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City Council Update

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 3:34pm

By Steve “Stef” Stefanides

For members of the Marco Island City Council the evening was somewhat uncomfortable as a number of residents came forward to question their decisions on circumstances surrounding the departure of City Manager Roger Hernstadt. At the February 6th meeting of council, Hernstadt’s letter of resignation was read into the record by City Attorney Alan Gabriel. That resignation was to be effective July 7, 2017 as per the stipulations of the contract between the city and Hernstadt.

Hernstadt did however agree to acquiesce to an immediate departure if the council considered that to be in their interest. Council would accept Hernstadt’s resignation and opt for the immediate departure option.

That immediate departure would have still required the city to pay the former manager as called for in his contract under the provisions for notice and severance clauses. As part of that early departure option that Hernstadt had offered to the city he would have received his pay and benefit package through July 7th and he further requested that council cover his benefit package for insurance until the end of the year in addition to retaining his Apple iPad. In consideration of that he would remain available through the end of the year to be consulted with on city business.

Even before the discussions regarding the severance agreement several residents came forward to voice their displeasure with the council’s treatment of Hernstadt during the citizens comment portion of the meeting.

Ray McChesney came forward to remind councilors of their commitments to the public during the election and referred to those that voted to oust Hernstadt as the “Gang of 5,” as he expressed anger and frustration with their actions.

Tom Fisher came forward to complain regarding the manner in which council had chosen to proceed regarding the Hernstadt issue. “Four councilors ran for office as a slate to bring transparency, sunshine and openness to the council.  To step out of the shadows, a fresh start and a professional and effective government. The gag order of February 6 goes against any of your campaign promises. I now have second thoughts regarding the integrity of our city council,” said Fisher as he closed his remarks.

Kathleen Reynolds would also join with others at the podium to compliment Hernstadt and chastise councilors for their unwillingness to work with the former city manager.

It would be David Rice, well known city activist, Chairman of the City’s Big Flag Ad-Hoc Committee and longtime resident that would come forward in very a very somber tone to reflect on the events surrounding Hernstadt and speak to his conversations with one of the newly elected councilors over coffee during the election. “When I asked a direct question regarding the city manager and some disconcerting rumors I had heard he told me he could work with anyone. Well, you don’t get rid of someone within a couple of weeks,” said Rice.

Rice went on to relate an experience where he was in the presence of another successful candidate who was speaking about the city manager during the election. “This individual stated one of the first things they wanted to do was get rid of the manager and possibly the Chief of Police,” said Rice.

“From being a college football coach and athletic director I’ve learned from those experiences about fair play. I find this unsettling in the areas of fair play. Unfortunately I am going to resign as Chairman of the Big Flag Committee.  I cannot work with those I do not trust. I do not trust the city council and the truth is all that matters to me,” said Rice.

Hernstadt did have his detractors which came forward such as John Arceri who resides at the Esplanade and spoke of his displeasure with how Hernstadt had handled the issues concerning the construction of the new Smokehouse Bay Bridge and the impact on their development.  He would also question Hernstadt’s involvement in the Small Brothers proposal to build a hotel at the corner of Park Avenue and Elkcam Circle.

Tony Jessen, a property owner on Dorando Court would come forward to complain about Hernstadt’s inaction against a local plumbing contractor who had done work at her residence prior to Hernstadt’s arrival as city manager.  She has made frequent appearances before council over the last several years seeking redress.

SEPERATION AGREEMENT

After the somewhat contentious public comment surrounding the Hernstadt departure, council would turn their attention to the formal separation agreement which would prove to be a difficult task and in the end would fail to gain the support necessary for passage.

It would seem council would stumble over relatively minor issues concerning the final document and would now have the entire issue referred back to the city attorney, who would work with Vice Chairman Jared Grifoni to have a suitable document brought back before council for ratification.

Hernstadt had earlier signed off on the agreement as presented to council on Tuesday evening which would have amounted to a total of $115,946.57. That payout would not have been necessary had council chosen to let Hernstadt work out his time until July 7th of this year, instead they chose to accept his resignation immediately.

It is unclear when that document will be brought back before council for approval or whether it will have to be approved first by Mr. Hernstadt.

 

Smiles and Tears as Chaudhry Departs

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 7:05pm

By Steve “Stef” Stefanides

For Mac Chaudhry the day had to be bittersweet last Sunday. The longtime manager of the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa would gaze out amongst 150-200 family, friends and co-workers who would assemble in the newly renovated dining facility to wish him well as he moves on to the next chapter in his life.

The entire facility has undergone a $40 million dollar renovation and update, which Chaudhry had overseen in the last six months.

Chaudhry literally started his 28 year career at the bottom rung of hotel management and worked himself up to be one of the most respected and liked professionals within the Collier County hospitality industry.

He started his career in 1988 as an assistant front office manager and worked his way up the management ladder. He left for a short stint to assume responsibilities as the general manager for the Marriott Courtyard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but returned in 2000 to assume the responsibilities as the general manager at the Hilton Resort on Marco.

“When I first heard that Mac would be stepping aside I was devastated,” said Alex Parker, the president of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce. “He has really been a great asset to the island as a whole and his presence will be missed both as a professional and a friend,” said Parker.

“When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, it was Chaudhry and his staff who stepped up to organize a one-day fundraiser within the community that centered on the Hilton property. They raised over $35,000 in that one day to aid victims of that disaster,” said Cindy Love, the executive director of the Greater Marco YMCA.

Jack Wert, the executive director for the Naples/Everglades/Marco Island Convention and Visitors Bureau was also on hand to compliment Chaudhry on his contributions to the Collier County business community, as was County Commissioner Donna Fiala and former State Senator Garret Richter and his wife.

When Andrea Olshan, CEO of Olshan Properties addressed the hushed crowd she would speak of her family’s admiration and love for Chaudhry and his accomplishments regarding the crown jewel of the Olshan Hotel holdings. Her father, the man behind the Olshan name, would quietly sit and nod his head in agreement as his daughter praised the work ethic and professionalism of Chaudhry.

Mort Olshan, who founded Olshan Properties in 1959 and built it into a major real estate investment and management company, also praised the work done by Chaudhry and spoke of the close relationship that their two families shared.

Chaudhry addressed the gathering and thanked them for being his “extended family.” He expressed appreciation of the many friendships and relationships he had acquired during his 28-year history on the island. “I couldn’t have done this without all of you, and for that I’ll always be grateful, said Chaudhry.

He also praised the Olshan family and their friendship, and thanked them for the opportunities they provided to him during his tenure.

The signature smile that would be a trademark of Chaudhry during his career was on display the entire afternoon, as he bounced from guest to guest to thank them for coming, while recalling a story or two as they chatted.

Chaudhry and his wife Qudsia will be relocating to Orlando, joining their children, Areeb and Areesa who attend college there, and begin to write the next chapter in their lives together. However, Chaudhry did drop a hint or two that the island may not have seen the last of them and he wouldn’t rule anything out in the future, once their children have graduated.

Crime Rate Down on Marco Island

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 7:02pm

Submitted 

On February 9, 2017, Marco Island Police Chief Al Schettino announced a significant and continued reduction in crime, as measured by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program.

The FBI’s UCR program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies with a primary objective to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration, criminologists, sociologists, legislators, and the media. “Part I” offense classifications included the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

The Marco Island Police Department investigated 96 index crimes in 2016. This is the lowest number of index crimes reported on Marco Island since the inception of the department in 2000.

When comparing 2000 to 2016, a 76% reduction of crime is observed. When contrasting the prior year’s (2015) 148 index crimes, Marco Island noted a 35% decrease. More specifically when comparing 2015 to 2016, violent crimes have declined 83.5%, while property crimes have been reduced 31.7%. No violent or property type crime measured by the UCR increased in 2016.

While the prevention and investigation of all crimes are important, it is universally held that crimes against persons are a priority for law enforcement agencies nationwide. In 2016, simple assaults decreased 24%, while aggravated assaults decreased 87.5%. Of special note, total domestic violence related offenses decreased 37.9% over the past year.

Arrests for all offenses combined increased 27.5% in 2016, as did the department’s clearance rate for index crimes, which improved 11%. Finally, the community experienced a significant reduction in the value of property stolen from just under one million dollars in 2015, to nearly $250K in 2016.

Chief Schettino stated that the continuing reduction in crime was the direct result of the notable efforts of the men and women of the Marco Island Police Department, to include its important partnerships with the community, and our local, county, state and federal partners. The officers and staff of the Marco Island Police Department recognize that the prevention of crime provides the best measure of a department’s effectiveness and has a correlation to maintaining as well as improving the quality of life for those that work, live, and learn on, as well as visit our island paradise.

Building Official Resigns

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:58pm

By Don Manley

Joseph Berko has resigned as the City of Marco Island’s chief building official, effective Friday, February 3. Raul Perez has been appointed interim chief building official for the city’s Building Services Department, in his stead.

Berko had held the post for about the last year. Prior to coming to Marco, he had spent almost seven years as the deputy building official for the City of Naples and also owned a private firm.

Super Bowl V Returns

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:51pm

By Samantha Husted

Despite construction and limited parking, hundreds came out to Mackle Park to participate in the annual Souper Bowl event.

The Souper Bowl, now in its fifth year, is a Marco Island Chamber of Commerce organized event. Traditionally the Souper Bowl takes place the Saturday before the actual Super Bowl, an event that is notably lacking in soup.

Though the Marco Island Souper Bowl did not include a performance by Lady Gaga, hundreds came out to sample the soups that were provided by nine local restaurants. Among the crowd were city councilors, firefighters, police officers and other notable community officials.

“The participation from the community in general is just phenomenal,” said Marco Island Chamber of Commerce President Alex Parker III. “So much of this money goes right back to the high school students in the area.”

The event benefits the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund. Each year a handful of local high school students are rewarded the scholarship based on their academic merits. In 2016 Leadership Marco presented eight students with a combined $20,000.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than having our businesses, our schools, and having our community out here to support this event all for the good of scholarships for our Marco Island kids,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm.

Over 1,000 glazed ceramic bowls sat glistening in the sun outside of the Mackle Park playground. Event goers perused the tables, picking up bowls and setting them down until they found the right one.

“It looks like a Monet painting to me,” said Pat Blanco of her bowl. Pat is a visitor to the island and the Souper Bowl.

Every year local Tommie Barfield Elementary School (TBE) students are tasked with painting the bowls. Students from each grade are given total creative control. The result? Vibrant bowls in surprising hues, scrawled signatures, and attempted but not quite accomplished symmetry. Bowls that look like Monet paintings and bowls that you’re not sure what to make of, but appreciate the effort.

After participants picked their bowls, they made their way to the Mackle Park airnasium, where nine local restaurants were set up. New this year was seafood restaurant Pinchers, with their signature crab and corn chowder.

“We heard about this through the Chamber. They knew that we were new to the island, so we thought we’d give it a try!” said Jarrod Cain of Pinchers.

Also new to the event and the island was Maia, the JW Marriott’s newest eatery. For the Souper Bowl, Maia provided a kale and quinoa minestrone. They also passed out small cards with the recipe and instructions so that participants could make the soup themselves.

Petit Soleil, on the other hand, has been participating in the Souper Bowl since it’s inception five years ago.

“It’s a great community event. Everyone loves it, it’s a beautiful day, what more could you ask for?” said Lisa Meurgue of Petit Soleil and Bistro Soleil.

The Petit Soleil crew always brings cream of wild mushroom soup to the event, and with good reason. The creamy soup, topped with fried onions, is a favorite among Souper Bowl goers. Their booth always had a line.

After all the soup had been consumed, participants left feeling full and ready for the big game the following day.

For more information on the Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund contact 239-394-7549.

Not Our Finest Hour

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:43pm

More Straight Talk 

Steve “Stef” Stefanides
[email protected]

For those that have followed the political landscape on Marco Island during the last six months, the events leading up to the resignation of City Manager Roger Hernstadt should not have come as a surprise.

Hernstadt was not the favorite of the slate of four who swept to victory on November 8th, and it was no secret that his job was in jeopardy, regardless of the headway he had made during his three years holding that position.

Both he and his wife Jessica were a breath of fresh air, as they engaged with the community and became embedded within many of the activities in and around the island during their tenure here. They could be seen out in the community supporting the many charities and organizations which are part of the fabric of our island and are well thought of.

Hernstadt immediately initiated an open-door policy for those with a problem and was always available for the general public; all you had to do is call and make an appointment and he would listen to your thoughts, complaints and suggestions.

He inherited an organization in disarray and attempted to bring order and start to rebuild a management team that would best serve the citizens of the community. His style may have irked a few that were used to getting their own way, as he believed in a level playing field for all.

As a city we showed how shortsighted we were when we experimented with a disastrous rewrite of the requirements for parking for commercial properties. This allowed restaurants to expand seating without regard to the necessity for adequate parking. Both the last council and Hernstadt were tasked with fixing a problem not of their creation, but suffered the wrath of those being impacted.

He inherited a police department that was hemorrhaging personnel due to a malaise within the organization. He took the necessary steps to begin to stop the flight of talent and placed an experienced and well respected professional at the helm from within the ranks. There is still work to be done, but the department is headed in the right direction.

Marco Island will soon be one of very few municipalities within the State of Florida which will be debt free of pension liabilities under the guidance of Hernstadt and his team. Marco residents can be proud of that accomplishment and might only look to other cities to compare their situations regarding unfunded liabilities.

He also inherited a crushing debt service being carried by the Marco Island Utility Department, (water and sewer) and has worked diligently to pay down some of that debt and renegotiated other debt to save millions of dollars for the ratepayer in the long run.

We know now that we purchased a utility that was overpriced for the condition of the infrastructure that went along with it, and the ratepayers have suffered the consequences of staggering water/sewer bills.

Because of the now well known “bucket plan” instituted by Hernstadt, we can now move forward without looking to assume debt for the recurring capital needs of the community in a planned and professional manner. That may all change now, as new philosophies may be instituted by council.

That plan has also allowed us to pay cash for the new Mackle Park Community Center, which is presently under construction and will be a major asset to the community for young and old alike.

I wish he had had more time to make the necessary operational modifications within the Growth Management and the Building Services Departments. Both are still in need of better and more timely responsiveness. This should be an immediate focus by whomever this council chooses as a new manager. Those employees work hard within those departments, but the time is upon us to make those long overdue improvements and adjustments to the processes being utilized.

The City Manager and the City Attorney are the only two employees reporting directly to the City Council. I would have preferred that the four new councilors had worked for a year to see if they could have accommodated each other in a professional way. That common-sense solution by Councilors Batte and Brown unfortunately failed though.

Over the three years I’ve known Roger Hernstadt I’ve come to respect and admire his professionalism and I’m proud to call him a friend, even though we may agree to disagree on some issues. He has been a friend to this community, its organizations, businesses and its residents. We owe he and his wife Jessica our thanks and admiration for a job well done and wish them both well in life; you’ll be missed my friends.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email [email protected]

Open Letter to Mr. Roger Hernstadt

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:39pm

Dear Mr. Hernstadt:

I am very sorry to hear of your resignation as Marco Island’s City Manager.

It is regrettable that some of our councilors failed to set aside emotions and find a civil, constructive, businesslike manner in which to work with you on their issues of concern. It was the hope of many citizens that these issues would be resolved by councilors working with you using civil communication and with a “Let’s roll up our shirt sleeves and constructively work together” attitude. We are truly saddened that did not happen.

I wish to sincerely thank you for:

  • Always having an open door policy for all citizens and councilors.
  • Embracing Marco Island by participating in 99% of our community and fundraising events. You have cooked countless hot dogs, burgers and pancakes to benefit others.
  • Generously donating your personal money for many good causes on Marco Island.
  • Saving us taxpayers a ton of money by instituting the Bucket Plan to fund current city building assets, replace vehicles, road resurfacing and drainage projects, and $3.5 million for replacement of the dilapidated Mackle Park Community Center.
  • Negotiating the police and fire pensions saving taxpayers millions over the life of current and future contracts.
  • Hiring the State Lobbyist who obtained $2.5 million plus for Marco Island, and hopefully, will obtain another $1.5 million in applications currently under review.
  • Last but not least, I thank you for bringing into our lives, your wife Jessica, a lovely lady who also wholeheartedly embraced our community.

You will be missed. I wish both of you good health, good luck, and much happiness. As we say in our church, “Peace be with you.”

Linda Turner
Marco Island

City Manager Resignation

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:37pm

Dear Citizens of Marco Island:

Congratulations on getting the best City Manager we have ever had to resign. The man who finally got our bucket plan together is out. I truly wish Roger Hernstadt the best. The citizens, who voted for the slate of four, do not deserve a man with his talent and commitment. Now it is time for a new whipping boy to appear and I wonder whom, these negative wonders that you voted in, will now hunt down next? Our Police Chief? The Fire-Rescue Chief? Or possibly, the Interim City Manager? I fear for these very competent individuals and what will happen to them. You can bet the “old boys “ from the STRP era will return with a vengeance with their personal agenda groups. Get ready for more of their same old story. Say goodbye to a sensible budget.

Thank goodness the outdated bridge and Mackle Park Community Center issues have been resolved. The new $3.5 million Mackle Park Community Center is being built today and will be paid for from the Bucket Plan, thanks to Mr. Hernstadt.

Do you wonder what the fate will be for the COPCN (ambulance service)? Are we, the taxpaying citizens, not worth the cost to have the very best available and quickest emergency response service at our disposal if an emergency arises? I guess, we can always move to Naples to get better and faster life saving emergency medical service. Should we have to consider that?

I guess it is more important to get a hotel built without any of the benefits that could have made our park more user-friendly for all citizens of this community to enjoy. I guess we should continue to pay for a multi-million dollar site that is used 44 days a year for a Farmers Market, Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, and the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The citizens have said they want a community park with shade trees and a band shell building with decent bathrooms making the park more usable year round. This would cost each family approximately $6.50 per year. Are citizens too financially overburdened to pay $6.50 a year for these amenities? Could the Councilor who lives behind the park want to stall park improvements as long as he can? mm…. I wonder if he will move before a Hotel or possibly a band shell built?

We have missed out on a golden opportunity to develop this island to its’ fullest potential for ALL citizens by loosing an optimistic, devoted City Manager. We have allowed him to be insulted and attacked at almost every City Council Meeting. We have closed our eyes and ears to the consequences of voting for a block instead of individuals. We have allowed vicious, character assignation letters to infect our voters. Many of us are guilty of doing just that. We have voted in a slate rather than chose individuals who have worked hard to energize our city for all young and old alike. What happens next? What new vibrant, experienced professional city manager will want to come to this city? Is it possible someone in the slate of four has an “old crony” waiting in the wings? Who knows?

As they say, be careful what you wish for. It may come back to haunt you!

Suzanne Piro
Marco Island

Slate Not True Voice

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:36pm

As many of you know by now, Roger Hernstadt, our City Manager, has resigned last night at City Council meeting.

If you voted for the “Slate” of Jared Grifoni, Howard Reed, and Charlotte Roman, and wanted the City Manager gone, you got what you wanted.

If you are unconcerned or uninformed citizens that voted for the “Slate,” then you got what you deserve.

If you are part of the concerned citizens that fought the good fight to keep the “Slate” out of office, but lost, now you have just lost the best City Manager that Marco Island has ever had.

Sorry to say, but this is not the only person they want to remove. Next on their list will be the Police Chief and the Fire Chief. Don’t let this happen.

Rise up in arms to stop this City Council from tearing down this City. Scrutinize everything these councilors say or do. Don’t let these Councilors impose their will on our City. Fight back in every way possible. Attend every City Council meeting and Advisory Committee meeting that you can. Speak up whenever you can and make your opinion heard. The “Slate” does not represent the true voice of Marco Island.

Gene Burson
Marco Island

Contrasting Thoughts

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:33pm

It’s disappointing to read comments of respected Marco Islanders imitating attitudes of losers in our recent presidential elections. When accusations are spewed against Marco’s new councilors, without a speck of supporting evidence, it’s reminiscent of the senseless actions taken against our new President for no proven reason other than that he was elected.

Some Marcoites wail over City Manager Hernstadt’s resignation, leveling the blame on the new councilors, but offering no proof. Others incredibly urge the city to “rise up in arms to stop this City Council…” Yes, honest! Others forewarn ominously that our Fire and/or Police Chief might be the next victims “hunted down” while still another feels it’s OK if a city manager signs the city unto a multi-million dollar development application without authorization.

Here are some contrasting thoughts regarding the city manager’s resignation: Roger Hernstadt certainly numbers among Marco’s better city managers. Much of his performance in office was indeed admirable. However, I wouldn’t regard him as irreplaceable. His letter of resignation cited only vague reasons for his departure. It should have been presented personally at the council meeting, not in absentia by the City Attorney. Hernstadt was being paid to attend. Additionally, Hernstadt chose to leave office immediately, ignoring his contractual obligation to give 45-day notice of resignation. Although quitting immediately, Roger wants to be paid for the next five months, until 07 July, 2017.

Apparently, Mr. Hernstadt’s “love and devotion” towards Marco ranks right up there with his loyalty to former employers Miami and Marathon. He leaves when something better comes along. Accordingly, please do save the rocks being thrown to city council for when they’re deserved.

Russ Colombo
Marco Island

My Surreal Encounter With Angels

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:32pm

This is weird. I no longer trust boat trailers and I think of mangroves as angels. Actually I’ve never thought much about either one. After all, here in Southwest Florida, we see boat trailers all the time. And we take care of our mangroves but we take them for granted.

Now my thinking is completely different.

About eight o’clock one sunny morning, I was travelling on Hwy 92 — you know, that road with water on both sides — towards Hwy 41. Coming the other way was a truck hauling a boat on a four-wheel trailer. Just as we passed each other a wheel from the boat trailer came off careening toward me and slammed my car on front left side. BAM!!! A sudden loud impact. Oh no! This can’t be happening!

Air bags deployed, car locked up and glided with no steering off the road into a heavy stand of mangroves. Those tall thick mangroves were my first angels and shielded me from going into the water. I had no control over the car. God did.

So God and I came to a full stop. BMW called immediately and said they were calling 911. Airbags and smoke obscured my view. I was so thankful I didn’t land in the water, but I thought the car was on fire and that maybe no one would find me. I remained calm, but knew I had to get out. Neither seat belt nor door would open. But that turned out to be just some sort of delay factor. After what seemed like far too long, I did open the door and standing right there ready to help me was an angel in the form of a compassionate man. He took me in his arms and comforted me. The most amazing surprise and relief I have ever felt. Where did he come from?

Out of the car now, this amazing man and I realized I had no injuries except for a nasty bruise on one leg. I was and still am emotionally shaken, but God had made sure I was physically ok. Surreal.

The Marco Battalion Chief, Collier County rescue workers and East Naples Police all came to the scene quickly. I called my husband of almost 53 years who arrived even more quickly. He was an angel and great comfort to me. Meanwhile my amazing anonymous angel and his angel wife watching over me explained that airbags have powder when they deploy so my car was not on fire. Whew! God sent them I am convinced.

Everyone who was there were wonderful to me and I thank all of them. I kept my composure until a close friend from Goodland stopped after noticing the accident. I broke down in tears as we hugged and hugged. She and her husband are both good friends. And friends can be angels too.

I am overwhelmed and on the verge of tears when I think about all the angels who took care of me that day. The whole experience was surreal and I am not over it yet. One thing I know about myself is that in difficult circumstances I do remain calm, but the minute someone does something nice for me, I break down and let it all out.

It’s important to let whatever it is out though. It helps with healing. But after this surreal encounter with angels I will never be the same and I will always endeavor to be compassionate to others. Even people with rusty boat trailers.

Joanie Fuller
Goodland

Town Hall Meeting

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:30pm

COASTAL COMMENTS

Donna Fiala

Please mark your calendar for our Marco Town Hall Gathering, which will be held on Thursday, February 23 at 6 PM in the Rose Hall Auditorium on the Museum property. Come early so you can see the newest attraction: “The Pioneer Cabin,” the newest exhibit to be added to this wonderful museum. Each exhibit seems to get better and better. They also found a unique way to display the “Windows & Doors” of the past by taking actual paintings from top artists in our area and having them imprinted on aluminum. The Town Hall gathering starts at 6 PM and will probably end by 7:30 PM. The Town Hall will begin with my introduction of the County Manager Leo Ochs. Then we will focus on ways the county and the city work together for the benefit of the residents and taxpayers of the area, which will feature staff members each talking about their area of expertise, such as the county beaches, the museum, the library, solid waste (garbage) pickup, Marco Island Airport expansion, and a general overview of the growth in the area leading up to Marco Island. Please join us.

• It is with great sadness we say goodbye to another star of Marco Island, Mac Chaudhry, the general manager of the Marco Hilton. This man never said an unkind word to anyone or about anyone, and his staff absolutely loved him. So did everyone who knew him on Marco Island. I think I was one of his greatest fans! He and his lovely wife, Chris, have been an integral part of life on Marco Island, and have always been generous to all the charitable organizations that needed help. His kids are marvelous kids who have gone through school here and are now in college in Orlando, so the parents want to follow them. They have such a close family unit and it is beautiful to be around them! Mac, you will always be thought of in the highest esteem. We will miss you, my friend.

• The Kiwanis Car Show is coming up quickly! This is one of the greatest car shows in the area! There will be over 200 cars displayed at their finest, while the owners look on proudly. All cars are welcome to display until they run out of room and there is no charge to bring your car in to display. People who want to see these marvelous cars will pay $5 at the “door” and can stay all day if they’d like because there will be hot dogs and hamburgers cooking on the huge grill, as only these Kiwanians can do, plus popcorn, chips, beer and wine. Our resident DJ Steve will be there to spin the tunes for us, and you’ll meet many of your friends from the island and around the corner. Usually the Italian/American Club has a booth of delectable bakeries you may purchase if you’d like (and we all like!). Remember, Sunday, February 19th from 10 AM to 3 PM at the parking lot of NCH Healthcare Facility on Heathwood Drive. There will be everything there from antique cars, to sports cars, race cars, premier luxury vehicles, exotic cars, and so much more. As yet though, I’ve never found a horse and buggy displayed. They’re transportation too, right?

• Speaking of horse and buggy, I hope some of you got to meet a few of my Amish friends last week while they were in town. I took them to Residents Beach for the life jacket presentation. They loved Marco Island!

• Doug Johnson is a resident of Marco Island and also an officer in the Marco Island Coast Guard Auxiliary. But on the side he has a little hobby working with wood, and a grandson who idealizes his grandpa and thinks he can do anything in the world, and Doug would never want to let him down. This 7-year-old grandson asked him to make him a chess set. Now grandpa gently explained he didn’t know how to make one, to which the grandson replied “but Grandpa, you can do anything!” That was it for Doug. He wasn’t going to let that little guy down, so now came the challenge of finding out he didn’t have the right tools, so he’d need to buy some new items, and he needed the instructions, so he’d have to get a CD to show him how to do it, and then he would need to communicate with this little guy every day because the boy wanted to see his progress daily. Doug’s wife, Marie, thought this needed to be recorded, so she started taking pictures and every day she would note what took place. It took Doug three months, working a little every day, to complete the set, but you should see it! Marie put all of her notes in beautiful form and had them made into a professional looking book with dates, pictures, etc. The love in those pages filled the room! It made me tear up to see what lovely grandparents Doug and Marie are.

Grace Place Launches West Side Challenge

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:26pm

By Maureen Chodaba

Barbara Wilson (left) and Barbara Evans show off the students’ gardening project.

Grace can be defined as a state of regeneration and betterment bestowed with divine assistance upon those in need. Grace Place for Children and Families is a place where this bestowal of blessings can be witnessed on a daily basis. Started in 2004, this non-profit education center in Golden Gate is dedicated to putting faith into action to provide pathways out of poverty for children and their families. Although it is a faith-based organization partially housed in a former Methodist Church, Grace Place is completely non-denominational and does not proselytize. Nationally recognized by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, Grace Place currently enrolls over 800 people with programs for early childhood, school age, and adult education. In addition, over 250 families are supported through the Friday Food Pantry each week. Grace Place provides these services, not through “handouts,” but by helping others to learn to help themselves and to give back in return.

The west side of this five-acre campus is currently under new construction and expansion in efforts to support more people, more efficiently and more effectively. A very generous Marco Island family, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered $875,000 in a matching gift “West Side Challenge” for the completion of the new buildings.

Tim Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer of Grace Place said, “The West Side Challenge is not just about completing the buildings. It’s about supporting our children and families. Thirty-five percent of Grace Place families have less than a fifth grade education. We work with the parents and integrate them into the learning. Children taught at Grace Place at an early age gain social skills, achieve better grades when they attend school and have fewer behavioral problems.” Ferguson went on to say “Computer literacy helps our adult education students find employment and advance their careers. Grace Place is a cradle to career model that helps break the chains of poverty through a multi-generational comprehensive program.”

To fully understand the challenges, mission and vision of Grace Place, one must learn a bit about the people of Golden Gate. This community has the highest density of children at risk and most underserved in all of Collier County. For 99% of the students, English is not the primary language spoken at home. Ninety percent of the school age children are from households identified as “economically needy.” Sixty-three percent of the elementary students read below their grade level.

Keep in mind that Golden Gate is located a mere 15 miles from Marco Island.

Barbara Evans, Chief Development Officer of Grace Place, is passionate about the educational programs that are offered at Grace Place. Referring to the very generous donor family from Marco Island, she said “While they wish to remain anonymous, what I can tell you is that this family began supporting the Friday Food Pantry at Grace Place in 2011 and continued their support annually. Then in 2016, they surprised us with this major gift to support family literacy programs.”

Those programs start with Bright Beginnings, Grace Place’s program that incorporates PACT (Parent and Child Together). The parental portion of the program is focused to cultivate confidence, capability and literacy for parents so they can guide their children through the crucial years of early development. The early childhood education portion helps prepare the children for kindergarten ensuring that they are ready to learn.

Evans shared a fond recollection of a child and his Mom who participated in the Bright Beginnings program. The child went on to kindergarten with a readiness and enthusiasm to learn, while Mom went on to start her own cleaning business. She now hires other mothers from the Bright Beginnings program.

The Academy of Leaders program supports students in grades K-12. Its goal is to improve student achievement in academic subjects, to encourage the development of leadership skills and to help students achieve computer skills that are so necessary for college and future careers. The program provides tutoring, learning activities and enrichment programs of music, art, physical exercise, and even gardening.

The AP Leadership program supports high school students through leadership development, service learning, college preparation and mentorship. Tim Ferguson proudly said, “Our AP leaders achieve a 100% high school graduation rate.”

Mentoring is perhaps the most crucial of these activities and serves as the unique signature of Grace Place. One requirement for enrollment at Grace Place is the obligation for participants to give back, particularly in the activity of mentoring. The older students give back by mentoring younger children. It is this interactive exchange of talent and knowledge that sets Grace Place apart from other organizations.

Giving, receiving and then giving back. That is what breaks the cycle of poverty and creates a new cycle of success.

Grace Place’s dedication to education doesn’t end with high school students. The Adult Education program offers courses in English as a Second Language. Computers equipped with the Rosetta Stone language software are a key resource. Courses in Financial Literacy and Citizenship are also offered.

Strong mental development through education is only successful if the human body is healthy and nourished. The Friday Food Pantry began as a temporary program in 2008. It was found that some students at Grace Place were not eating their provided snacks. They were saving the food to bring home to feed their families. Today the Friday Food Pantry is the largest distribution center for the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Collier County. Many individuals and groups support the pantry with donations and food drives. Collier Harvest, Naples Harvest and Meals of Hope contribute significantly to the cause. Panera Bread and Empire Bagels are ongoing donors to the pantry.

Marco Island is known for its spirit of generosity and dedication to humanity. Although it is only a short ride from the island to Grace Place, it can feel as if it is a world away. That is, until you see the faces of so many of our neighbors who give their time and talents to help others. Rod Bucklin has volunteered at the Friday Food Pantry since 2008, while his wife Jeanne volunteers her time teaching adults to read and write in English. Hal Milkey, Robert Stried and Art Winterhalter; all of Marco Island, enjoy helping out at the food pantry. Arthur Smith of nearby Verona Walk volunteers in the Adult Education program. Dave Tobiasz of Marco Island serves as CFO for Grace Place, while Bob Furek is the Immediate Past Chair and current member of the Board of Directors.

Upon visiting Grace Place, we are reminded that no one of us is really all that different from those who are enrolled in the programs. Barbara Evans told a story of a friend who had been gainfully employed and was suddenly found without a job. That friend needed the food pantry to help feed her family.

The world is ever changing and life is unpredictable. I think we can all agree on that. Perhaps by putting faith into action, we can see that we are all connected. Perhaps we can all join hands in making the world a place of grace.

Grace Place has set a goal to complete the West Side Challenge campaign by March 31, 2017. “We are confident that the community will step up to the challenge so we can continue to support our growing number of children and families who are so committed to improving their lives through education,” says a hopeful Tim Ferguson.

If you would like to step up to the challenge and help in doubling the impact of this generous matching gift, please contact Barbara Evans at 239-234-2403 or [email protected]

Brewery to Host Happy Hour for Hope

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:16pm

Submitted

Marco Island Meals of Hope confirmed today its next “Happy Hour for Hope” will be Monday, February 27, 2017 at Marco Island Brewery from 5 PM to 7 PM. Marco Island Brewery is located in Marco Town Center Mall, 1089 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island.

Frank and Lynette LaCava and the “Brew Crew” of the Brewery look forward to the event. They will make available drinks at happy hour prices and a delicious spread of hors d’oeuvres. Frank LaCava stated, “I feel it is for a great cause. We do not take a dollar for the food and it is not about the money. One hundred percent of the profit goes to the charity. And, what they are doing is helping local people.” Rosetta Stone will provide entertainment as she has done for many years.

Happy Hours for Hope are fundraisers for Marco Island’s Meals of Hope. The $10 admission fee helps the organization buy food for its packaging event in November. According to local attorney Bill “Captain Hope” Morris, “It costs over $45,000 to buy food materials for our Marco Island packaging event. These happy hours are critical. Even with a good turnout, our happy hours only raise about 1/3 of the funds needed. We will need some generous donors to reach our goal.”

Marco Meals of Hope is a joint effort of Kiwanis, Noontime Rotary and Sunrise Rotary Clubs. It is a hands-on approach to combating hunger in our community. Volunteers work year-round raising funds for its packaging event at Marco Island Charter Middle School. Last year, volunteers packed over 250,000 meals for distribution through the Meals of Hope distribution network. This year, organizers hope to do even more at the packaging event on November 18, 2017.

Admission to Happy Hour for Hope is only $10 and everyone is invited.

For more information, please contact Bill “Captain Hope” Morris at 239-642-6020. For more information concerning Marco Island Meals of Hope please visit www.mohmi.org.

PBS Documentary Features Score by JRobert

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:12pm

By Scott Shook

Marco Island’s reigning Artist of the Year, JRobert Houghtaling, is excited for the debut of the PBS documentary, “The Great Florida Cattle Drive: Unbroken Circles.” Houghtaling composed the score for the hour-long special—an honor the venerable musician considers the highlight of his outstanding musical career.

“This is it, man. This is the one I’ve been waiting for,” Houghtaling said. “I really enjoyed working on the Rookery Bay project and I really enjoyed Apalachicola,” he said, referring to previous projects. “But to do a PBS special on something that’s really near and dear to my heart…it’s just been a thrill.”

Houghtaling is a fourth generation Floridian who grew up in the cattle country of Ruskin.

The documentary makes its Florida debut February 19 on WEDU (Tampa). Southwest Floridians can see the documentary for the first time on February 20 at 11 PM. The documentary will be presented nationally this June.

Houghtaling flew to Tallahassee on February 16 for the red carpet premier of the documentary.

One of the highlights of the PBS project was working with Grammy award winning artist John McEuen of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in Houghtaling’s home studio, where the entire music score was produced.

“The best treat I’ve had is inviting John McEuen in here. It’s like having Paul McCartney in here—only better,” Houghtaling mused. “I’ve been following him for many, many years. It was really cool.”

Houghtaling was also happy to have his talented son Martin appear in the music score.

“My son Martin, very important, played all of the bass parts; upright bass, electric bass.”

Houghtaling has spent six to eight months working on the documentary, in addition to his “regular gigs and a few other tiny video projects.”

“When you get into these projects it’s consuming,” Houghtaling said, quickly adding, “it’s a wonderful consumption, too. I’m really happy with this project. I like working with these people.”

The opportunity came along at the right time for Houghtaling, who has been in the music business for over 50 years—the past 30 of those on Marco Island. He’s glad it didn’t happen earlier in his career.

“I could not have done this earlier in my career,” Houghtaling said, from the elaborate home studio that he built himself. “I didn’t have all of the tools. I started with that 1968 D35 (Martin) over there and a fiddle. I also didn’t have the experience. I had the songs under my belt. But I didn’t have the latest in recording technology. I didn’t have the collection of microphones I have now. It’s taken years to get to this point. With these tools you can do anything if you have the equipment.”

And Houghtaling has the equipment. “I have a bunch of cool guitars. They just feel so good.”

The documentary, produced and directed by Elam Stoltzfus, tells the story of the Great Florida Cattle Drive 2016, the history of Florida’s heritage cattle breed, how they almost went extinct and what folks are doing to preserve Florida’s cow culture for future generations.

Houghtaling was charged with developing the music that would carry the documentary along.

“I was very honored when they asked me to do this,” he said. “I made a list of old folk songs and early cowboy songs that would reflect the images on the screen. Then I had to find out which ones were in the public domain so I could work with them. For each scene I would write a three-to-four minute song. Then I’d slice and dice it and weave it into the story. Basically you have a great story of the cattle drive and a history of cattle in Florida. He’s got some great images. He’s composing the story with his images. They have a great narrator named Baxter Black whose voice is just perfect for this project. So I’m like the third leg of the stool. To make the stool seat properly you have to have this music. If it does nothing else, it carries the project along.”

Marco Museum Meets Family Member

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 6:09pm

By Jesus Calo 

When visiting a museum, you cannot help but wonder what the history an item holds beyond the descriptions being displayed. It’s a treat when you get the opportunity to walk with a direct relative who contributed to Marco Island Historical Museum’s (MIHM) very own artifact collection, recently displayed in the Pioneer Era Exhibit. Will Smith and his wife Connie visited Marco Island to have the chance to walk through and witness new artifacts added to the Museum. There are three permanent exhibits currently on display – Paradise Found, Pioneer Days, and Modern Marco. The permanent exhibit gallery was developed in collaboration with Collier County Museums and the Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS).

To this day, they are still uncovering more history to piece the storyline together. The MIHM has restored photos and archived the diaries to be available for museum-goers to read. These were the original copies that stand in display. Smith believes that “Everything from Marco, belonged on Marco.” Down to the last trunk, Will and Connie get to explore what life was like in the low-tech days. Some items are worth keeping and others are disposable. Not everything is worth keeping or historic, but it is all still worthy of reviewing. “There is plenty of opportunity to correct information as history still unfolds for us.” Smith said.

The couple currently resides in the Chicago area and made their way to the warmer state with the accommodations by MIHS co-chairman board member Betsy Perdichizzi and her husband Bill. There are three diaries and a total of seven trunks, all filled with historic memorabilia from when the local area was still in its early development stages. Smith is related to the Olds family, a pioneer family that influenced development of Marco Island. History is a web of connections and shines light on what life was like when the Calusa Indians stood tall, and the more-present Aunt Sal recollected her stories to Will when he was a young boy.

The Marco Cat was the display that built much anticipation for Will to show Connie. This was Connie’s first experience through the MIHM. As we continued through the new exhibit and viewed photos of the Olds sisters, Smith recounted stories of his aunt moving with her sisters to the area. The mother taught a variety of languages, such as Hebrew and Latin, and other courses like social studies. This progressive nature was instilled in the girls, making their spirits adventurous. The best part of the experience was witnessing Will recognize people in photos throughout the museum.

As we learn from our history, much continues to be revealed, even to this day. The Pioneer Exhibit is a magnificent representation of the MIHM’s efforts to preserve Marco’s unique history for its residents and visitors. The exhibit tells the story of the area’s first families – Barfield, Olds, Collier, Burnham, Doxsee and many others.

The Marco Island Historical Museum is located at 180 S. Heathwood Drive. The MIHM is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM – 4 PM. Admission is free and the site is handicapped accessible. For information visit www.colliermuseums.com or call 239-642-1440.

Origami on a Grand Scale

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:13pm

By Maria Lamb 

The origami sculpture “Flying Folds” dwarfs Karen DuMontier, Meredith Delman, Donna Wadsworth, Pat Dugas and Sharon Walklett.

According to artist Kevin Box, “Origami represents a simple metaphor. We all start with a blank page. What we do is up to us. The possibilities are endless.”

In Japanese, “origami” means “folding paper.” There are birds, boats, ponies, a bison, and a butterfly at the Naples Botanical Garden’s Origami in the Garden exhibit. Each sculpture is made of metal, depicting works by artists Kevin Box and his wife Jennifer Box; origami artists, Dr. Robert J. Lang, Te Jui Fu, Michael G. LaFosse and Tim Armijo.

“Master Peace” by Artists Kevin and Jennifer Box is the crown jewel of the exhibit. It is a freestanding 25-foot monument of five hundred cast metal cranes. An additional five hundred of these origami cranes are scattered around the world as individual sculptures. The sculpture seems to rise upward, touching the clouds, just as a crane does during flight. Though 500 cranes are missing from this tower, they are represented by their reflection in the polished black granite base. According to artist Jennifer Box, “Rather than a monument to the tragedies of the past, we created a monument of hope for the future.”

The most well-known origami model is the crane. It has become the international symbol of peace. In Japan, every child eventually learns how to make the crane. According to ancient Japanese legend, a person who folds 1,000 paper cranes will have their wish come true. Other versions of the legend claim that creating 1,000 origami cranes will bring about a recovery from an illness or result in a long life. The crane is believed to be a symbol of the soul or spirit. They are also known to mate for life. When 1,000 paper cranes are folded and given as a wedding gift, it is the hope that the marriage will be long and happy.

“Origami in the Garden” is on view now through April 23, 2017 at the Naples Botanical Garden.

Photos by Maria Lamb |
“Master Peace” – 25-foot-tall monument depicting 500 origami cranes, located at the Kapnick Brazilian Garden.

According to artist Kevin Box, “Origami represents a simple metaphor. We all start with a blank page. What we do is up to us. The possibilities are endless.”

In Japanese, “origami” means “folding paper.” There are birds, boats, ponies, a bison, and a butterfly at the Naples Botanical Garden’s Origami in the Garden exhibit. Each sculpture is made of metal, depicting works by artists Kevin Box and his wife Jennifer Box; origami artists, Dr. Robert J. Lang, Te Jui Fu, Michael G. LaFosse and Tim Armijo.

“Master Peace” by Artists Kevin and Jennifer Box is the crown jewel of the exhibit. It is a freestanding 25-foot monument of five hundred cast metal cranes. An additional five hundred of these origami cranes are scattered around the world as individual sculptures. The sculpture seems to rise upward, touching the clouds, just as a crane does during flight. Though 500 cranes are missing from this tower, they are represented by their reflection in the polished black granite base. According to artist Jennifer Box, “Rather than a monument to the tragedies of the past, we created a monument of hope for the future.”

The most well-known origami model is the crane. It has become the international symbol of peace. In Japan, every child eventually learns how to make the crane. According to ancient Japanese legend, a person who folds 1,000 paper cranes will have their wish come true. Other versions of the legend claim that creating 1,000 origami cranes will bring about a recovery from an illness or result in a long life. The crane is believed to be a symbol of the soul or spirit. They are also known to mate for life. When 1,000 paper cranes are folded and given as a wedding gift, it is the hope that the marriage will be long and happy.

“Origami in the Garden” is on view now through April 23, 2017 at the Naples Botanical Garden.

Health Plus Lecture: Age-related Macular Degeneration

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:09pm

Submitted

IBERIABANK has partnered with Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (BPEI) to host Jaclyn L. Kovach, M.D., who will review the clinical features, risk factors, and treatment options for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She will also discuss the AMD clinical trials conducted at BPEI Naples for which she is the principal investigator.

The Health Plus Lecture will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at the IBERIABANK branch located at 605 Bald Eagle Drive on Marco Island. The event will begin with a reception at 5:30 PM and the formal presentation will start at 6 PM. Reservations are requested by calling 239-393-2400. There is a $3 admission fee.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. It is estimated that as many as 10 million are afflicted by some form of the disease in the United States alone, and many in Southwest Florida.

In 2016, Bascom Palmer was voted as the #1 eye hospital in the country as published by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Hospitals Issue. This is the 15th time this prestigious honor has been bestowed upon the Institute, which serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Florida.

Dr. Kovach is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Her clinical and research interests include AMD, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular disease, and macular dystrophies. She has authored over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has lectured all over the world. Dr. Kovach has been honored with membership in The Retina Society, The Macula Society, and has received an Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Lecture content is provided by the featured speaker. IBERIABANK is responsible for hosting this event and not responsible for lecture content.IBERIABANK has partnered with Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (BPEI) to host Jaclyn L. Kovach, M.D., who will review the clinical features, risk factors, and treatment options for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She will also discuss the AMD clinical trials conducted at BPEI Naples for which she is the principal investigator. The Health Plus Lecture will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at the IBERIABANK branch located at 605 Bald Eagle Drive on Marco Island. The event will begin with a reception at 5:30 PM and the formal presentation will start at 6 PM. Reservations are requested by calling 239-393-2400. There is a $3 admission fee. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world. It is estimated that as many as 10 million are afflicted by some form of the disease in the United States alone, and many in Southwest Florida. In 2016, Bascom Palmer was voted as the #1 eye hospital in the country as published by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Hospitals Issue. This is the 15th time this prestigious honor has been bestowed upon the Institute, which serves as the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. Dr. Kovach is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Her clinical and research interests include AMD, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vascular disease, and macular dystrophies. She has authored over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has lectured all over the world. Dr. Kovach has been honored with membership in The Retina Society, The Macula Society, and has received an Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Lecture content is provided by the featured speaker. IBERIABANK is responsible for hosting this event and not responsible for lecture content.

Sail and Power Squadron Change of Watch

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:07pm

Submitted

It is that time of year again for boating organizations on Marco Island to have their Change of Watch and install their new officers for 2017.

Recently, the Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron held their Change of Watch on the Marco Island Princess. It was appropriate to have a sunset cruise to close out the old bridge of officers, and wake with a new bridge. The new bridge of officers are Commander Rhonda Gloodt, Executive Officer Gene Burson, Administrative Officer Tom Moor, Educational Officer Ted Reiss, Secretary Lori Williams, Treasurer Teri O’Connell, Assistant Educational Officer John Maciolek, Assistant Secretary Kathleen Reynolds, and Assistant Treasurer Deborah Rago.

It was a beautiful night with a full moon and tropical breezes. The program started with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Past Commander Steve Moore, and then followed by Past Commander Andrea Battaglia giving the invocation.

The outgoing Commander, Bill Hughes, gave a welcome address to all in attendance. The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was Past Commander Peggy Reiss, who began the program by introducing the honored guests. Honored guests included District Commander Warren Maciag and Lt. Commander Marge Maciag, National Administrative Officer, Vice Commander Mary Page Abbott, and National Asst. Educational Officer, Rear Commander, Steve Abbott, District Lt. Commander, Susan Lomastro, District Lieutenant Bud Lomastro, District Lt. Commander Don Cook, Administrative Officer, Partner Marlene Bray, Past Commander Ernest & Past Commander Carol Segundo from St. Petersburg Sail & Power, Commander Doug Bartlett and Lynette Cahill, USCG-AUX, Commander Lois Dixon and Ed Dixon, Marco Island Yacht Club, Commodore Frank Mulligan and Marianne, Marco Bay Yacht Club.

There were ten Past Commanders from the Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron present. District Commander Warren Maciag made glowing remarks on the success of the Marco Island chapter and then swore in the new bridge. District Lieutenant Commander Susan Lomastro presented Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron, Past Commander Jim Olmes with the Outstanding Educational Instructor Award. The new Commander, Rhonda Gloodt, thanked all the committees that she guided for the past two years and encouraged them to continue the good work with the new leadership.

L is For…?

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:02pm

“L Is For…?” takes place at La Serenata, a moderately upscale retirement community in Southwest Florida. Relax and spend some time with Louise (Mary Bryan), a Southern Belle who appears to be a cleaning fanatic, and Mark (R.E. Joyce), a lonely widower from Upstate New York. What is she up to? Will he even notice? Come see for yourself what these two Baby Boomers are up to as they are living the life in paradise!

Reserve tickets by calling 239-231-3741 or by emailing [email protected] Seating is limited, and walk-ins are welcome, but not guaranteed seats.

Collier County Repertory Theatre brings Marco Island playwright
Mitch Eil’s one-act, two-person play,
“L Is For…?” to three different venues. 

Performances:

  • February 25 & 26 at 2:30 PM (Doors open at 2 PM)
    Collier County Public Library Headquarters’ Sugden Theater
    2385 Orange Blossom Drive, Naples
    $15 – General Admission
  • March 3 & 4 at 2:30 PM (Doors open at 2 PM)
    Collier County Public Library Marco Island, Rose Hall
    210 S. Heathwood Drive, Marco Island
    $15 – General Admission
  • March 6, 2017 at 2 PM (Doors open at 1:30 PM)
    Jewish Federation of Collier County
    2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples
    $25 – General Admission
    (A portion of the proceeds from this performance will benefit Jewish Federation of Collier County.)