels! Siesta Key has thousands of rooms for rent. Condos, apartments, boutique hotels — all offer nightly rentals. We like the low key (no pun intended) environment of our barrier islands especially within our Village. But a proposed new change to our local comprehensive growth plan will hurt Siesta Key's charm, increase traffic and create massive buildings in our Village.”
She adds, “We don't mind hotels being built but say NO to any exemptions to our current density and intensity limits for hotels. We urge Sarasota County to stop the nonsense. Don't turn us into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale! Keep our current regulations intact!”
As of Dec. 15, Ramirez had 483 signatures of the 1,000 she was seeking.
On the evening of Dec. 7, longtime members of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) marked their final meeting during an informal party at the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar.
The directors presented President Wendall Jacobsen a plaque and thanked everyone for all their efforts on behalf of the SKVA. Members also spent a bit of time recounting the organization’s accomplishments through the years.
Arguably, the greatest achievement of the SKVA was the beautification of Siesta Village, which was completed officially in early 2009. Past SKVA President Mark Smith of Smith Architects probably never will receive sufficient recognition for all the time and effort he put into persuading county leaders that the undertaking was a necessity.
During a brief interview, Smith said simply, “We have accomplished a lot over the years.” With the SKVA being absorbed by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce at the end of this year, Smith added that initiatives launched by the SKVA will be spread around the island. Jacobsen vowed to be involved in that process. He smiled when this reporter suggested he probably would not miss the early-morning monthly sessions of the SKVA, but he was adamant about continuing to work on projects that draw people to the island.
Among the attendees at the party was Anne Johnson, who served as editor of the Pelican Press for 25 years. She also was an SKVA board member for many, many years before stepping down from that position a couple of years ago. Johnson is one of those people who always volunteered to help with events the organization sponsored, such as the Light Up the Village holiday season kickoff and the Easter Egg Hunt.
Another person at the party who was very active in the organization for a number of years was Troy Syprett, a co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar restaurants. Syprett handled governmental affairs issues for the SKVA.
Often through the years, SKVA board members worked to recruit newcomers who might prove as dedicated as they were in planning and carrying out the numerous events the organization sponsored. The fact that so many of the same people continued to handle the behind-the-scenes responsibilities was one reason the SKVA leadership finally decided to let the Siesta Chamber take over the organization.
The party was a good way to salute all those who have contributed so much to Siesta Village.
Along with Jacobsen, general manager of Beach Bazaar, and Smith, those who served as the last group of officers and directors were Roz Hyman, the longtime treasurer; Helene Hyland of Coldwell Banker, who was the secretary for many years; Russell Matthes, co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck restaurants; Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Café; Bob Stein of Island Visitor Publishing/Siesta Sand newspaper; Glen Cappetta, owner of Sun Ride Pedicab; and Stephanie Brown, general manager of the Siesta Key Oyster Bar.
New businesses on the Key
There will be four new businesses opening up in the Village.
The Donut Experiment began life in 2012 as Anna Maria Donuts in Anna Maria, FL. The original mad scientists are the husband-and-wife team of Shawn and Cecilia Wampole. Hailing from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, the couple was surprised to find that there was not a donut shop on Anna Maria Island when they vacationed there. What originally started out as a joke about opening a donut shop, eventually led to, after some number crunching and careful planning, the couple quitting their jobs, selling their house and moving to Florida.
Shawn and Cecilia always liked boutique-style donut shops and wanted their shop to be more of an experience. So they decided to create a shop where the donuts were made right in front of the customers, and the customers were able to decide what they wanted on their donuts. Much to the couple’s surprise and pleasure, both the residents and visitors of Anna Maria Island embraced their concept and helped them to become one of the most popular restaurants on AMI.
The Siesta Key location will be at 217 Avenida Madera next to Solorzano’s Pizzaria. The owner of the SK location is Ron Spielman. The restaurant is expected to open in early January.
Sandal Factory is expected to open mid-January in the former 7 Eleven Store next to SKOB on Ocean Blvd. The new store will be 3000 square ft. carrying comfort sandals, swimwear, surf lines, and beach accessories. According to their website the original store opened in 1996 in the Florida Keys. With the opening of the Village location the Sandal Factory will operate nine stores throughout FL.
Marley Vibes Positive Vibrations is located in the former Sweet Shop at 5055 Ocean Blvd. According to their website Marley Vibes is your one-stop shop dedicated to providing huge selections of unique clothing and gifts. A Rasta-reggae-hippy-tie dye and beach theme, sharing a message of unity, peace, equality, positivity and one love!
"We don’t only sell 100% quality items but ensure that our designs bring positivity to others. Just like the songs of a well-known reggae musician who hailed from Jamaica, Bob Marley.“
"To remember and promote the wise and profound works of the late Bob Marley, we carry full line of Bob Marley clothing, bags and accessories at a very reasonable price. Our products help to educate the youth, inspire and encourage them to know themselves and love themselves and connect to the healing heart beat rhythm and vibration of reggae music. All these were made exclusively only to our valued customers." The store is expected to be open in the early January.
The sign on the window says Made in Rome Organic Gelato. The new parlor will be located in the former Panini Place restaurant at 5204 Ocean located next to Sunny Bunny. Siesta Sand reached out to management while the store was being remodeled but were unable to connect with them.
Siesta Key Chamber news
The 2017 Siesta Key Chamber Visitors & Local Resource Guide arrived Dec 16.
The general public can pick up a copy at the chamber office located in the Davidson Plaza on Ocean Blvd in the Village. Also, the new window clings and stickers for 2017 Membership with the Chamber Logo are in as well.
The chamber welcomes new member Cerulean SRQ – Property Management and Concierge Service Located on Siesta Key– Denny Fraser – Owner.