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Author Archives: Mint Design Co.

Roger Hernstadt Chosen as New City Manager


By Noelle H. Lowery The city of Marco Island’s tumultuous search for a new city manager came to a close during a special City Council Meeting on Monday, Jan. 13. The council voted 5-0 to offer Roger Hernstadt — the current city manager for Marathon, FL — the position and successfully negotiated and approved his $222,250 compensation package. The decision was a long time coming. Last April, former Marco Island City Manager Jim Riviere put the city on notice that he would retire at the end of September. In May, city councilors voted 6-1 (with Councilor Chuck Keister in ... Read More »

Mamie Street Saved

Fences in disarray, a repaved road that doesn’t allow two cars to pass simultaneously and overgrown grass and debris has replaced the once beautiful entrance to the Smallwood Store thanks to FGG. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Mamie Street Saved On Tuesday, Jan. 16, the public won in the fight to keep Mamie Street a county road. I was out of town and unable to attend in person, but I did watch the entire public hearing on Collier TV. Out of the 21 people signed up to speak, 19 were able to stay and express their opposition to the Collier County “vacating” this road. In addition to many residents of the Everglades area, presenters included world-renowned photographer Clyde Butcher, “Seminole Tribune” writer Peter B. Gallagher and Florida songwriters Val C. Wisecracker and J. Robert Houghtaling. Lynn McMillan, ... Read More »



Donna Fiala Kudos to the third grade class at Tommie Barfield! These young people sang their hearts out at the Arbor Day presentation at Veterans Park. It was so cold I had to wear gloves, and these little ones didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the weather. They were so beautiful! Then, we were entertained by the band from Marco Island Charter Middle School. I couldn’t even imagine how they could move their fingers on their instruments, much less perform so beautifully! Three city councilors were there, and the new city manager, interim city manager, fire chief, chief ... Read More »

Walk to End Lupus


Submitted Marilyn Honahan and Jan Cirillo have Lupus. Through their efforts to learn how to manage their lives with Lupus, they found others in need of support. They took the initiative with a desire to help others and attended the Lupus Foundation of America Southeast Florida Chapter Support Group Facilitator Training. They formed a Lupus Support Group, which meets the third Saturday of every month at Physician’s Regional Medical Center, Palm Dining Room, at 10:30 AM. Marilyn is also putting a team together to enter “The Walk to End Lupus,” which takes place Feb. 22 at the Mercato in Naples. ... Read More »

Bluegrass under the Hammock

Pre-show practice at the park.

By Natalie Strom The 7th Annual Jammin’ in the Hammock Bluegrass Festival is fast approaching. The event, which will host six different bluegrass bands, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8, from 10 AM-5:30 PM and Sunday, Feb. 9, from 9:30 AM-5:30 PM, at Collier-Seminole State Park. Sponsored by the Friends of Collier-Seminole State Park, a Citizens Support Organization (CSO), all proceeds from the festival will benefit the park. Admission to the event is $15 per day or $25 for both days. Admittance is free to children 13 and under as long as they are accompanied by a paying ... Read More »

Marriott to Hold 2nd Town Hall Meeting

Submitted The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa invites the community and local media to attend its second town hall meeting on Jan. 29, 2014, from 5–6 PM, which will discuss the resort’s redevelopment plans. “As we move forward with the redevelopment plans, it’s important to us that the community is involved and on board,” General Manager Rick Medwedeff says. “Our goal is that these meetings will garner feedback from our neighbors and ensure that they have all the right facts.” The Town Hall meeting will be held in the resort’s Islands Ballroom with light refreshments. Those ... Read More »

After the attack. Ambassador Stevens (inset) while buildings burn. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

BEYOND THE COAST Tarik Ayasun It has been more than a year since our consulate in Benghazi was attacked by Al-Qaeda associated terrorists (Ansar-Al Sharia/Partisans of Sharia Law) and our Ambassador was assassinated along with two former Navy Seals and a State Department employee. To date, no one has been arrested and all 15 Libyans who cooperated with the investigation and knew full details of the planned attack have been killed. Last week, a disgraceful report was published by a Congressional Committee composed of Democrats and Republicans which looked like a high-school student’s term paper trying to please the teacher ... Read More »

Flotilla 95 Holds ‘Change of Watch’

Flotilla 95 Commander Arne Kelsey (left) and his wife, Chick, celebrate the Change of Watch with Vice Flotilla Commander Keith Wohltman and his wife, Betsy. PHOTOS BY LAURIE HARRIS

By Noelle H. Lowery For the last 47 years, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 95 has helped keep the 220 square miles of water from Rookery Bay to Chokoloskee Pass safe for boating, fishing and recreation. In 2013, Flotilla 95 had 72 volunteer members who fulfilled its non-law enforcement and non-military role aiding in search and rescue missions, teaching boating education classes, conducting vessel safety checks, monitoring marine safety and environmental protection, and verifying the condition and location of aids to navigation. To celebrate and honor this work, Flotilla 95 recently held its annual Change of Watch ceremony ... Read More »

Loggerhead Released Near Goodland


By Natalie Strom The Conservancy of Southwest Florida released Sassy, its female loggerhead sea turtle into the Gulf of Mexico near the Ten Thousand Islands on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Born on Sanibel Island, Sassy was transferred to the Florida Atlantic University lab at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, where she was part of a gender study linking nest temperature to the gender of hatchlings. Following her two months in the ongoing sea turtle gender study, Sassy was brought to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. In 2012, Sassy became the first resident of the 5,000-gallon saltwater tank in ... Read More »

Everglades Seafood Festival Nears

Music and entertainment can be seen on the big stage the entire weekend.

By Natalie Strom The 41st Annual Everglades City Seafood Festival is just around the corner — then another three blocks down, take a left and you’ll see it straight ahead another two blocks. That’s what you’ll hear if you get there late, that is. The spectacular line-up of seafood, music, arts and crafts, rides and games draws thousands to historic Everglades City every year for this fabulous festival. The weekend-long event will take place on Friday, Feb. 7-Sunday, Feb. 9. Festivities begin on Friday night at 5 PM and end at 10 PM. Saturday runs from 10 AM-10 PM, ... Read More »

Pirates to Invade Marco Island Museum

Pirates say, ‘Arrrrrrrrrrr!’

By Noelle H. Lowery Pirates, buccaneers and swashbucklers, all roamed the gulf waters and mangrove swamps of Southwest Florida during what historians dubbed the “Golden Age of Piracy” between the 1650s and 1730s. In their wakes, they left tall tales of buried treasures, treachery amongst thieves and battles with Spanish and English sea captains. Swords will clash. Treasure will be found, and the Jolly Roger will fly high once again on Saturday, Jan. 25, in celebration of the Second Annual Pirate Day at the Marco Island Historical Museum. Marauders and scalawags will be on hand for pirate-themed arts and ... Read More »

Painting Peace

The music of the Beatles has been an inspiration for Lovegrove.

By Natalie Strom Leoma Lovegrove is as colorful as the portraits she paints and the trailer she travels with. She’s passionate, playful and innovative. She takes ideas and runs with them — literally. Beginning in Marco Island, on Thursday, Jan. 16, Lovegrove began her “Painting Peace” project at the Blue Mangrove Gallery. The project will travel from island to island with her: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Pine Island, Staten Island, Long Island, Anna Marie Island, Useppa Island and so on. Where will it stop? No one knows. “Painting Peace” is, “inspired by, but not endorsed by,” the Yoko Ono ... Read More »

Marketing the Mackle Park Plan


By Noelle H. Lowery The redevelopment plan for the Mackle Park Community Center is hitting the road. Marco Island’s Parks and Recreation Committee is taking the plan to the community, marketing it to various groups and local organizations. The goal: To rally community support for the current $2.25 million turnkey, modular, precast concrete design concept in preparation for a possible referendum on the issue later this year. “The committee has taken a stronghold on marketing the need for the new center to the community,” explains Greg West, chairman of the city’s Parks and Rec Committee. “In the past driven, ... Read More »

Marco Island Yacht Club


Submitted The Marco Island Yacht Club will hold its Commodore’s Ball and Change of Watch this Saturday, Jan. 25. It is an event the entire island anticipates every year. The yacht club is the first thing visitors and residents see as they come onto the island over the Jolley Bridge. Regular flag ceremonies and the cannon’s roar draw crowds of spectators to see the Officers in uniform on those nights at sunset. The yachts that are regularly seen underway add a touch of class to our island paradise. The commodore has responsibility for the cruising and racing fleets of yachts, ... Read More »

Marco Island Writers to Meet ‘Grammar Granny’

Martha Jeffers. SUBMITTED photo

Submitted Members and guests of Marco Island Writers will welcome Ft. Myers’ Martha Jeffers, copy editor, for an important class on editing. Jeffers promises to make the boring subject of grammar and editing humorous and entertaining as well as educational. The “Grammar Granny” has been featured in the “News-Press,” and Martha has shared her humorous grammar presentations with various civic groups, as well as Florida Gulf Coast University and several elementary schools. Martha and her husband moved from southeastern Ohio to Lee County in 1969. Several years later, she began working as a career counselor for the School District of ... Read More »

JCMI Cultural Series Opens 20th Season

Submitted The Jewish Congregation of Marco Island and the Jewish Federation of Collier County opens the 20th season of the Saul I. Stern Cultural Series on Wednesday, Jan. 29, with Steven Emerson, internationally recognized expert on terrorism. The series is named for Saul I. Stern, of blessed memory, who was the force that gave this series its outstanding reputation. He was devoted to the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island, his community in the Washington DC area and a tireless worker in support of the State of Israel. Steven Emerson started “The Investigative Project” in late 1995, which ... Read More »

Arbor Day Celebration

TBE Singers: ‘The root is connected to the stem; the stem is connected to the leaves; the leaves make the plant its food through PHO-TO-SYN-THE-SIS!’ PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

By Natalie Strom It was a chilly day but the warmth of the occasion was felt by all. The city’s Beautification Advisory Committee, organized by member Linda Turner, held a beautiful event at Veterans’ Community Park in celebration of Arbor Day on Jan. 17. Many Marco residents, including new City Manager Roger Hernstadt, gathered to see the planting of a young Royal Poinciana provided by Affordable Landscaping Service. Members of Marco’s City Council, city staff and Beautification Advisory Committee were on hand to join with the crowd consisting of members of the VFW, American Legion, Tommie Barfield Elementary, Marco ... Read More »

High Notes in Marco’s Art Center


Submitted The Marco Island Center for the Arts, as part of its “Up Close and Personal” intimate events, invites the public to spend an evening with Opera Naples Southwest Florida’s professional opera company next month on Feb. 1. The evening will begin with cocktails and a light supper at 5:30 PM and the performance at 6:30 PM. Tickets are $40 per person; please RSVP and arrive early as seating is limited. Four talented soloists from Opera Naples’s Young Artist Program — Adam Barta (baritone), Justin Berkowitz (tenor), Katie Dixon (soprano), and Rocky Sellers (bass-baritone) — will perform selections from upcoming ... Read More »

The Home Front

Gene recalls young German soldiers singing in solidarity behind the barbed wire fence at the Benton Harbor Naval Armory.

By Natalie Strom “For over 70 years, a little boy inside me has been nagging me to write this. I hope he’s happy now.” Gene Mandarino was 12 years old when World War II came to an end. Growing up, his was the only Italian family in a German immigrant-filled neighborhood just outside of Benton Harbor, MI. He grew up with the children of these immigrants, playing in the baseball fields and trying their first cigarettes together. They were friends, neighbors and confidantes, but the war changed many things for Mandarino and his pals. In his book, “The Home ... Read More »

“Marco Magic: Cheering Their Way to the Top”

The Senior girls with their 2nd-place trophy and medals. PHOTOS BY SOPHIE TORRES

By Sophie Torres With more than 1,000 spectators eyeing their every move in the Florida Atlantic University gymnasium, both Marco Magic cheerleading teams ranked exceptionally well at the Ultimate State Competition — Bash Spirit. The two teams, a junior and senior squad, practice in the Mackle Park Community Center multiple times a week, and their hard work paid off. The girls and their two coaches, Lyndsi Koszo and Brittney Bo, entered the Boca Raton competition, on Jan. 12th, completely prepared and with smiles on their faces. With six months of practice and two marvelous routines engrained in the cheerleaders’ brains, ... Read More »