Coastal Breeze News » Goodland Sun, 17 Aug 2014 10:38:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sweet Victory Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:46:08 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

In my experience, especially as a writer, learning about any new place always begins with getting to know its people. I love listening to the local stories, and I’m always eager to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the people that make their town great.

I’ve written once before about Goodland’s own, Nick Lemke, and his Shima Dojo at the Greater Marco Family YMCA. To this day, it ranks as one of my most favorite stories. So of course, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do an update on all of the exciting things he and his students have been doing since we last met at their April fundraiser at Marker 8.5.

Everyone at Shima Dojo has been working hard, and they’ve seen that hard work pay off in the form of a recent run of tournament success; and it was all unplanned. With one month to prepare and learn a set of rules greatly differing from his traditional style of teaching, Lemke, his students and their families collectively decided to test their skills at this year’s AAU district karate tournament. There, each student took some variation of gold, silver and bronze medals, and have continued to do so at both state and national events.

“It was a little bit stressful, but well worth it. We went into the first one thinking ‘We’re not going to come back with anything.’ When we got our first medal, we were surprised; and what we did there was exactly what we had been doing here,” said 16-year-old Marco Island high school senior, Ford McKee.

On Friday, Aug. 1, Shima Dojo put forth yet another winning performance at this year’s AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa. On a cross-country phone call immediately following the tournament and their traditional celebratory sushi dinner, the kids excitedly took turns telling me how they each did.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426


From left to right: Sensei Nick Lemke, Chase Polley, Ford McKee, Connie Rausch and Leah McCardle. I really wanted to try this; it looked like so much fun. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Eight year-old Santino Galvez, pictured at the 2014 AAU Super Regional Tournament. Eight year-old Shima Dojo student, Chase Polley, enthusiastically told me about Kobudo, the weapons class I was going to see the next day.
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Surviving Year-Round in a Seasonal Town Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:00:26 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

The smallest baby alligator at Corey Billie's. I named him Ducky.

The smallest baby alligator at Corey Billie’s. I named him Ducky.

Doldrums – a state of inactivity or stagnation; a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

The term “summer doldrums” is new to me, but apparently it describes what I’ve been experiencing but successfully fighting off. How does a person of modest means ensure survival when home is a place that lives and dies by the season? I admit, I’m no expert, but this Ohio girl is trying to quickly acclimate to her new home, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

When I think of survival, I think of basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter; but finding ways to combat boredom and enjoy life are equally important. Having money helps make survival and enjoyment possible. As thrifty as I try to be, my outgoing financial responsibilities always seem to exceed the money I bring in.

In addition to writing, I work at Corey Billie’s Airboat Rides, and I’m hoping to take on a third job for next season. I’ve never been one to save for a rainy day —something I now take literally — but I plan to squirrel away as much as possible in preparation for next summer.

Hands down, the best lightning photo I've ever taken.  PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

Hands down, the best lightning photo I’ve ever taken. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

A survival strategy that my current budget allows: taking joy in the little things. When life slows down, the little things stand out, and they make for a constant source of free entertainment.

I’m used to living in the epicenter of what’s happening in America. After all, Ohio’s motto claims it to be “the heart of it all,” but here it feels like weather news is the only news that directly affects me. Somehow, southern Florida’s weather manages to be spontaneous and yet predictable at the same time. I take pictures of everything to ensure the inevitability of catching an impressive shot now and then, and this time of year is proving to be very photogenic.

High tides are getting higher as we get deeper into the summer, and while I love the excitement of dodging saltwater puddles on my way home from work, it makes roadside landscaping near impossible. In February, I inquired as to why the vegetation along San Marco Road looked like it had been beat into submission; I was told that it’s necessary to keep it from gobbling up the road. In recent weeks, that same plant-life I once pitied has indeed started reaching its green fingers toward traffic, as if it were on steroids.

The Great Gatsby and Atlas Shrugged are two of my favorite books, and I found them both here in Goodland's post office.

The Great Gatsby and Atlas Shrugged are two of my favorite books, and I found them both here in Goodland’s post office.

We’ve had an “el Niño” of tourism this year as a result of Marco Island’s award-winning beauty, and as an unexpected result, the long lines at Publix have not receded. Pool noodles, sun block and bug spray continue to fly off of the shelves.

This is the time when a lot of businesses shut down for a break, and the ones that choose to stay open slow substantially. Here in Goodland, The Old Marco Lodge, Marker 8.5 and Stan’s are still pulling people in on any given day of the week, and I’m still left wanting for a place to sit at the bar on Sundays.

Boredom and hellish heat make this the perfect time of year to enjoy a good book in a cool place, and the book-share area at the post office has grown. I read a lot, but haven’t had a new book to read since December. Now, there are so many more titles to choose from.

For me, northern summers saw snowbirds returning home in flocks from their winter migration in the South. While the slow, cold winter months offered a break from the crowd, harsh weather conditions weren’t exactly optimal to enjoying one’s surroundings. Braving a blizzard to go on an outdoor family adventure isn’t advisable.

A much-needed, after-work, happy hour beverage.

A much-needed, after-work, happy hour beverage.

On the contrary, getting in touch with some of SWFL’s nature only requires a portable source of drinking water and a talent for having fun while slow-roasting. It hasn’t been hard for me to keep busy. Watching alligator babies grow; training a stubborn puppy; watching Netflix; and annoying native Floridians with my enthusiasm for inclement weather are just the tip of the iceberg. I’m already devising my full-proof plan to combat next year’s summer blues. What can I say? I’m a Virgo; even if I have nothing else, I will always have a plan.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426




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Independence Day Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:54:43 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE 
Melinda Gray

Chef Mike Duncan spent Friday in constant motion. In addition to table-side greetings, he saw to the day's details.

Chef Mike Duncan spent Friday in constant motion. In addition to table-side greetings, he saw to the day’s details.

Living in a seasonal town is still very new to me. Though I am trying to acclimate quickly, many unfamiliar things about my home continue to surprise me.

My July 4th memories have always been made of Hallmark staples: red, white, blue, family, fireworks and food. But, they also were tainted by the woes of over-planning and stress. I expected this year to follow that time-tested recipe, sprinkled with a touch of homesickness. The sheer distance from my son, family and friends all but guaranteed a lonely, wistful holiday.

Contrary to my expectations, this Independence Day turned out to be a remarkably stress-free holiday, kicked off by Friday’s celebration at Marker 8.5. The atmosphere was familiar and informal, reminiscent of a family reunion or a backyard neighborhood barbecue. I didn’t once worry about keeping to a tight schedule or having too many things to accomplish, and that loathsome homesickness never even made an appearance.

I had a good time with new friends, ate delicious food, drank a few cold beers and listened to great music provided by Jim Allen. Even though the beautiful Southwest Florida day brought its signature oppressive heat, it became a catalyst for more socializing as people bounced from one shady spot to the next to take much-needed relief from the blistering mid-afternoon sun.

Goodlanders came out to enjoy the holiday in the company of family, friends and neighbors.

Goodlanders came out to enjoy the holiday in the company of family, friends and neighbors.

Among a markedly thinner population and a shrinking list of open establishments, the bash was another reminder of season’s end. This was the second year for the now annual Independence Day tradition hosted by the restaurant. Chef Mike Duncan has been consistent in his local-friendly, grounded approach to running things. Since purchasing the business April 1, 2013, he has made quite a few welcome changes to the historic watering hole, while keeping the history and charm of old Florida in Marker 8.5.

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Mike and the Marker 8.5 staff for their decision to remain open year-round. While off-season solitude, boredom, and monotony threaten to bring us down, full-time residents like me can still partake in some necessary human contact and happy hours.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426

Pre-party preparations for the over-heating staff. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY On the day's menu was this yummy-looking slow-roasted pig. The smells reached out to the edges of the island. Local musician, Jim Allen entertained the slowly-roasting guests.



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A Spamtacular Night Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:34:47 +0000 By Melinda Gray

One of my favorites: the Spam Mobile.

One of my favorites: the Spam Mobile.

In the weeks leading up to Saturday, June 28, my Facebook news-feed confirmed that time had run out. While my local friends had been diligently shopping and preparing, I had procrastinated. The nasty rumors claimed Bealls had completely sold out of pajamas. I chalk my ill-preparedness up to the fact that, until now, it never occurred to me to wear my night-shirt on a night out, but I’m always up for a challenge.

I had been looking forward to this party of legendary status since February, and after all my anticipation, the Little Bar’s 22nd Annual Spammy Jammy did not disappoint. It was a perfect convergence of conditions: a light breeze without a hint of rain; a noticeably absent bug population; and plenty of places to sit. It felt liberating to be out, socializing and having fun, wearing something normally only appreciated by my cats. Other pajama-clad party-goers packed in, ready to bid another season farewell and brace for the hurricane-prone summer months ahead.

Dating back to 1992, the yearly pajama party was created post-Hurricane Andrew, and has since given locals an annual night to blow off steam and talk about each other’s summer plans. Each year, the beloved Goodland party attracts throngs of visitors hoping to see the colorful, wildly creative Spam art and edibles. The staggering amount of Spam used in this year’s many impressive entries filled the rooms with an aroma I became quite familiar with as a child; fried potatoes and spam was one of our go-to meals.

Raiford Starke played to the standing-room-only crowd, giving his own musical offering to the Hurricane Gods. The sounds of blues and conversation spilled out of the building’s doors and windows, all due to be boarded up the following morning, with the assurance that the Little Bar will “See you in October.”


And the winner is...

And the winner is…

2014 Winners


• 1st – Single Spamingo (Laurie Diefenthaler)

• 2nd – Spam Idle Hour (Julie Booth, Leslie McDavid and Pam Roeske)

• 3rd – Spammy Bites My Dentist’s Office (Paula Baker)

• Honorable Mention: Spammiotte Expansion (Dustin and Becky Cook)


• 1st – Spam Skewers (Merrill Allen)

• 1st – Spammy Mae (John and Joe)

• 2nd – Spam Pops (Jared Kelly)

• 2nd – Spamoki (Celeste)

• 3rd – Stuffed Peppers (Rob Wright)

• 3rd – Maui Sliders (Elizabeth & Nikki)

• 3rd – Spamachos (Angela Scalici)

• Honorable Mention: Spammy Jammy Bean Dip (John Laprise)

This was the edible entry I liked: Spammy in a Blanket. Raiford Starke played to a tightly-packed crowd. I almost didn’t recognize Niki Bauer, Little Bar co-owner.
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The Anatomy of a Rumor Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:54:48 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

With a job to be done, workers took relief from the high temperatures in their man-made shade.

With a job to be done, workers took relief from the high temperatures in their man-made shade.

It’s a well-known fact that big news, or any news for that matter, travels fast in a community as small as Goodland. It’s also widely accepted that as news travels farther from its source it tends to lose the original, factual information in favor of a more dramatic, sensationalized version. In short, minor issues feel like major happenings, especially this time of year.

I recently experienced this phenomenon first-hand when what eventually proved to be a routine, short-lived inconvenience was all anyone could talk about in the days leading up to the morning of June 16. Goodland was scheduled to be without water for the better part of that Monday while the island’s 15-year-old water meters were systematically replaced.

Reports describing dark days to come made their way across more than 1,800 miles, finding us in Ohio. Given the fact that we had yet to see the actual notice, the message got a little lost in translation.

Our initial understanding was that we would be without water for weeks, a worrisome situation to say the least. Forever the skeptic, I thought we should call some of our Goodland friends to see if anyone had the scoop because the story we were hearing was just so unbelievable.

We determined that some of our neighbors had seen the flyer in their doors, but weren’t sure of how many days the shut-off would last. Others hadn’t even gotten the notice, but were not happy to hear about the implied community Port-a-Johns we would allegedly all be sharing for an indeterminate amount of time.

Hours of debate were followed by a sort of resignation to the unknown, but when we finally made it home, we were eager to lay eyes on and interpret the official paperwork for ourselves. Thankfully, it contained almost none of the aforementioned doom and gloom that was expected. We set out in preparation, and when the day did arrive, the whole ordeal was virtually painless.

As promised, a small tent was set up across from Stan’s providing bottled water to anyone who needed it, and three Port-a-Johns were offered at the boat ramp. With our showers out of the way and the pets’ water dishes full, the convenience of running water wasn’t even missed until late into the afternoon when, sadly, happy hour was canceled as our four local restaurants were closed.

All in all, we survived the county imposed, day-long drought, and water service was restored as the evening hours approached. We were placed on a “precautionary water boil notice” for an additional two days, and on June 18, residents were informed that bacteriological testing had deemed all was good again in Goodland.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426

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COASTAL COMMENTS Fri, 27 Jun 2014 12:59:22 +0000 Donna Fiala

Last week, during a meeting with people from the fuel industry, I questioned whether all this oil that everyone seems to be drilling for is sent out of the country for other counties to use. They said something about sending the Florida oil to refineries. “That wasn’t the question,” I stated. “Does it stay here, or is it sent to foreign countries?” They said it all stays here. I felt a little uneasy about their answer because I’ve heard just the opposite, but took them at their word.

My question now is: We continue to hear about all the horrible deaths and destruction in the oil countries in the Middle East, and then OUR fuel prices go up! Now I ask you, why is that if we do not buy from other countries? If the oil in the USA is enough to supply our country for 20 years, why are we paying higher prices because of problems in the oil countries? And, why are we told not to buy at certain gasoline stations because they sell foreign oil from countries we do not want to support if we supply our own oil? Something smells very much like…an oily answer. We all know it is about the almighty dollar — nothing more — and we receive very distorted information, depending on what the question is.

* Lely High School has again been dynamic this school year! They are an “A” school once again, plus three Golden Apple teachers! They are offering a combination of high school and college classes, and the students are excelling! Being that they were always considered one of “those schools,” it makes me proud to see the outstanding education these fine young students are receiving and overcoming how others view them. These young people tell me they feel like a FAMILY at Lely.

* After a little visit recently to the Marco Island History Museum, I came away totally impressed. There were so many people just lingering around, reading the information, looking in the gift shop, going back in history. It was June, when the winter guests and tourist had gone back up north, and there must have been at least 20 cars in the parking lot — and during the day no less! Impressive indeed!

The new Curator of Collections Austin Bell is doing a tremendous job of getting the collections in order and preparing for the 50th anniversary celebration of Marco Island. The volunteers were all so pleasant, helpful and very proud of their little piece of history. Next week, July 1, Craig Woodward will be presenting a lecture on our history. When he talks, you feel like you are walking hand-in-hand with him back in time. The presentation begins at 7 PM in the Rose Auditorium, adjacent to MIHM. Please come and join us! They even serve a little refreshment in case you might feel parched.

  • Last week, Lou and Linda Van Meter took me for a boat ride on their skiff to see the islands around Goodland and the surrounding area. We watched the shore birds resting and nesting — what a beautiful sight. The areas were all blocked off, and all in the areas were respectful of those yellow tapes. Lou pointed out different fish and a Manatee; we saw the “Dome Houses” with clusters of people around them fishing, investigating and just enjoying a family day together. We sat quietly on the beach and watched the water. How often do any of us take the time to just sit back, relax and enjoy Mother Nature? Thanks to Lou and Linda, I did!

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Happy ‘100’ Gretchen Hawes! Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:43:41 +0000 By Noelle H. Lowery



Gretchen Hawes was born on June 4, 1914, in White Water, WI, and on June 4, 2014, she celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by friends in her Goodland home. It was a day filled with hugs, life stories, laughter, Chinese food and birthday cake.

To say Hawes has lived through some amazing times and has seen some changes in the world is a grand understatement. When she was born, women were five years away from getting the right to vote. Europe was on the brink of World War I. Woodrow Wilson was president, and Mother’s Day had just been named an official holiday. The car still was a relatively new invention. There were no televisions. No computers. No internet. No email. No cell phones.

On hand to marvel at the centenarian’s life were caregivers from Always There Home Health Care Janel Sine, Jeannene Rutherford, Linda Hanna, Barbara Cushman and Mulcar Le Guerre; caregiver Karen Repco; trustee and friend Bob Kuehling; and longtime friends Fay Newby, Linda Van Meter and Linda Brannan. Always There Owner Roz Minicozzi called in to wish Hawes a happy birthday.

Hawes and her husband, Charles “Chick” Hawes, moved to Goodland in 1978, after years of vacationing there. According to Kuehling, the Hawes’ spent the early years of their marriage raising their son, Harold, and running a fresh egg business in Wisconsin. They collected fresh eggs from area farmers and took the to Chicago to sell them.

When Chick passed away in 1986, Hawes remained in their Goodland home, enjoying the sun, fishing and friends. Van Meter remembers well the glamorous vision Hawes cast each time their women’s group would meet for lunch and a movie. “She was always dressed like a lady, like a movie star,” Van Meter notes. “I always thought she looked like Barbara Stanwyck.”

Hawes’ home health care providers certainly have taken a shine to her as well. “I told her when I started working with her that I was going to stay with her until she turned 100, and here I am three years later,” joked Repco. She credits Hawes’ active and healthy lifestyle — everything in moderation and a bit of dessert everyday — to the incredible state of her health. She is not under a doctor’s care, nor does Hawes take any regular medications.

Repco recounted a funny story Hawes once told her about baking cakes: “Gretchen baked for her husband every Sunday, always from scratch. When boxed cake mixes came out in the grocery store, she would buy one, make the cake and put the box in the bottom of the trash. She kept making her ‘homemade’ cakes for him every Sunday.”

Always alert and ever watching those around her, Hawes passed on some birthday advice to her well-wishers: “Always put your plans down on paper, and never have too many of them — just one or two at a time.”

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The Long Trip Home Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:23:01 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

The brisk Ohio morning brought some welcome sunshine, and just in time to tackle the last five hour leg of the trip.

The brisk Ohio morning brought some welcome sunshine, and just in time to tackle the last five hour leg of the trip.

The mission: a seemingly impossible road trip with the ultimate goal of packing up the last of my worldly possessions. I’ve got to gather what’s left in Ohio and bring it all back home to Goodland. I hear the “Mission Impossible” theme song in my head every time I think about the gravity of the situation, but it’s time to say goodbye to what was and start laying some permanent roots.

I will admit, in the weeks leading up to this mission I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Ohio. The daunting 24-hour drive promised to be just the beginning of a stressful week of hard labor to follow; and I honestly couldn’t remember needing anything I’d left behind. The part I dreaded most was saying goodbye to my son for the summer and dropping him off with his father. I knew I would cry.

I took solace in my love for a good road trip, knowing from experience that getting there is always half of the fun. If that held true, then this trip would be quite the adventure.

Rain and temperatures below 60 degrees made the drive through West Virginia feel positively serene. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

Rain and temperatures below 60 degrees made the drive through West Virginia feel positively serene. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY

I’ve always found that timing is everything when trying to survive such a long trek, which is why I chose to get the flattest part out of the way while I was still fresh off of a good-night’s sleep. I wanted to hit the beautiful, scenic Appalachian Mountains just in time for sunrise, and we did. The cold rain had left ribbons of fluffy fog lying between the peaks and in the valleys. With ups, downs and twisty turns, mountains are always my favorite part of any drive.

My daughter, forever my sidekick, stayed awake with me the entire ride. We snapped hundreds of photos, stopped at way too many rest areas, and sang and danced like delirious, exhausted goofballs.

It was about 18 hours into the journey that I started to feel my aggravation rise in direct proportion to the increased speed and aggressiveness of northern drivers. When we finally passed under the “Welcome to Ohio” sign, I was relieved to see it.

Minutes after we arrived in Madison, Ohio — exactly 24 hours after leaving Goodland — I hit the first bed I could find and slept like a hibernating bear. Over the next few days, I made up half of the two-woman crew charged with packing and moving out of our three-bedroom lake house, filled with years of an eclectic array of accumulated belongings.

Although the trip started as a necessary evil, I’m happy to report that it yielded the desired positive outcome. I found some stuff I would have eventually missed, and more than a few things I really did need. We are coming back with a truck full of odds and ends, a new puppy and a very antisocial cat.

We say goodbye to our Ohio home after a long week of preparing it for sale.

We say goodbye to our Ohio home after a long week of preparing it for sale.

As a bonus, I got to see my two younger brothers; I’ve missed them so much these past few months. They will be joining us soon, though, as they plan to relocate to Southwest Florida before winter. My mom even took me to get my first ever professional massage to work the knots out of my road-weary neck and back. I fear I may be spoiled now; I just might need another one when we get back home.

Most importantly, my kids and I are official Florida residents. Goodland is where I plan to stay and raise them. In contrast to their scholastic struggles in Ohio, they are absolutely thriving in Collier County schools.

I’m surprised to actually be looking forward to that long drive back home, but I miss Goodland. I miss my friends, and I miss my cats. I even miss the heat! So here’s to leaving Ohio in my rear-view mirror and driving off into the sunset. Mission accomplished.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426

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It’s That Time Again… Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:22:52 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

Kirk's lot has been overtaken by the 2,500 new traps being put together for Damas to crab next season.

Kirk’s lot has been overtaken by the 2,500 new traps being put together for Damas to crab next season.

The smell of crab traps in the open air — after months of being underwater — is a tell-tale sign of the end of stone crab season in Southwest Florida.

“It’s quite pungent over there,” said Pat Kirk, the matriarch of the Kirk family and owner of Kirk’s Fish Company. Anyone living or passing by Kirk’s downwind can confirm that, as over the past month crab traps have been systematically pulled and stacked next to the store in preparation for cleaning and repair. May 15 was the last day to legally collect those delicious stone crab claws, with ten additional days allowing crabbers to pull all of their traps by May 25.

“It worked out well for us; stone crab season is tourist season,” said Pat. “Our guys had a good year, but a lot of places did suffer. We did okay, but we could always do better in this business.” This season marked the Kirk family’s return to their Goodland store, after spending 17 years in Naples running Captain Kirk’s Stone Crabs and Fresh Seafood Market.

We say goodbye to stone crabs on the menu, for now.

We say goodbye to stone crabs on the menu, for now.

The Kirks confirmed that most of their big improvements are out of the way. Even the freshly planted grass is flourishing thanks to their recycled crab water-fertilizer. The family’s focus is now aimed at applying lessons learned this first season back in Goodland to ensure next year runs even more smoothly.

“It’s mostly wholesale that we do this time of year; and even though we’ve closed down the retail, we will gladly sell what’s in our freezer. If the door is open, just come and find us on the lot,” said Pat.

As another stone crab season closes, the folks at Kirk’s already have started the work necessary to get ready for the next season, which kicks off on October 15. The work that crabbers typically put in over the summer is grueling and expensive, which contributes to the high cost of the crabs. Keeping crabbing gear going is not only pricey, but completely out-of-pocket.

The Kirk family also has been busy with the essential preliminary work for Damas Kirk, owner and patriarch, to do some crabbing next season. They’ve put together 2,500 new traps and branded his buoys, painting them purple and white.

Buoys strung out and painted Damas's colors: purple and white.

Buoys strung out and painted Damas’s colors: purple and white.

“I’m bored. I tried to get off of the water; it didn’t work, but this is a smaller boat, a smaller crew and less stress. I couldn’t handle the big numbers anymore,” said Damas.

“He calls it old-man crabbing. He’s got a little boat and has to go out on nice days,” said Pat.

“And we told him that if he catches them, he has to come in and cook them himself,” said Kelly with a laugh.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426


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Denise Santos, TBE Students Create Mural Sun, 01 Jun 2014 11:48:53 +0000 By Noelle H. Lowery



Art and education go hand-in-hand at Tommie Barfield Elementary School. A stroll through the school’s hallways proves it — student artwork is everywhere. The theme also shines through during the school’s annual Authors & Artists night, an evening in May when the entire school turns into a giant art gallery for students to display works of art made from paint, paper and clay or words on paper.

For this year’s Authors & Artists event, the PTO member Lisa Cartwright asked Goodland artist Denise Santos ( to design and paint a mural with TBE staff and students. As a professional artist, Santos has made a name for herself designing and painting original billboards and signs, and she has painted on a multitude of surfaces, including sign boards, windows, turtle bones, driftwood, wall murals, barnwood and the fiberglass Dolphins of Marco Island. Her work can be seen locally in murals at Hoots and the SandBar, and every Christmas, she paints the windows of various businesses in Marco Island and Goodland.

Santos discovered her love of painting as a second grader in California, which gives her a special understanding of the importance of art in education, so she jumped at the opportunity to donate three weeks of her time and energy to working with TBE students.

First, she worked with Principal Dr. Jory Westberry on a design for the mural. According to Santos, the underwater image of a Manatee (TBE’s mascot) reading a book came together easily, as it pays homage to the natural world TBE students encounter everyday along with the school’s emphasis on developing a lifelong love of reading. Santos, who is an avid scuba diver, left her signature on the mural in the form a diver.

Next, the mural took the form of a full-color sketch, and a real artist’s canvas was purchased for the mural. Gerardo Guzman, a beloved member of TBE’s custodial staff, built the frame for the canvas. He and Santos put the canvas with its full-size paper pattern of the mural on the frame.

Finally, Santos set to mixing the paints in preparation for five days of painting with students from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM. She worked in conjunction with TBE art teacher Kathy Anderson, who allowed small groups of students to paint on the canvas in five-minute intervals during their art class each day.

“Every child got to paint,” says Santos. “Every student put a stroke on the mural.”

For PTO President Debbie Hobbs, the process and end product came together better than she had imagined. “It was fantastic to see how excited the children were to be able to put a few brush strokes on the mural!”, she says. “They are all able to walk by it and tell you which piece they contributed to. A real team effort!”

“A huge thank you to Denise Santos for dedicating three weeks of her life to the children at TBE!”, Hobbs adds

Santos loved how “jazzed” the kids were when it was their turn to paint on the mural: “Their faces were awesome. They were so into it, and they were great kids too — really great kids.” In the end, she was happy to have her chance to give back. After all, Santos says, “That is our purpose on Earth.”

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Incoming President John Superits (left) congratulates Jack DeHanas (outgoing President) with a plaque.

Incoming President John Superits (left) congratulates Jack DeHanas (outgoing President) with a plaque.

The Marco Men’s Club held its annual “Installation Ball” at the Island Country Club on the evening of May 10. It was a festive evening with dinner and dancing as 230 MMC members and their spouses/friends welcomed the new Board and the start of a new year.

The MMC is celebrating its 23rd year. In 1992, Paul Kurtz and a small group of men started the Marco Men’s Club, and it has grown to more than 500 members who own a residence on Marco Island, Isles of Capri and Goodland.

The MMC is a diversified group of men who have joined the club to meet and make new friends for social purposes. The MMC offers a wide range of activities for its members and spouses/friends, including a golf league for the men, theater and entertainment, cruises, professional sporting events (baseball spring training, Dolphin’s football), men’s only and coed lunches, themed parties (Sweetheart Ball, Hurricane Ball, Mardi Gras, Bastille Day, St Pat’s, Holiday party, pig roast/luau etc).

Those interested in joining the MMC, please go to, or come to the monthly meeting at the Mackle Park Community center on the second Thursday of the month at 10 AM to enjoy conversation and a cup of coffee and refreshments. There is always an interesting guest speaker.

From left to right: Jack Dehanas (Out-going President), Al Bazzo (President 2002) and Sam Miloro (President 2011) The new board (l-r): Golf Director Jeff Dywan, Webmaster Ed Crane, Sargent of Arms Mike Levine, Membership Chair Fred Stavola, Newsletter Director Alan Wetjen, Treasurer Turk Tilev, Vice President Don Zinner, Vice President Dan Flynn, Vice President John Scott, Senior Vice President Warren Dettinger, President John Superits-President, Immediate Past President Jack DeHanas, Theater Chair Ron Moores, Program Director John DeMado, Cruise Director Bob Marks and Publicity Director Randle Grossman. Rachel DeHanas, wife of outgoing President Jack DeHanas, hands off the roses to Marge Superits, wife of incoming President John Superits.
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If We Build it, Will They Come? Mon, 19 May 2014 13:55:44 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

The overgrown volleyball court begs for renovation and beautification.

The overgrown volleyball court begs for renovation and beautification.

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

Summer is quickly approaching, and with it come the horror stories warning first-timers like me of mutant bugs, face-melting heat and the unbearable boredom to come. Of course, I don’t believe everything I hear, but I do feel a kind of “something wicked this way comes,” and I have started to brace myself accordingly.

In my search for ways to keep the family cool this summer, I’ve noticed a glaring irony I’m unable to ignore: Goodland is surrounded by water, yet there aren’t any conveniently close, public places to swim.

As a child, I thought of Florida as a magical, far-away land, convinced that fun in the sun and swimming were just another part of those lucky Floridians’ daily lives. Moving here has me confronting a harsh reality — what it feels like to be in the middle of an ocean, needing nothing more than cool refreshing water, and finding none.

Our surrounding canals and channels are filled with some exotic, intimidating predators. The closest beach is a very long bike ride away, and the Marco Island YMCA is really the only other option.

Inevitably, I’ve started to wonder at the possibility of a community pool for Goodland. In asking around, testing the waters and researching how to best approach such a thing, I have found the general consensus suggests that a pool would be a welcome addition, if done right.

However, it will be no easy task. What is the best location for a pool? Who would shoulder the liability? Is the demand high enough to warrant such an investment, and how would it be funded?

Goodland Civic Association (GCA) President Greg Bello admits to having toyed with the idea of a community pool here in Goodland. “That thought has crossed a lot of our minds. I think it’s a great idea, but it’s one of those things where you wonder how many people would use it,” said Bello. “People talk about it, but you can’t just build it and then have everyone run the other way. It’s not going to be paid for by anyone but them. Who would commit financially, even a small amount?”

“The easiest way for us is if it’s done by the county. It would have to close at sunset because of noise, but the park already has liability insurance. It’s a county park. It’s already open until sunset. It’s already open to everyone in the county. Looking at it from that angle there aren’t any downsides. If they are funding it and we just use it, I think it would get the support,” said Bello.

Since this seed of an idea is still in the “what if” stage, let’s entertain a moment of hypothetical speculation when considering a prime location. Margood Park heads up the very short list of potential sites. Its volleyball court sits deserted without a net, and the grass growing up through the sand is quickly reclaiming the area.

“I don’t think the county would be against it; it’s just a matter of getting it approved,” said GCA member Connie Fulmer. “It would be nice to have a community pool. You just don’t find those anymore. I would go!”

Donna Fiala, County Commissioner for District 1, said she’s been advocating the need for a community pool for years, but the funding needed is a big hurdle to overcome.

“I think I’m a little closer now than I was. We have to raise a lot of money through the Community Foundation because there is no money in the county coffers for a pool right now. The Community Foundation is trying to find funding sources to step up to the plate, but it’s proving to be very difficult,” said Fiala. “I won’t give up because it would help all of these children so much, but it isn’t easy.”

Among the mountain of unanswered questions, it’s clear that the first necessary step will be presenting the idea at a Collier County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. They advise the Board of County Commissioners on all park and recreational ideas in Collier County. The county commissioners would need to give their stamp of approval, providing they find merit in initiating a plan.

“That’s always a good way to test the waters and see what reaction you get; see if you can garner some interest,” said Barry Williams, director of Collier County Parks and Recreation.

“Do we have enough people to use it on a regular basis,” asked Williams, “taking into account that the operation of a pool is very expensive?”

Ultimately, aside from seeking county approval, finding funds and acquiring permits, putting a community pool in Goodland would need the support of the people here. If the people do support this issue, it promises to extend far beyond this column; it will require commitment and tenacity.

I admit to having a bit of an idealized view of my new home, but I’ve been listening and trying to learn everything I can about Goodland’s history. That includes getting a feel for how people here see its future. Preserving the character and integrity of Goodland is fundamental to any change, keeping in place everything that makes this village a place that time forgot.

The next Parks and Recreation meeting will be held at North Collier Regional Park on Wednesday, May 21, at 2 PM.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426


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The Goodland Good Life Thu, 01 May 2014 14:19:21 +0000 GOODLAND LIFE
Melinda Gray

Life has been good in Goodland for J.W. “Dub” Abbott, who will turn 100 years old this month.

The Drop Anchor resident was born May 2, 1914, in Checotah, Oklahoma, to Wayne and Beulah Abbott, who had five other boys and one girl; his youngest brother is only 93 years young.

He says his mother gave him his initials because her other sons had all been given nicknames, and she didn’t like that. She thought that her method would prevent him from being nicknamed; he’s been known as “Dub” all his life.

Growing up with in a family of six boys, there was always something going on. They lived on a farm three miles from Checotah. Their father was a county commissioner and very active in the community. Two of his brothers and his sister were teachers in a country school. In fact, one of Dub’s brothers taught his algebra class; he failed and had to repeat it.

As a teenager, Dub and his older brother would hop on freight trains and take trips, and they never got caught. Having only traveled short distances, in 1932, they decided to go see an aunt in Texas. He attributes these trips for showing him so much of the country he would otherwise not have seen.

Dub went to Oklahoma State for three semesters, before deciding that college wasn’t for him. He joined the Marines in 1934 while at the World’s Fair in Chicago, and attended boot camp in Paris Island, South Carolina, later being sent to Virginia. He requested a sea assignment, and in 1935, he toured the Caribbean as he headed to California. It was there he boarded the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington. He spent a good part of 13 months anchored off Long Beach, California, and didn’t see any combat.

After returning home from the Marines, he married Mary Buckmaster in 1939. They farmed near his childhood home for several years before purchasing it after his father passed away. Dub’s four children: JoAnn, Tom, Jim and Bill, were born while living on the farm near Checotah. He now has 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Each winter, the family would visit Florida and rent a cottage so Dub could fish with friends. In 1985, they stayed for two months in a rented cottage on Henderson Creek until friends of theirs — living in Drop Anchor — told them of a unit for sale. When they left in the spring of 1985, they were proud owners of a trailer in Drop Anchor here in Goodland.

Dub absolutely loved Drop Anchor. His fishing boat was only a few yards from his front door, and he could be out into the Gulf and on way to his favorite fishing hole in about 15 minutes. His favorite fish to catch was the Sheepshead.

“Twenty-nine years ago, we could catch all the Sheepshead we wanted; no size limit and you could keep them all. Sometimes four or five boats of fisherman would go out 15 to 20 miles grouper fishing, and there was no limit on them. We would sell our catch at the Fish Market, and that money paid for the gas for our next day of fishing,” said Dub.

He recalls that every morning, the Drop Anchor docks were crowded with fishermen getting ready to go out for the day, but says fishing has changed the past few years. Now a fishing license is required, and there are regulations on the size and number of fish you can catch; plus, the fish just aren’t as plentifully.

Dub was living in Drop Anchor when it was purchased by the residence and given the name Drop Anchor Mobil Home Association.

Not only has fishing changed in Dub’s 29 years living in Drop Anchor; Dub has changed, too. He cannot see or hear as well as he once could. He’s lost a hip, and lost so many good friends. Dubs wife passed away in 2004. Still, he loves to fish, and he’s able to, thanks to his son-in-law, Don Methner, who has helped him fish these past eight years.

In 1992, Dub and his first mate were part of the cast in the movie, “Gone Fishing.” He was paid $100 each day for his boat, and the men were paid $60 each. They only worked about a week filming the movie.

Hurricane Wilma hit several homes in Drop Anchor in 2005, and Dub’s daughter, JoAnn, and her husband traveled to Goodland to help repair the damage done to his home. Wilma was responsible for damage to many other trailers, and Dub remembers how everyone joined together; neighbors helped neighbors.

The following year, Don and JoAnn purchased Dub’s trailer, but he continues to visit as much as he possibly can. In 2008, an infection in his left hip left Dub unable to walk, but he still gets all around Goodland in his power chair.


Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426


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And the winner is… Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:14:08 +0000 By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Contestants begin to line up waiting before the big drawing. PHOTOS BY VAL SIMON

Contestants begin to line up waiting before the big drawing. PHOTOS BY VAL SIMON

A drawing was held on Friday, April 11 in front of dozens of hopefuls at Harbor Goldsmith. The prize? A green diamond ring valued at $10,000. Richard Alan, owner of Harbor Goldsmith, came up with the idea for the contest earlier this year. His plans included a treasure map and a series of five clues. Each clue was written in limerick form and the answers resulted in five numbers.

Over 240 people entered the contest for the valuable ring. Of those entered, 40 had the correct sequence of numbers. The correct entries were put into a bucket, and from there the winner was drawn.

Those who didn’t end up going home with the ring were somewhat disappointed, but the crowd shared their enthusiasm, exclaiming how much fun it was to search for the answers.

“One gentleman told me he discovered things on the island he’d never seen before,” commented Richard’s mother.

The Prize Green diamond ring in gold with white diamond accents.

The Prize Green diamond ring in gold with white diamond accents.

One contestant thanked Richard for all the fun. “Am I disappointed I didn’t win? Sure. But it was so much fun! It was like a scavenger hunt or road rally… driving around searching for the answers to the clues. It was a blast!”

Richard said he had friends in Goodland who wanted to know what was going on, “ …all these people are coming here looking for some number!”

Fortunately, Richard kept the answers to himself. Even employees didn’t know the answers until the entry deadline passed. “Someone came in and offered an employee $20 for the answer.”

The correct combination was 9-55-3-7-5. The lucky winner of the diamond ring was Darlene Canton.

“Thanks to everyone who participated,” Richard stated. “It was fun to do and most people enjoyed themselves.”

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Camping at the Y Keeps Youth Moving, Learning and Exploring All Summer Long Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:07:40 +0000 KEEP MOVING TODAY FOR A HEALTHIER, WELL-BALANCED FAMILY TOMORROW! Did You Know- According to the New England Journal of Medicine today’s young people are not expected to outlive their parents!  This is a startling statistic and is mostly related to Youth Obesity-Type 2 Diabetes.

Summer is the ideal time for kids to get up, get out and explore. But, for some kids summer means no access to recreational and educational activities to help them learn, grow and thrive during out-of-school time. As a result, some kids can experience learning loss and gain weight twice as fast than during the school year. For parents and caregivers looking to keep kids’ minds and bodies active, the Greater Marco Family YMCA is offering summer camp to give youth an adventurous, active and healthy summer.

YMCA camp programs provide a fun and unique experience that gives children and teens the opportunity to explore the outdoors, meet new friends, discover new interests and create memories that last a lifetime.

“YMCA summer camp supports the social-emotional, cognitive development and physical well-being of kids, kids are in a welcoming environment where they can belong, build relationships, develop character and achieve – discovering their potential. We really encourage parents to give their kids the gift of camp so that every child can benefit from the experience.”

There are five reasons why children and teens should attend summer camp:


  1. ADVENTURE: Summer camp is all about a wide variety of fun adventures and new experiences, and especially exploring the outdoors.
  2. HEALTHY FUN: Day and Specialty camps offer fun, stimulating activities that engage the body and mind, and also help children and teens learn the importance of nutrition to help improve their healthy eating habits.
  3. PERSONAL GROWTH: While being away from the routine at home, youth have a chance to learn new skills, and develop confidence and independence by taking on new responsibilities and challenges. Camps offer cognitive learning and social-emotional development opportunities for achievement.
  4. NEW FRIENDSHIPS: Amidst the fun of camp games, songs, swimming, educational activities and talent shows, campers meet new friends and strengthen existing friendships. The relationships formed at camp are important and lasting for many youth. 
  5. MEMORIES: Summer camp is an unforgettable experience that will give each camper memories (and camp traditions) that will last a lifetime. Youth return to school with plenty of camp stories to share!

A leading nonprofit committed to nurturing the potential of youth, the Y has been a leader in providing summer camp for nearly 37 years on the island. Our YMCA continues to give youth an enriching, safe experience with caring staff and volunteers who model positive values that help build their kids’ character.

See the website for more information.

Have a Blessed and Healthy Summer


Lucinda “ Cindy” Love, CEO

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