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26th Annual Easter Sunrise Service

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 9:03am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Rosemary Tolliver is ready for the Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach. This will be her seventh year.

The Easter Sunrise Service evokes a joyful sense of community for some and a sacred pilgrimage for others.

“It was pure joy, something I wished I experienced sooner,” said Islander Rosemary Tolliver who was overwhelmed the first time she attended six years ago.

Tolliver tries to gets there early to watch as the people stream down the beach. She enjoys seeing the different collections of people from various walks of life, families and neighbors gathering and discovering each other in the crowd.

“It’s dark when you get there,” she said. “The boats have lights on and it’s exciting to see the sun rise between the buildings.” She is happy that all denominations are welcome.

She prepares the night before by putting her beach chair in the car, and laying out her water bottle and thermos for coffee, clothes, beach hoodie and sunglasses.

It’s relaxed, and everyone is welcome. She enjoys hearing from the different ministers and there is no collection. “All that happiness and joy, and they ask for nothing.”

Tolliver always carries the joy forward. “If you feel good you can transmit that joy to others.”

JoAnn Criss Krejci and Larry Krejci have been attending the service almost since the very beginning. They look forward to attending this year as a married couple. The two have been friends for over 40 years. She was a widow for 11 years and he was widowed for one year; they married last summer. Over the years, they have attended many sunrise services, but this is the first one “that you don’t freeze to death.”

JoAnn appreciates the uniquely beautiful setting while Larry finds it inspiring. “You will not find a more beautiful setting.”

Walking down the beach in the dark, with a chair on her back, and listening to the music is like a pilgrimage for JoAnn. “Everyone is so quiet and reverent,” she said. “Afterwards you leave recommitted to living the way we should.”

Larry looks forward to communing with the people and the Lord. “Everyone is in a joyous frame of mind,” he said. “You can feel the Spirit of God at the service.”

JoAnn’s advise for newcomers: “Be prepared for an unforgettable experience.”

Corky Trebilcock looks forward to Marco’s Annual Easter Sunrise Service.

Corky and Shirley Trebilcock have attended nearly every sunrise service since 1990. The couple loved going to sunrise services back in Ohio, but they were always indoors. They moved into their Madeira penthouse in 2007 and are just tickled that the service is right outside their balcony.

“The unique service is hard to get anywhere else,” he said. “The sky, the boats and the breeze build as the sun rises.”

Although they can watch the service from their balcony, the Trebilcocks prefer to be a part of the action. Two-thirds of their family lives on Marco, so it will be a family affair. They listen to the music and watch the people stream down the beach with their flashlights before it’s time to descend and set their chairs up on the beach.

“It warms my heart to be with the crowd sharing the spiritual aspect of the day,” Corky concluded.


If you go:

What: Marco Island’s 26th Annual Easter Sunrise Service on the Beach

When: 7 a.m., Sunday, April 20, prelude begins at 6:45 a.m.

Where: Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, 400 South Collier Boulevard, Marco Island

Beach Access: North of the Marriott Spa and the public access north of the Madeira Condominium

Participating clergy: The Rev. Kirk Dreiser, Wesley United Methodist Church; the Rev. Thomas McCulley, New Life Community Church; and the Rev. Dr. Steven Schoof, Marco Presbyterian Church

Guest soloist: Dawn Birch of Billy Dean and Dawn

What to Bring: Blanket or chair

Information: 239-394-8186

Invigorating Relay for Life

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:55am

By Melinda Gray

Judy Mayo, valiantly continues the fight against cancer.

Mackle Park was a flurry of activity on Saturday, April 12, as the Relay for Life of Marco Island, presented by Robert J. Flugger, filled it with the sights, sounds and smells of a carnival, bringing people together to “finish the fight” and end cancer by working to find a cure. It seems everyone has been affected by this disease in some way — through loved ones, family members or in fighting their own personal battles with the disease.

Teams, volunteers and attendees united to promote awareness, raise money to benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS) and to celebrate cancer survivors. From the start of the event at 4 PM Saturday to the end at 6 AM the following morning, the course is continually walked in respect for those who lost and those who survived cancer.

This year’s event was dubbed “A World of Hope,” and members from each team — 30 in all — manned individual tents decorated to represent different countries, while other team members took turns participating in the day’s activities. The teams have been raising money for months leading up to Saturday’s relay.

“We’ve had a good time fundraising all year, and this is a worthy cause,” said Chris Pritchard, Toastmaster division governor, who ran a Japanese-themed tent with his wife, Robyn. The couple has been involved in the Relay for Life for many years.

The Marco Island Academy Interact Club spearheaded the idea to form a team for their school. The Leadership class raised $200 prior to the event, and students from the campus volunteered to work the tent.

“That’s what’s really special,” said MIA’s new principal, Melissa Scott, “They forget about being teenagers sometimes, and they are just amazing people.”

“Cancer affects everyone’s lives; they all have personal stories, and I do too,” Scott added.

The Corps of City Employees for Marco Island has been fundraising for months, raising $2,500. Their tent had a London motif and offered relaxing spa services to participants.

“My co-workers and I thought that as public servants we should support something like this, and we all have our personal reasons, too,” said Kate Whitson, planning and zoning technician for the city. Kate and her husband, Randy, participated in the Seventh Annual Marriott Lights of Hope ceremony in February at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa. There, they told the story of the road they traveled together through Randy’s fight with lymphoblastic leukemia.

Luminarias lit the field.

Doug Nettles of My Marco Properties, and his business partner, Loni Atton worked their “USA” tent, complete with apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Also in attendance was Atton’s mother, cancer survivor Susan Flowers, the inspiration for their team.

“We are fundraising, but we are more interested in just being here. We absolutely love being a part of ACS and wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Nettles.

Raul Medina of Suntrust Bank chaired the event for the second year in a row. “The location was great this year, and the community support, with 30 teams participating, was great too. Of course, we couldn’t do it without Lisa Honig and Sue Olszak. Besides everything else they do leading up to the event, they worked all day and night to make sure everything ran smoothly. We had the support of many top notch people. Reaching our goal of $235,000 is amazing.”

Darrell Loan: Thundering Through History

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:28am

By Noelle H. Lowery

Darrell Loan shakes hands with the First Lady of Florida Ann Scott. Loan attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee with author Tom Williams and his wife, Vicki. The reception honored those books recognized by the 2013 Florida Book Awards. ‘Surrounded By Thunder’ received a gold medal. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA

What do a pony and a faulty latch, greased pigs and a donkey have in common with Top-Secret Crypto security clearances, atomic bombs and modern-day ballistic missiles?

Two words: Darrell Loan.

Loan’s name maybe conspicuously absent from the history books, but he was instrumental in catapulting the United States to the front of the Space Race in the 1960s. He spent 26 years with NASA trying to maintain America’s supremacy in space, working as an aeronautical engineer. While Loan never flew a space capsule or sat in the cockpit of a shuttle launching into orbit, he was there — behind the scenes — from the first satellite to landing a man on the moon.

Marco Island resident and author Tom Williams immortalized Loan’s story in a book called “Surrounded By Thunder: The Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocketmen.” Released in August 2013, the book recently received a gold medal in the 2013 Florida Book awards, the most comprehensive state book award program in the country created to honor the best work written by Florida authors and about Florida culture in the previous year.

“Thunder” chronicles Loan’s unlikely journey from a young boy in Iowa trying to understand the impact of the Great Depression and his youth as a celebrated high school basketball star to his collegiate studies at the University of Iowa and his service as a U.S. Army tank commander in Korea to his engineering work with Great Neck, Long Island-based Sperry Corp, the development of the America’s first large ballistic missile Redstone by the Chrysler Corporation Missile Division and the creation of NASA. He worked alongside such historical figures as famed German rocket engineer Dr. Wernher von Braun and Kurt Heinrich Debus, the World War II German V-2 rocket scientist who eventually became the first director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

In fact, without Loan’s work, no one would have heard Neil Armstrong say, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Loan designed the 5-watt communications system that allowed the astronauts to communicate with mission control.

It was this unmined story that had Williams chomping at the bit to write it shortly after releasing his first novel, “Lost and Found.” “I grew up in a small town in eastern Tennessee, and I grew up watching (the Space Race) happen with such great fascination. I fell in love with whole space program thing, and watched every space shot.”

His first meeting with Loan was at the Marco Island Moose Lodge. The two men were sitting there, Loan with a martini and his ubiquitous pack of Marlboro Lites and Williams with his legal pad. “I kept thinking this is going to be really hard,” remembers Williams, and then Loan told him a story that forever changed their relationship.

Williams says: “He said that Chrysler would build the fuselage of the Redstone ballistic missile in Detroit at the industrial reserve aircraft plant and then ship it to Huntsville, AL, where the German engineers were. The missile would then be trucked to White Sands, NM, for testing. He actually said that was when Betty Crocker would show up because General Mills, which made grain elevators at the time, also made part of the launching system for the missile.

“Now, Darrell was the guidance engineer for the missile, and he wanted to be really close to what was going on during the launch. He told me they had to be up close to see. He then told me that they took a bulldozer and created a huge wall of sand about 50 feet from the launch site. Now, mind you, all of the German engineers were safely tucked into a concrete block house about a mile from the launch site, but not Darrell, he was right there. That was the moment I knew. I had to tell the story of that kind of cowboy engineering.”

When you ask Loan about his life, work and the process of putting the book together, his responses are very modest and matter-of-fact. There is no bravado, and he shrugs off the accolades. It was just the life he lived.

“There was a lot going on then, and most of it was not good,” Loan sighs as he takes a puff of his cigarette. “We made a lot of mistakes, but they have it straightened out now.”

“It was interesting,” he adds about working with Wiliams on the book, “because it brought back memories of people I knew and things we did. It was an experience.”

Today, he splits his time between his home in Marco Island and another in Cedar Rapids, IA, where he ran a quarry for 35 years after leaving NASA. He also owns about 2,000 acres of good, rich Iowa farm land where the fields are sown with corn and soy beans. He focuses on his family — daughters Kathy and Debra and son Michael — and he has six grandchildren.

When asked if the team of which he was part understood the magnitude and depth of the work they were doing, he says, “Of course, we did realize it. We were going into an area that no one has explored before. It was very exciting to think that we did the things no one else could do.”

Still, Loan laments the direction the U.S. has taken in recent years when it comes to space exploration: “I don’t think there is enough emphasis to inspire the kids to pursue work in space, especially now that NASA has been disbanded. That was a terrible.”

Both he and Williams hope “Thunder” will help reignite — if even in a small way — the fire in young people for space. “I want (the book) to be something that goes into schools for high school students to read,” says Williams. “This is one of the most fun stories, and all of the side stories not in the history books are in this book…The story is the perfect example of how technology is constantly changing the future. The bigger the goal, the more rapidly the technology in the future changes. Everything we have today is a spin off of the work done there and at NASA. They were sitting at the first PCs at mission control. It blows the mind.”

MIPD Goes High-Tech with Twitter

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:12am

By Noelle H. Lowery

Want to know what is going on with the Marco Island Police Department? Have questions about code enforcement, traffic and marine safety or prescription medicine safety? Interested in the latest MIPD crime report?

The MIPD is turning to technology to help keep its residents informed on all of these topics and more. At the suggestion of new Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt, the police department started using Twitter as its community-wide communications platform on March 15.

“It was my suggestion to augment other public notice methods with Twitter, as it can be more timely for accident alternate routes, etc. for folks not sitting at their computer,” explains Hernstadt.

It is no secret that social media sites like Twitter have become widespread and mainstream, and according to Assistant Chief of Police Dave Baer, MIPD wanted to take advantage of the near real-time aspect of Twitter to provide communications to the community that are more immediate and concise than traditional email. Currently, MIPD’s Twitter feed relays police activity updates as well as traffic, crime prevention, safety and weather information and alerts.

As of the first week of April, MIPD had 109 followers. It had sent out a total of 80 Tweets, and had been “retweeted” about 20 times on the state and national level, suggesting our messages are both resonating and informative, notes Baer.

“The system is working very well, and I would classify it as an unqualified success,” Baer adds. “Twitter is a one-stop destination for the media, residents or anyone to obtain up-to-the-minute information from MIPD. It prevents — if not dispels — rumors, and gives citizens accurate and timely information. Additionally, it provides MIPD with an excellent source of information from our partner agencies.”

Residents may access the department’s Twitter feed in many ways, and do not have to sign up for Twitter to view the link. First, there is a Twitter link on the MIPD webpage: Those with existing Twitter account also can find MIPD on Twitter @MarcoIslandPD. Finally, those interested in signing up for a Twitter account can visit

For those seeking a more detailed account of what is going on with the MIPD, check out the department’s detailed monthly reports via the city’s new Granicus system. The reports can be found online as part of the city manager’s report section of the City Council Agenda. Go to and look for the City Council section.

Policeman of the year

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:04am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff


Sgt. Hector Diaz was named Policeman of the Year for 2013. It’s an honor more distinguished by the fact it is chosen by peers. Diaz is known on the island not only as a long-time policeman, but also as a family man, a coach and a professional fishing guide.

Diaz is a graduate of the St. Augustine Police Academy where he was class president. He joined the Marco Island Police Department in 1999 as a patrol officer. As he was trained as a K-9 handler, Diaz brought a police dog down from Jacksonville and gave demonstrations of the dog’s capabilities at events at Mackle Park. He worked with police dogs for seven years, was a motorcycle officer for another two years and then moved to the Marine Unit. From there, he went back on the road as a field training officer. Diaz has saved a number of lives in his career – more than any other officer – including those of several children.

In August, Diaz will celebrate 15 years of service to the Marco Island community. He was promoted to sergeant two and a half years ago and is still a field training officer.

“Being out in the community and talking to people is my favorite part of the job; talking to the kids at Mackle Park and encouraging them to play sports,” he notes.

Diaz brings a positive attitude to all he does and believes in doing a job well. This philosophy transfers to his coaching style. Many young, aspiring athletes were coached by Hector during his nine years with the Optimist Club and First Baptist. Some of those years he served on the board of directors and as head coach of the entire football program. He also coached soccer.

Hector married his wife Chris in 2008. They have six children. As an avid boater and fisherman, Hector runs Quality Backwater Fishing Charters when he has “spare time.”

Coastal Breeze Earns Seven National Awards

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:00am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The Association of Free Community Papers (AFCP) announced the winners of its annual Best of the Best competition at an industry conference held at Disney World in Orlando over the weekend of April 4. Publications from across the United States and Canada were represented. There were over 1,400 individual entries in 83 categories.


Coastal Breeze News received:

First Place: Andrew J. Shapiro award for Cancer Awareness. This is the third year in a row Coastal Breeze News has won this prestigious award – winning first place, then second the following year and first place again this year.

Second Place: Best of the Best Website Excellence. This is the second year Coastal Breeze News has won one of the top two awards in this category.

Second Place: Best Original color photograph in a sports article went to Victoria Wright for skim boarding competition photos.

First Place and Second Place Best Original writing in a column: Awards went to Matt Walthour for his article Buffalo Soldiers and to Craig Woodward for his Community History piece on Unknown Islands and Marco’s Geological Growth.

Third Place Best Original Writing Opinion: Awarded to Tarik Ayasun for his article entitled Situational Awareness.

Coastal Breeze News also won Third Place under Community Involvement for its annual Galahad Awards program recognizing a citizen, business or condominium for going above and beyond in an effort to save a life. This program is a joint effort between the newspaper and the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation.

Publisher Val Simon attended the ceremonies. “The AFCP puts on an awesome conference. It’s an honor to have our community and newspaper represented among the Best of the Best in this nationwide organization. Others try hard to imitate, but competition is a good thing; it makes all of us strive to be better. Truth is, the credit for the awards goes to the community. Our readers and contributors make awards like this possible. Coastal Breeze News isn’t our newspaper, it is their newspaper.”

Randall Kenneth Jones Speaks at Naples Press Club

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:23am

A virtual “love letter” to his relatively new Naples hometown, Jones’ engaging presentation promises to blend thought-provoking insight with unexpected surprises from his Naples Daily News column, “Business Class.”

“Business Class” is an exploration of positive business principles selected from interviews with high-level executives, business leaders, and business-savvy celebrities.

Essentially, Jones challenges his audience to ask themselves: Do I have “BUSINESS CLASS?”

A self-described “professional storyteller,” his portfolio includes work performed for such household-name clients as TJMaxx, Walgreen’s, Carter’s, GEICO, The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and more.

As the creator of national professional-courtesy initiative, Jones has landed on Public Radio’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal and as well as inside the pages of Smart Business Magazine.

Come prepared to laugh, learn and—according to Jones—“take a swim in our community’s diverse talent pool.”

When? Thurs., April 24 at 11:30am. Where? Hilton Naples, 5111 Tamiami Trail North. Cost? Members are $25 and non-member guests are $30.

The event is open to the public. For tickets, please go to and search for “Naples Press Club.” Advance reservations are required. For information, please email


Somerset Model at Fiddler’s Creek

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:22am

Fiddler’s Creek announces that construction is starting on the brand new Somerset model at Chiasso, a village of 59 classical Mediterranean-style single-family homes in the luxury, master-planned community. Offered by D.R. Horton, the Somerset is a two-story residence offering 3,461 air-conditioned square feet and 4,297 total square feet. The home features a desirable split floor plan with the luxuriously appointed master bedroom, master bath, and a powder bath on the ground floor and three guest bedrooms and three additional full baths located on the second floor. The second floor of the Somerset also offers an entertainment/game room with a sizable amount of storage that is ideal for families. Pricing for the Somerset currently starts at $608,990.

For membership details and more information on this gated golf course community in Naples, offering move-in-ready and new homes call 239-732-9300, stop by the Fiddler’s Creek Information Center at 8152 Fiddler’s Creek Parkway or visit at




JCMI Bingo

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:21am

George D. Smith of Harlan, Indiana, was a big winner at Monday night Bingo at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island. He is being congratulated by Bernie Seidman. Bingo is being played every Monday. Doors open at 5:30 PM. The Public is welcome.

Cultural, Art, and Theater Organizations Unite!

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:21am

Recently, the leaders from a number of not-for-profit 501(c)3 organizations announced the formation of the Cultural Alliance of Marco Island & Goodland (CAMIG). Each one of these organizations delivers quality cultural education and entertainment to residents and visitors to Marco Island, Goodland and surrounding areas. Although independent, they share a passion for artistic expression.

Membership organizations include Goodland Arts Alliance, Greater Marco Family YMCA, Island Theater Company, Marco Island Center for the Arts, Marco Island Foundation for the Arts, Marco Island Historical Society, and The Marco Players. In the next several months, the group plans to formalize their structure, develop a strategic plan, and seize opportunities to enhance our cultural hotbed for the arts. To reach a member of the Cultural Alliance of Marco Island & Goodland, contact Beverly Dahlstrom at or Bruce Graev at

Apple Blossom Teacher of the Year

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:20am

The Naples Alliance for Children will honor a person for the Collier County Apple Blossom Teacher of the Year Award on Friday, April 7. A Greater Marco Family YMCA preschool teacher has been named as one of the nominees. Kelly O’Connor is the preschool teacher for the 4-5 year old classroom.

Charlene Garcia, Youth Development Supervisor at the Marco Y, outlined the reasons that O’Connor should be an Apple Blossom Teacher of the Year Award nominee. “Kelly has been the pre-K teacher since January of 2012. When she started, the pre-K program was in a period of transition from the loss of the previous program instructor. The Greater Marco Family YMCA made the commitment to find an individual who was caring, compassionate, loving, and made learning fun.” The award celebrates outstanding early childhood practice in the education of children – infancy through five year olds who attend non-public schools.

The Odd Couple

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:19am

The Odd Couple, a classic comedy that earned Neil Simon his first Tony Award premiered on Broadway in 1965 and is one of the playwright’s funniest works.

Gina Sisbarro will direct this hilarious play packed with comic situations involving a circle of kooky acquaintances and neighbors. The Children’s Theater cast of characters include Luke Sheldon playing Oscar Madison; Cooper Ussery playing Felix Unger; Eddy Ludwigsen as Murray; Josiah Hurtley as Speed; Ryan Sullivan as Vinny; Joey Golec as Roy; Dylan Dodgers as Mac; Abby Martin as Gwendolyn; Mariel Sanchez as Cecily; Marley Wilson as Blanche Madison and Jessica Lang as Frances Unger.

The Odd Couple performance dates are April 25, 26 & 27. On Friday and Saturday, doors open at 6:30 pm for the 7:00 pm show and on Sunday, doors open at 2:30 pm for the 3:00 pm show. Tickets ($20 for adults and $10 for students) are available at The Marco Players Theater online box office at or by calling the theater at (239) 642-7270.


15th Annual SWFL Soapfest

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:19am

Soapfest, one of Marco Island’s most beloved charity events for almost two decades, returns for its annual weekend festival featuring daytime celebrity actors and signature events to raise funds for local children’s charities.

Tickets are now on sale for the 15th annual Southwest Florida Soapfest Charity Weekend May 23-26, 2014.

“This year’s SoapFest children’s beneficiaries include Camp Able and the Island Theater Company Kids Program, among others” says SoapFest founder Pat Berry. Camp Able provides a program for local special needs children.

The three days of non-stop festivities include favorites such as the legendary “A Night of Stars”, “Cruisin’, Boozin’ and Schmoozin’ with the Stars”, “Celebrity Karaoke Bar Bash”, and “Brunch with the Boys”.

“All levels of Sponsorships ($250 – $10,000) are available and offer personalized marketing opportunities to local businesses and individuals who want to reach Marco Island residents and upscale visitors while supporting local children,” reports Ms. Berry. Call the Soapfest office 239-394-0080 for information on sponsorships.

Tickets for all events, updates to schedules, including current actor attendees, can be found at Tickets may also be purchased by phone by calling 239-394-0080.


Manatee Speed Zones in Effect

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:17am

Now that weather and waters are warming, manatees are disbursing into their popular feeding and loafing areas. To ensure manatee safety, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers, along with federal and local law enforcement partners, will be increasing patrols in these areas.

This effort coincides with seasonal manatee zones that went into effect April 1 and run through Nov. 15. The speed zones are intended to protect the state’s official marine mammal from collisions with boats.

Boaters should pay strict attention to signs that delineate each seasonal manatee protection zone and their boat’s speed. Boaters and others who find sick or injured manatees should report the animal and its location to the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. For more information about Florida manatees, visit, where you can access the Boaters Guide To Living With Manatees brochure.

Public Online Access to Court Records

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:17am

The Florida Supreme Court recently released Administrative Order SC 14-19 Standards for Access to Electronic Court Records, lifting a moratorium for Clerks who wish to provide public access to electronic court records online. Before the new online access is made available to the public, each Clerk of Court must have their application reviewed and approved by the Supreme Court.

In Collier County, the Clerk’s staff is hoping to provide online public access to court records within the next six months. Once the Clerk’s application has been approved by the Court, the public will be able to view court records online using ShowCase, the Clerk’s court information system. After a successful launch, the current public inquiry system will be phased out over time.

To receive updates or announcements related to the progress and plans of this effort, sign up to receive the Clerk’s eNewsletter or read the “Notices” on

Local Ducks Unlimited Makes Top 100

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:17am

The Top 100 is one of the most highly sought-after titles of recognition Ducks Unlimited offers to its local chapters. Each year, the list is comprised of the top 100 fundraising chapters in the United States that raise up to $100,000 through fundraising activities in their communities. Through the efforts of these volunteer committees DU is able to pursue its mission of conserving, enhancing and restoring North America’s wetlands. In 2013 the Naples chapter made the Top 100 list as one of the organization’s best fundraising chapters. Visit to see the full Top 100 list for this year.


New Program Heals Vets and Saves Pets

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:16am

Collier County Veteran Services and Domestic Animal Services (DAS) are teaming up to support veterans and give shelter pets a second chance with the creation of Operation Welcome Home: Shelter Pets for Vets. The program is dedicated to supporting veterans and providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with America’s veterans who could benefit from a companion animal at no cost.

If a successful match is made, the pet will receive the appropriate training and begin its new life serving a deserving U.S. veteran. For more information, call Daniel Christenbury, Public Information Coordinator, at (239) 252-6956.

Look out for Gopher Tortoises

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:16am

A gopher tortoise strolling across a road or through a backyard or field is a common sight during spring in Florida. Yet as tortoises become increasingly active this time of year, they are vulnerable to being struck by vehicles and injured or killed. Don’t forget to look out for these slow-moving reptiles with their bony-plated shells and elephantine legs.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages drivers to slow down on highways to help protect the state’s gopher tortoises. If a gopher tortoise is crossing the road, it is OK to pick it up and move it to safety – but keep it pointed in the direction it was heading and do not put this terrestrial animal into the water.

People can report injured or dead gopher tortoises to the FWC by calling 850-921-1030during weekdays or by contacting the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922. Harming a gopher tortoise, its burrows or eggs is against the law.


Stamp out Hunger

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:15am

Saturday, May 10 marks the 22nd anniversary of America’s largest-single day of giving — the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive in Partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, Campbell Soup, Feeding America and other partners.

Currently, 49 million Americans—1 in 6—are unsure where their next meal is coming from. In 2013, 74 million pounds of food was collected by Postal carriers nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people. Over the course of the 21-year history, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food.

Just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by the mailbox on Saturday, May 10, and the Postal carrier will do the rest. It’s that simple and millions of Americans will be helped. Learn more about the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive and Feeding America today!

Road Watch Report

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:15am

US 41 at Pelican Marsh Boulevard: Work on this project includes installing pedestrian features and upgrades to meet current ADA standards, connecting existing sidewalks to ramps, installing signal back plates, and pavement markings. Project completion is expected in spring 2014.

I-75/Alligator Alley Rest Area at mile marker 63: Work continues to build two recreational access areas adjacent to the Big Cypress National Preserve backcountry trails, replace the existing rest area, build a new public safety center and water treatment plant, and upgrade the existing wastewater treatment plant. The entire rest area is closed until project completion, estimated Fall 2014. The design/build contractor is Stantec/Wright Construction Group.

US 41 from SR 951 to Greenway Road: Crews continue work to expand two-lane US 41 to six lanes from SR 951 to Joseph Lane and to four lanes from Joseph Lane to Greenway Road. A 30-foot median will separate northbound and southbound travel lanes. The project also includes a 10-foot multi-use pathway along southbound travel lanes and a six-foot sidewalk parallel to northbound lanes. Median openings spaced throughout the project allow for left turns and U-turns. Crews also replace the traffic signal at Manatee Road. Project completion is expected in fall 2016. The design/build team is Wantman Group Inc./Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, LLC.