It seems no matter where you go on Marco Island there are friends waiting! What a wonderful place to vacation, to spend the winter or just to socialize! There is always something happening and friends waiting to greet you.
- The “Islands Town Hall Meeting” went very well, but next year we will have to remember not to have it on Bingo Day. Still we had about 100 people attend. My next Town Hall Meeting will be for the East Naples community and will be held at 6 PM on March 16th at the South Regional Library. Please come by and meet the county staff who will be delighted to meet you and fill you in on all that is going on in their respective departments.
- Remember, next week begins the construction projects on U.S. 41E at Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Lakewood Boulevard, Palm Drive (at the Glades), and Guilford Road (in front of the Naples Towne Center where Lucky’s and the movie theater are located) while the FDOT begins work on upgrading the traffic signals along this busy corridor. No telling why they chose the height of season to do this major work rather than wait another month, but happening it is! Just wanted you to be aware that we will have traffic tie-ups like we cannot imagine! If you can, try avoid these areas. Other connecting roads will also be majorly affected as people try to find other avenues of travel.
- Good news! We keep saying there is a need for more restaurants that people can actually sit down and enjoy a meal in, rather than take-out. Texas Roadhouse is about ready to make an appearance! I received a call from the general manager to say they are planning on opening Monday, March 20th! The good thing is, that will still be during season, so some will get to enjoy this new venue before leaving to go back up north. They have been hiring people, training them, working with chefs and purveyors, and getting ready for the big day. Let’s give them a royal welcome!
- I loved reading in a local column last week about the opening of the new Palumbo’s Pizzeria in the Stock Plaza at Collier Boulevard and Grand Lely Drive because it stated, as we all know, that more dining options are needed badly in this growing, underserved corner of East Naples (which draws from the E.N. area, and Marco Island and Isles of Capri and Golden Gate). I read that Mark & Marjorie Palumbo have been overwhelmed by the response from the area, and even stated that they had to order more pans because they were running out of pizza crusts at night. What a wonderful dilemma to be in – to be so well received immediately. This is a New Jersey style restaurant, with both thin and thick crust pizzas, and many entrees for you to enjoy. People from the Jersey area have already discovered them. I’m heading there next week because I’ve heard such great things about this new restaurant. I’ll get back with news about their food and atmosphere. Meanwhile, Stock Plaza also contains the new Skillets breakfast/lunch restaurant, and they too have been overwhelmed with their reception. I was told by one employee that this new restaurant is selling more than any of their other restaurants. No matter how we tell the commercial real estate people there is so much business awaiting nice restaurants, they don’t seem to encourage better restaurants to come to the area and enjoy the feeding frenzy that awaits them. Hopefully some fine dining establishments will also recognize the need and talk to other highly successful restaurants that have chosen to open in this area. 21 Spices is a great example, as is Eurasia (make sure to call for reservations – they have been discovered!), and Carrabba’s and Outback have not only opened for lunch to accommodate the needs of the area, they have even started HOME DELIVERY! Never before in my life have I ever heard of this chain delivering food, but they just cannot accommodate the rush of people who want to eat out! One thing about serving the growing retiree population is: the wives have cooked their whole life and now they want to eat out, couples can afford to eat out, and they like to stay closer to home – especially during this time of year when it is difficult to travel very far in this heavy traffic. Let’s hope by next year we see a surge in new restaurants realizing their potential in this area.
- Hat’s off to Stan’s in Goodland for always helping organizations raise funds for charitable causes if they can. The East Naples Kiwanis Club needed to raise money to buy materials and supplies for volunteers to sew cancer caps for children – a statewide effort among all Kiwanis clubs in Florida. The E.N. Kiwanis Club wants to distribute them locally to the pediatric oncologists and the local hospitals that work with young cancer patients. Stan’s son, Steve, and Trish, his other half, and Jeff their sidekick, were right there to help and encourage. Skip and Annie Riffle even brought Annie’s sewing machine so people could see how to make the caps and some even tried sewing them. The man who won the first 50/50 was named Kenner and he gave $200 back to the club to help our cause. Thank you Kenner from Boston. His parents live on Marco Island. Our club never spends money on overhead or wages. This is an all-volunteer organization and the money raised goes straight to the purpose of the effort. We departed feeling ever so grateful to the happy people dancing at Stan’s and to the wonderful people who organize the efforts at Stan’s. Thanks so much everyone! You will make a lot of kids happy.
- Speaking of food, there are many events being offered that include food, like the recent Marco Island Lion’s Club’s 23rd annual Pancake Breakfast. They had great attendance and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. This marvelous organization raises funds to support the local eyesight projects for our own people! If you missed it, maybe you can call and offer your help on another project, or even better – go to one of their meetings and participate! They meet on the first Wednesday of every month at the Perkins Restaurant in East Naples in a special section cordoned off for meetings.
- Moose & Mary Jo O’Regan from Ireland, and the Celtic Spirit School of Irish Dance, entertained a happy and engaged audience at the Sons and Daughters of Erin annual Shamrock Dinner and Dance at San Marco Church…and of course they had the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner. (Everything always seems to center around food, doesn’t it?) The entertainment was outstanding and the crowd danced the night away. And who is always at the head of any Irish event going on in Marco Island? Yup – little Kathleen Reynolds! Coming up next! The Marco Island St. Paddy’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 5th at about 1 PM. The streets will be lined with revelers and joyful people. Come on out, bring your lawn chairs and beverages and enjoy a happy day.
- Recently I received a wonderful message from Laurie Harris who volunteers at the Domestic Animal Shelter in East Naples. I was so impressed that I asked her to write about her experience, and I’d like to share that with you now:
Collier County Domestic Animal Services – Best “job” I’ve ever had!
By Laurie Harris
I wanted to volunteer at DAS for a long time but believed for years that I would leave there depressed since I couldn’t do anything to help the animals. Well, I finally decided it was time to find out.
I went to the website, completed the application and shortly thereafter, received an email to set up orientation. It was during this orientation I learned how dedicated the staff and volunteers are to the animals. Now that several months have passed, I have witnessed this dedication and love for the animals over and over again.
I have come to know the staff and they are wonderful. Any time they are approached to help with a “meet & greet” with another dog or if a dog needs immediate attention, the staff is readily available. It is this dedication that reaffirms this is the best “job” I’ve ever had.
Since I would go home each day with another great story, my husband Randy decided it was time for him to volunteer at DAS! So now we are a team making a difference in the life of dogs. Getting them out of their kennels, socializing them, some training and most important – loving them. The love the dogs give us far exceeds the love we give them!
Meeting the public has also brought great joy. It is amazing how much love people have for stray, lost and scared animals. We often received “pup-dates” from adopters with thank you notes.
Being in the shelter I’ve heard people say “I didn’t even know DAS was here” or “I thought this was a kill shelter with un-adoptable animals. Once they are in the shelter, their minds are immediately changed. They remark about the cleanliness of the shelter and the health of the animals – this is a direct result of the amazing dedication of the staff and volunteers.
DAS is a wonderful place that deserves the positive recognition they have earned!
~ Laurie Harris
There you have it! Just as she wrote it.