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Tag Archives: Danielle Dodder

Hideaway Beach Holds Casino Night Fundraiser


By Danielle Dodder Members of Hideaway Beach have a long history of backing the efforts of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, but this year, they raised the stakes, literally, with a Vegas-style fundraiser on January 27th. “In the past, we’ve done traditional golf outings with a silent/live auction and a dinner, but we wanted to do something different this year,” says event co-chair Debbie Shade. The committee researched casino-night fundraisers and found they had an excellent track record of raising money. The Hideaway Beach clubhouse was transformed into a casino game floor with card tables, horse racing ... Read More »

Power Up Your Boating Skills This Season


By Danielle Dodder As part of the Ten Thousand Islands, the National Park Service aptly refers to this area as “a labyrinth of water and mangroves.” Add approximately 5,000 area boats out at any given time to enjoy this natural beauty, and it’s not a big surprise that Collier is one of the top ten counties in Florida for boating accidents, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The FWC adds that inexperience, inattention and speed were top causes of these accidents. “There are many reasons to understand safe boating around Marco Island,” points out Laura Carney of the ... Read More »

Re/Max Affinity Plus Franchise Bridges Tradition and Innovation

Rocky Farhat and Debra Peters, owners of the Re/Max Affinity Plus franchise. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

By Danielle Dodder “Did you know that when you sell a house, you trigger a minimum of 18 other commercial transactions?” Debra Meredith-Peters is passionate about bringing home the point that her profession is a stronger engine for growth than it’s often given credit for in a post-real estate crash world. Peters is the broker/owner, who along with her partner, Rocky Farhat, purchased the Re/Max franchise on Marco after it was due to expire last fall. The partners also own Re/Max franchises in Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties and are excited to be extending their market share into Marco Island. ... Read More »

Season for Sneezing: Flu Arrives on Marco


By Danielle Dodder The littlest members of the community are lining up for repeated hand washing throughout their school day and local pharmacies are running out of the flu vaccine. As visitors from all over arrive for warm beaches, so does the seasonal germ influx. Wash your hands and cover your nose; flu season is alive and well on Marco. Dr. Joe Vickaryous practices family medicine at the Marco Island Medical Center. He observes, “This season on Marco has seen unusually high numbers of flu cases in our practice.” Vickaryous adds that his cases span all age ranges and the ... Read More »

Water Manager Takes On New Role


By Danielle Dodder For a relatively small city, Marco Island boasts a sophisticated water system. We’re a barrier island surrounded by saltwater and environmentally sensitive habitat. Consequently, getting water to paradise was never as simple as piping it in from Naples. Today, the city water utility encompasses an aquifer storage system, a reverse osmosis system, three drinking water facilities, two wastewater facilities and collection and distribution systems for both drinking and wastewater. Jeff Poteet is the general manager who oversees it all. On January 5, Poteet was elected president of the Florida Water & Pollution Control Association, a position that ... Read More »

Keeping Plastic’s Footprint Off Our Beaches


By Danielle Dodder Major beachfront cities like Miami are banning them outright. The resort empire that is Walt Disney World in Orlando has replaced them with paper versions. The small bits of plastic straws and drinking cup lids discarded by people quickly accumulate into a giant toxic mess on beaches globally. The unsightly litter not only ruins the beauty of a pristine beach, but also strangles the birds, turtles and fish who mistake it for food. Straws and lids are the most widely and easily littered items along most beaches, but here on Marco cooperation will hopefully trump the need ... Read More »

Optimist Soccer Grows to 300 Thanks to Parent Volunteers


By Danielle Dodder The Optimist Club of Marco Island was formed in 2008 to make organized sports accessible to a wide range of children’s ages and abilities. The fee to sign up a child is $40 and the uniforms and part of the equipment is sponsored. This season, the soccer team added 100 new kids to the program, bringing the number of participants to nearly 300 in the soccer program alone. The Optimist Club also provides football, cheerleading and basketball throughout the year. The secret behind the program’s success is a group of dedicated parents who roll up their sleeves ... Read More »

City Committees: A Few Key Changes and A Special Magistrate


By Danielle Dodder “Another avenue for citizen input shut down.” The chair of the city’s Beach Advisory Committee found city management’s proposal to consolidate city committees into four bodies plus a magistrate, distressing at the December 20 meeting and workshop. From city inception, volunteer committees have been a cornerstone of citizen input and oversight in local government. City council members agreed, passing on the proposal that would have merged seven committees down to three: a cultural advisory committee, environmental advisory committee and a financial advisory committee. The Planning Board would have been renamed the Quasi-Judicial Board. The Beautification Committee has ... Read More »

City Notes: New Old Water Rates, A Fire Contract Averts Salary Wars and Trespassing Tennis Players


By Danielle Dodder Water Rate Increase Voted Down The water rate debate has been a slow and costly one, spanning years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultancy fees. It’s also arguably a major reason three of the four new city councilors ran and won seats. On December 20, they voted to halt the process of setting new rates which were approved by previous council, set to go into effect on December 28. The M-54 model, recommended by Burton & Associates, is a revenue sufficiency model designed to compensate for negative elasticity of demand. In other words, when a ... Read More »

Pathways to Safety & Fitness


By Danielle Dodder It’s almost too easy to see cycling enthusiasts as hobbyists living in their own little niche of speedy bikes and neon, zipping down their path on the side of the road, but for the group of them who make up the city’s volunteer bike paths committee, concern for creating a safe riding environment extends to the entire community, including its youngest members. The Safe Routes to School project wrapped its first phase of construction this month: installation of eight-foot sidewalks around the perimeter of both Tommie Barfield Elementary and Marco Island Charter Middle, up Cushing Avenue to ... Read More »

TBE tennis debate


By Danielle Dodder For 20 years, an informal group of about 40 locals and snowbirds gathered at the tennis courts at Tommie Barfield Elementary, to play pickup tennis games at the last free public access courts on the island. Earlier this month the courts were closed after the city determined that needed repairs would be too costly. The group suddenly found cohesion in becoming the squeaky wheel. Over the summer, the City Parks and Recreation Committee raised the issue of the courts’ future with Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk. The committee was aware of the courts’ public use and voted ... Read More »

It’s better to give, especially to Santa!


By Danielle Dodder Kids usually obsess over what Santa will be leaving for them, but Olivia Waters paused to consider sharing some holiday cheer for the jolly red man while out on Black Friday shopping with her mom, Michele. The Waters family lives in Naples but came to Marco for dinner and Santa’s arrival at the Shops of Marco. Olivia asked her mom to buy a Santa ring earlier that day and then waited in line to give Santa her gift. Says Michele, “she explained that he [Santa] is so busy giving everyone presents on Christmas, that he doesn’t get ... Read More »



By Danielle Dodder Vital input and citizen perspective often come to city managers via the nine committees that advise, and sometimes help create policy. The Planning Board, for example, makes key recommendations on growth and development, and was tasked alongside the Waterways Advisory Committee to develop a workable solution on seawall construction standards. Post-election, the city is seeking 56 volunteers for all nine committees, all of which will be completely re-sat, with the exception of the Code Board, at the January 7th city council meeting. “We are encouraging the residents at large to apply,” says Nancy Richie, the city staffer ... Read More »

New Council Questionnaire: Ken Honnecker


By Danielle Dodder  Newly elected council Vice-Chair Ken Honnecker answered the set of questions we posed to all newly elected members. His responses follow below. What do you feel will be your three biggest challenges when it comes to governing the city and communicating with your constituents?  I feel that one of the biggest challenges will be putting an end to the “us vs. them” mentality that has taken hold over the City the past few years. Two other challenges will be: 1) Getting a complete understanding of the Utilities’ debt. 2) Making the citizens feel that their concerns are ... Read More »

Sandy victims need ‘Change’


By Danielle Dodder Working actors don’t get free designer gowns. They hear ‘no’ more often than they land a part. They don’t have layers of hired handlers, to steer them away from the unscripted side of their personalities. One of these actors, Sean Ringgold isn’t just climbing the fame ladder. He is putting his all into making a difference in his old neighborhood. He came to Marco to take part in Soapfest, where he vividly described the harsh reality of what poor neighborhoods experience when a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy hits. The negative impacts that unfold for months, and ... Read More »

ROAD UNDER WATER Funding and ecological hurdles for Goodland Drive


By Danielle Dodder An historical anecdote says that the road into Goodland was originally built out of shell sixty years or so ago by a man named Henry Pettit with just a shovel and a wheelbarrow. Goodland residents today find the old road’s twists and turns endearing, but not the way it frequently floods and traps them on or off the island. Goodland Drive (92A) was first given over to the city of Marco in 1999 by Collier County, and Goodlanders and the city have been wrangling over how to maintain the road ever since. At the heart of the ... Read More »



By Danielle Dodder Dollar volume is already up ten percent over last year for Mutual of Omaha’s mortgage lending sector. According to the Marco Island Area Board of Realtors, 2012 closings on island property tally 1,061, an 18% increase over last year. The signs are there, according to Tiffany Homuth, Metro Market President for Mutual of Omaha, for the real estate sector’s return to strong market activity. “There’s a lot of potential demand [for financing] out there, more personal than business right now.” When the real estate market bottomed out, prices were low enough to attract cash buyers. “People who ... Read More »

New Council members ready to get down to business

By Danielle Dodder  “All politics is local.” So said Tip O’Neill, the second longest serving speaker of the US House of Representatives in reference to the only political race he ever lost: a run for city council. It’s a trivia tidbit that speaks volumes for the aggressive politicking that seems to take the island by surprise each election season. The newly elected council members are about to take on the challenge of trying to set public policy for the next four years, so we asked them how they plan to get started now that the dust has settled. Responses from ... Read More »

Candidate profile: Donna Fiala

By Danielle Dodder  Donna Fiala has held the office of Collier County Commissioner longer than anyone else, and she’s done it as a woman. But in the beginning she never anticipated how far her journey would take her;  Donna Fiala has lived in the same East Naples home since 1974. She was the director of community relations for Naples Community Hospital from 1987 to 2000, and it was during that time that NCH encouraged her to find a way to get involved in her East Naples community. A daunting task since East Naples at that time was, as Fiala recollects, ... Read More »

‘We lived in a world gone mad,’ Holocaust survivor tells story to MIA students

By Danielle Dodder Living testimonials from Holocaust survivors are themselves becoming an artifact of history, so Abe Price’s story was recorded by Marco Island Academy Students as they witnessed it. Like the tattoo on his arm, his anger is still fresh 70 years later, and he displayed both proudly to the room full of students and faculty. History teacher Amber Prange hoped the lesson hit home. “It can be difficult for kids to connect with history, so hopefully this helps make it real.” Like your average Marco teen, Price knew a comfortable middle class upbringing until the Nazis invaded his ... Read More »