Coastal Breeze News » Everglades City Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:35:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 COLLIER COUNTY MUSEUMS CELEBRATES THE LIFE AND ART OF ROB STORTER Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:02:44 +0000 The Marco Island Historical Museum presents Rob Storter’s “Artwork of the Everglades”, an illustrated guide to the Everglades history.  The exhibit runs from Sept. 2, to Oct. 31, 2014 and will include an opening reception onTuesday, Sept. 2, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Marco Island Historical Society.  Light refreshments will be served and admission is offered at no cost.

The Museum of the Everglades will also honor Storter with the exhibit, “History of Fishing in the Glades through the Eyes of Rob Storter”.  The display will take place through September and include a reception on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 1-3 p.m. at the Museum of the Everglades.

Robert Lee Storter was born Sept. 30, 1894 in Everglades City, Florida.  He lived an abundant 92 years of life as a guide, fisherman, poet and artist who chronicled what it was like in the “earlier” days of Collier County.  Storter’s exhibit “Artwork of the Everglades” transports viewers to his remote, half-wild frontier of Southwest Florida in the early part of the twentieth century. This illustrated journey features great swamps, estuaries, and the fantastic array of plants and animal life of a time gone by. Rob‘s grasp of the Everglades is demonstrated through his work, as it looks back over a life closely linked to the water; recording how mechanized methods have obscured the more simple approach of fishing.

The exhibits also tell the story of family and community triumphs and its setbacks. Rob Storter knew the Everglades before commercial fishing, real estate development, drainage projects, and tourism changed the region forever. His illustrations offer a glimpse into the wonders of the Everglades during his time and the mixed benefits of progress and the responsibilities of stewardship.

For more information about the exhibits, please contact the museum at (239) 642-1440 or visit  Museum opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is complimentary to visitors.

About Collier County Museums: More than 10,000 years of Southwest Florida history is on display at Collier County Museums’ five locations – the main museum in Naples, Everglades City, Immokalee, the Naples Depot Museum in downtown Naples, and Marco Island Historical Museum. The main location is located just five minutes east of downtown Naples at 3331 Tamiami Trail East in Naples. The Museum’s five-acre site includes a native plant garden, two early Naples cottages, a logging locomotive, swamp buggy and a WWII Sherman tank. The main facility is open Monday through Friday, from 9 am until 5 pm.  Admission is free and the site is handicapped accessible. For more information, visit or call (239) 252-8476.

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Bistro Soleil Recognized by BCC Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:02:10 +0000 By Noelle H. Lowery

Bistro Soleil at The Olde Marco Inn and Petit Soleil recently were recognized by the Board of Collier County Commissioners for receiving a WRAP Award — Waste Reduction Awards Program — from the county’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Department. Owner Lisa Meurgue received a proclamation from District 1 Commissioner Donna Fiala, who congratulated her for her restaurants’ continued efforts to promote waste reduction, reuse and recycling and for sustaining the usable life of the Collier County Landfill.

The WRAP Awards recognizes newly created and/or exceptional recycling efforts by businesses located in unincorporated Collier County and in the cities of Marco Island and Everglades City. The award is a well received honor provided to those businesses that exceed the minimum requirements through innovative recycling programs. Examples include partnering with another agency to reduce and reuse waste materials, increasing the capture of recyclable materials from zero to 100 percent, and incorporating innovative methods of collection and/or processing of recyclable materials.

Businesses can be self-nominated, nominated by an individual, or nominated as the result of a site visit by county staff. A panel of technical associates, including recycling coordinators, judge the applications based on the WRAP criteria to determine the award recipient. Winners receive space on the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Department’s website and a proclamation certificate, WRAP trophy and framed certificate presented during a BCC meeting.

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(Naples, Fla.) – At Tuesday’s Board of County Commission (BCC) meeting, Commissioners decided to move forward with challenging the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Consent Order with a Texas-based company exploring oil drilling in Collier County

Chairman Tom Henning placed an agenda item on the June 10, 2014 agenda to reconsider the BCC’s earlier May 13 decision to challenge the Consent Order between FDEP and Texas-based Dan A. Hughes Company due to a lack of communication with the Board of County Commissioners.  Dan A. Hughes is exploring for oil on Barron Collier lands at the Collier-Hogan Well.

Chairman Henning said if the Commission had decided at Tuesday’s meeting to reconsider challenging the FDEP Consent Order it would have established a means of communication, allowed for review of FDEP information and allowed the County to vet potential misinformation that has been circulating throughout the community.

On May 28, Chairman Henning met with the then FDEP Deputy Secretary Jeff Littlejohn who agreed to have FDEP officials meet with the Board of County Commissioners.  Subsequently, Littlejohn resigned from his position with FDEP on June 6, and FDEP appointed Cliff Wilson as Deputy Secretary.  Wilson spoke with Chairman Henning on June 9 advising that FDEP did not wish to participate in a public BCC Oil Exploration Workshop which the Chairman had requested to allow for FDEP to answer Collier County Commissioners’ concerns in a public forum.

“After meeting with Mr. Littlejohn I felt FDEP was on the right track to meet with us and address our concerns, but the newly appointed Deputy Secretary has made it clear FDEP officials do not in fact wish to participate in an open forum and prefers private meetings in Tallahassee where Collier County residents would not be able to participate.  This goes against everything all of us on the Board of County Commissioners stand for and that is an open public dialogue to learn what needs to be learned and take action where it needs to be taken,” said Chairman Tom Henning, District 3.

Without the commitment from FDEP to participate in an oil workshop with the BCC on June 17 as proposed by the County, the filing deadline to challenge the Consent Order which is June 13, warrants the BCC to instead move forward with challenging the FDEP Consent Order.

“At this point, we simply have not been provided with enough information directly from FDEP to answer any of our concerns or the community’s, and I’m extremely disappointed in the leadership at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” said Chairman Henning.

For more information, contact Camden Smith by emailing or by calling (239) 252-8605.



(Naples, Fla.) – Collier County Commissioner, Tom Henning, District 3, has issued a statement regarding his meeting with Florida Department of Environment Protection (FDEP) Secretary and his reaction to FDEP’s proposed settlement for the County’s lawsuit regarding Dan A. Hughes.

At the Board of County Commission (BCC) meeting held Tuesday, June 10, Commissioners asked the County Attorney to challenge the FDEP Consent Order against Texas-based, oil company Dan A. Hughes and its activities for oil exploration on Collier Enterprises land.  The County Attorney filed the legal challenge with FDEP Thursday, June 12, making a number of demands including to not allow fracking on the site in question.

Immediately following the County’s legal challenge filing, FDEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard contacted Commissioner Henning, the Chairman of the Board, and others for a meeting focused on improving communication between the agencies.  Commissioner Henning met with FDEP Secretary Vinyard, Deputy Secretary Cliff Wilson and FDEP support staff Monday, June 16 with the County Manager and other County support staff in attendance.  The discussion focused on the Commissioner’s concerns regarding fracking, the regulations and FDEP’s current and future ability to swiftly monitor all permit violations.


Statement by Commissioner Henning

“I remain committed to having FDEP communicate with the Board of County Commissioners at a public BCC meeting once the Challenge to the Dan A. Hughes Consent Order is resolved.  Until such time, we as County Commissioners must gather information alongside FDEP officials to outline communication improvements between our agencies, coordinate water testing as agreed upon specifically for the Dan A. Hughes work locations and to allow us access to accurate FDEP data not gathered through the media.

With that said, it is disappointing that FDEP had earlier this week agreed to issue a joint statement with the County regarding the positive outcome of our meetings, including improving regular communication which had begun to occur.  Then, FDEP reverted back to communicating to the other Commissioners through media and press releases.  The proper way to communicate regarding Dan A. Hughes is through the County Attorney, but FDEP should be speaking with all Commissioners directly about their specific concerns.

State law authorizes hydraulic fracking, and I do not support this process unless it can be proven safe to our drinking water.  Therefore to this end, I will be working with Legislators and FDEP on this matter.

Following our June 16 meeting, FDEP Deputy Secretary Cliff Wilson advised that the Consent Order against Dan A. Hughes issued a moratorium on ‘workovers’ which are notifications of an operation or process under the permit, and as a result of that moratorium, hydraulic fracking would not be available to Dan A. Hughes as it wasn’t part of the original permit.  But we need FDEP in its Consent Order to more clearly define what specific processes are covered under that workover moratorium so the County and the public know specifically what is not allowed, because the oil industry uses a number of processes outside of hydraulic fracking.

It is each agency’s responsibility to communicate regarding the daily business of managing water and oil business as we are partners in many projects.

Improved communication is good for all of us and FDEP Secretary Vinyard has committed to have his team making a presentation before the BCC once the Challenge to the Consent Order is resolved so his team can in-depth explain regulations, its role and how FDEP will assist in protecting our natural resources in the future.”

  • Commissioner Tom Henning, District 3

Help the FWC locate rare upland birds

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) requests the public’s help in locating three species of rare birds during their breeding seasons. The southeastern American kestrel, the burrowing owl and the painted bunting are rare and declining species that are often overlooked by traditional monitoring programs such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

People are encouraged to use the FWC’s new Rare Bird Registry to quickly map locations where they observe these species, with the option to upload photos and additional comments. It’s quick and easy to use. Data submitted will be used by FWC scientists to identify important breeding areas for these species as well as estimate the size of their populations.

“The Rare Bird Registry is an excellent opportunity for the public to participate in research,” said Karl Miller, a biologist at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “Sightings will provide the FWC with valuable data to help us study and conserve some of Florida’s most unique and interesting species. This new website provides a great way to get involved.”

To assist the FWC in locating these rare birds, visit and select “Citizen Science” then “Sightings” for the Rare Bird Registry link.


FORTUNE magazine’s annual listing ranks the largest U.S. companies by
revenue. Edward Jones moved up to 444 on this year’s list, up 47 spots
from No. 491, with more than $5.7 billion in revenue for 2013.
“Our success comes from making a significant difference to our clients,”
said Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle.  “We offer personal service
and a solutions-based approach that is tailored to their individual needs,
but backed by all the resources of a FORTUNE 500 firm.”
The full list and related stories appear in the June 16 issue of FORTUNE
and at
For more information about Edward Jones, please contact a Marco Island
area advisor or visit

About Edward Jones
Edward Jones provides financial services for individual investors in the
United States and, through its affiliate, in Canada. Every aspect of the
firm’s business, from the types of investment options offered to the
location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors
in the communities in which they live and work. The firm’s 12,000
financial advisors work directly with nearly 7 million clients to
understand their personal goals – from college savings to retirement – and
create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced
portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy. Edward Jones embraces the
importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients,
helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options
available today.
Edward Jones, headquartered in St. Louis, ranks No. 4 in FORTUNE
magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for 2014. The Edward Jones website
is located at, and its recruiting website is Follow Edward Jones on Twitter @EdwardJones.
Member SIPC.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott today kicked off the 2014 Summer Literacy Adventure by reading Mermaids: A Magic 3-Dimensional World of Mermaidsto a group of more than 125 summer camp students at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. This was her fourth consecutive year participating in the Summer Literacy Adventure.

First Lady Scott encouraged students to keep reading during the summer months and challenged them to sign up for the Summer Literacy Adventure Pledge to read as many books as possible over the summer. She was joined by representatives from the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Lottery.

“Reading opens up a whole new world of fun and adventure,” said First Lady Ann Scott. “I hope all Florida students will find time this summer to take an exciting journey through the pages of a book.”

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is known for delighting visitors of all ages with magical mermaids and family-friendly activities like swimming and kayaking in the beautiful freshwater spring and river.

“Continuing to use reading skills during the summer is very important for young people in Florida,” said Donald Forgione, Director of the Florida Park Service. “I am honored that First Lady Ann Scott selected Weeki Wachee Springs State Park as a place to remind children about reading during the summer.”

The 2014 Summer Literacy Adventure helps keep Florida students excited about reading and literacy. Research shows that children who do not continue reading through the summer can lose a month or more of progress made during the school year. By encouraging their children to read, parents play an important role in ensuring every child reads at or above their grade level.

“It is critical that students stay engaged in reading all year long,” said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart. “Reading and literacy are the pillars of a solid education and will lead our students to success in college, career and life.”

Students can fill out their Summer Literacy Adventure Pledge form At the start of 2014 – 2015 academic year, First Lady Scott will visit the school whose students successfully completed the most pledges.

The Florida Lottery generously donated books to all students in attendance at today’s event.

“On behalf of the Florida Lottery, we are pleased to support the 2014 Summer Literacy Adventure,” said Secretary Cynthia O’Connell. “Reading can open up new worlds and spark a lifetime love for learning.”

For more information, visit 2014 Summer Literacy Adventure.


Final passage of an $82 million measure aimed at battling toxic algae outbreaks choking off life in the Caloosahatchee River and estuary around Fort Myers was blocked late yesterday by an unknown Republican senator.

The legislation, authored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, would have funded new research into the causes and control of large algae blooms while also giving affected communities additional resources to respond when outbreaks occur.

Nelson successfully ushered the bill through the Senate Commerce Committee and it passed the full Senate earlier this year.  The House then added some amendments to the bill before approving it Monday.  A second Senate approval was required for final passage.  Under Senate rules, a measure can be approved without a full vote as long as no one objects.  Late yesterday, one Republican member, whose identity was not disclosed, blocked the bill.

The move by the GOP to block Nelson’s measure, however, came just days after President Obama signed into law a broader water resources bill that contains some $800 million Nelson sought for Everglades restoration projects on the Caloosahatchee.

Nelson pushed hard to have a number of Florida projects included in the water bill, specifically $626 million for a reservoir near LaBelle and $174 million to modify the Caloosahatchee canal.

“Restoration of the river is essential not only to the health of the ecosystem, but also to the local economy,” Nelson (D-FL) said.

The lawmaker added that he is optimistic about resolving, perhaps as early as next week, any differences that stand in the way of passing the toxic algae bill.

Last summer, millions of gallons of freshwater were released from Lake Okeechobee straight into the Caloosahatchee River, dangerously reducing the amount of salt water in the river’s delicate ecosystem. Then, early this year, the salt levels swung the opposite way, with too little freshwater entering the river.

Such extreme changes in salinity impact the health of sea grass and oysters, which in turn leads to higher mortality rates for manatees who rely on sea grass for sustenance.  Lee County reported 276 manatee deaths in 2013, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, 73 of which occurred on the Caloosahatchee.

Thirty middle and high school students were recently inducted by The Immokalee Foundation into Take Stock in Children, a scholarship and mentoring program that provides students with the promise of a four-year scholarship to a Florida state college, university or vocational school upon graduation.

The Immokalee Foundation, dedicated to providing sustained educational opportunities to Immokalee’s youth, supports and operates the TSIC program in the north Collier County community. During the ceremony at Ave Maria University, the Immokalee middle and high school students, ranging from 7th to 10th grade, pledged to maintain good grades, stay drug and crime free, attend required workshops and events, meet weekly with their TIF mentor and volunteer in the community. Nicole Bruland, TIF’s director of advancement and communications, said the pledge makes students accountable and teaches them to be responsible, “They have to do the work and in the end, they reap the benefits of their commitment – an opportunity to achieve their dreams by furthering their education.”

The Immokalee Foundation currently has 125 TSIC students in middle and high school. Chairman of The Immokalee Foundation board, Joe Zednik, welcomed the newest inductees during his opening remarks and praised the students and their families, “Your hard work and dedication has paid off and brought you here to this moment in your life. We look forward to watching you all grow and succeed as you start your journey to becoming economically independent.”

Scholarships for the incoming TSIC students were made possible by generous donors who purchased scholarships at the 2013 Charity Classic Celebration Fund A Dream auction, a live bidding experience providing benefactors the unique chance to support the young people of Immokalee by giving directly to the children. One hundred percent of the funds raised during the Fund A Dream auction at the Charity Classic Celebration benefits TIF programs, and all contributions are 100 percent tax deductible.

Laury Garcia, a TSIC alumna and junior at Florida Gulf Coast University was the evening’s keynote speaker. During an emotional speech, Garcia said TIF’s Take Stock in Children program had changed her life, and she encouraged inductees to build strong relationships with their mentor and to be a good role model for their siblings.

“TIF relieved a lot of financial stress, helped me to be a better person and provided me with an opportunity to succeed,” noted Garcia. “My goal is to open a nonprofit to help high school students go to school.”

Seventh-grader Oton Estrada was excited to be welcomed into the TSIC program, “It will help me further my education for a better future and break the barriers that will stop me from accomplishing my goals.” His father, Oton Estrada Sr., was equally happy, “This opportunity will help my son with school to become someone. I am very proud.”

All of the students understood the impact the program can have on their future goals and aspirations.

For sophomore Carolina Perez, it means “the chance to make something better in my life.” Seleste Aburto, a seventh-grade student, said, “I will be able to have a good future and to be successful.” Sinancia Mervilus, also a tenth-grader, added, “It will give me the opportunities to fulfill my dreams of becoming a marine biologist.”

The TSIC selection committee is made up of a small group of individuals that are passionate about the foundation and believe in the success of the students. The 2014 committee members included Linda Ayer, Joe Lee Gallegos, Dee Zednik and Louise Penta.

“This is such a good class with a lot of superstars,” said Penta, who is also a TIF board member and mentor to four TSIC students. “I’m sure they will shine during the next few years.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit


 Orlando (June, 2014) – Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC (The Fund) announced Law Offices of William G. Morris, P.A. has been named a Member of The Fund President’s Circle and a Top Contributor.

The Fund President’s Circle is comprised of an elite group of leaders within the legal profession.  These top-tier law firms have received this statewide recognition because of the commitment they have shown to their clients and to The Fund.  Only 3% of The Fund’s Member firms in 2013 received this distinction.  Recognition for the Top Contributor puts them in a more prestigious group as only 1% of The Fund’s Member firms in 2013 received this distinction.

“With The Fund President’s Circle and Top Contributor awards, Law Offices of William G. Morris, P.A. ranks among a very prestigious group of legal professionals within the real estate industry” said Jimmy R. Jones, President and CEO of Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC.

President’s Circle Top Contributor Members are determined by the level of business they have conducted with The Fund the prior year.

About The Fund:

Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC (The Fund) supports and promotes the success of Attorneys’ real estate practices by providing expert underwriting counsel, the best legal education, valuable title information and innovative products and services in keeping with The Fund’s mission to preserve and facilitate the real estate practices of its Members in their protection of the public. Always Driven is a commitment The Fund has to create innovative products and services that allow attorneys to conduct transactions easily and efficiently. For more information, visit



About Law Offices of William G. Morris, P.A.

Law Offices of William G. Morris, P.A. is a general practice law firm that has been helping the residents of Collier County with their legal needs for over 30 years.  The firm provides legal services in the areas of real estate, condominium and homeowner associations, civil litigation, divorce, estate planning, probate, personal injury and business law.



Naples, FL (June 16, 2014) – Bayshore Cultural and Performing Arts Center (CAPA) is pleased to announce Keith Dameron has been appointed Chairman of the Bayshore CAPA Leadership Council.

The Bayshore CAPA Leadership Council is composed of area leaders from a broad spectrum of industries and backgrounds. Council members serve as advisors to CAPA’s Board of Directors as well as ambassadors for the organization to the community at large.

A recipient of the 2009 Marco Island Volunteer of the Year award as well as the 2013 Rotary Club of Marco Island’s “Spirit of Marco Island Award,” Dameron is Vice President, Branch Manager for IBERIABANK.  He is the organizer and driving force behind several very successful bank activities including the “Health Plus Lecture Series” in partnership with Physicians Healthcare System; the “In the Round Lecture Series” which presents a diverse array of speakers discussing current events, trends and more; the “Veteran’s Portrait Project” which honored 20 local combat veterans in partnership with artist Malenda Trick; and community shred parties which have netted over 50 tons of shredded material from Marco Island residents and businesses.

Additionally, Dameron is a member of Marco Island Center for the Arts Advisory Council, the Naples AARP Identity Task Force and the Marco Police Foundation Board of Directors.

Over the years, he has served as a Board Member for ten non-profit organizations and on numerous committees.

The mission of Bayshore Cultural and Performing Arts Center is to provide a state-of-the-art cultural and performing arts  center that showcases local visual and performing artists, thereby offering affordable and accessible educational, cultural and performance opportunities for the community. For information on CAPA contact or call (239) 775-2800.



TAMPA, Fla. (June 15, 2014) – Gasoline prices in the southeast were on a streak of declines before the conflict in Iraq began. The average price for a gallon of gasoline fell 51 days straight in Florida, 44 days in Georgia, and 12 days in Tennessee. However, the streaks ended Saturday as the violence in Iraq caused oil prices to jump.

Crude oil prices had its biggest weekly gain of this year because of the violence in Iraq. The cost for a barrel of oil closed last Friday at $106.91 on the NYMEX — $4.25 more than the week prior ($102.66).“Motorists should be ready for gas prices to increase around 5-10 cents,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The price hike could continue depending on the duration of this conflict.”

Iraq is the second largest crude producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The market is concerned that violence will spread to the main oil-producing areas in southern Iraq and threaten supplies. In addition, continued conflict could delay the re-opening of a key pipeline in the region that has been closed since March. Saudi Arabia, the top OPEC producer, could be urged to increase supplies to offset potential shortages and meet growing global demand.

Regular Unleaded Gasoline

  Sunday Saturday Week Ago Month Ago Year Ago
National $3.66 $3.66 $3.65 $3.64 $3.62
Florida $3.57 $3.57 $3.58 $3.65 $3.52
Georgia $3.55 $3.54 $3.56 $3.63 $3.47
Tennessee $3.42 $3.41 $3.43 $3.46 $3.33



March of Dimes and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District XII (Florida) recognize hospitals across Florida for reducing early elective deliveries

Maitland, FL – March of Dimes and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District XII (Florida) are recognizing more than 40 hospitals across Florida for successfully reducing their rates of early elective deliveries, including inductions of labor and cesarean sections scheduled without a medical reason before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. To acknowledge this achievement, both maternal health organizations will present a joint special recognition banner to each hospital that meets specific criteria, highlighting its commitment to improving the quality of care for moms and babies.

The banner recognition program is another element of the March of Dimes national campaign, “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.”  One of the campaign’s national goals is to reduce the rate of elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy to 5% or less.  In addition to the hospitals that have already qualified in Florida, many other hospitals are in the process of qualifying or have signed a pledge to reduce early elective deliveries by the end of 2014.

“Studies have shown that deliveries that are scheduled for non-medical reasons may increase harm to infants, increase health care costs, and worsen medical outcomes,” said Dr. Robert Yelverton, Chair of ACOG District XII. “We are extremely pleased with the participation from the hospitals across Florida and with the great results this collaborative effort is seeing.”

“We are delighted to present to each hospital with this commemorative banner for adhering to standards that directly benefit the health of babies,” said Dr. Karen Harris, Chair of the Program Services Committee for the March of Dimes Florida Chapter. “The last few weeks of pregnancy are extremely important for the baby’s brain and lung development, among other organs, so we want to commend this momentous achievement.”

In 2013, the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study showing that multistate, hospital-based quality improvement programs can be remarkably effective at reducing the rate of early elective deliveries. Among the 25 participating hospitals – the programs were piloted in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas, which together account for an estimated 38 percent of all births in the U.S.  Six of these hospitals were in Florida. During the one-year project period the rates in the 25 hospitals fell significantly, from 27.8 percent to 4.8 percent – an 83 percent decline.

The criteria for hospitals applying for the distinction includes confirmation that their rate of non-medically indicated deliveries of less than 39 weeks gestational age was below 5 percent for at least the past 6 months prior to application, and that they have policies in place to prevent such deliveries.

“When hospitals subscribe to our quality standards and start measuring and tracking the rate of these deliveries, we’re able to document perinatal outcomes and the progress toward that target rate,” said Harris. ”The recent positive response points to great progress on the horizon for the health of the community.”

This statewide accomplishment is the result of the collaboration between the March of Dimes, ACOG District XII (Florida), the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC), the Florida Hospital Association, and the Florida Department of Health, who joined together in 2010 to improve birth outcomes and the health of moms and babies.

“Reducing unnecessary early deliveries should be a top priority for birthing hospitals,” continued Dr. Harris.  “With every baby that is born full term we accomplish our collective mission for healthier moms and babies in Florida.”

For a list of hospitals that qualified for the special recognition banner and of those that have pledged to eliminate non-medically indicated deliveries before 39 weeks, visit or

For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. Find out how you can help raise funds to prevent premature birth and birth defects by walking in March for Babies at  Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Fiddler’s Creek is offering the fully furnished Grand Calais II model at Isla del Sol, an enclave of 34 Mediterranean-style custom estate homes within the luxury, master-planned community.

Built by Stock Signature Homes, the Grand Calais II is a one-story floor plan with 3,597 air-conditioned square feet. The home has four bedrooms, four full baths and one half bath. The residence features a desirable split floor plan with a centrally located great room and library/study located just steps off the main foyer and entry. There also is a formal dining room with an adjoining kitchen and breakfast nook. The master suite features an oversized master bath with deep soaker tub along with separate his-and-her wardrobes.

The professionally decorated Grand Calais II model has an expansive covered lanai and a three-car garage as well as a number of extensive upgrades, including custom interior built-ins throughout the home. The flooring in the Grand Calais II model includes both hardwood and natural stone, while the gourmet kitchen features granite countertops, 42-inch wood cabinets, wood shelving in the kitchen pantry, and Sub Zero and Wolf appliances.

In the lanai, there is an outdoor summer kitchen and fireplace that are ideal for entertaining family and friends. The lanai also offers a custom pool and spa package with upgraded brick pavers and coping. The fully furnished Grand Calais II model home is currently priced at $1,578,490.

A distinctive neighborhood, Isla del Sol offers a choice of eight expansive floor plans ranging from 3,597 air-conditioned square feet to 4,246 air-conditioned square feet. Each custom estate home will feature Mediterranean-style architecture and home sites have been positioned to maximize water and golf views. Prices currently range from $989,990 to $1,149,990, plus home site.

Stock Signature Homes also is offering the Ponte Vedra Grande, a move-in-ready home in the village of Mahogany Bend. The Ponte Vedra Grande is the largest home offered in Mahogany Bend, encompassing 3,525 air-conditioned square feet. This one-story residence features a split floor plan with four bedrooms and four and a half baths designed around a centrally located living room with adjoining kitchen and family room, along with a dining room and study near the front entrance.

The Ponte Vedra Grande model features upgraded wood cabinets, granite kitchen countertops and bathroom vanity tops, deep soaker tub in the master bath and designer bathroom fixtures. The home also has impact glass throughout, an open patio, pool and spa package, and outdoor kitchen area. The Ponte Vedra Grande prices currently start at $834,990 plus home site, and the move-in-ready Ponte Vedra Grande is currently priced $1,199,990.

Located just off Collier Boulevard between Naples and Marco Island, Fiddler’s Creek is an award-winning community that has been selected by the readers of the Naples Daily News and Bonita Daily News as “Best Community” in the Southwest Florida Readers’ Choice Awards. The community also received the 2013 CBIA Sand Dollar Award for “Community of the Year.”

Amenities include the 54,000-square-foot Club & Spa, Fitness Center, Tropical Lagoon-Style Swimming Complex, Tennis Courts, Tot Lot, and Casual and Elegant Dining Restaurants. The Club & Spa at Fiddler’s Creek offers a luxurious resort lifestyle and is the location of numerous community-wide parties and special events throughout the year for residents of all ages.

Fiddler’s Creek residents have the opportunity to join The Golf Club, featuring The Creek Course, a championship golf course that is currently ranked in Golfweek’s 100 Best Residential Golf Courses in the country for the ninth consecutive year. Residents of the master-planned community also have the opportunity to join The Tarpon Club, offering a desirable beach and boating lifestyle. A limited number of non-resident annual and seasonal memberships with term date flexibility are currently available at both The Golf Club and The Tarpon Club.

For membership details and more information on this gated golf course community in Naples, offering move-in-ready and new homes call 239-732-9300, stop by the Fiddler’s Creek Information Center at 8152 Fiddler’s Creek Parkway or visit at



Collier County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) relocated one of its ambulances to the East Naples – Golden Gate Fire Station located at 4798 Davis Boulevard, Naples, Florida, 34104, effective Wednesday, June 11, 2014.  This station is statistically one of the busiest stations for medical calls for the East Naples Division of the Fire Districts.  This relocation of assets is the first of several moves anticipated between EMS and the East Naples – Golden Gate Fire Districts as they work cooperatively to improve the delivery of emergency services to the residents and visitors of the Greater Naples community.

For more information please contact Kingman Schuldt, Fire Chief, at (239) 348-7540; or Walter Kopka, EMS Chief, at (239) 252-3757.

FWC takes action to protect Everglades area wildlife

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its June meeting in Fort Myers on Thursday passed a resolution calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop an Emergency High Water Action Plan to maintain the Everglades ecosystem. This resolution follows numerous efforts by the Commission to seek a proactive solution to these emergency situations.

High-water events cause serious near-term threats to the diverse wildlife in the Everglades, including threatened and endangered species. The plan addresses short-term high-water impacts while ongoing and planned longer-term restoration efforts are being completed.

FWC biologists have provided partner agencies with science-based water management requirements based on seven decades of experience managing the area’s fish and wildlife habitat.

“We always need to be looking at the global Everglades, not just one particular portion of it,” said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. “It’s our responsibility to protect the wildlife in the Everglades, and we need to encourage our partners to help us keep the system alive while the longer-term restoration efforts are being completed.”

FWC staff continues to work with partners on efforts to restore this area by participating in planning meetings and providing comments, review and input into future decisions about Everglades restoration.

To learn more about the FWC’s major wildlife management area in this ecosystem, theEverglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA, visit and select “Wildlife Management Areas” then “Explore by Name.”

FWC Commissioners receive Florida panther update

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists provided an update at the agency’s June Commission meeting in Fort Myers regarding Florida panther research and conservation programs.

Due to the success of panther-conservation efforts over the past 40 years, the panther population has grown significantly since the 1970s, when the panther was federally listed as Endangered.

Biologists have updated their “population range estimate” to reflect an increase to 100-180 adult panthers in Florida. Based on this estimate and habitat availability, panthers likely have reached their carrying capacity south of the Caloosahatchee River.

Historically, panthers ranged throughout Florida and into seven other southeastern states. Today, most panthers are found south of the Caloosahatchee River in Florida. The FWC and partners such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are preparing for the natural expansion of the increasing population.

Because large tracts of land are needed to sustain a healthy panther population, private landowners will be crucial to range expansion.

“Due to the expansive habitat needs of the Florida panther, the continued growth of their population presents a unique challenge to the FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said FWC Commissioner Liesa Priddy. “As panther range expands, impacts on private landowners will continue to increase.”

With the increasing number of panthers, there also are increasing interactions and conflicts with people. The FWC and partner agencies currently are working with landowners to address the challenges they may face in having panthers on their lands.

“We know panthers can prey upon pets and livestock, and we strive to find solutions that work for people who experience these very real losses,” said Thomas Eason, director of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.

People can help with panther research by reporting sightings at Reporting observations can help FWC biologists address panther conservation needs by identifying the areas used by these large cats.

Florida residents can support panther conservation efforts by purchasing a Protect the Panther license plate, available at Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.

To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

For more information on Florida panthers go to

Turnout to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Issues Meeting co-hosted by Collier County and the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) June 18 in Orlando exceeded expectations of organizers.  Forty representatives of some 20 local governments and other organizations attended the meeting to discuss common problems with actions and inactions of FEMA and the associated harm inflicted on their communities.

Senator Bill Nelson, guest speaker at the conference, agreed Congress needs to review FEMA and its disrespectful treatment of local governments.

The discussion was dominated by FEMA deobligations – referred to as a “disallowed cost initiative” by the federal agency – and floodplain mapping.

The assemblage was just the beginning of an ongoing effort to address deobligation issues with FEMA. The FAC agreed to assume a leadership role in developing the statewide coalition and continue the momentum launched this week.

In Florida, FEMA deobligated about $275 million from 200 different governments, school districts, state agencies, and other entities. The goal of FEMA nationally was to recover $800 million; deobligations in Florida represent 40 percent of the total. Specifically, Collier County is pursuing a corrective response that reverses FEMA’s deobligation of more than $11 million in funding previously approved by both the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) and FEMA. The funds were awarded to Collier County in response to damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005.

The Collier County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously at its regular meeting on April 22 to endorse a strategy to develop a statewide coalition to address FEMA issues impacting Florida local governments and their citizens. At the meeting in Orlando, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman said the coalition should directly involve members of Congress.

“Florida is a state that’s 80 percent coastal,” Heyman added

The Collier County initiated endeavor included reaching out to other governments that also experienced negative fiscal effects from past FEMA directives as well as the federal body’s unresponsiveness and unreasonable handling of its own appeals processes, causing growing frustration and burdens among leaders striving to protect the lives, safety and welfare of their constituencies throughout the state of Florida.

Broward County has 24 to 36 projects in different stages of the process, explained attorney Eddy Labrador, and $31 million at stake. When an inquiry was posed to FEMA, a painful 10-day deadline was imposed to provide voluminous documentation. Broward was told by FEMA officials that if the documents weren’t provided within the time period, their projects would be closed out.

“If we get deobligated anywhere near $31 million, there will be problems,” Labrador said

Chip Merriam said the Orlando Utilities Commission was deobligated $16 million.

“We are the second largest municipality provider in the state,” Merriam said of a case known well at the FDEM level because of its far-reaching effects on citizens.

“FEMA’s flaws in effective and efficient functioning are systemic,” said Nick Casalanguida, administrator of the Collier County Growth Management Division. “These are unacceptable level of service issues.”

Bryan Koon, director of FDEM, was among speakers who said he currently is dealing with 387 cases involving about $118 million. He claims to keep Governor Rick Scott informed about deobligations and continually briefs him with his updated spreadsheets.

“I’m sure you understand that when FEMA issues a deobligation, funds are immediately withdrawn from the state (FDEM) account, which presents a budgetary challenge to his department,” said Koon. “The FDEM budget decreases as local government allocations are taken away by FEMA.”

Collier County Coastal Zone Manager Gary McAlpin told the group assembled at the Hilton Bonnet Creek that it’s crucial for FEMA to facilitate and expedite the appeals process imposed on local governments and others suffering from damages of natural disasters and emergencies.

Presently, Koon reported that FEMA Director Craig Fugate has formed a strike team and is “pushing the senior guys” out into the community to address problems on the ground. Ironically, Fugate was the FDEM director when Collier County’s project worksheets were approved by FDEM and FEMA. Dollars received and spent by Collier County have now been pulled back by the FEMA chief in a different position. Under Fugate’s leadership at FEMA, the disallowed cost initiative was implemented.

“I am confident we can fix this working together,” said Koon. “We can repair the process going forward by putting together this coalition and providing FEMA with a plausible resolution to the ailing regulations and procedures.”

Casalanguida insisted Collier County is striving for full compensation for the deobligation. He requested return of deobligated dollars in addition to repair of a broken appeals process.

“I am not dismissing the $11 million owed Collier taxpayers,” he said adamantly. “I want it all back.”

Collier County is far from alone in getting grief from FEMA, which answers to the Department of Homeland Security and gets appropriated funds by Congress.

Koon added that any local government or state agency deobligated in the disallowed cost initiative will have great difficulty in trusting FEMA in the future.

“You have our commitment to assist in unclogging FEMA and addressing these critical concerns,” assured FAC Assistant Legislative Director Eric Poole.

For more information, contact Coastal Zone Manager Gary McAlpin at 239-252-5342 or Gary


“You Can Count on Me” is Second Screening in NIFF 2014 Film Society Summer Series

Naples, FL – 6/20/14 – The Naples International Film Festival (NIFF) Film Society Summer Series continues the 2014 season with “You Can Count on Me” at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8, at Silverspot Cinema in Mercato.

“’You Can Count on Me’ is the breakout performance for both Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo,” explains NIFF Executive & Program Director Shannon Franklin. “It’s a great film, having won the Grand Jury Prize and Waldo Salt Screening Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. We’re proud to include it in our 2014 Film Society Summer Series.”

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the R-rated film shares the story of Sammy (Laura Linney) living a quiet life as a single mother, working at a bank in her hometown. She misses her younger brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo), a drifter who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. When Terry comes for a visit, Sammy is thrilled to see him bond with her son Rudy (Rory Culkin). But, Terry pushes things a little too far and Sammy is forced to consider her own choices, including her relationship with her new boss (Matthew Broderick) and her on again/off again boyfriend (Jon Tenney).

“You Can Count on Me” is the second film showcased in the 2014 Film Society Summer Series, which also includes:

  •  “Chinatown”, 7 p.m., Tuesday, August 5; 6:30 p.m. food/drink; 7 p.m. screening
  • “Amelie”, 7 p.m., Tuesday, September 9; 6:30 p.m. food/drink; 7 p.m. screening

Tickets for each film in the 2014 NIFF Film Society Summer Series are $25 each and include pre- and post-screening discussions; one movie ticket; choice of house wine, beer or 12 oz fountain drink; savory bites and sweet treats. Tickets are available through Silverspot Cinema, located in Mercato at 9188 Strada Place in Naples:

The NIFF Film Society Summer Series is sponsored by Roetzel; For more information on the Naples International Film Festival visit


The Naples International Film Festival’s mission is to celebrate independent film and filmmakers in an intimate festival setting that enhances the cultural and artistic life of the community. The sixth Annual Naples International Film Festival will be held from November 6-9, 2014, at Silverspot Cinema, with opening night at Artis-Naples. For additional information, membership and sponsorship opportunities, please call (239) 775-3456 or visit



Naples, Fla. (June 17, 2014) – The Collier County Museum invites residents and visitors alike to learn about Florida’s early colonial history at the special exhibit French in Florida, on display July 16 through Nov. 7, 2014. French in Florida is a traveling exhibit on loan from the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee and explores theFrench foray into the new world, beginning with Florida.

The exhibit highlights the first European depictions of Native Americans in Florida with illustrations originally published in 1591 by engraver Theodore de Bry in Grand Voyages. They were based on the work of French colonial artist Jaques LeMoyne. Lemoyne was the official artist on the expedition led by René de Laudonnière in 1564-1565 and his illustrations were among the earliest and most detailed depictions of Native Americans to circulate widely in Europe.

The French in Florida exhibit places de Bry’s images in the context of the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe and the struggle between Spain and France for dominion in the New World, particularly Florida. The exhibit also emphasizes how these early depictions are used in modern history textbooks and still shape our perception of American Indians in Florida.

This traveling exhibit is part of the Museum of Florida History’s Traveling Exhibit program (TREX), available to cultural institutions of varying sizes. More information on the TREX program can be found Exhibition is sponsored by the Friends of the Collier County Museum.


About Collier County Museums: More than 10,000 years of Southwest Florida history is on display at Collier County Museums’ five locations – the main museum in Naples, Everglades City, Immokalee, the Naples Depot Museum in downtown Naples, and Marco Island Historical Museum. The main location is located just five minutes east of downtown Naples at 3331 Tamiami Trail East in Naples. The Museum’s five-acre site includes a native plant garden, two early Naples cottages, a logging locomotive, swamp buggy and a WWII Sherman tank. The main facility is open Monday through Friday, from 9 am until 5 pm.  Admission is free and the site is handicapped accessible. For more information, visit or call (239) 252-8476.


Congress approves funding to battle toxic algae in Florida’s waterways

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Lawmakers here today gave final passage to a bill by Florida’s senior U.S. senator aimed at battling toxic algae outbreaks which dirty, discolor and choke off life in the Caloosahatchee River and estuary around Fort Myers.

The legislation, authored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), okays the use of $82 million for new research into the causes and control of large algae blooms while also giving affected communities additional resources to respond when outbreaks occur.

“This will help battle the algae that’s been choking off life in Florida’s waterways,” Nelson said.  “At the end of the day, this will be good for the environment and the economy.”

Its expected President Obama will sign the measure into law.  Nelson successfully ushered the bill through the Senate Commerce Committee and it passed the full Senate earlier this year.  The House then added some amendments to the bill before approving it last week, so a second Senate approval was required for final passage.

Its passage comes just one week after the president signed into law a broader water resources bill that contains some $800 million Nelson sought for Everglades restoration projects on the Caloosahatchee.

Together, the two measures are aimed at reducing harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee from Lake Okeechobee during the rainy season and at controlling outbreaks of algae that have had negative economic, environmental and health impacts.



~Also Approved $27 Million in Non-Conservation Land Sales~

TALLAHASSEE – Today Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, as the Board of Trustees, approved the purchase of more than 155 acres of property adjacent to the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park in central Florida and approved the sale of surplus, non-conservation lands totaling more than $27 million.

Governor Scott said, “It is important that we invest in preservation of the state’s valuable natural resources like land and water so they are available for Florida families for generations to come. I believe in being a good steward of state resources and believe today’s approval of the sale of certain properties and acquisition of conservation land are both win-win scenarios.”

“I appreciate Governor Scott and the Board’s action today, which will result in the purchase of valuable conservation lands,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “We will continue working to preserve high-priority conservation lands, especially those that are crucial to protecting water resources throughout the state.”

“Audubon Florida applauds the decision by Governor Scott to allow the sale of non-conservation lands to put the funds into preserving the environment,” said Executive Director of Audubon Florida Eric Draper. “The Wekiva-Ocala Greenway is a long-sought and high priority for Florida Forever. Today’s purchase brings us one step closer to a ribbon of green stretching between two of Florida’s largest parks. The Wekiva-Ocala Greenway provides waterfront access for people and provides a corridor for bears and other wildlife.  We are excited that additional land acquisition is planned for the Greenway.”

“I applaud the Cabinet’s approval of the 2014 Florida Forever workplan today that includes acquisition priorities that will further land and water resource protection in Florida,” said Janet Bowman with the Nature Conservancy. “We look forward to the proceeds of the sale of non-conservation state properties approved today being used to purchase Florida Forever conservation priorities as soon as possible.”

The Board of Trustees approved the acquisition of more than 155 acres of property adjacent to the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. The property within the Wekiva-Ocala Greenway protects the Little Wekiva River and St. Johns River basins by preserving natural corridors connecting Wekiwa Springs State Park, Rock Springs Run State Reserve, the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park and Hontoon Island State Park as well as the Ocala National Forest. The springs, rivers, lakes, swamps and uplands stretching north from Orlando to the Ocala National Forest are an important refuge for the Florida black bear, as well as other wildlife such as the bald eagle, swallow-tailed kite, Florida scrub jay and wading birds. The parcel will be managed by the DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as an addition to the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park, providing passive recreational opportunities.

The eight parcels of land approved for sale include four correctional institutes that are no longer in use and the acreage they sit on. The properties approved for sale include: Broward County Correctional Institute (66 acres), Glades Correctional Institute (211 acres), Hendry County Correctional Facility (1,110 acres), Hillsborough County Correctional Institution (135 acres), and other non-conservation surplus land sales in Lee, Miami-Dade, Volusia and Monroe Counties.

The 2014-2015 Florida Legislature gave DEP spending authority to utilize up to $40 million of the proceeds of non- conservation land sales to acquire valuable land needed for conservation and public recreation.

For more specifics on each parcel approved for sale, click HERE.


Collier County Road Watch Report

 Motorists are reminded to wear safety belts and drive with caution, courtesy, common sense, and patience as they travel through work zones. Remember, speeding fines are doubled in work zones.

I-75/Alligator Alley Rest Area at mile marker 63Construction project: Work continues to build two recreational access areas adjacent to the Big Cypress National Preserve backcountry trails, replace the existing rest area, build a new public safety center and water treatment plant, and upgrade the existing wastewater treatment plant.  Crews continue paving throughout the project.

  • THE ENTIRE REST AREA IS CLOSED UNTIL PROJECT COMPLETION, ESTIMATED FALL 2014.  ALL FACILITIES (including the picnic area, parking, restrooms or potable water) are unavailable.  Entrance and exit ramps at mile marker 63 are open for motorists to turn around if needed.  FDOT cautions motorists to remain clear of the construction zone and be aware of construction vehicles entering/exiting the roadways around the rest area. Signs are posted to advise motorists of this closure. The rest area at mile marker 34 is open.


Expected project completion is fall 2014. The design/build contractor is Stantec/Wright Construction Group.


US 41 at Pelican Marsh Boulevard:  Construction project: Crews will be working at night/overnight to install a new signal head at US 41/Pelican Marsh Boulevard on Sunday, June 22 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The inside lane on northbound US 41 will be temporarily closed during this time. Work on this project includes installing pedestrian features and upgrades to meet current ADA standards, connecting existing sidewalks to ramps, installing signal back plates, and pavement markings. The contractor is completing punch list items. Motorists are advised to use caution and watch for construction workers in the construction zone. Project completion is expected in summer 2014. The contractor is Traffic Control Devices, Inc.


US 41 (Tamiami Trail East) from SR 951 to Greenway Road: Construction project: Crews continue work to expand two-lane US 41 to six lanes from SR 951 to Joseph Lane and to four lanes from Joseph Lane to Greenway Road. A 30-foot median will separate northbound and southbound travel lanes. The project also includes a 10-foot multi-use pathway along southbound travel lanes and a six-foot sidewalk parallel to northbound lanes. Median openings spaced throughout the project allow for left turns and U-turns. Crews also replace the traffic signal at Manatee Road. Crews are currently relocating utilities and driving piles for the bridge over Henderson Creek.  Workers continue building retaining wall on the job.  Motorists should be aware of construction vehicles and equipment enter and exit the roadway.  The contractor expects to complete work by fall 2016. The design/build team is Wantman Group Inc. /Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, LLC.


SR 84 (Davis Boulevard) from Florida Club Circle to Falling Waters Boulevard:  Construction project: Crews will be installing light pole bases, pull boxes and underground conduits along both sides of Davis Boulevard.  Motorist should expect lane closures from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for this work.  Drivers are asked to use caution and expect delays. Motorists should expect construction equipment entering/exiting the roadway. The contractor expects work to be completed by summer 2014. Contractor is American Lighting and Signalization, Inc.


SR 84 (Davis Boulevard) from County Barn Road/Glen Eagle Boulevard to Whitten Drive: Maintenance permit project:  Crews are finishing work to rehabilitate a pump station.  Travel lanes and sidewalk are open. Expected completion is summer 2014.


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Meet the New Manager at MIHM Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:08:06 +0000 By Noelle H. Lowery

Tim England has taken the helm at the Marco Island Historical Museum. He comes to MIHM after spending eight years as the manager of The Museum of the Everglades. This transition comes as former MIHM manager, Lisa Marciano, moves on to be the manager of the Naples Depot Museum. Jennifer Perry has stepped in as manager at The Museum of the Everglades.

According to England, the musical positions was the result of the departure of former Naples Depot Museum manager Gary Vincent. When Vincent moved on, says England, “it opened all kinds of opportunities for Lisa, Jennifer and me, and that’s how I got the great opportunity to work at the newest of (the Collier County) museums, the Marco Island Historical Museum.”

Museums always have been a part of England’s life. As a latch-key kid growing up in Arlington, VA — just a stone’s throw from all of Washington, D.C.’s free museums — he spent a lot of time in them especially during the summer months. “Maybe it was inevitable I would be drawn back to the museum field one day,” he quips.

Born in the United Kingdom, England is the son of a Royal Air Force Wind-Commander, and first came to the United States when his father was on deployment as part of NATO and Strike Command in the late 1960s. After finishing his formal education in the UK, England went to work for a private British-Amercian company as contract underwater scientist/archeologist.

England learned about the Collier County Museum system through his volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America. He began small, helping with the Eagle Scout projects through the museum system. Then he began volunteering to work on major programs and events; his favorite was the annual Old Florida Festival.

Twelve years ago, England landed his first paid job with the museum system as a maintenance specialist — or as he likes to refer to it the museum specialist — for the main Collier County Museum. In this position, he helped improve the five-acre native gardens and design and build some of the large outside exhibits, such as the Calusa Village, the Spanish Beach Fort and the Third Seminole War Indian Village.

England’s next stop was The Museum of the Everglades, which he considers an integral part of Everglades City. While there, he helped develop the “Artist of the Month Program,” the Tamiami Trail 75th Anniversary Celebration and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Festival, a natural history event produced to answer questions about the natural history of the Everglades with references to local and regional history. According to England, it is an event designed to bring the community together.

“For many years, there seemed to be a disconnect between the natural history told by the National Park and the story and history of the local population,” he explains. “The festival was designed to break down perceptions and communicate the common ground. We tried to do this by the reintroduction of people and places of the Everglades, by presenting programs, tours and presentations designed for all levels of interest. We hoped we provided a place where learning and networking could blossom.”

When the time came for Marciano to move to the Naples Depot Museum, England was happy to come to the MIHM. A Marco Islander by way of New York, Marciano has a Bachelor’s degree in history from Florida Atlantic University, and just this May, she received her Master’s degree in museum studies from Johns Hopkins University.

England left The Museum of the Everglades in the capable hands of Perry. With a Bachelors of Art degree in art history and museum studies from the University of Delaware, Perry began working with Collier County Museums 15 years ago as a volunteer coordinator. She has lived in Southwest Florida for 19 years.

Big things are planned at MIHM in the coming months, according to England. First will be an exhibit by local photographer Tyler McDonald next month, followed by a new Stortor exhibit in September, a Donald Sunshine water colors exhibit of the Goodland cottages in November, and then the late autumn unveiling of the Cushing Exhibit in the Calusa Gallery. Then in 2015, the “Painting Southwest Florida History” exhibit will visit the museum, as well as “The Way We Worked,” a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

England is thrilled with his new position and ready to continue tackling the challenges and embracing the beauty of managing a small community museum: “I love my job…I get to tell stories about people, places and events that shaped the world we live in today. I get to tell the stories that made our community what it is today. I get the chance to open people’s minds and sometimes perspectives. I like to say history is not black and white but shades of gray…History should never be boring as it is just stories about yours, mine and someone else’s people and events.”

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COASTAL COMMENTS Sun, 01 Jun 2014 13:07:55 +0000 Donna Fiala

A Public Hearing will be held on July 10 at the Capri Community Center (time is not certain at this time) to ask any questions regarding the future of the Isle of Capri Fire-Rescue Department. The final fire district vote will take place on August 26, and you will want to get all the information you need to prepare for the vote. Ask any questions and receive answers so that you will be comfortable with your decision when you vote. If you will be out of town and haven’t registered for an absentee ballot yet, please do so soon. This vote is a game changer, and you’ll want to be a part of it.

• You have probably heard about the Smallwood Store in Chokoloskee recently. This is one of the local historical buildings that still remain in our county. It’s more than 100 years old, and visitors and tourists still enjoy shopping and exploring there. There has been an old road leading to it that people have used all these years. A developer bought the property leading up to the store and then blocked the road off, thus no one could get to the store. Some could not even get to their nearby homes. The new owners were required to remove the fencing, but for many weeks beforehand, the store owners could not entertain any tourists nor sell any products. Once the fencing was taken down, the property was neglected and allowed to grow into disrepair.

On that property, by the way, is an old Indian mound with many artifacts that needed to be preserved. Before any debris or this historical material for preservation can be removed, an archaeologist must be present to observe and inspect. A county investigator observed the overgrown condition and notified the property owner’s representative to apply for a vegetation removal permit to clean up all the debris and overgrowth, but from what I’ve been advised, no archaeologist was present, and they completely graded the property including the Indian mound. Now all is lost. Many times over the years, developers have removed trees or mounds, and then paid a small fee when they were caught. Nothing replaces those Indian mounds or the history that has been destroyed. The people in Chokoloskee and Everglades City are sick about the loss of these artifacts from our past.

• How many of you have ever been to Copeland? It’s near Everglades City on Rt. 29 heading north from U.S. 41 E. Copeland happens to be in my Commission District. It only has about 87 homes but about 70 percent unemployment. They don’t even have postal delivery; they must drive to Everglades City for their mail. Many do not have a car, so they cannot even drive to find a job. I met with them recently, and they were so friendly and kind. Some of the ladies have lived there for more than 50 years. These ladies are really old timers, and as charming and delightful as they can be. One of the needs of this community is some sort of bus shelter for their kids who are waiting for a school bus. I have located a couple of older ones that were destined for the landfill, but two cement pads will need to be installed before the shelters can be fastened down. I really wish there were a church or organization that might help us pour the cement, pick these shelters up, deliver and install them. This is one community who could benefit from any little help that is given them. If you would like to find out a little more about this community and how you can help, just let me know. I’d be happy to connect you with the right people. They have a tiny but lovely Baptist Church where everyone can worship and where we meet to talk.

• Recently, the good folks at the FDOT were kind enough to ride with me along SR 951/Collier Boulevard to experience the pavement conditions for themselves. They are planning on resurfacing the northern section of the road during the expansion of the intersection, so I mentioned the “washboard” feeling when driving farther south. They got back to me recently to say that this older section of the road shows no raveling or pot holes, but they will keep their eye on this area. “At some point in the future, we’ll need to resurface this segment of SR 951, but we anticipate some years of service still in the existing pavement.” Some of you have mentioned this rolling ride, so I wanted you to know I followed up on it.

]]> 0 COASTAL COMMENTS Fri, 16 May 2014 15:48:19 +0000 Donna Fiala

It was wonderful to get the message from Barry Gerenstein of VeronaWalk that their community had won the prestigious “Communities of Excellence” award in multiple categories. Three-thousand communities entered the competition this year. Property Manager Lynn Ross was named “Property Manager of the Year.” What an honor to be chosen over 3,000 other property managers — although I’m guessing that each entry also contained a property manager nomination in that 3,000 figure. VeronaWalk was awarded the “Energy Efficiency” award, the “Safety and Security Initiatives” award and the “Community of the Year” award!

Gerenstein, a resident and member of the “Team of the Year” — VeronaWalk Safety Committee and the CERT Response Team — and cheerleader extraordinaire for VeronaWalk, went to Orlando with the Ross to accept their numerous awards. Congratulations to all the residents of VeronaWalk! I’m sure you are very proud of your community, and I am particularly proud that you are in my district!

• Along with the huge road improvement project at 951/41, there is a swale maintenance program taking place simultaneously this year on Capri Boulevard from address 219 to 300, Riverwood Road, Sandy Lane, Twin Palms Drive, Pine Street, Porter Street and Manatee Road from Collier Boulevard to Beverly Drive. Swales completed are Henderson Drive, Derhenson Drive, Sonderhen Drive, Sonderhen Circle and Creek Circle.

• First, let me explain briefly that an MSBU is a way for a community to collect money through the county on their own tax bill to pay for a much needed but expensive project. All owners are taxed, but NO ONE OUTSIDE OF THE MSBU DISTRICT LINES ARE EVER TAXED. In other words, no taxpayers outside of the MSBU are responsible to pay the bill. If they somehow default, the county has a lien on their property, and can sell it to recover the remainder of the loan.

• Sadly, the intensity of the fight between one portion of LaPeninsula (on Isles of Capri) against the other continues to rage on. There is no compromise that is acceptable to enable people to work out an amicable solution, no way to come together to save face, and I personally feel that it will be difficult for that community to come together again. The facts have been misconstrued on both sides. The information given from one side to the other has been embellished upon, neglected to be given, or word smithed to say something completely different than the original information. It’s things like this that destroy communities. Many never recover, and the word DOES get out. Some people seem to actually be obsessed about winning at all costs. I’ve always been able to bring communities together, open a door to negotiation, and find a conclusion that all can live with — but not in this case.

• The good thing is that Isles of Capri, as a whole, doesn’t seem to be affected by it. There are still the same wonderful people who enjoy each other’s company, participate in pot-lucks, fish together, go to church together and share information community-wide through their “CoconutTele” e-mail network (thanks so much to Ann Hall and all the participating residents) plus pictures posted by Jim Hughes, who keeps everyone in the know (he has the most wonderful pictures of nature, birds, flowers, fish, people, sewers being installed, etc.) as well as other information like a dog missing or a floating device found. These are the traits of a beautiful community working together for the benefit of all. I like to end a subject on a positive note.

• Recently, I spent part of a day in Everglades City with a friend of mine, Marya Repko, a historian who writes about the history of our area. Later, we were joined by Patty Huff, who writes “The Mullet Rapper.” We took a tour of Chokoloskee and the Smallwood Store. I remember the Smallwood Store way back when I moved here 40 years ago! It doesn’t look much different now. We also toured through the Museum of the Everglades and City Hall. Marya suggested I take a tour of the The Fakahatchee Strand Swamp, the largest Strand Swamp in the world encompassing approximately 100 square miles, (which I proceeded to do at another time) and right at our doorstep! It ends at the Marco Airport and begins at I-75.

• I hope every Mom had a wonderful Mother’s Day and that your kids showered you with love!

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Remembering Animal Friends Fri, 16 May 2014 13:46:16 +0000 One of the best-beloved pets in Everglades City was “Jitters, the furry white Bichon Frises doggie who made friends everywhere and left us at age 15. He adored his kittens, who were roommates and soul-mates. He idolized his human companion who described him as “my pal” – they galluted around together and took vacations to the beach where the doggie rolled in the sand while the human shuffled in the surf searching for shells. Donations in Jits’ memory and to his kitty cousins, who miss him terribly, can be made to the local 501(c)(3) animal charity: Feral Felines, Inc., P.O. Box 564, Chokoloskee, FL, 34138. For information, call Marya at (239) 695-2905.

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MIA Rays Make History Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:08:05 +0000 By Roger Lalonde

Marco Island Academy Brian Flynn readies to deliver a pitch in the team's 8-4 loss to Everglades City in Class 2A-District 10 playoff action on Tuesday.

Marco Island Academy Brian Flynn readies to deliver a pitch in the team’s 8-4 loss to Everglades City in Class 2A-District 10 playoff action on Tuesday.

The Marco Island Academy boys baseball team made history on April 22 by playing in its first district playoff game at Seacrest Country Day School.

The Manta Rays faced off against the 1-16 Everglades City Gators in Class 2A-District 10. It too was the first playoff game for the Gators in its 23 years of baseball. During the season the Rays had beaten the Gators three times — twice by the 10-run mercy rule.

But not on Tuesday.

While the Rays couldn’t seem to get going, the Gators rolled to an 8-1 lead by the fifth inning. MIA rallied for three runs in the sixth inning, but had dug itself a big hole it couldn’t overcome.

Final score, Everglades City, 8, Marco Island Academy, 4.

The 10-11 Manta Rays didn’t seem up for the game. They expected to be playing for the district championship against Seacrest Country Day on Thursday. Rays coach Andy Delgado and his team were left shaking their heads after the game.

Marco Academy's Marcus Seidman returns to first base after lining out a hit in the first inning in the Manta Rays 8-4 loss to Everglades City on Tuesday in Class 2A-District 10 play.

Marco Academy’s Marcus Seidman returns to first base after lining out a hit in the first inning in the Manta Rays 8-4 loss to Everglades City on Tuesday in Class 2A-District 10 play.

“We beat them three times — two by the 10-run rule — and then we play our poorest in an important district playoff game,” he said. “We had no offense; we made errors, and today, (the Gators) played a strong game.”

Gators coach Becky Welch actually credited the district basketball playoffs to creating a stronger mind set for her team. Many team members got their first playoff experience in losing to MIA during the basketball playoffs, where Cole Stretton led the Rays to victory.

“I think one of the differences in the game was that many of the kids gained great experience in competing in the basketball playoffs,” she said. “They learned what post season play was all about.”

MIA took its only lead in the second inning when Stretton beat out an infield hit, sliding head-first into first base. He stole second, and Andrew Delgado lined a base hit to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.

Defensively, left fielder Austin Gross bailed the Rays out of a potential disaster in catching a line drive and doubling off the Everglades runner at second base to end a Gators rally in the third inning.

In the fourth inning, Gators pitcher Tyler Pasiuk took a full swing that only went a few feet. Rays pitcher Brian Flynn threw wildly to first base, and Pasiuk went all the way to third. He scored on a Dalton Patt base hit. Another wild pitch saw Patt take two bases, stopping at third. And another wild pitch scored Patt, giving the Gators the lead they never relinquished.

Manta Rays Austin Gross (sunglasses) shows a slight smile after making a line drive catch in left field and doubling off the Everglades City runner going back to second which closed out a potential Gators rally in the third inning in Class 2A-District 10 play on Tuesday. Behind him is Cole Stretton, who recorded two hits and scored two runs in the team's 8-4 loss.

Manta Rays Austin Gross (sunglasses) shows a slight smile after making a line drive catch in left field and doubling off the Everglades City runner going back to second which closed out a potential Gators rally in the third inning in Class 2A-District 10 play on Tuesday. Behind him is Cole Stretton, who recorded two hits and scored two runs in the team’s 8-4 loss.

Delgado has a team of freshman and sophomores, giving him a positive look to next season. “This was a very tough loss, but I think it will help us grow as a team,” he said.

The Gators will play top seed Seacrest at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Seacrest. Seacrest coach Mark Musala said, “Coach Welch does a great job, and she knows what it takes to win. We barely beat them, 7-6, this season. We are really looking forward to a great challenge.”

However, Seacrest beat the Gators by the 10-run rule earlier this season.


After covering area sports and community news for 15 years for Scripps newspapers, Roger LaLonde is now a contributor to Coastal Breeze News. He is also a licensed real estate agent with Premiere Plus Realty.






Manta Rays Marcus Seidman slides home safely when Marco Academy rallied for three runs in the sixth, but fell short, losing 8-4 to Everglades City in Class 2A-District 10 play. MIASIEDMAN
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Florida’s Easter Bunny: Marsh Rabbits Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:23:27 +0000 PROTECTING & PRESERVING
Nancy Richie

The weather is a bit warmer. Humidity is not too high. Fresh breezes make the Gulf a little choppy, and the island is quieter. It’s spring, and that time of year when many, especially those younger than 10 years old, may be keeping an eye out for the Easter Bunny, who may be hiding eggs around their house or yard — or perhaps hiding 20,000 eggs at Mackle Park on April 19 at the annual city of Marco Island’s Spring Jubilee!

Though the Easter Bunny may visit just once a year, there is a bunny, the Florida Marsh Rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris paludicola), that hops and hides year-round on Marco Island. This native species of rabbit is found in the coastal areas of the Southeastern United States, living near and in marshes, wetlands and fresh and brackish bodies of water. The Florida species ranges throughout peninsular Florida from south of the panhandle to the Upper Keys with an area north of Miami on the East coast where they are not found. The Lower Keys have their own subspecies, the Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit (S. p. hefneri), which is endangered. This endangered bunny was named after none other than Hugh Hefner himself. You figure that out!

Marsh Rabbits here in South Florida are found in undeveloped areas of native habitat and in small nooks and crannies of neighborhoods and parks where water and thick vegetative cover are present. On Marco Island, Marsh Rabbits can be spotted nibbling grasses on the roadsides just as the sun rises or sets along State Road 92 and in the Sheffield/Granada and Estates areas. Heading to Everglades City and beyond, it has always been fun to count the number of rabbits in the Everglades as the sun rises along mowed edges of the Tamiami Trail.

The Florida Marsh Rabbits found in peninsular Florida tend to be darker in coloration than the rabbits in Northern Florida, the panhandle and up into Georgia. Marco Island and the Everglades’ Marsh Rabbits are darker black and redder on their dorsal side, or back, with cinnamon to rufous colors on their nape, feet and legs. Their ear tufts are black with ochre in the inside. The reddish colors do get duller and the black sometimes gray in spring and summer months. Of course, in South Florida, there is an exception (isn’t there always something unusual happening down here) to coloration. There are Marsh Rabbits that are “melanistic” — the rabbit is completely black, and their color doesn’t change seasonally.

Much smaller than the eastern Cottontail and not to be confused with the much larger Swamp Rabbit (found from Alabama through Texas), the Marsh Rabbit is identified with smaller legs and ears, and the underneath of their much smaller tail is never white but a dullish gray-brown. Adults reach only about 2.5 lbs. They are strictly herbivores, eating grasses, bulbs and aquatic vegetation. They do drop hard and soft pellets. Strangely, they will quickly eat the soft pellets (cecal pellets) and re-digest. This diet behavior, called coprophagy, allows them to gain more nutrients from the hard to digest vegetation.

The Marsh Rabbit does hop, but is the only rabbit that walks like a cat on all fours, moving each leg separately and placing each foot down alternately. This gait helps them through tall grass and the dense vegetation like cattails that they live and hide in. Their short hind legs also have less fur than other species of rabbit and very long toe nails. Another specific characteristic for this rabbit is their toes have a larger spread and are easily identified when tracking. These less-furry legs, long-nailed and wide-spread toes aid in swimming.

The Florida Marsh Rabbit is an impressive swimmer and much better adapted in water than the larger Swamp Rabbit. To escape a predator, the Marsh Rabbit will leap into the water and swim, hiding completely under the surface — body submerged, ears laid flat, with just its eye and nose on the surface. If spotted, it will swim away quickly to hide in the muddy water again or find floating vegetation to burrow down. In South Florida, dense freshwater and brackish marshes, cypress swamp, mangrove forests and flooded agricultural fields are favorite places to dwell. They do need high ground nearby for protection and food sources though, so the mowed roadsides are easy places to spot them. They build small nests in cattails and rushes made of grasses and leaves lined with fur, and have been known to take other small animals burrows in logs or stumps.

Many predators seek them out — owls, hawks, coyotes, bobcats, panthers, alligators and snakes, yes, including the invasive python. The males, or bucks, are busy bunnies in South Florida. Breeding is year round with adult females, or a doe, carrying up to six litters of two to four young, or kits (short for kittens), which equates to producing up to 24 kits a year. This production rate ensures a balance of enough food for natural predators and a sustainable population of rabbits, but scientists have found that deadly and invasive pythons are wiping out populations of small mammals in the Everglades, particularly Marsh Rabbits, foxes, and raccoons. This one invasive species can and is completely unbalancing a vast natural system.

Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal and hope. Driving at sunrise or sunset, look for these little reddish bunnies along the roadway. Seeing a Florida Marsh Rabbit represents spring, as it is one that has survived and a sign of hope for a sustainable and balanced ecosystem in South Florida. Let the Florida Marsh Rabbits hop us into spring!

For more beach and bird information, please contact Nancy Richie, City of Marco Island, at 239-389-5003 or

]]> 0 Movies in the Everglades Mon, 24 Feb 2014 23:17:44 +0000 KC-Schulberg-001-Photo-by-Randall-Kenneth-Jones

K.C. Shulberg with a photo of his father and uncle on the set of “Wind Across the Everglades”

K.C. Shulberg remembers when his dad Stuart and uncle Bud were making their celebrated film “Wind Across the Everglades” (Warner Brothers, 1958) starring Burl Ives, Gypsy Rose Lee, and a young Christopher Plummer.

The area and ambiance left a lasting impression on him, inspiring him to now plan a new film in southwest Florida. On Friday, February 28, at 5:30 p.m. he will recall memories and stories of the movie industry from his youth before showing clips from his upcoming project in the Jinkins Fellowship Hall behind Everglades Community Church (102 Copeland Avenue South, Everglades City, FL, 34139).

His presentation will be followed by a screening of the full-length “Wind Across the Everglades”.

The event is hosted by the Everglades Society for Historic Preservation. It is free and open to the public but reservations are required. For information and to book your places, email or call Marya at (239) 695-2905.




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First Woman Completes Saltwater Paddling Trail Mon, 24 Feb 2014 23:01:22 +0000 31-year-old Jodi Eller of St. Augustine, Florida became the first woman to complete the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail that runs from Pensacola to Key West to the Georgia border. Eller paddled most of the trail in 2008 with husband Matt Keene, the first “thru paddler” of the trail and completed the remaining segments in late 2013.

Highlights of Eller’s trip included seeing a black bear cub in a tree along the Crooked River near Carrabelle, island hopping in the Indian River Lagoon and experiencing “perfect water conditions” for her last segment from Flamingo to Everglades City through Everglades National Park.

Eller is the eleventh person to complete the entire Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail since its opening in 2008. Currently, two retired police officers from Charlotte, North Carolina, Marc DeLuca and Jim Windle, are paddling the entire trail. They are more than halfway through their journey. To read about the pairs experience check-out their online blog, or visit for more information on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.


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Vote Now for America’s Coolest Small Town Sat, 08 Feb 2014 02:16:55 +0000 By Noelle H. Lowery

A young Everglades City fan. file PHOTO

A young Everglades City fan. file PHOTO has put the call out for folks to vote on “America’s Coolest Small Town” in 2014, and Everglades City is in the running. For the next 17 days (through Feb. 25), voters can go online to cast their ballot for one of the 15 small towns listed. The winner wins bragging rights.

Everglades City has some stiff competition, though. There are towns that have been settings for movies; that are historical gems; that are recreation havens; that are part of national parks; that were homes to former U.S. Presidents; and that are culinary delights.

Among the contenders are: Berlin, MD; Elkin, NC; Huntington Woods, MI; Pahoa, HI; Buckhannon, WV; Estes Park, CO; Kelleys Island, OH; Rockport, TX; Cazenovia, NY; Mathews, VA; Travelers Rest, S.C.; Deadwood, S.D.; Galena, IL; Nevada City, CA; and our very own Everglades City. Populations range from 313 (Kelleys Island, OH) to 9,133 (Rockport, TX).

Still, Everglades City has something that none of the other towns do — access to the Ten Thousand Islands of Everglades National Park and to some of the best backwater fishing in the U.S. Combine these elements with the amazing wildlife — both in and out of the water — that thrive in the mangrove estuaries of Everglades City, and it is a shoe-in to win.

So cast your vote now at:,16/#vote-21477. The clock is ticking!


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The Star of the Everglades Its Journey From the 1920s to Today Part 2 Fri, 07 Feb 2014 16:26:51 +0000 COASTAL HISTORY
Craig Woodward

Jim Martin at the helm of the Star of the Everglades (c. 1972).

Jim Martin at the helm of the Star of the Everglades (c. 1972).

In our last issue, the history of the original vessel, the Star (of the Everglades), operated by the Lopez family from Lopez River and Chokoloskee was covered, including its use in hosting several U.S. Presidents, its being part of the classic local film “Wind Across the Everglades,” and its key role in opening up sports fishing for tourists in the Ten Thousand Islands. That boat was retired and replaced by a new vessel, a beautiful yacht with a colorful history. After finishing its service in charter fishing, the new boat was owned and lived on by a number of local residents, who retain great memories of this fabulous yacht which, like the previous one, was aptly named the Star.

In the early 1960s, the original Star left Everglades City for the last time and later returned as the new Star, a vessel still two decks high but now 65 feet long with a beam of 22 feet, a double-planked wood hull, 70 net tons and with a shallow draft drawing only three feet of water. It was ideal for taking sportsmen to the Broad, Lostman’s and Shark rivers. The new vessel had three private staterooms, with two beds, two showers and a full bathtub, a teak-paneled main salon with a fireplace and a bar — perfect for three couples. This Star, unlike the previous one, was air conditioned, had television, a cocktail lounge, a card room and a sundeck for wives who did not care to fish. The brochure of the time said: “In addition to the prized tarpon, commonly ranging up to 100 pounds of fighting dynamite, there are a great variety of other fish to be found; most commonly being the snook and redfish.” Dinner served on board was either fresh fish, stone crabs or steaks and lobster, and also included and served on the large table in the main salon was a full course breakfast and a light lunch. The new 1962 Star brochure said it did not take trips less than four days out of season and suggested a five-day minimum. The advertised price was $280 a day total during season for a party of four and excluded drinks and tackle.

The new Star of the Everglades was a custom-built luxury vessel, completed in 1927 for former Governor of Ohio James M. Cox, who at the time was the owner of the Cox newspaper chain which included the “Miami Daily News.” The vessel had been used in the Miami area to entertain Cox’s business clients and rich friends until around 1961 when Capt. Jim Thompson and his wife Rosina purchased it for their Everglades adventures. Thompson could tow behind the Star up to three small boats with various outboards having horsepower up to 40 hp, giving anglers access into the small creeks and backwater bays while the Star remained anchored at the mouths of the large rivers that drained from the Everglades.

In late 1970, Jim Martin of Marco Island spotted the Star in dry dock at the Turner Boat yard in Naples. It had been pulled for caulking and other maintenance work on the wooden hull. He liked the old style of the boat, saw an opportunity to buy a boat he could live on, and quickly negotiated with Jim Thompson for the purchase. Capt. Jim Thompson had lost interest in the excursion fishing business after his wife Rosina died, and he ended up selling the Star to Jim Martin for $7,500. They made one last trip to Everglades City to offload Thompson’s personal items and the guide boats; the trip back to Naples, according to Martin, was a very emotional trip for Jim Thompson, who had grown much attached to the Star. In a way, many others’ lives would be impacted by this vessel.

The Star sunk near the Goodland Bridge before being salvaged. (c. 1982).

The Star sunk near the Goodland Bridge before being salvaged. (c. 1982).

Martin docked the Star in Naples at Boat Haven, paying dockage of $20 a month and mooring it adjacent to U.S. 41’s Gordon River Bridge. It was in a location that was too shallow for most boats, but the Star, drawing only three feet, could use it. For two years, Jim Martin lived on the boat and would rent rooms out for extra income. He worked at the Marco Beach Hotel, and about once a month, friends would join him on party trips to Little Marco Pass (now Hurricane Pass), all pitching in on fuel. But, even with fuel being 20 cents a gallon, the twin Chryslers 135 hp inboards were gas hogs and expensive to run. The vessel was not easy to operate and required three to four people to get it under way. The boat was also two floors high making it susceptible to winds and, compounding the problem was the weight of the upstairs main lounge made of dark wood of cypress and mahogany, and under the seats, it carried 600-plus pounds of water storage in large copper tanks making the boat a little top-heavy.

Like Jim Webb, who has kept old brochures and photos of the Star, Jim Martin also has sentimental feelings about the Star, and retained numerous photos as well as his documents. Martin examined the official documentation — “Certificate of Enrollment for a U.S. Licensed Yacht” — from the U.S. Treasury Dept., and discovered that the vessel had been built in 1927 in Holly Hill, FL, south of Jacksonville. Martin decided to investigate and drove to north Florida looking at areas on the Halifax River. He found the location of the old boatyard and discovered that the builder was none other than William (Bill) McCoy — whose reputation later coined the phrase “The Real McCoy.” McCoy and his brothers had a great reputation building expensive speedboats and yachts for millionaires like Andrew Carnegie and the Vanderbilts, and, of course, also for the former Ohio Governor Cox for whom the Star was originally built.

During Prohibition, McCoy changed careers and ran whiskey from offshore boats into the eastern seaboard. On a usual trip, it was said he would make $300,000 profit! His profits ended on Nov. 23, 1923, when a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter intercepted McCoy’s vessel in international waters, outside the three-mile U.S. limit. After shooting 4-inch shells over his hull, McCoy surrendered, saying on capture: “I have no tale of woe to tell you. I was outside the three-mile limit, selling whisky, and good whisky, to anyone and everyone who wanted to buy.” He pleaded guilty, served nine months in jail and was soon out and back in the boat business. The phrase “The Real McCoy” originated because he refused to water down his liquor or sell moonshine like his competitors who, in their attempt to gain credibility, would claim their product was also “The Real McCoy.” As a result of McCoy’s capture, the U.S. changed its territorial limit from three miles to 12 miles.

William (Bill) McCoy — “the Real McCoy” — high-end yacht builder and 1920s bootlegger. SUBMITTED PHOTO

William (Bill) McCoy — “the Real McCoy” — high-end yacht builder and 1920s bootlegger. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By about 1972, Martin decided to sell the Star, one of his bigger concerns being what to do in the event of a hurricane. Heavy winds and waves would cause the boat to crash against the seawall or even into the adjacent bridge, so his plan was to sink it in place to stabilize it. Back in 1960, during the infamous Hurricane Donna, Capt. Jim Thompson had run the Star up into the backwaters of the Ten Thousand Islands and tied it off on mangroves — an option not available in Naples. Martin had several buyers interested in the Star, including one who wanted to operate it as a floating restaurant in Old Marco, but in the end, Jim Lowe purchased it.

Henry Lowe of Marco Island, brother of Jim Lowe, remembers when his brother owned the Star and lived on it with his wife and daughter: “When both Jim and I owned part of Marco River Marina (now Rose Marina), we each lived on a boat moored there. My family was in the Big Dipper, and Jim and his family was in the Star. Compared to the Star, the Big Dipper I owned was like a crude barge. The Star was fabulous, and clearly made by a craftsman. The details could not be found today. It had brass throughout. Cypress walls inside and the ‘knees,’ which support the deck from below, were not prefabricated, but were chosen from the best part of the tree where the wood would have naturally bent and was cut and crafted to be part of this elegant vessel.” Henry said that it had been a dream of both brothers to live on boats, and they both owned theirs for about two years before selling them. Jim Lowe, being in the marina business, kept the boat maintained and the engines running. He took his family and the Star down to the Florida Keys on vacations.

The next owner was Fred Von Langen, who played the organ while his wife played the drums and piano. They worked as entertainers at the Old Marco Inn, and also sold Amway products. His dream was also to live on a boat; so upon purchase from Lowe, Von Langen, his wife and two sons — ages 12 and 14 —moved aboard and lived on the Star while it was moored at the Marco River Marina. From all accounts the Star, a high maintenance, old vessel started to show its age and to go into disrepair. He reportedly replaced the old gas engines with diesel engines; they were not run much, and it did not take very long for it to deteriorate.

Joe Torre, who worked at the time at O’Sheas Restaurant in Old Marco, purchased the Star from Von Langen with plans to move it to Remuda Ranch (the current Port of the Islands) and live with his wife, her son, Dave, and two daughters aboard. As Torre could only get one engine on the Star to operate, he arranged for it to be towed south by both a ski boat (Torre had owned and operated a ski School) and a house boat toward the Faka Union Canal. The single engine soon quit, and on the trip down, Dave Torre reported that the ski boat pulling the Star capsized with the Star ending up in the mangroves. The Coast Guard came to the rescue and towed the Star to its new berth by the marina/restaurant at Remuda Ranch adjacent to the bridge at U.S. 41.

From a brochure for the Star when it was used to fish out of Everglades City (c. 1960s). PHOTO BY JIM WEBB

From a brochure for the Star when it was used to fish out of Everglades City (c. 1960s). PHOTO BY JIM WEBB

Joe Torre’s brother helped restore the Star above the water line, but below it, there were major problems; neither engine worked, and the old wooden hull was leaking. Dave Torre says that in the three years he lived on the boat, while attending middle school in Everglades City School, the boat continued to take on water. In order to keep it afloat, they ran the bilge pumps day and night, and when the pumps quit, the floor became “quite soggy” to walk on. In the mid-1970s, Remuda Ranch was having financial problems, and often the electric would go off for non-payment. In addition to the Star’s 10-kw diesel generator to power the a/c, Joe Torre would try to connect the Star to a shore generator to keep the bilge pumps running. Dave says ironically that “at the time we were actually living on a sinking boat, with its lights constantly going on and off. Strangely, it was sort of a reflection of what was happening next door at (the ill-fated) Remuda Ranch.”

While they did have divers dive the boat to try to make underwater repairs, nothing short of pulling the boat would stop the leaking. Torre said that with its failed engines and with no boat travel lift big enough or near enough to pull a vessel this size, there seemed to be little hope. The previous owner, Jim Martin, would later say he believed that the problem was in the caulking of the wood in the hull, especially in the area near the tunnel drive where the prop wash had, over time, slowly eroded away the caulking, causing inevitable leaking. Joe Torre managed to get the boat towed to the O’Sheas restaurant on Marco where it was docked for a couple of years, and his family continued to live on it while he worked at the restaurant.

By around 1980, the Torre family sold the boat to Billy Oliver of Goodland, as Oliver recalls, for the price of $8,000. Oliver had it towed to Goodland by a crab boat, and, like others before him, planned to live on it. He remembers the boat as being beautiful and also being quite a “party boat.” Oliver said for a while it was moored behind a house near Stan’s, but, instead of using the normal bilge pumps to keep the boat afloat, Oliver switched to using a larger sump pump in order to try to keep up with the amount of water coming in.

After a couple of years, Collier County red tagged the boat (for being in a residential area), so Oliver moved the Star to under the Goodland bridge. For a few days, Oliver had to leave to go to New York, and said, with sadness, that while he was gone, the Star sank and ended up sitting on the bottom. Meanwhile, before he returned, some kids had broken into it and tossed stuff into the water and did general damage. Oliver lost a lot of his photos and documents when the Star sank. For $5,000, he sold the wood, life rings, wooden knees and other nautical parts of the yacht to Ray Bozicnik. Then, after being stripped, the boat was donated to the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, which used it for training as it burned off the topsides down to the waterline.

Reclaimed wood from the Star of the Everglades at the Little Bar in Goodland. Note the handcrafted wood knees that once supported an upper deck.

Reclaimed wood from the Star of the Everglades at the Little Bar in Goodland. Note the handcrafted wood knees that once supported an upper deck.

By 1982, the Star was gone, and its wood and other items purchased from it, under the creative direction of owner “Papa Ray” Bozicnik, were incorporated into his restaurant, the Little Bar in Goodland. Bozicnik had collected numerous antiques over many years while owning and operating restaurants in the Chicago area. The restaurant is today full of recovered wood doors, old pieces of a 1924 pipe organ, stained glass panels, an 1880 mantel and much more.

His son Ray remembers helping his father salvage the wood, door knobs, life ring and other items from the sunken vessel. From the Star, Papa Ray, with design help from his son built an entirely separate room — the “boat room” in the rear of the restaurant. That room, like the Star, is also air conditioned, paneled in the original rich woods, and its ceiling beams are supported by the almost century-old wood knees handcrafted by the Real McCoy’s craftsmen. It is a wonderful place to sit, drink cocktails or fine wine, eat great food, and immerse oneself into a classic era of another time.

I want to again thank Jim Webb for his memories of the Lopez family and the many brochures of the Star he has saved, Jim Martin for his vast knowledge of the history of the Star and the photos he shared, Henry Lowe for the information he shared about his brother Jim’s ownership of the Star, as well as Dave Torre for originally contacting me inquiring about the vessel he once called home, Alvin Lederer for the use of his photos, and to Billy Oliver and Ray Bozicnik for their information on the conclusion of this story.

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Second Semester Honor Rolls Fri, 07 Feb 2014 15:05:05 +0000 The second semester honor roll for Collier County District Schools in the Coastal Breeze coverage area has been released and is printed below, except for Manatee Elementary School. Coastal Breeze News applauds the efforts of each student earning this distinction.


Everglades City Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll

Alexis Hendrickson


Lely Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll

Amar Ahmed, Angel Diaz, Fauster Pierrecharles, Taylor Savage

Parkside Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll

Dominique Desir, Gabriella Falcon, Sabrina Rodriguez, Salomon Solorio

Tommie Barfield Elementary ‘A’ Honor Roll

Kevin Barry, Tyler Chute, Zachary Gremel, Reese Jones, Maggie Keegan, Michael Moriarty, Olivia Mundie, Eileen Poling, Elise Prodanov, Donte Vecchio

Everglades City High School High Honors

Mark Brown, Savannah Oglesby, Brandon Steffen, Cristen Steffen

Everglades City Middle School Honor Roll

Brandy Bowen, Ashlyn Goff, Bryce Kish, Claybrook Story

Lely High School High Honor Roll

Diana Alas, Stephanie Alvarez, Jessica Andrade, Ellen Angersbach, Ailyn Arizmendi, Carrissa Bearse, Elijah Beauplan, Diana Becerril, Jose Bess, Maria Bueno, Morgan Burke, Breanna Cardenas, Jackelin Castillo, Yvonne Castillo, Lemeck Cherenfant, Charles Ciurla, Emma Crawford, Joel Jean Devariste, Mathew Estrada, Bishi Eugene, Alexis Garcia, Maria Garcia, Jordin Giles, Yanet Gomez, Daisy Gonzalez, Gabrielle Graham, Ashton Greusel, Adriana Guzman, Colton Hail, Brynn Haizlip, Kare Hayman, Karla Hayman, Naaman Herrera Montes De, Salomon Herrera Montes De, Kenny Igarza Ajo, Jonathon Irigoyen, Angelica Jaime, Moliere Jean-Pierre, Jose Jimenez, Hannah Jones, Rawin Khayankit, Jonatan Kriqi, Monika Lara, Carolina Limones, Brenda Lopez, Monserrat Lopez-Flores, Alonso Lora, Lyndsay Mahoney, Sean Mcmullen, Yanish Meester, Eduardo Mireles, Katherine Moss, Nicole Murry, Taylor Murry, Tiffany Nguyen, Elizabeth Palacios, Jhemsly Palissier, Navia Penrod, Cassidy Penzo, Jose Perez, Michaela Pinter, Maura Poling, Araceli Pomajambo, Sanya Prabhakar, Tyler Qualls, Anthony Radosti, Karla Ramirez, Daniel Reed, Laura Rivera, Anthony Rocio, Frankie Rodriguez, Paola Rodriguez Fumero, Kevin Russetto, Francisco Segura, Liliana Serrato-Solorio, Cody Simmons, Barbara Solis Duran, Santiago Solis-Gamarra, Guillermo Soto, Francesca Spalla, Timothy Stoll, Kristian Sulser, Rebecca Sutton, Charmine Sylvestre, Anne Sophia Thelus, Sophia Torres, Xavier Vecchio, Anahi Vivar, Brittany Walker, Gage Wheeler, Taylor Williams, Randall Woodson

Manatee Middle School Highest Honors

Daniel Abraham, Guilline Andre, Ashley Arango, Antonio Arreguin, Jesus Barrera, Onna Batista Pardo, Chelky Blaise, Anthony Bonet, Eduardo Briones-Lemus, Jetro Calixte, Roberto Carcamo, Victoria Chavez, Allysa Chesterfield, Perla Cisneros, Lizeth Compean, Alicia Contreras-Sagredo, Isabel Cruz, Loobert Denelus, Daviel Diaz Pajon, Brenda Estala, Lorena Estala, Dginica Faustin, Christelle Francoeur, Areli Garcia, Jairo Garciga, Azabella Golles, Idania Gomez, Nayeli Gomez, Azalea Gonzalez, Lizbeth Gonzalez, Paulina Hernandez, Mayte Herrera, Fabian Jaime, Ella Kerchner, Natalie Lara, Jasmine Lopez, Cristian Lorenzo, Karelix Martinez, Brittney Mendoza, Alminesha Meronvil, Alfredo Noguez, Jennifer Padilla, Nohelia Parra, Noemi Pascual-Martinez, Sheebensh Prophilien, Karla Ramirez, Kimberly Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez-Lancon, Matthew Reed, Mercedes Reyes, Miguel Rodriguez, Salma Rojas, Carlos Salazar, Sierra Sann, Madison Seehafer, Rafael Serna, Cooper Siers, Emmanuel Sifrin, Kamalia Smith, Elizabeth Stephen, Claudia Tariche Fortes, Norma Urrutia, Jocelyn Vazquez, Katia Vega, Destanie Walker, Patricia Zepeda

Marco Island Academy Highest Honors

Tristan Ashby, Jordan Barrett, Zachary Brown, Alexa Campisi, Sarah Colburn, Duneshka Cruz, Marcus Daffner, Blake Dehooghe, Dylan Demkovich, Austin Estremera, Krystal Gonzalez, Annmarie Grossi, Michael Grossi, Natalie Halbuer, Ashley Hall, Jessica Hall, Haley Havemeier, Jacob Hurtley, Kathleen Kirstein, Livia Lenhoff, Steven Linton, Kiera Ludwigsen, Colin Mcmullen, Fermin Mendoza-Jauregui, Patrick Michel, Elizabeth Milakovich, Kaitlyn Nelson, Johnathan Olszak, Matthew Olszak, Mayra Ortega, Brenda Perez, Juliana Pisculli, Joseph Politi, Jessica Ragan, Meagan Reisinger, Sarah Reisinger, John Roche, Dylan Rogers, Kyle Russo, Caitlyn Schmidt, Connor Schmidt, Ariel Schneider, Peter Servente, David Snow, Cora Stahl, Colin Stretton, Danielle Sullivan, Stephen Vale, Alexis Vilk, Joshua Zegers

Marco Island Charter Middle School Highest Honors

Juan Acosta, Francisco Antunez, Emma Bailey, Joanne Belliveau, Regan Boyce, Megan Brown, Madeline Burt, Mckinley Champeau, Conor Coleman, Marshall Daffner, Lauren Dehooghe, Michael Desantis, Zachary Deserranno, Stuart Endres, Lauren Faremouth, Mariam Gomareli, Madeline Grucci, Ryenn Hart, Kiley Hartman, Teagan Havemeier, Cameryn Henell, Josemaria Herrera, Savannah Hoolihan, Madison Hopkins, Sereen Itayem, Ariel Joel, Morgan Jones, Scott Martin, Cipriano Martinez, Samuel Meredith, Michael Mertens, Sarah Nemeth, Daniel Nguyen, Lenka Okenkova, Lia Okenkova, Vy Pham, Laura Poelstra, Michael Poling, Richard Reisinger, Mikayla Rivera, Anabella Rodriguez, Lily Rosenblum, Santiago Ruiz, Harry Sukonik, Jolie Sukonik, Josephine Torres, James Ussery, Mary Vale, Ethan Van Boven, Jordan Vann, Hailey Vaughan, Enrique Vizcaya, Olivia Watt, Lauren Wesson, Ryan Witthoff

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Everglades Seafood Festival Nears Fri, 24 Jan 2014 20:11:15 +0000 By Natalie Strom

full-on family fair adds to the fun. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

full-on family fair adds to the fun. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

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, and the fun on Sunday begins at 11 AM, closing down the festival at 6 PM.

Seafood vendors (and some non-seafood) travel from near and far to feed the masses. Crab cakes, fried fish, stone crab claws, Indian burgers, soft shell crabs, hot dogs, burgers, italian beef and so much more create an aroma that leaves mouths salivating as they walk past the food tents.

A delicious meal calls for a delicious drink. Water, soda, fresh squeezed lemonade and beer will be available for purchase. Buy a beer and get a complimentary Seafood Festival mug.

Everglades City is known for its fresh stone crabs, brought in right off the boat.

Everglades City is known for its fresh stone crabs, brought in right off the boat.

Then there’s the music. Big name bands will perform throughout the entire festival. People are welcome to stay as long as the music plays. Casey Weston, the Grayson Rogers Band, The Gladezmen and Jimmie van Zant are only a sample of the well-known Florida musical acts to perform throughout the festival.

Art and craft booths line the streets selling just about anything one could need. Peruse through the aisles of clothing, jewelry, purses, wallets, knives, belt buckles, flowers, paintings, signs and many one-of a kind items.

Kids and kids-at-heart will enjoy the rides and games brought in for the weekend as well. Ride the bucking bull; win a goldfish; shoot some hoops; ride the tilt-a-whirl; and take your best squirt gun shot to bring home a big stuffed animal souvenir.

The Everglades City Seafood Festival has something for everyone. Proceeds from the family-friendly event go back to the historic city to keep it as beautiful and maintained as it ever was. Take a ride down SR-29 by way of I-75 or US-41, and see why the festival is now 41 years strong. Learn more at


Handmade arts and crafts make for great gifts or souvenirs.

Handmade arts and crafts make for great gifts or souvenirs.

Seafood Festival Musical Line-up
Friday Night the Fun Begins!
• 5:45 PM: Houston Brown
• 6:50 PM: The Dance Company (LaBelle, FL)
• 7:30 PM: Let’s Hang On
• 9 PM: Tim Elliott

Saturday Swings!
• 10 AM: Opening Ceremony
• 10:30 AM: The Dance Company (LaBelle, FL)
• 12 PM: Grayson Rogers Band
• 1 PM: Them Hamilton Boys
• 2:15 PM: Brad Anderson
• 3:30 PM: Casey Weston
• 4:30 PM: Parmalee (Nashville)
• 6:30 PM: Angela Marsaglia with South 41
• 7:45 PM: Tim Elliott

Sunday Stars Sparkle!
• 11 AM: Opening Ceremony
• 11:30 AM: The Gladezmen
• 12:45 PM: Wendell Ray
• 2 PM: The Tim Charron Band
• 3:15 PM: Tim Elliott
• 4:30 PM: Jimmie van Zant


Feel like staying the night? A slew of hotels are available:
Captain’s Table Hotel 239-695-4211
Everglades City Motel 239-695-4224
Everglades Historical Bed & Breakfast with Spa 239-695-0013
Ivey House Bed & Breakfast 239-695-3299
Rod & Gun Lodge 239-695-2101
Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina  (Campground & Hotel) 239-695-2414
Parkway Motel & Marina, Chokoloskee 239-695-3261
Outdoor Resorts (ORA) Motel & Marina, Chokoloskee 239-695-2881
Port of the Islands (East Naples on US-41) 239-394-3101


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