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Letter to the Editor: City Council Election

Sat, 10/22/2016 - 4:21pm

I have lived on Marco Island full time for the past 26 years and in the same house for the past 21 years. My two children were born and raised on Marco Island. They attended the local schools and participated in the many clubs and activities Marco Island has to offer. My husband and I have also worked full time on Marco Island for many years. My children, my husband, and I, consider Marco Island our home. I have never been involved in the politics of the Island. Things seemed to operate smoothly and Marco Island was, overall, a very pleasant and enjoyable place to live and raise a family.

Last year when the rental ordinance was proposed and I actually read the details of it, I became extremely concerned about the future of our Island. It seemed as though there was overreaching government interference in many different areas. When the rental ordinance was amended to include condominium associations, I thought it was ridiculous, as condominiums are self-regulated. I decided to take a stand, attend my first City Council meeting, and voice my opinion. It was in doing so that I realized just how far out of touch the current City Council has become from the property owners of Marco Island. As I watched others speak to the City Council and as I spoke myself, I realized that the words we were saying were, more or less, treated as a “ritual that must be endured” by the existing council. There were only a couple of council members that even looked at me as I spoke. I left that evening feeling discouraged and frustrated. Eventually, through the work of many, the rental ordinance was overturned. But, I will never forget the feeling I had that night of not being heard, and if I was heard, no one cared because their minds were already made up. It was at that point in time I knew Marco Island needed a change within city council.

I believe Marco Island needs a council that will listen to new ideas and bring the people of this island together, not tear us apart. We need a council that is transparent in the way they conduct business, respectfully discussing issues in the Sunshine. We need a council that can balance what is good for the whole of Marco Island without pitting “condo owners” against “single-family homeowners” or “long-term renters” against “owners”. Our community is one that is diverse. Our council should recognize that diversity and make decisions based on what is good for the whole, not just good for the elite few. Finally, our council needs to be forward thinking in their planning, especially with improving communications and relations with the county.

I am enthusiastically supporting Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, and Charlette Roman for the four open city council seats. I feel confident that these four individuals have the ability to make the necessary changes within city council that will ensure each resident of Marco Island is properly represented. Please consider joining me and voting for these four individuals.


Kristina Pruyn
Marco Island

Letter to the Editor: This Election

Sat, 10/22/2016 - 3:41pm

Dear Fellow Citizens,

The state of local politics on this island has reached an all time low.   We have self appointed judges who, based on their own criteria and unsolicited opinions, unfoundedly evaluate a citizen’s constitutional position and circulate their vicious self serving opinion to others.  As a result, unquestioning citizens are emailing these negative opinions to others as if it was a truth.

Yet these same people support a candidate who advocated for the pardoning a US traitor.  Is such a pardoning not a definite rejection of our values?  Additionally, these same unquestioning individuals are supporting a candidate who publically advocated for the recreational use of marijuana. The Citizens of Florida voted against this and rejected this position.

It makes no sense for this self-appointed judge and his supporters to forward negative emails characterizing candidates as non-supporters of the Constitution, while they support a candidate who advocates for matters that are illegal and unconstitutional.

The T-shirt cartoon should be disgusting to all citizens on Marco.  The person who suggested that this act was promoted by the people it makes fun of, is ridiculous and should be seen as a ploy to further his own political ambition. Have individuals become that uncaring?

There are many rumors about backroom deals being circulated about Veterans Community Park. Have these individuals talked with the City Manager or attended the Parks and Recreational Advisory Committee Meetings to substantiate this “backroom” claim? I don’t think so. I have and this claim is not true.  Could it be these individuals have personal issues at stake circulating this unfounded claim?

Many ugly lies have tainted our island paradise.   Have we become an island that nourishes self-rightness and bigotry?  We finally have a professional City Manager who has given us fiscal responsibility via a much needed bucket plan (Marco Island has one of the lowest tax rates in the State of Florida at 17%). He has been abused at Council Meetings by two unrelenting Councilors.   Council is NOT broken as claimed by the incumbent who frequently subjects all to his many angry outbursts. We finally have professional Fire and Police Chiefs who are doing their job keeping Marco residents safe.   Must they be subjected to innuendos?

I urge all Marco citizens to read all the excellent informative publicized candidate interviews in the local papers (still available on line), the MICA Wave and the MIPO Newsletter. Then form your own conclusions before voting. We are an intelligent electorate.  Let’s not allow our Island to be commandeered by political mudslingers and mimic the national political scene.


Respectfully Submitted,
Suzanne E. Piro


Marco Mourns Loss of Dick Shanahan

Fri, 10/21/2016 - 7:57am

By Steve “Stef” Stefanides

Marco Island lost one of its most respected citizens late Thursday afternoon with the passing of Richard “Dick” Shanahan when he lost his battle with a disease that he had committed so much time and effort to beating. During the last several years Shanahan and his wife Debra have chaired the Imagination Ball of the American Cancer Society on Marco Island and have helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to beat a disease which would contribute to his passing at the age of 89.

Shanahan would leave the cold winters of Chicago behind him and would relocate to the then quiet little island that he would now adopt as his new home. He and his first wife Catherine would make that move in 1987 and never look back.

Shanahan became a fixture in Collier County and Marco Island politics going back almost 30 years and was a prolific volunteer for many organizations on Marco that included the Sunrise Rotary Club, the Greater Marco YMCA, the Marco Island Seafood Festival, Christmas Island Style, the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, the Marco Island Police Foundation, San Marco Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors, the United Way, and many others.

He and Catherine had five daughters and they would sustain him during Catherine’s long battle with her own medical challenges until her passing.

Shanahan and his second wife Debra were coming up on the fifth anniversary of their marriage, which took place in 2011. He would pass late in the afternoon with her at his side and surrounded by family members and friends at the Naples Community Hospital, after being admitted earlier last weekend.

“Today we lost a great member of our community, but more so than that, Rebecca and I lost a great friend and confidant,” said Neil Snyder, a local attorney and president of the Sunrise Rotary Club.

“Sweet man,” “Terrible loss,” “Great individual, mentor and amazing man,” were just some of the words that came flowing across email messages and social media in reaction to the loss when it was announced.

“Dick was one of the first persons to come forward out of the community to ask what he could do to assist us in settling in,” said Roger Hernstadt, city manager of Marco Island. “His friendship and counsel has been invaluable over the last three years, and Jessica and I will miss him immensely.”

Sandy Lazarus, executive director of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, and her late husband Monte were extremely close friends of Dick and Debra Shanahan, and the two couples vacationed frequently. “Dick will be missed by so many, but it will be future generations that will benefit from some of his leadership roles here on the island, it will be a void difficult to fill,” said Lazarus.

“There is much sadness across the island tonight as the word continues to spread about the passing of my friend. There was never a challenge that Dick would walk away from and that is why I will always hold him in high regard, both as a friend and a fellow Knight,” said Bob Brown, chairman of the Marco Island City Council and fellow member of the Knights of Columbus at the San Marco Catholic Church.

It was appropriate that a light shower passed over the island at sunset on Thursday night in recognition of the loss of one of Marco Island’s favorite sons, as the community learned the news, and sadness settled in so many hearts.

Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, October 26th at 10:00 AM at San Marco Catholic Church.  A celebration of life will be held immediately following in the San Marco Parish Hall.


City Council Election: Monica L Pierce

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:11pm

As an informed and concerned resident of Marco Island, I have been doing my research on the candidates for City Council and have been very impressed with some of the candidates that are running this year.

Jared Grifoni especially stands out. I first met Jared at the Glory of the Grape event at CJs in June. I spoke with him at that time about his candidacy and was very impressed with his platform and his vision for Marco Island.

After meeting Jared, I went to his website which has a wealth of information on his background, experience, goals and viewpoints, including a section that shows videos of him speaking at City Council meetings, County Commission meetings and School Board meetings.

If you watch his videos as I did, you will find him to be extremely articulate in his presentations and very knowledgeable about the issues. But what I find truly exciting about Jared is his track record (literally on full display) of fighting for fiscally conservative values over the years. Jared is not someone who just decided to run for office because he wanted something to occupy his time. He clearly lives his life by the principles he believes in and his resume proves it.

He obviously loves Marco Island and wants it to be the best it can be! A candidate like Jared Grifoni is a rare find and I am very proud to support him.

Monica L Pierce

Marco Island


Countdown to Election Day — Tuesday, November 8, 2016: Stevie Prettyman

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:10pm

As Election Day draws near, fewer than 40 days away, I would urge everyone to take a close look at our candidates for our Marco Island City Council. On Tuesday, November 8th residents will have the opportunity to send a strong signal to the current leaders of Marco Island about the need for change. This election year affords us the privilege of voting for four different candidates who are running for a seat on our City Council.

As a former elected, four-term, county council representative on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I know how vitally important it is to cast your vote for a leader with integrity, skill, experience, and willingness not only to listen to constituents, but also to understand and fight for their values. A city council cannot negotiate from a divided position of weakness. Your vote will return us to the united Marco Island that was sacrificed in the past for what appears to be short-term political gains.

As full-time residents of Marco Island, my husband, Bill, and I are pleased to voice our support for Jared Grifoni for our Marco Island City Council.

Jared is a licensed Florida attorney and businessman. Jared has focused his time on running a skilled and substantive campaign. One of Jared’s most impressive past work has been fighting and winning as a grassroots leader, and developing working relationships through our county government. Jared is the only candidate running who demonstrates a high level of success in representing citizens’ interests at the Marco Island and Collier County level and has accomplished all this as a private citizen — not in a government position. Jared will serve as an experienced, principled leader who will keep Marco Island a place to be enjoyed by future generations. Please take time to meet Jared and his family when you visit Jared’s website:

Stevie Prettyman

Marco Island

Public/Private Partnership: Amadeo Petricca

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:05pm

At last night’s forum (Thursday, 09/29/2016) held at the Rose Hall Museum Auditorium, there was a discussion concerning the City finally being involved in a Public/Private Partnership with businesses on Marco Island.

The first Public/Private Partnership in the City began in 2013, whereby the City allowed the businesses abutting Herb Savage Way alley to develop the swales for additional parking. The businesses involve were from the Bargain Basket to Progressive Auto. The property owners paid for the development of the swales including storm water management and paving of the swale. The parking spaces created DID NOT give them credit towards their parking requirements to service their business. As a side note, this particular project was never brought to council for consideration and approval.

This year the City has partnered with the Island Plaza to develop alley swale for additional parking behind their complex as well as Marco Walk to develop swales along Landmark Street for additional parking, In both cases the owners of the property will pay the cost for the development of the swale for storm water management and paving. The parking spaces are for public use and DOES NOT count as parking requirements for their business.

There is another partnership in the works whereby the City is working with the business district on Bald Eagle Drive in Olde Marco. The City has agreed to pay for 50% of the design cost for the swale development on both sides of the street. Here again, I expect the City would insist that the property owners pay for the cost of the development of the swale including storm water management and paving. Also these parking spaces should not be counted as parking credits to meet the requirements of their business.

All parking spaces provided in the swales are open for general public and will not be dedicated to any business.

Respectfully submitted,

Amadeo Petricca

Marco Island

City Council Election: Kristina Pruyn

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 10:54pm

I have lived on Marco Island full time for the past 26 years and in the same house for the past 21 years. My two children were born and raised on Marco Island. They attended the local schools and participated in the many clubs and activities Marco Island has to offer. My husband and I have also worked full time on Marco Island for many years. My children, my husband, and I, consider Marco Island our home. I have never been involved in the politics of the Island. Things seemed to operate smoothly and Marco Island was, overall, a very pleasant and enjoyable place to live and raise a family.

Last year when the rental ordinance was proposed and I actually read the details of it, I became extremely concerned about the future of our Island. It seemed as though there was overreaching government interference in many different areas. When the rental ordinance was amended to include condominium associations, I thought it was ridiculous, as condominiums are self-regulated. I decided to take a stand, attend my first City Council meeting, and voice my opinion. It was in doing so that I realized just how far out of touch the current City Council has become from the property owners of Marco Island. As I watched others speak to the City Council and as I spoke myself, I realized that the words we were saying were, more or less, treated as a “ritual that must be endured” by the existing council. There were only a couple of council members that even looked at me as I spoke. I left that evening feeling discouraged and frustrated. Eventually, through the work of many, the rental ordinance was overturned. But, I will never forget the feeling I had that night of not being heard, and if I was heard, no one cared because their minds were already made up. It was at that point in time I knew Marco Island needed a change within city council.

I believe Marco Island needs a council that will listen to new ideas and bring the people of this island together, not tear us apart. We need a council that is transparent in the way they conduct business, respectfully discussing issues in the Sunshine. We need a council that can balance what is good for the whole of Marco Island without pitting “condo owners” against “single-family homeowners” or “long-term renters” against “owners”. Our community is one that is diverse. Our council should recognize that diversity and make decisions based on what is good for the whole, not just good for the elite few. Finally, our council needs to be forward thinking in their planning, especially with improving communications and relations with the county.

I am enthusiastically supporting Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, and Charlette Roman for the four open city council seats. I feel confident that these four individuals have the ability to make the necessary changes within city council that will ensure each resident of Marco Island is properly represented. Please consider joining me and voting for these four individuals.


Kristina Pruyn

Marco Island

City Council Election: Adam Urban

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 10:53pm

It seems disingenuous for Amadeo Petricca to claim to be for taxpayers when he refused to vote for the roll-back millage rate the last two years. The roll-back rate would have kept tax revenue constant. Instead, Amadeo Petricca voted to raise collected ad valorem tax revenue for FY2016 and FY2017 by approximately 2.3 million dollars! He also claims to be for residents but how can he be for residents when he voted to restrict our ability to have a citizen-sponsored resolution in front of City Council? If that isn’t bad enough, his vote also created a new tax on citizens’ speech. Check out Resolution 15-43 for yourself. Incumbents Petricca and Honecker teamed up to tax and restrict the people of Marco Island. Petricca’s also not opposed to taking on even more city debt to fund build-out at Veterans’ Community Park per his recent “white paper”. Marco Island has had enough. It’s time to get rid of City Councilors who say one thing to get elected and do another. Vote out the incumbents!

Adam Urban

Marco Island


South Beach Re-Nourishment Plan Proceeding

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 4:00pm

By Steve “Stef” Stefanides

At the October 17 meeting of the Marco Island City Council, Gary McAlpin, the Collier County Coastal Zone Manager, stepped forward to update the council on Collier County’s plans to re-nourish an approximately 4,000 foot section of the beach.

The project is the result of damage done by Tropical Storm Debby, which impacted Southwest Florida and moved up into the Panhandle in 2012. The project is being funded through a FEMA grant to restore that section of the beach, which runs from the Cape Marco area northerly for about 4,000 feet.

The project itself will take about two weeks to complete and the material to re-nourish the beach will be trucked onto the island from the Stuart Mines in Immokalee. The project will utilize 13,000 cubic yards or 20,000 tons of sand to complete the undertaking. Staging for the project will begin next week, and once the contractor is ready to receive material it will take approximately 5-10 days to complete the project.

“The sand we will be utilizing will be a larger grain and better quality sand, one which we have had good luck with in the past,” said McAlpin. “One of the qualities of this material is that it should stay on the beach longer,” concluded McAlpin.

Originally FEMA had estimated the project to cost $161,000. However, when the bids were tallied the lowest responsible bidder came in at $575,000. The Board of County Commissioners then approved the plan, along with a number of other projects, at their meeting last week.

The plan involves 900 truckloads of material, which will come onto the island and access the beach area via the Cape Marco access point. According to McAlpin, the South Beach Access Point will remain open during the extent of the project.

“I’m concerned about the impact to our residents,” said Councilman Ken Honecker. “We will be working on the beach from approximately 9 AM to sunset,” said McAlpin.

Had the county utilized a dredge and barge method the cost could double or triple in estimates, and possible exceed the window of available time to complete the project, placing grant monies in jeopardy.

A Classy Class Reunion Walt Reynolds Comes Home

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 10:08pm

Goodland Life 
By Barry Gwinn

Walt with his old friend John Pegram, a successful patent lawyer. In the 6th grade, they published a paper together. Walt sold ads to local merchants, auguring well for his life’s vocation.

There are still some of us in Goodland who still travel back to a receding past, to enjoy the company of old friends and classmates at a high school reunion. I will never forget my last trip back. On a balmy September 17, 2016, a Saturday, Swarthmore High School’s Class of 1956 (or what was left of it) gathered for its 60th reunion. Swarthmore is a leafy college town about 6 miles southwest of Philadelphia. It is by all accounts the gem of the western suburbs and has a strong nostalgic hold on all who have ever lived there. In the 40s and 50s it was surrounded by woods and farms, but connected to Philadelphia by a commuter line. Out of a graduating class of 111, 82 still survive, and 36 made it back to the reunion. It was held on a 276-year-old farm about 17 miles west of Swarthmore, in the rolling horse country of Chester County. The farm has been beautifully restored, by schoolmates Ed and Amy Borer, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stone Georgian farmhouse, hosting the reunion, was built in 1740, during the reign of George II (He preceded George III who presided during the Revolution.) The 18-acre farm is a place of unimaginable peace and tranquility today, but on September 11, 1777 was ground zero for the climax of the Battle of Brandywine. On that date, the British were rolling up Washington’s army, which they had brilliantly outflanked. The battle raged across the farm and along the Birmingham Road, which borders it. The Americans put up a spirited resistance, but were outnumbered and forced to retreat. It was on this hallowed ground that Ed and Amy have hosted our last three reunions, which have been held every five years since graduation. This one was different from the rest. Our ranks were thinning. There was an unspoken sense of both a beginning and an ending. On the front patios of the farmhouse there was an outpouring of special memories and palpable affection between old friends and classmates. Who would be here next time? Should we wait another five years? And then, Walt Reynolds arrived.

Submitted Photo Walt and Jodi at a rest stop on the way up. Walt can still walk with the aid of a walker, but brought along a wheel chair to avoid fatigue.

Few of us recognized the man who was wheeled into our midst by the trim attractive woman. His mouth and eyes were badly distorted and he was unable to speak except for grunts, which could barely be recognized as yes’s or no’s. We soon learned who he was and what he was doing there. He told us himself. It was our classmate, Walt Reynolds, making what would probably his final pilgrimage to his beloved Swarthmore and doing so under the most daunting of circumstances. Walt badly wanted to commune with his classmates and share the memories of happier days. Now, he was suffering from an incurable disease, which would only get worse. He wanted to make this trip before it did. Walt had prepared meticulously in an effort to strip us of our embarrassment at his condition and allow us to enter into a give and take with him. Upon greeting Walt, he handed each interlocutor a bio, which communicated his side of the reminiscences and impliedly invited his classmates to respond. He had prepared a whole stack of them. They were poignant and heartbreaking. Despite his appearance, Walt wanted to be treated like one of the guys. It worked.

Photo by Barry Gwinn
Fair Meadow Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Properties in the 1950s. The farmhouse, at upper left, where the reunion is getting underway, was built in 1740, the Barn in 1804. When Ed and Amy bought the property, 18 acres, the place and buildings were in bad shape. They hosted multiple reunions here both for Amy’s high school class as well as Ed’s.

His bio began, “Hi Classmate, I’m Walter Reynolds. I have Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy. It is a rare form of MD that has affected my vision, my ability to swallow, to speak, my facial muscles and my arms and legs. In 2010, I gave up driving due to vision problems and had a feeding tube inserted. I have not swallowed or tasted food since then. I pour a liquid formula into my feeding tube 3 times a day. I have difficulty hearing even with hearing aids.” Following this was a short summary of his life after high school – all the answers one would hope to get from a classmate at a reunion. Many tarried at his side, amazed and moved by his courage.

I wondered how he had gotten here. I envisioned an expensive van with lifts and a professional caregiver. Actually he was driven up by Jodie Drennon, a family friend. They drove straight through, 649 miles from Charleston, South Carolina, a 12-hour trip in a four door midsize Pontiac G6. It took them over an hour to transit Washington, DC at the height of the Friday rush hour. “It was tight,” said Drennon, “By the time I got him home, we had a system that worked pretty well.” Drennon met Walt in 1992 shortly after she moved to Charleston. “I worked in a donut shop back then. Walter sold marketing merchandise to the owners and would buy donuts to take home,” said Drennon, “Walter has since become like family to me, my husband, and son.” Walt lives by himself in a one-bedroom apartment in a downtown Charleston retirement community. His wife died 18 years ago. Assuming that the reunion would be held in the summer, Walt’s daughter Karen, a schoolteacher, or his son John, a lighting expert agreed to take him up to Swarthmore. They both had to back out when a September date was announced. John would be back working in Wyoming and Karen would be teaching. Walt’s ties to Swarthmore are stronger than most. He grew up there, married his high school sweetheart in a local church, and raised his family there, living about a block from my boyhood home. He badly wanted to make the trip while he still was able. Walt mentioned his disappointment to Jodie, who regularly visits him with her family. “When Walter told me of the trip and that he wasn’t going because he had no one to take him, I volunteered,” said Jodie. The result was a whirlwind three-day odyssey of about 1,500 miles. “We went up on Friday, and returned on Sunday,” said Jodie, “Saturday was a busy day, with a tour (arranged by daughter, Karen) of Swarthmore in the morning and the reunion [at West Chester] in the afternoon.” It was exhausting, but exhilarating for Walt. “We were both overwhelmed with the attention and warmth with which Walter was received,” said Jodie. On the trip back, Walt turned to Jodie and communicated a question, which must have been perplexing to him. “Why do you like me?” he asked. “Because with all your problems you still enjoy life,” she replied.

Longtime Chief of the Swarthmore Volunteer Fire Company Larry Luder presents Walt with a souvenir. Walt volunteered as a teenager and later as a young family man. Luder and Bill Titus, at right, served with Walt as teenage volunteers. There is tremendous pride and esprit de corps in this organization.

After it was over, the shared impressions among the rest of us were that we had witnessed an extraordinary and inspirational act of courage and determination. Against all odds, Walt had come home. Only those of us who grew up together in Swarthmore could understand the depth of the longing that had brought him back.

Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years.  Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association.






I Am Not My Brain

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:56pm

MIND, BODY And Spirit

Laurie Kasperbauer 

I have osteoarthritis in my knees. And in a roundabout way, my knee pain landed me in the office of a neurologist. A necessary step according to my cautious orthopedic surgeon, so I rolled my eyes (to myself) and dragged my feet all the way to the neurologist’s doorstep. After an MRI and a physical exam, the neurologist confirmed that the pain I was experiencing was not from something pinched, broken, or damaged in my spine. But I liked Dr. Neurologist, (probably because he confirmed my self-diagnosis), so I turned the tables and asked him a question. “What made you choose neurology as your area of practice?”

He chuckled a bit and said he had two answers to that question. He said one answer was funny and one was more serious. Well, I can’t remember what his funny answer was because his serious answer startled me like a cookie-snatching seagull on the beach. He said, “The serious reason I chose neurology is because
“we are our brains.”

Ok, two things I have learned through my yoga practice:

1. I am not my brain.

2. I don’t have to use my voice in order for my opinion to be known. My body language   speaks with megaphone clarity.

So, as the good doctor went on to describe how our brains determine who we are, I held my head rigid so it wouldn’t shake left and right. I squeezed my lips together and threw my tongue to the roof of my mouth so the big “NO!” I was feeling didn’t fill the room. Now, I realize my training is a wee bit less than the doctor’s. And from the perspective of a neurologist, yes, the brain holds the power, but I’d like to offer another point of view from the bias of a yogi.

Our brains are the “hard drive” of our bodies. They store information gathered in utero, and continue to stockpile it through our last day on Earth. The billions of nerve cells in our brain coordinate behavior, movement, emotion and sensation through a road map of nerves connected to the rest of our body, resulting in a very complex, yet efficient mode of communication. I see my brain as something like an air traffic controller, plugged into the radar of my body. I might be walking along and see a curb in front of me. My eyes send the signal to my brain, “big step ahead.” My brain processes this and sends a message to my feet, “step up.” When everything is in working order, I lift my front foot a little higher and clear the bump in the road. But if I don’t see or sense the curb, my brain is not going to get a signal. And if my brain doesn’t get the signal, there will be no message sent to my feet, and I face-plant on the sidewalk. So, yes my brain is vital to living and breathing and it may be the control center, but it is not who I am.

Another reason I’m so sure I am not my brain is because there’s a very powerful force, strongly connected to my body, that is neither my brain nor me, called my mind. And the mind and the brain are distinctly different. The mind thinks it is the supreme ruler over the brain, and tries to be in control of everything.

For instance, where does that voice in your head come from? The one that says: “How did you NOT see that curb today?” “What an idiot to fall like that!” “You’re so clumsy.”

This is not my brain talking. After all, the brain responds to signals and impulses sent from the body. The brain registered injury from my fall and sent pain signals to my face, now smashed against the pavement. And these words of self-rebuke are not me either. I would not talk that way to someone else. I should not talk that way to myself. Unfortunately, I sometimes listen to the negative narration of my mind, which brings me to another lesson I am learning through my yoga practice.

I am the supreme ruler of my mind. Or I can be when I make the effort. It takes practice to slow the flow of thought and chaos in my head. It’s called meditation. Taking a moment to shine light on the inside, sending darkness and negativity scrambling.

I am the ruler of my brain too. We use the word mindfulness. When I pay attention to what’s happening in a specific moment in time. When the signals I send to my brain are purposeful and deliberate, the brain responds in kind. Like breathing. My body needs oxygen to survive so we are created to breathe without thinking. The brain takes care of it for us. But I can take a deep, full, deliberate breath that calms my senses, lowers my blood pressure, slows my heart rate, and sends a greater concentration of oxygen to my brain. That’s me breathing, not
my brain.

So, sorry Doctor of Neurology, I am not my brain. And I’m not my mind. I’m not even my body. I am a spirit that dwells in a body; that functions with a brain, and that generally follows the guidelines of a peaceful mind. And without attention and care to all three, I will not function effectively. I will not have peace and I will have nowhere
to live.

Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.

Trust Your Instruments

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:55pm

Ask The CFP® Practitioner
Darcie Guerin

Question: Should I be worried about the problems with Deutsche Bank?

Answer: That’s a question many in our industry have been asking. The answer is “it depends.” The markets had just settled down after the post-Brexit rally and now Deutsche Bank is reviving some of that volatility. Much of the concern over the bank’s future and sustainability have to do with overall confidence in the banking system. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, let’s back-up and explain Deutsche Bank’s difficulties.

There are accusations and findings that during the 2008 housing bubble Deutsche Bank had a part in the Great Recession that was felt around the world by misrepresenting the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. Fast forward to September 16, 2016, when the United States Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) demanded that Deutsche Bank pay $14 billion to settle those claims. As of June 30, 2016 Deutsche Bank held $6.16 billion (US) in reserve for litigation. Without assistance from the European Central Bank (ECB), restructuring, recapitalizing or help from the German government, a fine this large could be catastrophic for the bank that is the oldest still operating bank in the world.

The key players in this scenario are John Cryan, Deutsche Bank’s CEO, the bank’s shareholders, bondholders, the ECB, the United States DOJ, and of course German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who is dead set against a bail out, but not likely to let the bank go under. By the time you read this, the situation may be settled. As I’m writing there is talk of a DOJ/Deutsche Bank settlement for $5.4 billion to resolve the mortgage issues. As a reference point, the DOJ settled with Goldman Sachs for $5 billion and Bank of America for $16.65 billion for similar practices. Obviously the sustainability, let alone the profitability of Deutsche Bank is in question. If this reminds you a bit of Lehman Brothers you’re not alone.

But It’s Different This Time

Normally those words frighten me, but actually it is true to some degree. Bank liquidity and reserves have increased dramatically since 2008. The European Central Bank and even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are potentially available to help Deutsche Bank.

Restructuring, recapitalizing and “bail-in” maneuvers could also be used, if necessary, to stop the bleeding.Nonetheless, panicking investors and depositors did reduce their exposure in the bank by pulling out cash and other assets held at the institution. And if that’s not bad enough, on Saturday, October 1, 2016, Deutsche Bank was accused of colluding with an Italian bank to falsify accounts in 2008. These charges are the result of a three year investigation that came on top of additional claims of improper precious metals trades and cash transfers to Russia.

According to the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, “The German government and financial authorities are preparing a rescue plan for Deutsche Bank in case the lender would be unable to raise capital itself to pay for costly litigation, German weekly Die Zeit reported. According to the draft plan, Deutsche Bank would be enabled to sell assets to other lenders at prices that would ease the strain on the lender and not put additional burden on the bank, the paper said. In an extreme emergency, the German government would even offer to take a direct stake of 25%.”

So, back to your question of “Should I be worried about the problems with Deutsche Bank?” First, if you own Deutsche Bank you should be having a conversation with your financial advisor right now. Otherwise, do your best to tune out the short-term “noise” in the news, including political news. We don’t have all the facts yet and be aware that our “new normal” does include heightened market volatility, which is expected to continue. Individual portfolios should be designed to match an investor’s comfort levels and goals. It is helpful to have a plan, the right people on your team, and an investment process in place.

Stay On Course

Boat captains and pilots faced with uncertain and unstable weather conditions know that it’s imperative to trust their instruments. An unexpected storm or blinding wall of fog can destroy one’s sense of direction and alter perceptions. Although often counterintuitive, safety and shelter from the storms are not found by making impulsive and emotional decisions, but by relying on navigational tools and facts. Not panicking, trusting your original plan, making any necessary adjustments and staying focused can change outcomes.

Short-term events are just that, short-term. It’s natural to be drawn to current events and day-to-day chaos, just try to pause before reacting and making dramatic changes. During times of uncertainty I like to refer to an old Wall Street adage: Your portfolio is like a bar of soap, the more you touch it, the smaller it gets. Stay focused and invest accordingly.

Information received from outside sources is believed to be credible. The opinions expressed are those of the writer, but not necessarily those of Raymond James and Associates, and subject to change at any time. Material is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute recommendations, investment advice or an indication of trading intent.

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.”

This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC, 606 Bald Eagle Drive, Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239-389-1041, email [email protected] Website: 

Women in the Everglades A Brief History of Pioneers and Early Environmentalists

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:53pm


Local author Marya Repko encapsulates information from her previous Brief History books but adds much more as she summarizes the role of women in the settling of South Florida from the east to west coasts and around Lake Okeechobee.

After describing the hardships of pioneer life, the book cites examples of how women took a leading role on environmental issues, even before they could vote. There are numerous historic photos, a timeline, a list of further reading, and brief biographies of some of the key people. The book provides a great overview of how rough it was for pioneer women in South Florida: ever persistent mosquitos, eking out an existence, the loneliness and hardships faced by women who not only endured but prospered, and in doing so created the Florida we know today.

We owe a lot to these strong women and this book, with a glimpse into their lives, opens a door to discovering Florida’s rich history. Craig R. Woodward, Chairman Collier County Historical & Archaeological Preservation Board.

Marya Repko grew up in Hadlyme, Connecticut, but lived most of her adult life in Europe as a software engineer. After retirement, she moved to Everglades City, Florida, where her first book “A Brief History of the Everglades City Area” has sold thousands of copies. Other brief histories of Deaconess Harriet Bedell, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the Fakahatchee, and Sanibel have been well received, as have the children’s version of the Everglades and Sanibel books. Marya is president of the Everglades Society for Historic Preservation and newsletter editor for the Friends of Fakahatchee.  “Women in the Everglades” may be ordered online at:

What Does $500K Buy on Marco?

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:51pm

Gary Elliott & Sandy Elliott

South Seas Club

Marco Island condo list prices last week ranged from $118,000 for a Seabreeze West studio to $9.9 million for a grand penthouse at the Belize. The median list price of the 346 condos for sale last week on Marco Island was just under $500,000.

What does $500,000 buy? That depends on what you are looking for. Here is a representative sampling of nine condos within a few thousand dollars of the island’s median list price.

For an investor there is a 504 square foot one bedroom, one bathroom condo on the 6th floor of the Apollo on the beach listed for $497,000. The Apollo is one of the few condos on the beach that allows weekly rentals. The restaurant on site and weekly rentals make the Apollo a favorite of renters on the island.

The Admiralty Submitted Photos

If you are looking for space, then there is a three bedroom, two and a half bathroom, 2,103 square foot condo at Vintage Bay listed for $499,999. Vintage Bay is a quiet gated community off San Marco Road with four high-rise buildings, pool and picturesque boardwalk to the bay.

Want to be on the beach? Last week there were four to pick from near the median list price, two of them at the Admiralty, both listed for $495,000 with 876 square feet and two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Two more were at the gated South Seas Club. One was listed for $509,900 and has 1,070 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The other was listed for $510,000 with 1,070 square feet and two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Want to be on the water with boat docks? Then look at the 1,478 square foot condo at Ville de Mar West for $495,000, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, or the 1,309 square foot condo at Villa del Mar on Smokehouse Bay, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Another one is the 1,125 square foot condo at Eagle Cay listed for $499,000 with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Five Tips to Maintain Fishing Rods and Reels

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:47pm

Capt. Pete Rapps

Rod racks keep your rods organized and safe from tangling while stored at home.

Your fishing rods and reels are your most vital fish catching tools, so you should know how to keep them in good working order. After all, no one wants to lose out on catching that trophy fish due to a broken rod tip or a frozen reel. However, with proper maintenance, you can keep your fishing gear in tip-top shape for a long time.

1. Use mesh rod covers when transporting your fishing rods.
Whether you are taking them down the boat ramp or storing them in your boat’s rod locker, using mesh rod covers to transport your fishing rods will prevent lines from getting tangled up. Additionally, the mesh coverings will also provide some cushion to protect your blanks and guides.

2. Keep your rods straight and together while on the boat.
During your boat trips, make sure to put your fishing rods in their holders or inside of your rod lockers. Anything from the blanks to the reels can easily get scratched when they are bouncing around while the boat is running.

3. Remove any hooks or lures after fishing.
After a day of fishing, make sure you remove any hooks or lures from your fishing rods. Neglecting to do so could cause your lines to get badly tangled. In fact, with hooks still on the line, you will end up finding that hook getting caught on everything, including you. So save yourself the trouble and have it removed after each fishing trip.

4. Rinse your fishing gear off thoroughly.
Make sure to use fresh water to remove any dirt, grit, or saltwater residue that might be left on your fishing gear. Once your gear has been washed, dry it carefully using a soft cloth and use reel lubricant to clean up your reel components.

5. Store your fishing gear properly.
Use a proper rod storage rack in order to store your fishing gear in a way that won’t bend the rods or cause the components from rubbing up against each other. Additionally, you need to avoid leaning your rods next to each other and storing them in an upright position within your garage, as it will make your fishing rods more susceptible to damage.

With these great tips, you should have no problem keeping your fishing gear in great shape both in and outside the boat. After all, an amazing day of fishing always begins with the right fishing equipment for the job!

Contact Capt. Pete Rapps at [email protected]
or 239-571-1756.

Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers year-round expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands and the Everglades National Park, and springtime tarpon-only charters in the Florida Keys. Capt. Rapps’ top-notch fleet accommodates men, women and children of all ages, experienced or not. Between our vast knowledge and experience of the area, and easygoing demeanors, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Book your charter 24/7 using the online booking calendar, and see Capt. Rapps’ first class website for booking information, videos, recipes, seasonings, and more at 

A Goldsmith Shop vs A Jewelry Store

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:46pm


Richard Alan

Often times I am asked to do services that relate to the jewelry business that I am unable to perform or I simply refuse to do. I know you are saying, that’s the wrong attitude, service and pleasing the customer is top priority when running a “service” business…horse hockey!

As many of you baby boomers know (I myself included), they simply don’t do or make things like they used to. Everything created today is obsolete in months instead of years and is an unrepairable throw away. That being a fact, there are certain things even mall or big box jewelry establishments won’t do for various reasons that usually involve time, money and above
all, risk.

Many jewelry stores accept all phases of watch services that include internal cleaning and full repairs on most brands, whereas I do not clean or repair the internals because I am a goldsmith, not a watchmaker. I work on every phase of the jewelry that enters my shop, which includes repairs or alterations to customer’s jewelry, diamond and stone setting, design and creation of new or custom made jewelry. We also carry and sell fine jewelry from many U.S. manufacturers and from our yearly European buying trips, where we discover unusual jewelry from countries that include Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. (We are not diamond or precious stone cutters, that work must be sent out of state.) Please note not all jewelry stores repair watches or jewelry on premises, and have no choice but to send or job it to outside sources, and the customer may have no clue as to where that outside source
may be.

My goldsmith shop in particular has been functioning for over 45 years, and in that time I learned accepting watch repair work was nothing but a hassle and a money losing experience for me, and the reason was because I did not do the work personally. Good watchmakers are not a dime a dozen, they are very rare. When was the last time you heard a high school grad say he or she was going to learn the trade of a professional watchmaker? I didn’t think so. It’s slowly becoming a dead art.

Many years I even refused to do watch battery replacement because my shop was next door to a watchmaker. He sent the customers with broken jewelry to me, I sent the broken watches to him. Life was so simple back then. Today I change watch batteries and supply or repair straps as a service to my customers, but that’s it. Why? More on that a
little later.

Many jewelry stores work by the K.I.S.S. system (Keep It Simple, Stupid), and they don’t accept any shape or form of repair work – they just sell jewelry out of their showcases, and it works for them. Taking in work requires special skills and sending intrinsic or sentimentally valuable work out is costly and risky, especially if you have to mail or ship it to who-knows-where, to who-knows-who, that will perform who-knows-what? Catching my drift here?

I don’t want to send anything out of my shop that does not belong to me if I have anything to say about it. Only my pearl and bead restringing work leaves the shop, but not the island; He’s only five minutes away, and have I known him and the excellent quality of his work for twenty-plus years. Everything else is done in my shop pertaining to jewelry. Now my reason for not repairing watches.

Many years ago I accepted (like a moron) two extremely valuable presidential Rolex watches, that mind you, I was told were “running a bit slow.” I realized later it was the couple that brought them in were the ones who were “a bit slow.”

Anyone who owns a Rolex knows that even a simple cleaning can cost as much as $500, and this service is suggested to be performed every three to five years depending on the dusty or damp conditions that the watch is subjected to. In my case there is the cost of insurance and shipping to and from Boston, to the only Rolex authorized watchmaker I trust to perform the cleaning, which would cost $350 each and take at least two weeks. This information was presented to the couple before me and they agreed to
the terms.

And here’s where nightmare begins. The next day after the watch was shipped USPS registered mail (aka safe snail mail) they preceded to call me every day for the status of the watches. Two weeks later the watches arrived, cleaned in and out. The watches honestly looked brand new, and they happily paid the charges.

A week later they came back looking not so happy. Apparently the watches were not running precisely smack-dab on the money on time, one worse than the other, even though they admitted before leaving them with me that they never actually ever told perfect time. (A common problem with many Rolexes.)

Needless to say, the seconds off per day that one of the watches was experiencing was unacceptable considering what they just paid for having “them” cleaned. I sent the “problem watches” back, only to be told by my watchmaker they are running precisely within tolerances, why did I send it back? They were running perfectly, according to Rolex factory specifications, which are three minutes a month, either way, fast or slow. “Are you telling me a
$20 Timex tells better time than a $30,000 Rolex?” he asked. “That would be accurate. No pun intended.”

Try explaining that to these two nudniks. I exasperated myself trying to. I simply reached into my safe and refunded every penny they gave me. End of problem, right? Wrong! They now demanded total satisfaction.

Rather than go medieval on these two, my answer was simple. You brought in two Rolexes that “ran funny.” I had them cleaned by a Rolex-authorized facility, and they now look brand new, and are running as well as a Rolex is supposed to. On top of that, it cost you nothing; I refunded all your money. We are done here. They then asked me who I would suggest to properly fix their watches. I told them I would not send them to anyone I know, that way I’d be saving my colleagues “the pain, anguish and loss of time and money dealing with the two of you.” This was my example of what happens by not doing it on premises, and that is the time, money and risk thing I mentioned. Heaven forbid the watches got lost in the mail. Expensive lesson learned.

Nowadays unless it is a very special brand of watch, meaning expensive, you are better off tossing it. The cost is more to repair most watches than to actually buy a new one. So what’s the point of developing an ulcer over it? The watch ran its course, get over it.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith (who does not repair watches) and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith of Marco Island. He welcomes your questions and comments on all that glitters. 

Randy Wayne White Comes to Sunshine Books

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:44pm


“Seduced” by Randy Wayne White will be released by Penguin Randomhouse on Tuesday, October 18. On Friday, October 21 at 3 PM, Randy will be at Sunshine Booksellers South store. He’ll be talking about his new book, telling a few stories and autographing copies for his many fans.

Due to the fact that our event is three days after the release date, anyone who pre-orders will be able to pick up their book on Tuesday and read it before bringing it on Friday for Randy to sign. This is a unique opportunity for you avid readers to ask the author any burning questions that may arise from reading “Seduced.”

This event is free, open to the public, and a limited amount of priority seating will be available for those who pre-order. If you can’t make the event, but would like an autographed copy of the book, Sunshine Booksellers can arrange it. For more information, call Sunshine Booksellers at 239-393-0353.

Best. State. Ever. A Florida Man Defends His Homeland

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:43pm

Maggie Gust

I have been a fan of Dave Barry’s humor for most of the 25 years that he has been writing columns, so I was anticipating a great read. He starts out with a strong first chapter, in which he takes on the State of Illinois and their penchant for electing governors who end up in prison. This was in response to a member of the media in Illinois who called Barry wanting to know what is wrong with people in Florida. Dave says he gets these calls about the mental health of Florida every few months and he traces it back to the 2000 election. I think all of us living here at that time received at least one phone call or email from family or friends wondering the same thing, “What’s going on down there?”

Barry on the day after election day November 2000: “Meanwhile, the morning skies over the state were darkened by vast fleets of transport planes swooping in from Washington, D.C., opening their doors and dropping tens of thousands of election lawyers. Some landed in the Everglades and were consumed by Burmese pythons. But, tragically, many survived, and, without taking time to remove their parachutes, they commenced filing lawsuits.” Thus was born the nation’s conviction that Florida is full of stupid people. Dave offers a scientific explanation for this proliferation of stupid people living in Florida. Basically, it boils down to the fact that they move here from the other states that roll their eyes when some stupidity in Florida hits the media. “Those of us who live here have to contend with not just our native-born stupid but your stupid, too.” His exposition of the scientific explanation is one of the funniest passages in the book.

The stupidity is enhanced by the weirdness of things that occur in Florida, such as a shark being the only fatality in a traffic accident on I-95 in Volusia County. Four sharks were being transported from the Keys to Coney Island in New York and one of them was ejected from the tractor trailer during the accident, causing its demise. Fortunately, the shark did not strike another vehicle.

Barry admits we are “The Joke State” in the eyes of the rest of the nation, but what really annoys him are the New Yorkers who transplanted here and cannot stop their incessant comparisons. The pizza, the bagels, the sports teams, the newspapers, the theater, and even the water are so much better in New York. Being from the NYC area himself, Barry points out when he goes for a visit, he never mentions that Manhattan smells like garbage during warm weather. “Nor do I observe that when you eat in popular restaurants – after waiting an hour or more to be seated, of course – the tables are jammed so close together that adjoining diners sometimes accidentally put their food into your mouth.”

Yet, despite all this negativity directed at Florida, our population continues to grow. The reasons for this, in Dave’s view: The weather is warm; taxes are low; the women are amazing; it’s not boring; and Florida has Disney World. “It means that wherever you live in Florida, you have easy access to the number one family theme resort in the world. My family can get into our car in Miami and, in just three and a half hours, we can be in the Magic Kingdom, standing in a four-hour line to get into Space Mountain. You cannot put a price tag on a family theme experience like that.”

As I mentioned earlier, I found the first chapter to be the most hilarious. It is followed by a brief history of the state, a visit with the proprietor of the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters in Ochopee (why, Dave, why?), Weeki Wachee and Spongeorama (where he discovers a Mold-A-Matic machine), an overnight stay in Cassadaga the week before Halloween. Here he has a reading by a medium and has his dog’s aura read. Another chapter deals with his excursion to The Villages in search of evidence of the “hot times” said to occur there among the seniors. There is an unremarkable visit to Gatorland. A trip to a gun range in Miami with his wife’s cousin seems to have been his favorite outing involved in the writing of this book. Nothing like the smell of spent shells in the afternoon to put a man in touch with his inner Rambo. In “LIV,” Barry details his date with his wife at this exclusive night club in Miami, where people wait for hours to be “chosen” for admittance. The Barrys were invited guests, so did not have to wait for bouncer approval to enter. Finally, a trip to Key West with a friend for a guys’ getaway closes the book.

Personally, I found the book uneven. A couple of the chapters were vintage Barry, particularly the first chapter. There were photographs for each chapter, which are quite nice. He cleverly used images of the Mold-A-Matic to rate his experience at the end of each chapter. My impression is that he phoned in most of this book. I wonder why nothing north of approximately the Ocala area was included in the book. All the locations he chose were within an easy day’s travel from his home in the Miami area. No Redneck Riviera? Why not a visit to Panama City during Spring Break? A Gator home game? A Seminoles tailgate party? The Blue Angels?

This book is available in audio, hardcover and e-book formats at just about every book vendor. Get your request in at the library – currently there are about 70 holds on queue. My rating is 3 Mold-A-Matics out of a possible 5, due mainly to an outstanding first chapter.

Maggie Gust has been an avid reader all her life. Her past includes working as a teacher, as well as various occupations in the healthcare field. She shares a hometown, Springfield, Illinois, with Abraham Lincoln, but Florida has been her home since 1993. Genealogy, reading, movies and writing are among her favorite activities. She is self-employed and works from her Naples home.  Contact her at [email protected] or  

Broader Scope to Service to Others – Dogs?

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:42pm

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Jory Westberry

Over a decade ago, my husband and I committed to fostering a puppy that ultimately would be assigned to a handicapped or visually impaired person. The organization that we partnered with, “Paws with a Cause,” is based in Michigan.

Our black Labrador puppy was named Opal by the students at Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE), where she attended daily to be socialized through interaction with the students, teachers, small crowds, large crowds and learning basic training commands.

There were a variety of learning experiences for children during Opal’s socialization process, which occurred for the students as well as our assistance dog in training. Although Opal enjoyed these, I think it was the highlight of their day when students were chosen by their teachers to read to her. Of course they had to practice ahead of time and refine their pronunciation (so she could understand them) and use great expression (which perked up her ears). It was a joy to watch our students try harder to read accurately with the incentive of enjoying Opal’s reactions.

Some of the older students took turns walking her with supervision, a great honor, while she galumphed around in her little aqua blue training coat. Staff and students understood that she would be leaving in 14-18 months to go to Michigan for further training and be assigned to a person who needed her skills.

Speakers visited TBE and presented demonstrations with assistance dogs, along with sharing information about various handicaps. Students learned not to pet an assistance dog without permission and a dog’s capabilities after training to do amazing things, such as turn lights off and on, and fetch articles that they knew by name (leash, cellphone, newspaper, laundry basket and more). I believe this was a very positive learning experience for our students. Understanding, compassion and empathy were enhanced and extended by our talented teachers who seized the moments to reinforce character traits that we embraced.

Our creative cafeteria manager, Merle Floyd, created a verrry long cake shaped like a bone for Opal’s birthday. Students wrote Opal letters and stories and, after posting them on the wall for all the other students to read (more literacy extensions), snacked on healthy cake after lunch in honor of our energetic pup, who was not allowed a single crumb of her own cake!

This idyllic experience came abruptly to an end when lawsuits began to erupt about assistance dogs in schools to help students with specific handicaps, and we could no longer have our “puppy-in-training” in the school.

The great news is that there were students and their families that were enlightened and motivated to be puppy-raisers and some have raised more than one pup since that experience. Luckily, there are organizations more local than Michigan to screen families and provide support for them to foster an assistance dog for many important roles, such as: therapy dogs, seizure response, physical disabilities, low blood sugar alert, autism, hearing dog, veterans with PTSD, and combinations of these traits and more.

If you love puppies, have patience and a suitable environment to raise one, are willing to learn about the process and requirements to help someone in need and most important, be comfortable (okay, be reconciled) to send your pup off for further intensive training to make the world a better place for someone, this might be something to consider. Is it hard to relinquish the pup that you’ve raised for 14-18 months? YES. But your dedication and generosity will enable miracles for a person you don’t even know, YET.

Please consider this generous and incredibly rewarding journey to help another human being with a disability. Although I haven’t investigated these sites meticulously, here are some places for you to research: (great information, but now won’t accept puppy raisers south of Tallahassee)

Paws assistance dogs (based in Naples, serves surrounding areas)

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!


Local “Lost And Found” Author Heads to TV

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 9:38pm

Stepping Stones

Bob McConville

Submitted Photos Ashlan and Philippe Cousteau prepare for a shoot overlooking the Marco River at the Snook Inn.

What do you get when you combine high-tech satellite positioning with a search for pirate treasure off the coast of Marco Island? How about a great book with heroes and villains and more twists than a winding staircase. “Lost And Found” is a fictional story by local author and captain, Tom Williams, that was published in 2008.

Satellite images have many practical applications by governments and businesses worldwide in biodiversity conservation, geology, oceanography, education, intelligence and even warfare. When you place this technology in a fictional setting with gold, deceit and a myriad of sultry characters the eventual outcome can only provide great entertainment.

Tom appeared on several radio and TV shows, such as NBC Today, the Daily Buzz and others, to talk about his successful book. The attention regarding a possibility of sunken treasures in South Florida was growing.

As a result of the nationally publicized work, Mr. Williams created a three-part story for a local newspaper titled “ The Lost Treasures of Cape Romano,” and it caught someone’s attention. Out of the blue, Tom received a call from Bob Asher, a producer for the Travel Channel. After a brief phone conversation Mr. Asher decided that he needed to come and meet Tom…all the way from Los Angeles.

The foundation of a new adventure was taking hold. From August 25th through 27th of this year, Asher brought in a camera and sound crew, as well as two hosts, for an upcoming pilot on the Travel Channel. The name of the series will be “Caribbean Gold,” and your guides throughout the journeys will be Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau. Philippe is the grandson of the great explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau.

Excluding any preplanning, in just three days the hosts and crew, under the guidance of Tom Williams, were able to film all of the footage necessary for the first episode of the series. Several area boats were used in the filming, as well as Tom’s pickup truck. Bob Asher said that the truck had “character” and had to be included. Scenes from some of our area beaches will be easily identified in the program as well.

“Caribbean Gold” host Philippe Cousteau is quite well known as an Emmy-nominated TV host, author and social entrepreneur who has established himself as a prominent leader in the environmental movement. Philippe’s inspiration? His grandfather, Jacques. His wife Ashlan has been right by his side during their adventures with “Shark Week,” “Awesome Planet,” “Going Green,” and “Expedition Sumatra.”

Producer Bob Asher is the son of Elizabeth Montgomery, of the TV show “Bewitched” fame, and some of the camera crew just returned from filming episodes of “Naked and Afraid.”

As for local author Tom Williams, his second book “Surrounded By Thunder” recently won the Gold Medal Florida Books Award. When he is not writing he enjoys his two passions: sailing and people.

A master captain for 31 years, Tom escorts guests along our local waters in an eight-meter long sailing vessel for the Marriott Hotel here on Marco Island. With just a handful of eager tourists on board he truly loves the reactions of people as they absorb the area information that he has to share.

So…are there really treasures to be found just off the Marco shoreline? You bet. Pieces of wood with metal hinges dating over 100 years old have been found in our waters. A fisherman reeling in his line here discovered that a single-shot musket was on the other end. Most impressively are the two cannons pulled up, one weighing 2,000 pounds and the other 6,000 pounds. These big guns came from the sister ship of the famed Atocha and they will be featured on the Travel Channel program.

“Caribbean Gold” is scheduled to air on the Travel Channel in early December. No official date has been released as of this writing. So keep your eye on the TV listings. Keep an eye on the water as well. You just might see Captain Tom Williams sailing by, entertaining a few more guests and spinning a yarn about lost treasure!

Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours, providing walking tours in the Big Cypress Preserve. He is also a naturalist for the 10,000 Island Dolphin Survey team. Bob loves his wife very much!