Treasure Island Fire Chief Charlie Fant, right, and former President George W. Bush pose for a photo March 20 in Treasure Island.
TREASURE ISLAND – With the exception of one incident, a visit by former President George W. Bush to Treasure Island March 19 went smoothly, according to Treasure Island Police Chief Tim Casey.
The lone incident took place when an unidentified person was yelling obscenities toward Bush in the street near the home of Melvin and Betty Sembler, 10324 Paradise Blvd., who were hosting a reception and dinner for the former president. Bush was inside and did not hear the remarks.
“It was just one person,” said Casey. “And as soon as the words were out of his mouth he was apprehended (by Secret Service agents and Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies).”
Casey said TIPD officers were providing security inside the home and were not involved.
“We were part of the initial planning and it was a cooperative effort involving us, the Sheriff’s Office and the Secret Service,” Casey said.
The dinner was hosted by Sembler, a local developer and former U.S. ambassador to Australia and Italy, to raise money for the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, which will house the presidential library and institute.
Bush’s plane landed at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport around 4:30 p.m. from an earlier fundraiser in Jacksonville and the former president arrived at Sembler’s home about 30 minutes later.
Police and deputies closed the Treasure Island Causeway momentarily for his arrival and departure the next day around 10 a.m.
Charlie Weisgerber, the past president of the Treasure Island Hotel and Motel Association, who lives six houses away from Sembler, said about 16 to 18 VIPs attended the reception and dinner. He said admission is typically $10,000 to $50,000 per person.
Bush is reportedly working on a book for release in 2010 that chronicles his most important personal and presidential decisions. The title is tentatively set to be “Decision Points.”
Correction: Changed Mrs. Sembler name from Mary to Betty Sembler.