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Independence Day 2014

USS Constitution. FILE PHOTO

BEYOND THE COAST Tarik Ayasun tayasun@taray.com I am writing this article on July 4, 2014. Today is Independence Day. A very special day when we as Americans commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring our independence from the kingdom of Great Britain, when a number of patriots said “NO” to a king and “YES” to freedom and established a representative Republic. As a naturalized citizen, one of millions who chose to pledge their allegiance to this great country, I am full of pride, happiness and patriotism. Seeing the stars and stripes fly against a perfectly ... Read More »

City to Revamp Farmers’ Market Formula

Bella Maria was among  many food venders who participated in the Marco Island Farmers Market last season. PHOTO BY JAMIE BOZICNIK

By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com What started out as a budget discussion about raising the vendor rates for the Farmers’ Market from $775 per booth to $950 turned into a debate about changing the overall vendor composition of the market, even limiting and excluding certain types of vendors, such as arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, prepared foods and open-air food concessions. At the heart of the discourse during a recent special meeting of City Council were the size of the market and the reported rising concern from local restaurants about the market’s “food court,” where a number of restaurants from ... Read More »

Red Tide ‘Not Present’ — For Now

These ominous blood-red tides are caused by a large accumulation of algae in coastal waters and are especially common along the coast of Florida. While disconcerting, only some are harmful to marine life: these are known as HABs, harmful algal blooms, and can even pose a risk to humans.

By Melinda Gray melinbrya3@yahoo.com This time last year, Marco Island and other Southwest Florida coastal communities were reeling from the negative effects of a prolonged red tide bloom. Reports of the bloom began in December 2012 with Marco Island presenting “very low” to “low” concentrations of red tide, and by mid-February 2013, those concentrations crept up to “medium” status. The 2013-2014 season has been a very different story. Currently, the Collier County Natural Resources Department is reporting that Karenia brevis, or K. brevis — the naturally-occurring dinoflagellate that causes “Florida red tide” — is “not present” in samples of water ... Read More »

Teamwork Works at NCH

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Straight Talk Allen S Weiss, M.D. President & CEO NCH Healthcare System NCH has three primary goals: (1) Improve the quality of care, (2) increase patient safety, and (3) enhance the patient experience. To accomplish these goals requires one thing in particular — shared decision-making from all of our 4,000 colleagues. With an “A” grade on safety for both campuses from Leapfrog, a well-respected national accreditation organization, we must be doing something right in terms of integrating the formidable resources of our entire caregiving team. This team-based model involves those who are closest to patients and families. By being involved ... Read More »

Focus on Utilities Budget

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com Nearly two months after proposing a new — and aggressive — general city budget plan for FY 2015, City Manager Roger Hernstadt and Finance Director Guillermo Polanco were at it again during a special-called Marco Island City Council meeting held on June 19. This time, the Marco Island Utilities budget was under the microscope. The usual scrutiny was given to the Utilities’ perceived “spend-spend-spend” mentality, especially in light of the 7 percent rate hike that took effect on Nov. 1, 2013, and the news that $2 million of the $6.9 million the city received last ... Read More »

A Celebration of Success

Faculty, staff and members of the class of 2014 prepare for the MIA’s first-ever graduation ceremony, which was held at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.

By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com Family, faculty, staff and school board members joined together Friday, May 30, to salute and celebrate the first-ever graduating class of the Marco Island Academy. The ceremony was held in the Capri Ballroom at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort. Among the local dignitaries in attendance were MIA Founder and Chairwoman Jane Watt, former MIA principal George Andreozzi, current Principal Melissa Scott and Marco Island Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff. The ceremony marked the end of a week filled with nervous excitement and anxious anticipation for the 20 students who made up MIA’s class of ... Read More »

Junior Achievement Recognizes IBERIABANK

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IBERIABANK was recently recognized by Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, Inc. for the third year in a row for teaching greatest number of classroom volunteer hours of any company in Southwest Florida. During the 2013-14 school year, 23 bankers from IBERIABANK taught 30 classes in 11 different Southwest Florida schools. The Junior Achievement curriculum is based on financial literacy, business, economics, entrepreneurship and free enterprise. It is estimated than nearly 300 volunteer hours were donated through classroom instruction and lesson preparation by IBERIABANK associates. In addition to IBERIABANK’s overall volunteerism, Junior Achievement named Pete D’Alessandro as their “Rookie Volunteer of ... Read More »

Hodges’ Innovative STEM Programs

Hodges University announced today that it will begin offering STEM programs in a competency-based learning format beginning this fall. Competency-based learning (CBL) is a self-paced, academically rigorous and highly affordable degree completion option especially designed for adult learners and non-traditional students.  Hodges is one of the first four-year institutions in the State of Florida to offer a CBL version of an associate or bachelor’s degree program. Programs to be offered in the new format are an Associate and Bachelor’s in Computer Information Technology and an Associate and Bachelor’s in Digital Design and Graphics. Instead of enrolling in a specific number ... Read More »

Snakes of Big Cypress Swamp

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Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist When I am not at work on Marco Island, I absolutely love giving tours of the Big Cypress Swamp. I mean I really LOVE it!!!! There are several diverse habitats in that area, and they support a wide variety of wildlife. People are positively fascinated to hear the facts about ‘gators, ‘crocs, hawks, eagles, owls…..and snakes. I try to emphasize in my columns that there is an order to things on this planet, all the way down to the smallest ecosystems. Every plant, tree and animal serves a purpose, even the creepy, crawly things. ... Read More »

A closer look at the Marriott’s $1 Million Offer

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com On June 2, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s $150 million renovation plan cleared another hurdle when City Council approved the amendment to the hotel’s planned unit development and master plan by a vote of 4-2. Councilors Amadeo Petricca and Chuck Kiester voted against the measure, and Councilor Joe Batte was not in attendance. The second reading of the PUD amendment will be held Monday, June 16, at 5:30 PM, during the next regular City Council meeting. The approval came after nearly six hours of presentations, impassioned community responses, in-depth discussion and a surprise promise ... Read More »

Approved: 1st Reading of Marriott PUD Amendment

Marco Island city councilors listen to both sides of the Marriott project debate during the June 2 meeting.

By Noelle H. Lowery The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s $150 million renovation plan cleared its first hurdle Monday (June 2) night when City Council approved the amendment to the hotel’s planned unit development and master plan by a vote of 4-2. Councilors Amadeo Petricca and Chuck Kiester voted against the measure, and Councilor Joe Batte was not in attendance. The approval came after nearly six hours of presentations, impassioned community responses, in-depth discussion and a surprise promise from Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff. The hotel’s ownership group will kick in $1 million to expedite the renovation of the Smokehouse ... Read More »

Naomi’s Get Out of Town Cheat Sheet

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FOR THE LOVE OF CATS Naomi & Karina Paape chestergun@comcast.net Dear Fellow Felines:  So my furry friends, it’s that time of year again — the time when our staffs hyper ventilate and reach for their glasses of wine at the Weather Channel’s merest utterance of any or all of the following words/phrases: tropical storm, hurricane watch, category 3,4 or 5 monster storm, cone of danger, predicted path of travel, and target landfall. And thus is launched what can only be described as “hurricane mania,” that heart rate inducing frenzy that compels our staffs (remember, cats have staff, dogs have owners) ... Read More »

Use Those Binoculars!

Facing South, 11PM June 13. Mars will catch up and pass Saturn in a few months. SUBMITTED PHOTO

SOUTHERN SKIES By Mike P. Usher usher34105@earthlink.net Even the slightest optical aid reveals new wonders unseen by the naked eye. The most affordable aid are binoculars; almost any size and model number will work well for you. Binoculars will show you the moons of Jupiter, the crescent phase of Venus, the larger lunar craters, every other planet in the Solar System, all 110 Messier objects (albeit with some difficulty), a number of binary stars and a handful of asteroids. Binoculars are generally the best instrument to use when scanning the vistas of the Milky Way and observing the larger star ... Read More »

‘Normal’ Hurricane Season Ahead

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com June 1 ushers in the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a “near-normal” or “below-normal” season. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.       The reason: the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. According to NOAA experts, El Niño causes stronger wind shear, reducing the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, while also strengthening the trade winds and increasing the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic. These conditions make it more difficult ... Read More »

Letter to the Editor: The Marriott – Frank R. Recker

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As a former Council member and President of the San Marco Residences Association, the commercial/residential building that abuts the Marriott parking lot on the South, I want to express both my personal support, and the support of our Association, for this project.  This is my first public comment on any issue since I left office in November 2012. I have quietly observed the multitude of issues that have confronted Council, from a distance.  It seems as though the present council acts as it should:  attempting to be objective, unbiased, cooperative, thoughtful and deliberative, almost to a fault, and not allowing ... Read More »

Art of the Swamp at Big Cypress

Even during the humid months of summer there is much to see and do at Big Cypress National Preserve. Throughout 2014 we’ll be showcasing stunning works of art from a number of Artists-In-Residence who were inspired by the beauty of America’s first national preserve. The Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center is located at 33000 Tamiami Trail East and the Oasis Visitor Center is at 52105 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141. Both centers are open daily, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Exhibits include, from May through July, “Voices of Big Cypress” a collection of captivating art from a variety of former ... Read More »

City Council Notes

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com The Marco Island City Council got down to business during its May 19 regular meeting hashing out a number of issues, including the purchase of an emergency standy-by generator for its South Water Treatment Plant for $200,000, the award of the $7.625 million contract for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project to Quality Enterprises USA and a detailed discussion on how the city creates its ordinances and resolutions. An Electric Deal Council tackled the generator purchase first, agreeing to include the purchase of the emergency standy-by generator from Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) in its FY2015 ... Read More »

On the Docket: Marriott Ordinance

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com On Monday, June 2, at 5 PM, the Community Room at Marco Island City Complex is sure to be packed with folks anxious to hear the fallout from the first reading and public hearing of the ordinance amending the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s Planned Unit Development, or PUD. Be sure to check CBN’s web site and Facebook page for coverage of the meeting. Many have been waiting for this since last August when Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff appeared before Marco Island’s Planning Board with an informational presentation about the resort’s $150 million proposal ... Read More »

Marriott Launches Web Site

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By Noelle H. Lowery Rick Medwedeff is fighting fire with information and technology. The general manager of the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and his staff have launched a new web site — www.good4marco.com — to help dispel continued rumor and innuendo about the resort’s proposed $150 million renovation project and to provide supporter’s of the project a platform from which to speak. “We want to get rid of some of the mystery,” Medwedeff told a room full of Marco Island media and businesspeople. “As much as there have been efforts on many parts to communicate what this project is all ... Read More »

Pace of Play / Tee it Forward

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Golf Tips Todd Elliott telliott@hideawaybeachclub.org Slow play is contagious. It starts with the professional golfers and ends with casual golfers. Nothing is more frustrating than spending a day waiting on the group in front. This is why the USGA launched an initiative called, “While We’re Young.” This initiative is meant to get your attention and take a stern stance on slow play. Pace of Play at the club level is a sensitive issue. It is difficult for the golf professional to be critical and pull aside members that are slow, and it is harder for members to speak up to ... Read More »