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The Winner Is...

This month we had the AANR annual meeting and convention. One of the responsibilities of the GAT team is selecting the winner of the annual GAT Award. This year the award was presented for the first time as the Alonzo Stevens Jr. GAT Award. I am proud to announce the winner of the award and devote this column to the efforts of the team. The award went to the AANR-Florida GAT Team and its chair, Jim Wulchak, and president, Ralph Collinson. I wanted to use the team’s Report to Convention to show why they led the competition in this year’s GAT efforts. Here are some excerpts from that report.

Tallahassee was very active last session in passing legislation to strengthen laws against pedophiles and lewd and lascivious behavior. We supported their efforts with the exception of HB 7031 and SB 254. Based upon the advice of our lobbyist Ramon Maury we joined South Florida Free Beaches (SFFB) to launch an effort to defeat these bills. It quickly became apparent that it would be impossible to stop the momentum of HB 7031 due to the ultra -conservative leadership in the house. However, Ramon suggested that we utilize our limited resources to convince the maker in the Senate, Senator Bradley, to table his bill in committee so that the two bills would never come together for reconciliation. We rallied member support, asking them to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee indicating their displeasure with the legislation. SFFB did the same with their members. Ramon worked behind the scenes with Senator Bradley and his staff and the strategy worked. The Senate bill was never reported out of committee. This is an excellent example of how nudist groups can work together to produce a positive outcome.

Blind Creek Beach (St. Lucie County)-AANR member Nelson Jones has organized a cadre of interested parties to form an action committee in St Lucie County. The effort has strong support from the members of Sunnier Palms Nudist Resort in Ft. Pierce. The committee has a cross section of dedicated Florida nudists including AANR staff, AANR-Florida board members, South Florida Free Beaches and a cast of AANR members from the local area. This is clearly a grass roots effort and clearly shows the benefit of nudist organizations working together for a common cause. At the moment the likelihood of a beach looks promising. We have stressed the success of the Haulover model in these meetings.

Hickory Preserve (Lee County)-AANR and AANR-Florida have hired Political advisor and AANR member Ed Brunson to assist us in retaining the traditional naturist beach at Hickory Preserve. Just over a year ago the county sheriff began visiting the beach and citing naturists. The police reported that the nudists were well behaved at the preserve.; however, they occasionally receive complaints from non-nudists that they are required by law to respond to. At this meeting they agreed to not bother the nudists except when a complaint is received. As long as the beachgoers are not displaying lewd or lascivious behavior the sheriff will only ask that they cover up because nudity is prohibited on county land and then they will leave. If the nudist complies no citations will be issued. We have made this development known to members through a user group maintained by a Lee County AANR member. We now plan on pursuing this matter further with the elected county officials to try and get a portion of the beach designated as clothing optional.

For these and other on-going efforts you can see AANR-Florida GAT deserved this year’s Alonzo Stevens JR GAT Award.