Thursday, September 24, 2020

Florida & Collier County

COUNTY MOVES FORWARD TO CHALLENGE FDEP CONSENT ORDER ON OIL EXPLORATION BY DAN A. HUGHES COMPANY

(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 CamdenSmith@colliergov.net or by calling (239) 252-8605.

 

COMMISSIONER HENNING ISSUES STATEMENT ON FDEP’S PROPOSED SETTLEMENT TO COUNTY LAWSUIT

(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 MyFWC.com/Get-Involved and select “Citizen Science” then “Sightings” for the Rare Bird Registry link.

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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 www.fortune.com.
For more information about Edward Jones, please contact a Marco Island
area advisor or visit www.edwardjones.com.

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 www.edwardjones.com, and its recruiting website is
www.careers.edwardjones.com. 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 atwww.JustReadFamilies.org. 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 www.immokaleefoundation.org.

LAW OFFICES OF WILLIAM G. MORRIS, P.A. NAMED FUND PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE AND TOP CONTRIBUTOR 2013 FIRM BY ATTORNEYS’ TITLE FUND SERVICES, LLC

 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

  www.thefund.com

 

 

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.

 

DAMERON APPOINTED CHAIR OF BAYSHORE CAPA LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

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 www.bayshorecapa.org or call (239) 775-2800.

 

 IRAQ CONFLICT TRIGGERS RISING GAS PRICES

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.
CURRENT AND PAST PRICE AVERAGES

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 www.marchofdimes.com/florida or www.acog12.org.

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 marchforbabies.org.  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 .

 

COLLIER COUNTY EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES AND FIRE DISTRICTS WORKING TOGETHER TO ENHANCE EMERGENCY SERVICES

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 MyFWC.com/Viewing 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 FloridaPantherNet.org. 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 BuyAPlate.com. 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 FloridaPantherNet.org.

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 McAlpin@colliergov.net.

 

“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: www.silverspotcinema.com.

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

 

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 www.naplesfilmfest.com.

 

COLLIER COUNTY MUSEUMS PRESENTS: FRENCH IN FLORIDA

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 atwww.museumoffloridahistory.com/exhibits/trex/. 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 www.colliermuseums.com 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.

 

STATE APPROVED PURCHASE OF 155 ACRES FOR CONSERVATION

~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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