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City Budget Watch

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By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] Since April, Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt has been pounding the pavement to get the word out in the community about his FY2015 budget plan for the city. Call it what you will — the bucket system, pay-as-you-go, debt free program — the five-year plan promises to streamline Marco Island’s general fund finances and get the city out of debt while also planning which projects it will tackle, when it will tackle them and then saving for them. What debt you ask? Well, there is the $150 million in water and sewer debt, the ... Read More »

Flat Out Gorgeous

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ARtful Life Tara O’Neill [email protected] Chances are that if you’re reading this in the paper, you live here year-round, or you are someone revolutionary enough to visit Florida in summer — when the really exotic stuff happens. Yes, it’s hot; it’s buggy; it rains alot. But, the number one complaint among Floridaphiles is that it’s so darn humid. Some days are like breathing through a wet army blanket, but it’s easily worth it to experience the extravagant theater of summer skies. Are you on Facebook? Facebook is flush with South Florida sky photographs, and not just sunrises and sunsets but ... Read More »

2014 Surge Soccer Academy

Marco Island Soccer Club. SUBMITTED photoS

By Coastal Breeze News Staff The Marco Island Soccer Club or Surge as some prefer to call it, was started a few years ago by local soccer proponents who felt it was time to target their focus on this particular sport. The philosophy worked and in its very first year the club came home with trophies from championship games in Orlando. The ability to travel was just one reason the club was formed. Since those days, the club has undergone a number of changes and the sport has continued to grow in popularity. The 2014 fall season of the Surge ... Read More »

Talking Youth Sports with Samantha Morris

U-12 player Jackson O’Shea and Stuart Endres bring down the Tiger football runner.

By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] Since 2008, the Optimist Club of Marco Island has worked to bring out the best in kids by providing them with an opportunity to participate in a variety of sports, including football, cheerleading, basketball, soccer and lacrosse. In August, the club suffered a disappointment when it was forced to cancel its fall youth football season. During previous seasons, the Optimist Club had more than 90 combined registrants for its tackle and flag football programs, and has held various skills and training camps geared towards football throughout the years. According to Samantha Morris, president of the ... Read More »

Dog Days of Summer Look Bright

The Humane Society Naples manned their adoption van on-site. I admit, I was dangerously close to adopting a new kitten.

By Melinda Gray [email protected] On Sat., Aug. 23, Sierra Grande, a brand-new 300-unit resort-style rental community located at 6975 Sierra Club Circle off Collier Boulevard and Rattlesnake-Hammock Road, partnered with the Humane Society Naples for a ribbon-cutting event to “unleash” the community’s newly-built Bark Park. The park is located on community grounds, and provides a place for residents to play with and walk their dogs. “As the area’s first new leasing community in over 10 years, this is really a special celebration for us,” said Property Manager Robin Schmitt. “Sierra Grande offers incomparable luxury amenities, and we are family- and ... Read More »

Back to School with Dr. Jory Westberry

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By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] With three weeks of the 2014-2015 school year under her belt, Dr. Jory Westberry is very pleased. The principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary School and her staff made it through a summer of transitions to welcome 596 students — an average of 17-21 students per class — on the first day of school. Gone are the FCAT and Common Core Standards, and in their place, TBE is implementing the Florida Standard Assessments System and the LAFS and MAFS tests. With the retirement of teachers like Gayle Dunphy, Diane Stone and Debbie Cooper at then end ... Read More »

The Future of Social Security: Safe, Stable, Secure or Uncertain?

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Ask The CFP® Practitioner Darcie Guerin [email protected] “I was too old for a paper route, too young for Social Security and too tired for an affair.” Erma Bombeck, U.S. humorist, 1927-1996)   Question: I’m curious, since I’m planning to retire soon, what is the outlook for Social Security? Answer: You’re in luck, on July 28, 2014, the Social Security Trustees released their annual report providing insight to their financial condition. This is national Social Security awareness week so you’re in good company. Plenty of retirees and pre-retirees are discussing their cash flow needs and income resources. Here are some highlights ... Read More »

How to Avoid Being Swindled – Part Deux

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] This is sort of a part two of an article I wrote a year ago regarding the wonderful world of jewelry scams, as well as some hard knock personal experiences and advice on how to avoid getting bitten by one. Ah! The cruising vacation. It’s the excitement of being on the open seas — sun, fun, food and cocktails. Beware of venders hawking loose precious gemstones and gold chain-by-the-inch, especially if you have had a few. Sure the prices seem cheap because they are. The so-called gems you are purchasing are mostly rejects from ... Read More »

High Praise for NCH Physicians

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Straight Talk Allen S Weiss, M.D. President & CEO NCH Healthcare System Today, I’d like to pay tribute — “give props” for you younger readers — to the 111-strong NCH Physician Group, which has become by far the biggest group practice in Collier County from Bonita to southeast Collier County and Marco Island, and continues to grow in multiple ways. Last year, 17 physicians joined Chief Administrative Officer Zach Bostock, ably helped by Administrative Director Pat Read, Administrative Assistant Lindsey Shanks and the team. With two months to go in our financial year, another 16 physicians have been added, and ... Read More »

Just Horsing Around

Facing east, 11 PM Sept. 5. The Andromeda Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the northern sky surpassed only by the  Magellanic Clouds of the extreme south (not visible from Florida). SUBMITTED PHOTO

SOUTHERN SKIES By Mike P. Usher [email protected] Tonight, the eastern sky is dominated by the Great Square of Pegasus (the winged horse). The square forms the body of the horse while fainter stars form the neck and forelegs. The fairly bright, slightly orange star of Enif marks the muzzle. The asterism of the square is really quite easy to spot. If you don’t see it at first, think large; each side of the square is about 15 degrees on a side, so the entire asterism covers a big chunk of sky. An interesting test of the quality of your sky ... Read More »

And the Doughnuts Go Rolling Along

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By Carol Glassman I am so distraught! While checking on my AARP account this week, I learned from the young-sounding woman on the phone about all the wonderful deals and offers, most of which I had missed. Are you like me, weighed down by a two-inch stack of frequent buyer and discount cards for various stores and organizations? When I check into a motel, it’s all I can do to remember my name and license number and ask for a smoke-free room — how can I remember to ask for AAA, Senior and AARP rates too? But here’s the real ... Read More »

Sensational Sharks: Important Part of the Marine Environment

Bull sharks. SUBMITTED PHOTO

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] If you haven’t heard, its Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week — a week of pseudo-science and, sometimes hilarious, propaganda. Since 1988 — yes for 26 years and making it one of the longest running cable television series — this annual week of television programs on the Discovery Channel has evolved from educational programs that raised awareness of shark population decline and the importance they have in the oceans’ ecosystems to fictitious stories and ludicrous accounts of mega sharks in the waters throughout the world. Entertainment has trumped science, which does not bode well for ... Read More »

Succulents in South Florida

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PLANT TALK Mike Malloy [email protected] The average rain fall in South Florida is about 60 inches a year, amazing especially when it mostly arrives in just a few months of the year during our rainy season which runs from June to September. This has not stopped South Florida gardeners from creating cactus, agave and succulent gardens. The interest in these plants are on the rise in the past few years as water prices have increased and water restrictions have been implemented. Usually succulents and cacti are found in hot and sunny locations with poor soil conditions. Well, we have all ... Read More »

Getting Your Goat

Facing Southeast, 11PM August 22nd. The bright star Fomalhaut is a relatively close neighbor of the Sun and seems to have a planetary system around it.  SUBMITTED PHOTO

SOUTHERN SKIES By Mike P. Usher [email protected] Capricornus, the goat, is the second faintest constellation in the zodiac after Cancer, but it is rather easier to pick out than its near neighbor Aquarius. Capricornus is framed by several modestly close pairs of stars which are quite noticeable once initially located. This constellation is usually referred to as a goat, but classic drawings of Capricornus show a sort of hybrid creature with goat forequarters and a fishlike tail. This makes Capricornus a member of “the sea” — a term covering a large patch of sky which contains constellations with a water ... Read More »

w17¢ Goes a Long Way

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by Carol Glassman This is so pathetic it can only be true. A few weeks ago an elderly friend from out-of-state entertained me with a surrealistic tale of horror involving a co-op utility company to which she is attached — not having a choice. She was widowed eight years ago, but had always looked after family finances and paying the bills, quite proud of being able to handle the simple transactions online. A month ago, she received a taped phone call from the utility company telling her the bill was overdue and if not paid within one day, her service ... Read More »

PRAC Tackles Farmers’ Market Issue

File Photo.

By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] It was a scene unfamiliar to the members of Marco Island’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Twenty community members attended the committee’s special workshop Aug. 5 focused on the future of the Farmers’ Market. These 20 individuals were all market vendors. In attendance representing city staff were City Manager Roger Hernstadt, the city’s Recreation Facilities Manager and Farmers’ Market Manager Alex Gliana and Community Events Coordinator Samantha Malloy. Sandi Reidemann and Jacquie Koon of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce were present. The workshop came on the heels of rising concern over suggested changes ... Read More »

City Council Approves Lobbyist

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By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] During the 2014 legislative session, Florida lawmakers had a $1.2 billion budget surplus to dole out to pet projects in their districts. Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt and the City Council are betting this was not an anomaly. “This year, the Legislature had extra money and went on a buying spree,” explained Hernstatd. “(Marco Island) was not in the game. I don’t know how long this environment will last, but I felt it was worth the council’s consideration to see if they want to get into the game.” To that end, councilors voted 5-1 ... Read More »

Fiddler’s Creek

Fiddler’s Creek announced that homebuilder Taylor Morrison has opened two model homes with additional models planned in two villages within the luxury, master-planned community. The Farnese VII is a one-story residence, offering 2,100 air-conditioned square feet and 2,889 total square feet. The home features two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and a den situated around a great room with adjoining kitchen and breakfast nook. The Farnese VII also provides a screen covered lanai with an optional covered outdoor living plan and two-car garage with an optional tandem third-car garage. The Farnese VII is currently priced from $419,900, plus lot premium. The Lazio ... Read More »

Going Fishing? Prepare for Success!

Make certain you have a net ready to bring in your catch. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

LADY ANGLERS Captain Mary A. Fink islandgirlscharters.com South Florida summers are steamy and hot and full of afternoon and evening thunderstorms of varying degrees of intensity, so good preparation and weather awareness is a must for a safe and successful day on the water. It’s often best to plan to leave early in the morning while the air temperatures are still pleasant and the threat of storms is lower than it is during the hot, afternoon hours. Be sure to take along adequate rain gear, should you find yourself caught in a storm. A protective hat, sunscreen, lip balm and ... Read More »

Mid-Season Sea Turtle Update

A sea turtle hatchling swims to the water at Guana Tolomato Mantanzas Research Reserve. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY THE DEP

By Noelle H. Lowery [email protected] For the last three months, Mary Kelly Nelson has been busy combing the beaches of Marco Island searching for evidence of Loggerhead sea turtle nests for Collier County’s Natural Resources Department. She has not been disappointed. Thus far, Nelson has found 68 turtle nests on Marco’s shore, down from 87 during the same time period last year. Even so, false crawls — tracks or other signs left in the sand by a sea turtle who has abandoned its attempt to nest — are down from 156 at this time last year to 97 this year. ... Read More »