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Updated: 16 hours 32 min ago

Relay For Life Turns 30!

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:30am

Lisa Honig

The American Cancer Society of Marco Island is excited to announce that Relay For Life of Marco Island is scheduled for April 18-19 at Mackle Park. Relay for Life is the single largest fundraising event in the world, and in 2015, we are recognizing 30 years of raising funds so that researchers can find treatments, preventative measures and cures for cancer.

For Relayers around the world, this anniversary is particularly meaningful as the founder of Relay For Life, Dr. Gordy Klatt, passed away last month from heart failure after a long struggle with cancer himself. This year, in addition to celebrating and remembering our local survivors and those we have lost, we will be walking to honor him and his vision to create an event that would serve as the cornerstone of fundraising for the American Cancer Society.

For 30 years, Relay For Life has been basically the same with little change to the “formula” for the event. This year, we are being given some flexibility in how we stage our event that should make it even more successful, and I hope these changes will attract more volunteers to our team! The changes include a new committee structure that spreads out the workload to minimize the time commitment for most positions and the option to shorten the event to better match the needs of the community. As most of you know, Relay For Life has traditionally been an overnight event (that is no longer a mandatory requirement), and our new committee will be deciding what hours make the most sense for us. Don’t worry, we will still have our traditional opening ceremony, survivor/caregiver laps and reception, luminaria ceremony and closing ceremony!

Relay For Life has three main objectives: Celebrate (our survivors), Remember (those we have tragically lost) and Fight Back (support the mission by getting the word out and fundraising for research and services). Relay For Life is not a walk or a run but a movement where teams of individuals, businesses and others work together to raise awareness by holding an event that everyone in the community can participate in, attend and enjoy. Yes, we walk the track but in a team format taking turns throughout the event so no one has to walk the entire time (although some do). People of all ages can participate in Relay — it is a true family affair, and for the committee and all the teams, a labor of love.

What should you do if you want to learn more and/or become involved? Whether you are an avid Relayer or brand new to the event, please join us at the Committee Rally on Aug. 26, at 5:30 PM at the Marco Island Fire Station training room. Come meet our new chair, Jamie Bergen, and other committee members who will be there to brief you on Relay and to share with you the roles available and job descriptions for each of them. This is an informational event, and there will be no pressure to commit on the spot. We want to expand our team and need volunteers with a variety of backgrounds, interests and skills who are passionate about ending this disease.

I hope you will consider taking a few minutes to join us on Aug. 26 and learn about the revamped Relay For Life and how you can help make a difference in someone’s life. I look forward to meeting you there!


This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about The American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood, Unit 101 and is open daily from 9AM-5PM. For more information about volunteer opportunities, events and services please contact Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800 ext. 3891.

To Thine Own Self…

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:29am

Artful Life
Tara O’Neill

I recently overheard a conversation between two professional photographers. One emerging; the other well-seasoned — both artistic. The seasoned artist is fabulously known for a certain genre of photographs, with a few variants, and is quite successful. The emerging artist utilizes a wide-range of subjects.

“I admire your dedication to your subject,” says our emerging artist.

“Don’t worry,” says the seasoned artist, “you’ll find your niche.”

“I hope not!” says the emerging artist.

And I said, “Bravo!” I was witnessing, and admiring, a sense of adventure in the emerging artist that was too strong to be extinguished by good sense.

Years ago, I participated in a 10-month art marketing salon that really made me step up my professional game. I’ve also read books and attended seminars to help me better manage the business side of my creativity. Through it all, I found that most marketing gurus insist you focus on a single style and genre in order to promote work that clients can recognize as yours. Lovers of art feel good when they recognize a painting as being created by Pierre Bonnard or Georgia O’Keefe or Tara O’Neill; it means they know something. They’re smart. They’re savvy.

Furthermore, the gurus tell us, marketing and promotion take a lot of time away from the studio, and if you’re going to try to sell two different products — let’s say wildlife sculptures and abstract paintings — then you will need to come up with two different marketing plans, mailing lists, promotional materials, web-sites, etc. Want to add impressionist paintings? Well, that’s a third business because it’s a third target audience, so you best get yourself a manager.

Is all this true? Well, sure, but what happens when you allow the truth of business to stifle your creativity? One thing that can happen is you get dull, flat and uninspired; not good when your stock in trade is originality and perspective. Art is not a business for sissies, but for some of us, it’s the only business. Of course, the battle between creativity and consistency exists in all industries — or at least it should.

What to do, what to do. First, don’t try to hide from the conflict. Jump in there with the rest of us and resolve it in a way that’s aligned to your nature. Can you commit to only one initiative? What sort of recompense would it take to forsake all others?

I’ve spent most of my career promoting myself as a painter, but there has always been so much more, artistically, that I’ve wanted to investigate and experience and share. I keep track, take notes, make sketches and plan. I even dare to dabble — privately. The result? My mind is open. It’s alert. It’s alive. Creative thinking solves most of my life’s dilemmas, not just the professional ones, and someday, when I feel I have both a quality — and a quantity — of off-canvas works, I hope to astound myself and you.

I also plan on thanking that emerging-but-wise photographer for inspiring me to shake things up a bit, indulge myself, and get on with it.

I’ve always been perplexed by the prevalence of “I’d rather ____” bumper stickers. “I’d rather be sailing”! (or “fishing!” or “skiing!”) exclaim car bumpers throughout the land. Why are these people driving around boasting of their discontent? I’d like a sticker that says, “If there’s something I’d rather be doing, I’d be doing it!” So, take THAT, you marketing gurus!

Anybody know any good business managers? I’m probably going to need one.

About The Author Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at

New Laws: Part 3

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:23am

Condo Law
By Bob Murrell
Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A.

In this issue, we will continue to look at the new laws signed into law by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on June 13. Today, we will continue to look at House Bill 807 and its impact on cooperatives under Chapter 719 and homeowners’ associations under Chapter 720.

Many of the changes to Chapter 719 were simply Acatch-up@ additions to the statute to bring Chapter 719 more in line with Chapter 718. The first of these was the inclusion of all telephone numbers in a directory and the right of the owner to consent to additional information, just as we saw in the prior amendments impacting condominiums.

Also, just as we saw with Chapter 718, an outgoing board member or committee member must relinquish all official records and property of the association in his or her possession, or under his or her control, to the incoming board, within five days after election. If not, the outgoing board member may be subject to a civil penalty.

Another area of catch up that the legislature was making was in changes to Section 719.104(4) of the Cooperative Act. This section has been amended regarding the required year-end financial reports for cooperative associations. The statue will now provide, like the Condominium Act, that within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year or calendar year, or annually on the date provided in the bylaws, a cooperative association must prepare a financial report covering the preceding fiscal year. The report must be provided to the members, or made available, no later than 120 days after the end of the fiscal year, calendar year or date set forth in the bylaws.

The required financial statements include a compiled financial statement for those cooperative associations with annual revenues between $150,000 and $299,999; a reviewed financial statement for cooperative associations with annual revenues between $300,000 and $499,999; and audited financial statements for cooperative associations with revenues in excess of $500,000. Associations with total annual revenues of less than $150,000 shall prepare a report of cash receipts and expenditures. The law exempts cooperative associations operating less than 50 units. By a majority vote of the members, an association may waive the required reports (although some type of report is always required) but for no more than three consecutive years.

Board eligibility for cooperative associations also was addressed by the legislature in this new statute, again to be more similar to the requirements for condominiums. Section 719.106(1)(a)2, Fla. Statute, has been amended to provide that a person who has been suspended or removed from office by the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes is not eligible to be a candidate for the board and may not be listed on the ballot. In addition, persons who have been charged with theft of association funds may not serve on the board while such charges are pending. Also persons convicted of a felony are not eligible for board membership unless their civil rights have been restored for at least five years as of the date such person seeks election to the board.

The final item impacting cooperative associations, which also mirrors the Condominium Act provisions, are emergency powers granted to the board of directors. Such powers that are granted include the power and authority to determine when the property must be evacuated and granting the board power to prohibit property owners from returning to the community until it is determined that it is safe to do so. The power granted is limited to that time reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the association and the unit owners and their family members, tenants, guests, agents or invitees.

Next, we will look at the changes to the Homeowners’ Association Act, Chapter 720.


The Future of Social Security: Safe, Stable, Secure or Uncertain?

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:21am

Ask The CFP® Practitioner
Darcie Guerin

“I was too old for a paper route, too young for Social Security and too tired for an affair.” Erma Bombeck, U.S. humorist, 1927-1996)


Question: I’m curious, since I’m planning to retire soon, what is the outlook for Social Security?

Answer: You’re in luck, on July 28, 2014, the Social Security Trustees released their annual report providing insight to their financial condition. This is national Social Security awareness week so you’re in good company. Plenty of retirees and pre-retirees are discussing their cash flow needs and income resources. Here are some highlights from the Trustees 2014 report (available at

Social Security Statistics

• The maximum annual Social Security benefit for someone retiring today at age 66 is $30,396.

• The average benefit received by retired individuals and married couples, respectively is $14,748-$23,928.

• Social security payments represent 40 percent of the average wage earners post-retirement income.

• Between 1965 and 2011, the U.S. population grew by 50 percent. During this same time, the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits during this period grew 510 percent.

• In 1935, the ratio of workers paying taxes into the system versus retirees withdrawing funds was at 40:1. Recently, this fell to a low of 2.9:1, and by 2030 ,will drop to 2:1.

What is Social Security?

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935, which was designed to pay retirement benefits to workers. In 1939, survivor benefits were added with disability benefits appearing in 1956.

Ida May Fuller of Vermont was the very first recipient of a Social Security retirement benefit. Having paid $24.75 into the system, Ida retired in 1949 and received $22,888.92 in benefits. Ida retired at age 65 and lived until age 100.

There are two parts to Social Security: the familiar retirement income benefit, which is the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program, and the Disability Insurance (DI) program, which is intended for disabled workers and their families. The combination of these two is OASDI. Payroll taxes are collected from workers to fund each component. Under Federal Law, Social Security can only invest these funds in securities issued or guaranteed by the Federal Government.

2014 Report Highlights

• If payroll income taxes alone won’t fully cover benefit payouts, the annual report states that payments will be covered until 2034 for OASI and 2016 for Disability Insurance.

• It is projected that the OASDI fund reserves will increase through 2019. By 2020, expenses will exceed total income and the U.S. Treasury will need to redeem trust fund asset reserves. If Congress doesn’t act before then, the combined trust fund reserves are depleted in 2033.

• When trust fund reserves are gone, incoming payroll tax revenue should cover 77 percent of scheduled benefits. This means that 20 years from now, if no changes are made, benefits could be 23 percent less than expected.

• Projections show that the DI Trust Fund reserve will be depleted in 2016, just two years from now. Legislative action is needed as soon as possible. Once the reserve is gone, income to the fund will only pay 81 percent of DI benefits.


Even if math isn’t your strong suit, it is clear to see that the future of this program is precarious. The program was designed when conditions were much different. Life expectancies have increased dramatically, and we’re drawing more out of the system than ever imagined. There are fewer workers paying into the system than ever before, and the rate of return on assets invested in the Trust funds is low (1.87 percent average during 2013). It is clearly important to have additional funds set aside for your retirement in addition to any anticipated Social Security payments you’ll receive.


Social Security plays a role in the lives of 59 million beneficiaries and 165 million covered workers and their families. Addressing problems now increases the likelihood that Social Security can continue to protect future generations. Here are a few suggestions our lawmakers are discussing:

• According to this year’s report, adding 2.83 percent to the current Social Security payroll tax, if done immediately and permanently, would address the revenue shortfall.

• Raising the ceiling on wages currently subject to Social Security payroll taxes ($117,000 in 2014).

• Increasing full retirement age to 67.

• Reducing future benefits, especially for wealthier beneficiaries.

In the meantime

Recognize that your financial future is largely in your hands. You can take control by anticipating your cash flow needs and identifying potential income resources. Continue to follow the news for any new developments or proposed legislation to reform Social Security, understand your own benefits and what you’ll receive from Social Security based on current law. Save as much as possible for retirement.

The job of planning for retirement never ends, even when you’re retired. The decisions you make in the months and years leading up to retirement have considerable impact on your future. Get them right, and you could be one of those retirees who can honestly say they’re “living the dream!”

Stay focused and invest accordingly.

Information obtained from outside sources is believed to be accurate. This information is general in nature, it is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision, and is not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any particular investment. Investing involves risk and the possible loss of principal invested, investors may incur a profit or a loss. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and subject to change at any time.

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.”


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


Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:20am

Body, Mind And Spirit
Laurie Kasperbauer

“Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom …Our thoughts,our words, and deeds are threads of the net we throw around ourselves.” — Swami Vivekanada


Most of us have heard of karma. We consider it to be the result of an incident or series of incidents that happen by chance that create either positive feelings (“good” karma) or negative or cautious feelings (“bad” karma). I’ve had both lately and the effect was the difference between feeling consumed with joy and appreciation of life, and feeling fearful of the next step and what catastrophe might ensue.

Bad karma afternoon: I was getting ready to leave the house, in a bit of a hurry and wearing sandals with heels. I was rushing through the house with my mind a few steps ahead of my feet, when I fell. My feet slipped right out from under me, and I landed on my wrist, dislocating my shoulder.

That same day, I was chopping vegetables for dinner. As I sliced away at the carrots,I was thinking about the celery and onion that lay in wait when the knife pared my pinkie instead of the orange root, and less than an hour later, with a bandaged finger and my left arm fairly useless, I was pulling a pan from the oven when I dropped the oven mitt on the hot coil, resulting in sparks, smoke and more than a few choice words.

I remember thinking: “What’s next?” Instinctively, I dreaded the next accident, or mistake, that would cause me pain or frustration. I was under attack by the spirit of evil karma.

Fast forward a week or so, I had the opportunity to teach the best-of-all-beach-yoga¬ experiences: a sunrise-full moonset class on Marco Island’s south beach. At 6:15 AM, I was on the beach with my lanterns and candles, full of excitement and anticipation.

There were just a few big, billowy clouds over the Gulf, and the full moon shone through them like a lighthouse beacon. As we yogis assembled our mats in the sand and began our morning practice, the moon did, indeed, set as the morning sun rose over our shoulders. And, as if it were all orchestrated by some divine maestro, with arms raised and masterful intent, a rainbow appeared before us. Just like that, a magical moment of joyous karma that promised this day to be full of beauty and positive energy.

So, what is karma exactly? Where does it come from? How is it created, and does it truly have the power to steer the path we follow?

Rolf Gates is a retired military officer, now a master yoga instructor, author and former partner of yoga giant Baron Baptiste. Gates/ book, “Meditations From The Mat,” is a journey through the eight limbs of yoga via essays and inspirational writings of ancient philosophers, modern-day songwriters and yoga gurus. Gates writes, “Imagine that each one of us lives at the center of a spider’s web of his or her own making. The threads of the web are our thoughts, words and deeds; all together, these strands form our karma.”

Yoga teaches us many lessons, but the basis of them all could be condensed into one simple rule: be present in the moment. What has already happened is history and cannot be undone. We waste precious energy and space in our conscious minds reliving the conversation or the action that we want to take back or change.

With equal entanglement and anxiety, we look to the future, rehearsing a confrontation we see as inevitable. Looking right past the moment we are in, how easily we can slip and fall, or pare out a piece of ourselves that serves us best today, in this moment.

I want to create my own karma. With my actions, my deeds, my thoughts and my choices, I choose to see the rainbow that appears overhead. By taking a few quiet moments to listen to the rhythm of the simple inhale and exhale of my breath, I can be here and now. Yoga teaches us to acknowledge the thoughts that enter in but not to marry them. If it doesn’t serve me well, I think I’ll let it go.

In a recent conversation with my sister, we were talking about relationships. We agreed that as we get older we tend to gravitate toward those connections that bring joy to our lives and avoid those that need negativity to thrive. She said, “If it doesn’t decorate my life, I don’t need it.”

So, maybe karma IS the assertion of human freedom. If we create our own beautiful web, through our thoughts and our deeds, we will be decorated with the joy and the acceptance that is held in the present moment. Without judgement or anticipation, we will be free.


Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.

Never Too Cool to be Schooled

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:13am

By Matt Walthour

Is this the favorite time of year for parents?

For most kids, it’s not theirs because it’s time to head back to the classroom!

There are a lot of things to think about before getting the kids ready for school. Kids have lists now of what they need. I sure don’t remember a list? We just had a back pack (maybe), a three ring binder or 5 subject spiral notebook, and off we went. Some kids did have all the goodies though: pencil boxes, pocket protectors, high tech calculators. But, that seemed to cover it all.

With all there is to worry about today — between the books, bags, cell phones, clothes — a lot of things still can be forgotten. I am sure you have all thought about transportation. Are they walking? Taking the bus? Being driven? Or my favorite: bicycle.

If by bicycle, I have a few tips that may help that day of bicycling to school ease your mind. Even if you don’t have any kids bicycling to school or you don’t have any kids at all, some of these safety tips apply to all of us. Even if you don’t ride a bicycle at all, it’s always good to know there are others out there pedaling, especially children.

So if your children will be bicycling to school at any time during the school year, or bicycling in general, here are some important tips that are published on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. Take the time to go over the rules below, and your child — or even you — will have a more pleasant bicycling experience.

Top Bicycle Safety Rules

1. Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet to protect your head — every time you ride.

2. Use a bicycle that is the appropriate size for you, not one that is too big or even to small.

3. Before you ride, make sure you don’t have any loose clothing, drawstrings or shoelaces; They can get caught in your chain and make you fall.

4. Have an adult check the air in your tires and that your brakes are working before you ride.

5. Wear bright clothes so others can see you at all times of the day.

6. Stay alert at all times; never listen to music when riding. Pay attention and watch for cars, people, and other bicyclists around you.

7. Don’t bicycle at night. If you must ride, make sure your bike has reflectors and lights and wear retro-reflective materials on your ankles, wrists, back and helmet. Lights are required by law.

8. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic by looking left-right-left to make sure no cars or trucks are there.

9. Learn and follow the rules of the road.

Rules of the Road

1. When riding in the road, always ride on the right-hand side (same direction as traffic).

2. Obey traffic laws, including all the traffic signs and signals.

3. Ride predictably — ride in a straight line Don’t weave in and out of traffic.

4. When riding on a sidewalk, show respect for the people walking on the sidewalk. Ring your bell or verbally alert them to let them know you are coming, and always pass them on the left.

5. Look for debris on your route that could cause you to fall off your bicycle, like trash, stones and toys.

Here is a bit more in-depth knowledge to guide parents in assisting their children in bicycle riding to and from school.

1. Inspect Your Child’s Bike

Going back to school is a perfect time to give your child’s bike a safety inspection. You’ll want to look over the following: brakes, wheel alignment, seat, handlebars, pedals, tires, axle nuts and bearings and chain. (If you feel inadequately knowledgeable to do this effectively, a bicycle shop is a great place to go.) If needed, replace, tighten or adjust bike components so that your child has a safe bike to ride.

2. Insist on a Helmet! It’s the LAW!

They may not be the most fashionable item, but helmets are essential to safe bike riding. Head injury is the leading cause of death in cycling accidents, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that proper use of helmets by kids ages 4-15 would prevent around 45,000 head injuries annually. This is a statistic not to be a part of for sure! Insist that your child wear a helmet when riding!

3. Ride Smart

Teach your child to choose the best route to a destination. Take a day to either drive the route, or better yet bicycle the route. For instance, avoid busy roads when there are quieter routes to the same place. If possible, ride on bike paths. Always observe stop signs (even if no other vehicle is visible), yield signs and other traffic markers. Use extra caution when passing driveways and entrances to businesses and housing developments and when riding in parking lots. Encourage them to walk their bike across busy intersections.

4. Signal Your Intentions

Teach your child to use proper hand signals to alert others of their intentions.

Left turn: left hand and arm held straight out, pointing left

Right turn: left hand and arm held straight up or right arm held straight out, pointing right

Stop: left hand and arm held straight down

5. Road Safety

It’s time to have a little chat with your child about basic road safety when riding a bike. For instance, teach them to ride with (not against) traffic and on the right side of the road. Ride with someone else, if possible, and always ride single file. Never attempt to ride on the handlebars of someone else’s bike or invite a friend to try riding on your bike while you’re driving it.

6. Time to Reflect

Encourage your child not to ride their bike when it’s not daylight out. If they do need to ride in the early morning or evening hours, make sure their bike is equipped with reflectors and front and rear lights. Another great idea is to wear bright clothes or even a safety vest.

I always enjoyed riding my bicycle to and from school, but safety was always important. With all the new advancements and safety equipment for bicycles nowadays, there is no reason not to have a safe yet enjoyable experience in riding either to school, work or even a 100-mile jaunt.


   As drivers, here are a few tips:

1. Go Slow at Intersections

2. Use Sound Warnings

3. Use Your Signals

4. Drive With Lights On

5. Be Alert and Use Caution Near School Buses

6. Watch Your Door


Matt Walthour, a Marco Island resident since 1985 is a graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and is the owner of Island Bike Shop and Scootertown on Marco Island and Naples. He is also a member of the Marco Island bike path ad-hoc committee.

How to Avoid Being Swindled – Part Deux

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:06am

Richard Alan

This is sort of a part two of an article I wrote a year ago regarding the wonderful world of jewelry scams, as well as some hard knock personal experiences and advice on how to avoid getting bitten by one.

Ah! The cruising vacation. It’s the excitement of being on the open seas — sun, fun, food and cocktails. Beware of venders hawking loose precious gemstones and gold chain-by-the-inch, especially if you have had a few. Sure the prices seem cheap because they are. The so-called gems you are purchasing are mostly rejects from the jewelry industry: poor color or badly cut irregular size gemstones that don’t fit any type of setting what so ever. Most require a custom-made setting created by a goldsmith, such as yours truly, and that can make that seemingly inexpensive purchase cost you a bundle later when you want to set your purchase into something you can wear. A large 10-karat blue topaz purchased aboard ship for a couple of hundred dollars can easily cost a thousand or so because you have to set it in an enormous ring or pendant setting.

Another on-board ship scam is the gold chain-by-the-inch. This gold chain-by-the-inch is the most misleading of scams. First of all, anyone with six inch rolls of “gold” is certainly not selling you real gold; it is simply gold plated brass or some other worthless metal underneath. When I questioned a chain-by-the-inch vendor, he outright lied and said it was gold or silver (also plated) chain. They will skirt around the truth on what you are actually buying and size you up on how ignorant you are about the subject. That way they can charge a little or a whole lot per inch. Now, he or she cuts it to size; slaps on a couple of jump rings and a worthless catch on one end; and there you have it.

A couple of seasons ago, a woman asked me to appraise such a chain she bought at a fair right here on the island for $299 from such a vendor; the plated chain’s value was $10 at the most. The handwritten receipt with the vendor’s name and phone number described clearly as a 20-inch, 14kt gold chain. We called the phone number. You guessed it. Not in service. He drove off into the sunset to another fair to do exactly the same scam in another place in paradise.

If you pay around $10, it’s worth it. Only down side is if you wear it, in a couple of weeks, the plating comes off, and it will eventually turn your neck green. Great deal! What do you expect for a gold chain that costs $10 bucks? It’s when you pay hundreds that it really hurts.

And speaking of cocktails, in foreign countries don’t shop for fine jewelry while intoxicated. That’s when the scammers smell green — namely your green backs. You are more likely to wind up being a victim of one of the oldest scams on the books; the bait and switch. I have seen the results of this scam performed in even “trusted” jewelry establishments. (Those include the ones sanctioned by the cruise ship companies.)

It involves being shown a really, really nice diamond set in a ring of her dreams, a bit of haggling while in the fog of a half a dozen mojitos, and the cost of the ring becomes the deal of the century. Only problem is while the salesperson is congratulating you on a wonderful purchase, another salesperson ringing up the sale is switching the ring you thought you bought with another that is exactly the same ring, only it has a really, really crummy center diamond.

Unless you are really sharp, the switch will go unnoticed until you get home and the ring gets appraised for a third of its purchased price. The result is a buyer’s remorse hangover.

The most prevalent scam is the so called “private jewelry auctions” you see advertised almost every weekend. They usually take place in major hotels for “two or three days only.”

My advice: Don’t go! In my 40-plus years in the business, I have yet to see a single piece of hotel auction jewelry worth anywhere near the purchase price, not to mention the horrendous quality of the diamonds and so called gemstones. Despite my warnings and advice, islanders still are drawn to this weekend nonsense that more often than not always ends badly for the buyer.

Under-karating is a problem both domestic and overseas. It involves buying gold jewelry that may be illegally stamped 22kt, or .750 (18kt), and even .585 (14kt), when in reality it is 10kt gold or even lower.

The up side is at least it has some gold value, but it does not have the purity you thought you paid for and will tarnish easily. Just multiply this scam times 50-100 duped tourists a day, and the dubious gold vendor will be racking up a very pretty profit per month. I have seen numerous cases where the purchases were purity stamped gold and not have a single gram of gold at all — just a heavy gold plating on the surface.

Purity stamps should be on any gold item purchased. The following may help if you buy gold abroad:

• 24kt: 99.99 percent pure gold

• 22kt: 91.6 percent pure gold

• 18kt: 75 percent pure gold with 25 percent base metal, such as brass, silver or copper alloy

• 14kt: 58.5 percent pure gold with 41.5 percent base alloy metal

• 10kt: 41.7 percent pure gold and the alloy dominates the piece of jewelry

• 9kt: only 37.5 percent pure gold.

In some European counties 9kt and 10kt gold jewelry is considered costume because of its impurity. Another tip: High karat jewelry, such as 22kt or 18kt has a noticeable heft. The more pure the gold, the heavier it feels. Look at the catches and connections. If they seem flimsy or of poor craftsmanship, the piece is most likely fake, or as we in the business call cheap jewelry used in a scam, “a gaff.” Also glued in gemstones are a sure sign of crummy quality.

And remember the old saying, “If it is too good to be true, it most likely is!”

About The Author Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or

Goodland Gator

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:04am

Melinda Gray

Working around so many alligators has desensitized me to some of the panic, but how can I not respect a big guy like Creepy, pictured here at Corey Billie’s Airboats?

There’s a new predator in town, and he’s causing quite a stir.

An alligator rumored to be at least eight feet long has been trolling the canals and causing unease amongst Goodland residents. Buzz about frequent sightings has been swirling for a few weeks now, but following a recent uncomfortably close encounter, a call notifying the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was placed. On Aug. 4, Ray Simonsen Sr., one of Collier County’s four nuisance alligator trappers, came down to assess the situation.

“With the influx of fresh water sheeting, and the end of alligator breeding season, it’s common for them to come closer to saltwater if they have sustained wounds fighting for territory or a mate,” said Simonsen.

There is now a 45-day permit on this particular alligator, but many times reports aren’t made because people equate calling the FWC to signing that animal’s death warrant. Simonsen said he doesn’t kill the animal unless it’s absolutely necessary. His class 2 license allows him to transfer a live animal to a farm, facility or attraction that can house them in a confined area; he deals with an alligator farm in LaBelle.

This may just ease the minds of residents and visitors at Calusa Marina, who have also had a few unnervingly close calls. Jamie Oglesby, a self-employed boat cleaner, does much of his work underwater at the marina. He said that there are two alligators that have been coming and going for months, but now the encounters are getting more dangerous.

“I’ve been diving with it in the water for a while, but I’ve seen people feeding it, and now it’s starting to come over and check everyone out,” said Oglesby.

Of particular concern are children playing in or around the water. Oglesby reported that recently the alligator approached two children who were playing on the boat ramp at Calusa Marina.

I keep a watchful eye on the water as my children swim in the canal behind our house.

“People feed them fish guts, and they’re not supposed to; and if you’re feeding the fish, birds and turtles, then ultimately you’re feeding the gators,” said Simonsen. “It’s against the law. It’s a misdemeanor felony to feed the wildlife, especially gators. The FWC is cracking down on it, and they should. It’s going to put someone into serious jeopardy.”

I admit, at high tide, my kids love to swim right around our boat; it’s one of the only ways we’ve found to beat the heat here. Needless to say, I’m not quite as comfortable with that as I once was.

To report a nuisance alligator, call the FWC’s nuisance alligator hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR.

Melinda Gray studied journalism and political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Before relocating, she wrote for The Vindicator and The Jambar in Youngstown, and is currently a contributing writer for an emergency preparedness website. Melinda now lives in Goodland with her two children. She can be contacted at or 239-896-0426

Late Summer Fishing in 10,000 Islands

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:01am

Capt. Pete Rapps

Jasen Gilbert with a nice Pompano.

As August rolls into September, we are at the peak of summer heat and rainy afternoons here in the 10,000 Islands. Day time air temperatures will average around 92 degrees. Water temps will hover around 86 degrees. Typical to our summer months, it will heat up so much by mid-day, that the bite will usually drop off by lunch time. We will still get mid-day storms, which will cool things off a little, and will again produce a late afternoon/early evening bite.

Snook season opens up on Sept. 1. Many areas around the state are about back to full strength on snook populations since the big freeze and snook kill of 2010. Although we are catching some really nice snook here in the 10,000 Islands and the Everglades National Park, I personally feel they have not populated back to full strength. Because of this, I am an advocate of practicing catch and release fishing for snook to assure our children and their children will always be able to enjoy catching these fantastic game fish the same as we have in years past.

The snook are feeding on a good moving, outgoing tide around the outside barrier islands. Try those live baits for your best numbers. I like pilchards, thread herring and pinfish. Try them under a cork or just naturally free lined for best results. Artificials are always a productive and a fun way to catch snook too. I really like to use DOA Terror Eyz, 3” Berkley Gulp Shrimp or buck tail jigs, and a nice flashy top-water plug will get the job done too.

The trout are around the shallow grass flats in decent numbers. Hit your favorite spots the last hour or two of the incoming tide. Most of your bites will happen in the 3-5-foot depth range. They will hit artificial bait just as well, if not better than some live baits. I use 3” Berkley Gulp Shrimp, DOA deadly combos and of course live shrimp under a good popping cork. Trout are a mild and delicious fish to eat. You can keep four trout per licensed anger between 15-20 inches, however one of these four may be over 20 inches.

Fish for redfish on an incoming tide on the outside oyster bars with live shrimp, pilchards or thread herring under a popping cork. Of course, many artificials are equally as good, such as a gold spoon, Gulp! shrimp or a buck tail jig. Redfish are also a fantastic fish to eat. You can keep one redfish per licensed angler between 18-27 inches.

Tarpon are still around, although not in as many numbers as early summer. The big gals will be out feeding on the outside bays and flats early in the morning and again late in the afternoon. In our area, they are naturally looking for ladyfish, thread herring and pilchards. My choice is to live line one of these delicacies out to them on a nice stout spinning rod. If you have opportunity to sight fish for them, try a large soft plastic bait like a DOA Swimmin’ Mullet.

If you are looking for instruction or want to learn our techniques, let’s get you out on a charter, and our captains and myself will be happy to give you all the guidance you need to have a successful day out on the water.

About The Author Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park. Capt. Rapps’ top notch fleet accommodates men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, and those with special needs. Between their vast knowledge & experience of the area, and easy going 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 web site for Booking info, Videos, Recipes, Seasonings, and more at 

Solid Contact = Better Golf

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:58am

Golf Tips
Todd Elliott

In the past decade, golf instruction has evolved, mostly due to the TrackMan Radar System. TrackMan analyzes the entire ball flight and the club head from waist high to waist high. Trackman measures 26 different data points and parameters based on these analysis. Technology has had an impact on many businesses, but Trackman has been revolutionary for golf instruction because it has helped disprove previous ball flight theories.

Theodore P. Jorgensen wrote “The Physics of Golf” in 1994. This book changed my teaching beliefs and has helped me become a successful teacher. There is no guessing for me during a lesson. Based on a student’s ball flight, I know the club face direction at impact and the club head path.

D-Plane is a new golf instruction theory that originated from “The Physics of Golf.” TrackMan uses the D-Plane theory to produce data. TrackMan and D-Plane teach us two important facts that a golfer needs to know. First, D-Plane teaches that the face direction at impact determines the golf ball starting direction, and club path into the ball determines how the golf ball will turn after the initial launch. If the club face is aimed right at impact, the golf ball will start to the right. If the club path comes over the top or comes from the outside, the golf ball will turn right for a right-handed golfer, also known as a slice.

A great example is Bubba Watson’s wedge shot that hooked 60 yards around the trees during the first playoff hole at the Masters. If you observe a picture that shows Bubba’s impact position the club face is slightly open. For those who think a hook is because the face is closed at impact, this examples shows that theory is incorrect. The announcers on TV many times are not up to date with ball flight laws and communicate incorrect facts.

Secondly, the D-Plane ball flight theory only works if the golf ball is contacted in the center of the golf club. Off-center hits make the club face move at impact, and the golf ball turn after the initial launch. This is known as Gear Effect. For a right-handed golfer, if the toe of the club face contacts the golf ball, the club head will turn to the right, and the golf ball will turn left. The exact opposite will happen if the golf ball strikes the heel of the club head, as seen in the picture. How can this ground breaking information help us play better golf?

Never do anything in the golf swing that compromises solid contact. A golf instructor cannot evaluate your ball flight correctly unless the golf ball is struck solidly. Ninety percent of my lessons are focused on getting the student to hit the golf ball in the center of the club face. When solid contact is achieved consistently, I can fix a student’s ball flight.

To achieve solid contact, try practicing with face tape on the golf club, or mark the club face with a dry erase marker to determine where on the club face you are contacting the golf ball. If you are consistently contacting the toe or heel of the club, go to Walmart and buy a beach noodle. If you are hitting the golf ball in the toe, put the noodle inside the golf ball when practicing. The noodle goes just inside the club head at address. If you make the same swing that resulted in a toe hit, the beach noodle will go flying. The noodle is a good teaching aid because it will not hurt if you hit it. This will help fix the problem without thinking too much. The only thought will be: Do not hit the noodle.

The most important step when trying to hit the golf ball solid is getting custom fit for golf clubs. When fitting golf clubs for length, I am only focused on club-to-ground contact. I am not worried about how tall you are or how long your arms are. If you are hitting the ground behind the golf ball with a standard length golf club, I will have you try a club that is ½ inch short of standard shaft. This will usually raise the club face contact from the ground to the golf ball. The contact may be low on the face, but I have taken the ground out of play. No one has ever hit a golf shot when hitting the ground first.

The next step is fixing the improper swing technique caused by the improperly fitted clubs. Fitting is all about impact and ball flight. Golfers who have extra-long clubs have no chance to make solid contact consistently. The golfer inevitably has to stand up in the posture on the downswing to miss the ground. How consistent can you be when moving your body and arms vertically when making a downswing? Having a driver or irons that are extra-long help hit the ball farther one out of 10 swings. However, the average distance will be dramatically farther with a club golf club that is fit properly.

This is the same reason why swinging hard does not help golfers hit the golf ball farther. Solid contact is the key to hitting the golf ball farther, hitting the golf ball consistent distances with each club, and hitting the golf ball straight. Making solid contact equals lower scores. I would not recommend the recreational golfer study Trackman and D-Plane, but I do suggest taking golf lessons from a PGA Professional who studies them both.

Go see your local PGA Professional to see how you can achieve solid contact consistently.


Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”


Are You Nutrient Deficient?

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:56am

Crystal Manjarres

Do you struggle with losing weight? Do you exercise and feel that you eat “right” and yet the scale never seems to budge? Maybe you should inspect your diet a little bit closer…

The truth is that we are an overfed and undernourished society. How can there be any truth to this oxymoron? Well, for starters, we are filling up on the wrong kinds of food. Forget about the food guide pyramid — don’t even get me started on that mess of a guide.

Do you crave sugar? If yes, you could be deficient in magnesium. You also could be eating sugar on a regular basis, and your body has now become addicted to it like crack (seriously, the studies are damning). I’ve even found that despite eating clean, some days I was ravenous for either carbs (think brown rice) or sweets (like chocolate). I zeroed in on my diet and found that on those particular days, I happened to be in a hurry and as a shortcut I’d use store-bought salad dressing on my greens (instead of my own), or I’d use a condiment like ketchup instead of forgoing it completely. It turns out that both of these seemingly harmless additions were laced with either sugar or high fructose corn syrup! Just because something says “natural” or “no preservatives” or other similar terms does not mean they aren’t the devil in a bottle! All they are doing is hiding their pitchfork and horns so that you don’t see them for what they are behind that label.

Do you eat a lot of meat? Some experts have said that the excessive amount of animal protein leads to a loss of calcium. According to Dr. Gillian McKeith, “calcium deficiencies inactivate enzymes involved in metabolism.” I believe that there is more to this story than meets (haha, get it?) the eye. Perhaps if the protein were considered more of a side than the main dish at every meal, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Once again, you can never go wrong with eating more veggies!

Do you drink lots of coffee, sugar or alcohol? Do you rely on laxatives or diuretics on a regular basis? If so, you could be potassium deficient. Among a host of other benefits, potassium helps regulate water and mineral balance in the body — and as such is great for helping your heart. When potassium levels are lowered due to poor dietary habits and medications, it allows the body to hold onto excess acids, which wreak havoc on our metabolism not to mention the body’s ability to digest foods. If an overweight person has low potassium levels, you can bet that they could also have high sodium levels. The higher the sodium level, the more potassium we need.

So by eating foods rich in potassium and keeping packaged foods, fast foods and our salt shaker at bay, we can help restore the symbiotic relationship between potassium and sodium, and hence help our body function the way it was designed to.

I hope that by now you’re starting to get more particular about what you are eating. Remember, if you want to look and feel like a Ferrari, you need to invest in that superb fuel! Go the extra mile to take care of you, and your body will reap the rewards!


Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email She can also be reached at or and 239-333-5771.

Do You Have the ‘IT’ Factor?

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:52am

Doug Browne

Jimmy Connors. FILE PHOTO

There is an abundance of outstanding athletes in this world, yet some stand out from the rest of the pack. We are riveted by their excellence.

In examining this incredible group of “IT” athletes, a few of these elites rise to the top: Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Edwin Moses, Steffi Graf, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Roger Federer, Rod Laver, Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Steve Prefontaine, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays.

What is the balance between genetics verses blood, sweat and tears? How did these athletes come by this elusive “IT” factor? DNA? Natural drive?

My personal take is that the legends in each sport have a special genetic component that separates them from the pack. However, it must be noted that each special athlete must add the hard work quotient, or we will not see the amazing results. How does one recognize a person with the “IT” gene?

To me, this person exudes a quiet confidence that allows them to believe they can succeed in the most difficult circumstances. When the pressure is overwhelming, this special breed of cat steps up and relishes the moment.

Going back to my childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I grew up with this type of confident person who knew how to yield this influence even when we played table tennis. It was uncanny. Anytime there was something riding on the outcome, this young man pushed out his chest and proceeded to come through in the clutch.

In my opinion, what truly separates this tennis player from the others is a lot of winning, and that includes practice sessions. If we move back in tennis history, legend Jimmy Connors and his agent broke away from the rest of the players and participated in the events they wanted to, even if they had to form their own tour. In doing so, Connors amassed quite a record of Tour victories and his confidence grew by epic proportions. By breaking away from the rest of the pack and exploring new destinations and competing against new people, Connors gained experience he would have never amassed had he not traveled his own path.

Clearly, Connors was winning big point after another, and he felt invincible. By the time he entered a Grand Slam tournament, he literally ran to the court to see who his next victim would be. When winning becomes a habit, confidence soars, and the player has calmness when facing pressure.

On the other end of the spectrum, an athlete on a losing streak feels like they can never recapture his or her winning ways and begins to tense up and force the action. This self-doubting player is in quite a fix, and now requires a top coach to help dissect the problems and assist with building confidence.

There is such a fine line between success and failure; the key is not to get too high or too low. The tennis player, who believes that luck was not a part of his achievements, is simply fooling himself. I was not present when New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio put together his 56-game hitting streak, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the ball slipped past a few dozen fielders during that incredible span.

Do you remember the bizarre high-ball that American Andy Roddick poorly judged during the Wimbledon final against Roger Federer? It appeared that young Roddick was on the verge of winning his first Wimbledon crown when “Fed” mishit a ball that may or may not have landed in, but at the last moment, Roddick lunged and tried to hit a high volley and failed. This commentary is not to criticize Roddick because he misjudged a strange ball, but more to explain that the great ones need a little help sometimes.

There are countless situations in tennis where the end result is altered by luck; Rafael Nadal had a relatively easy passing shot against Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open Final when he missed the stroke by an inch and then lost the match. In hindsight, Nadal would not have let up and just go about his business and hit a decisive stroke.

In my own career, the ball has bounced in the right spots as well as the ball missing the mark, and it clearly affected the outcome. Is it the cosmos making a strange statement from above? Gosh, I don’t have enough knowledge of the supernatural or whatever to even venture an educated guess, but something seems to happen in the world of sports.

To me, all of the special “IT” athletes seize the moment and love both the process and the actual event. It is said that basketball great Larry Bird would purposely practice the most difficult and usual shots from the wackiest areas of the floor.

Why? From experience, Bird was cagy enough to know that he wasn’t the quickest NBA player and had to be creative to get a shot to win a big playoff game.

Yes, I witnessed such a stroke against my Portland Trail Blazers in his last great game before retirement as he faded away from two defenders and banged one in to force triple overtime.

Just last week, young Rory McElroy drained the key putt to put away golfers Ricky Fowler and Phil Mickelson and claim his fourth Grand Slam title. Due to his recent winning streak, he had no doubt as he lined up his putt and stroked it with a quiet confidence that left no doubt who is the best golfer today.

So, any time you have the opportunity to witness true greatness, take a seat, get comfortable and enjoy the ride. There are just so many “IT” athletes in all sports, and we must witness their quest to be the best of all time.


Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.


High Praise for NCH Physicians

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:50am

Straight Talk
Allen S Weiss, M.D.
President & CEO NCH Healthcare System

Today, I’d like to pay tribute — “give props” for you younger readers — to the 111-strong NCH Physician Group, which has become by far the biggest group practice in Collier County from Bonita to southeast Collier County and Marco Island, and continues to grow in multiple ways.

Last year, 17 physicians joined Chief Administrative Officer Zach Bostock, ably helped by Administrative Director Pat Read, Administrative Assistant Lindsey Shanks and the team. With two months to go in our financial year, another 16 physicians have been added, and we’re in active discussions with six more physicians. (Some are local with full practices, and others are from outside our region.) We have experienced an 11.7 percent increase in the number of new patients with a similar increase in total office visits this past year. Little wonder that physicians are soliciting us to join the team.

The NCH Physician Group includes nine physician assistants and seventeen nurse practitioners. It’s the only group in the region certified by The Joint Commission, the nation’s premier accrediting body, which advances strict requirements for quality and safety.

In the current uncertain healthcare environment, a successful physician group must offer easy access, high efficiency and reasonable cost. To make access easy, we now have InQuicker (, a website that facilitates easy access to either of our emergency rooms (Downtown and North Naples) and our two urgent care centers (Marco Island and Vanderbilt Beach Road).

If you have active bleeding, a broken bone, chest pain or some other life-threatening reason, then you need immediate ER access, but a patient not requiring immediate treatment can set an appointment time via the Internet and then wait comfortably at home. InQuicker will be broadened soon to include more than just ERs and urgent care facilities with office visit appointments being available online in the near future.

In terms of quality of care, metrics for the 37 primary care physicians (Family Practice, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine) and 48 specialists are measured and shared including mammogram compliance, diabetes monitoring and other disease specific measurements. Physicians have a deep passion to bring quality care to patients every day; that is reinforced by having access to timely, accurate and relevant information.

In terms of leadership, this week Dr. Karen Henrichsen was elected as the new chair with Drs. David Lamon, Damian McGovern and Gary Swain as new members of the NCH Physician Group Board. Dr. Henrichsen is the physician leader of our outpatient computer system conversion to our robust inpatient Cerner system. This fall, a patient’s electronic medical record from the NCH Physician Group and the entire healthcare system will become one seamless electronic document. We thank past Chair Dr. Robert Hanson, Dr. Mary Ann LoMonaco and Dr. David Lindner for all their service and contributions from inception to transition to the current very successful growth.

We also plan to have senior Mayo Clinic surgical residents from Jacksonville broaden their experience by pairing up with NCH Physician Group surgeons for a rotation at NCH, another excellent outgrowth of our Mayo affiliation. We also are pursuing graduate medical education with an internal medicine program to interact with both the inpatient and outpatient professionals at NCH.

As we develop outside the traditional four walls of the hospital, our goals remain to have physicians aligned, focused on prevention, obsessed with quality and thoroughly skilled in communication. The clinical competence of the NCH Physician Group is pivotal in helping us ensure that our patients live longer, happier and healthier lives.


In September 2006, Dr. Allen Weiss was appointed president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System, a 715-bed, two-hospital integrated health care system. NCH is one of only twenty hospitals in the country affiliated with Mayo Clinic, and has been named three times by “U. S. News and World Report” as best in the region and among the 50 best cardiovascular programs according to Truven. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and completed his training at both the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Hospital for Special Surgery of Cornell University. He also had a solo practice in Rheumatology, Internal Medicine and Geriatrics for 23 years, and is board certified in all three specialties. He is recognized both as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology. His wife, Dr. Marla Weiss, is a writer and educator, and they have two daughters who are physicians.

Just Horsing Around

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:49am

By Mike P. Usher

Tonight, the eastern sky is dominated by the Great Square of Pegasus (the winged horse). The square forms the body of the horse while fainter stars form the neck and forelegs. The fairly bright, slightly orange star of Enif marks the muzzle. The asterism of the square is really quite easy to spot. If you don’t see it at first, think large; each side of the square is about 15 degrees on a side, so the entire asterism covers a big chunk of sky.

An interesting test of the quality of your sky can be done by counting the number of stars you can see inside of the square. If you can count a dozen or so, congratulations, you have a fine dark sky! On the other hand, observing from suburban skies, count yourself lucky to see any stars at all inside of the square. Only try this on a clear moonless night.

There are few deep sky objects visible with binoculars in Pegasus, the brightest being the globular star cluster of M15 near Enif mentioned in the previous column. Also located here is a cluster of five galaxies called Stephan’s Quintet that almost everyone has seen a photograph of but few can name. The photo appears in the famous move “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the scene where the angels are having a conversation; the galaxies serve as a stand in for heaven. Alas, Stephan’s Quintet is far beyond the range of binoculars and all but the largest amateur telescopes.

Tacked onto the rear of Pegasus is the fairly bright constellation of Andromeda. Technically speaking, the lower left star of the Great Square belongs to Andromeda and not Pegasus, although few people indulge in such hairsplitting. Most people just consider the star, named Alpheratz, shared equally between the two constellations. A galaxy that is within range of binoculars and even the naked eye resides in Andromeda. To spot it with your eyes, wait for a moonless night when Andromeda is higher in the sky; check out the accompanying chart for location.

As long as you have your binoculars out, see if you can find Uranus. The planet is rather farther than usual from us at the moment and is not quite visible to the naked eye, especially as it is close to the horizon. It’s dead easy to see with binoculars, though. The main problem is to identify which of the numerous stars in your field of view is really the planet. Currently, Uranus is in a region of the sky that is star poor, so it’s probably the brightest object in your field of view.

See you next time!


Mr. Usher is a Director of the Everglades Astronomical Society which meets the second Tuesday of the month Sep. thru May at 7:00PM in the Norris Center, Cambier Park, Naples. E-mail:

Public Safety Center on Alligator Alley

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 9:44am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services staff has announced that construction of the long-awaited Public Safety Center fire station facility on Alligator Alley is nearing completion. Located at Mile Marker 63, the county anticipates beginning services by the fourth quarter of this year.

First approved in 2011 by the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, the fire state will be operated by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and the Bureau had pursued a fire station and Public Safety Center for many years in an effort to decrease response times to vehicle mishaps and other emergencies on desolate sections of I-75 in Collier County.

Legislation passed in 2014 (HB 7175) provided that the FDOT will build the facility as originally legislated, and fund operations from July 1 of this year through no later than June 30, 2018. Collier County will identify a funding source for operations beginning July 1, 2018, per most recent law and the county’s Interlocal Agreement with FDOT.

Funding for the equipment and personnel was just recently made available to Collier County, but Bureau of Emergency Services Director Dan Summers has been planning for staffing, equipment and commissioning of the station throughout the last year. Apparatus and equipment orders will be placed in the next several weeks.

Preliminary equipment for the station will include a quick-response “wildland” fire vehicle, a high capacity multi-purpose tanker and a heavy-duty rescue truck for extrications. The vehicle delivery schedule ranges from four to 11 months after the orders are placed.

Fire rescue vehicles will be staffed with firefighter-emergency medical technicians and a paramedic to provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) using advanced medical supplies and a heart monitor defibrillator. The fire rescue station has a “helispot” for medical and fire service helicopter operations, as well as a standby generator. Additional equipment may be needed to provide emergency services to hikers and campers along the nearby Old Florida Trail.

To assure the fire facility is prepared to provide emergency services soon, Collier County has arranged a fire truck rental while other fire and rescue resources are being acquired and manufactured according to order specifications.

Collier County expects to begin services in the October/November timeframe, or earlier if the equipment arrives and the building reaches final completion.


Theater Camp: ‘Into The Woods’

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 11:10am

By Noelle H. Lowery

Cinderella (Abby Martin) and her Prince (Jonny Hurtley) are blissful in granted wishes.

In its summer camp grand finale, the city of Marco Island’s annual theater camp pondered the consequences of wishes and dreams in its production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods.” Directed by Booey Blassneck, campers performed the musical for the city’s Camp Mackle and during two Aug. 9 performances at Marco Players Theater.

Premiering on Broadway in 1987, “Into The Woods” is the story of a baker and his wife and their fondest dream to have a child. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong! Their story is woven among the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales — Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella — and is fraught with gallant princes, conniving witches, angry giants, enchanted animals and lots of magic. The moral of the story for every character is to be careful what you wish for because even when you get it there is always another something to wish for.

The cast included Mickey Poling, Abby Martin, Cameron Campbell, Ryan Sullivan, Jessica Lang, Marley Wilson, Seneca Lowery, Tessa Pofahl, Olivia Ayasun, Emily Boxma, Maggie Poling, Ellie Poling, Mikayla River, Kyan Sue A Quan, Laura Poelstra, Calahan DeAngleis, Joey Golec, Josiah Hurtley, Jasmyn Biocic, Jonny Hurtley, Carson Essi, Brain O’Brien, Everett Essi, Jenna Golec, Lian Koenkova, Nicole Paul, Kaitlin Campbell, Alyssa Kirstein, Elizabeth Nash, Emilee Morris, Reese Jones, Katya Diaz and Mariel Sanchez. The backstage crew included Sanchez, Eddy Ludwigsen, Sandra Martinez and Marcus Martinez. Lighting was designed by Matt Martinez, and the set was designed by Megan Hine.

Grants Awarded by Noontime Rotary

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:53am


The Rotary Club of Marco Island (Noontime Club) recently announced the list of organizations receiving grants from their fund-raising efforts of the past year.

Topping the list is $36,000 for college scholarships for local students. The club is currently providing $3,000 per student for this academic year to a total of 12 students. They are at various stages of their college careers and must maintain an acceptable grade point average and carry at least 12 credit hours in order to remain eligible for their scholarships each year. The club has been awarding scholarships to local students since 1973.

The next largest allocation of $7,000 was to the Greater Marco Family YMCA for their Summer Program. Other local grants awarded were as follows: Honor Flight at $500; The Joy of Giving at $3,000; Project Graduation of the Naples Y at $1500; Meals on Wheels at $500; St. Matthew’s House at $500; and Habitat for Humanity at $500. Most recently, Rotary held a fundraising event on Aug. 12 at The Snook Inn for Meals of Hope, where more than 100 attendees donated $4,000 — enough money to package more than 11,000 meals.

In addition, Rotary also has designated $1,000 to support its Rotary Interact Program at Lely High School and $2,500 to send students to the Rotary Seminar for Tomorrow’s Leaders in 2015.

International projects include Eyeglasses for Mexico at $3,165; Project Education Foundation at $500; Clean Water Project in Guatemala at $2,500; Clubfoot Correction Project at $2,500; and $500 for the Philippines Medical Mission.

Fundraising success to support all these grants came primarily from two sources: the Seafood Festival, a joint effort of the Rotary Club of Marco Island, Kiwanis Club and Sunrise Rotary, and the Spirit of Marco Awards, which are held annually. The Noontime Rotary is pleased to utilize these fund-raising dollars in support of our community and around the world.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Marco Island, visit

Sensational Sharks: Important Part of the Marine Environment

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:51am

Nancy Richie

If you haven’t heard, its Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week — a week of pseudo-science and, sometimes hilarious, propaganda.

Since 1988 — yes for 26 years and making it one of the longest running cable television series — this annual week of television programs on the Discovery Channel has evolved from educational programs that raised awareness of shark population decline and the importance they have in the oceans’ ecosystems to fictitious stories and ludicrous accounts of mega sharks in the waters throughout the world. Entertainment has trumped science, which does not bode well for the sharks’ conservation. The bloodletting episodes during Shark Week and bloody, distorted remains typically seen hanging on display after a “big catch,” hardly represent a living shark, an animal that has amazing, graceful and powerful swimming and survival capabilities.

Sharks collectively are among the most common large vertebrates, but there is relatively little known about these fast-moving, far-ranging fish. They are difficult to study, but as scientists push deeper and deeper into the oceans, more valuable information is and will be unveiled. Locally, sharks in the nearshore waters of Marco Island are very common and range in size, types and habitat needs. All play a very important role in a healthy marine ecosystem. Though, if you have been watching Shark Week over the past few years, you may think each time you step into saltwater you could lose a limb, but here is some perspective: Since 1882, (yes, circa 1882) the International Shark Attack File has recorded 687 unprovoked shark attacks with 11 fatalities in Florida. Collier County has contributed only 7 attacks; no fatalities.

Here are just a few local species of sharks to be on the lookout for:

Bull Shark: (Carcharhinus leucus) Southwest Florida, particularly the 10,000 Islands, is home to a very large population and a nursery ground for this species. Pale to dark grey on its back (dorsal) and white below, the fins of the young are black-tipped but fade in older sharks. The snout is very short; shorter than width of mouth. Size can be as heavy as 500 pounds and 11.5 feet in length. A very aggressive shark while feeding in nearshore waters near sandbars and in estuaries.

Great Hammerhead: (Sphyrna mokarran) No one can mistake this species, considered to be one of the most advanced shark species and very dangerous to humans, with its flat, wide head, a nearly straight anterior margin of the head with a deep indention in the center and its eyes located at the ends of the broad head giving it a 360 degrees ability to see. They feed on rays, fish and other sharks and tend to not be cautious or afraid to approach people. It can reach 20 feet in length.

Bonnethead: (Sphyrna tiburo) With a rounder head and only reaching 3.5 feet in length, this species of “hammerhead” is commonly along the nearshore waters traveling in schools of 5 to 15 individuals feeding on small fish, shrimp, mollusks and crabs. Fishermen frequently catch this species. They should be released alive.

Black Tip: (Carcharhinus limbatus) This fast moving shark in nearshore and offshore waters is often seen leaping and spinning out of the water. It is a dark gray or can be dusky bronze depending on its environment with its snout as long as the width of its mouth. Its dorsal, pectoral and lower caudal fins are black-tipped, though its anal fin is white. It can reach 9-10 feet in length.

Tiger Shark: (Galeocerdo cuvieri) Another very large shark that can exceed 18 feet and weigh up to 2,000 pounds, it is bluish/greenish gray to black above and dirty yellow to white below with the back having a mottled appearance as a juvenile and coloration forming bars or stripes in large sharks, hence its name. The caudal, or tail, fin is very long and pointed.

Nurse Shark: (Ginglymostoma cirratum) A sluggish shark, commonly seen lying motionless on the sea bottom near reefs or sand bars, it is medium to dark brown on top and lighter on the bottom; juveniles are spotted. It has long tapering nasal barbels, and the first dorsal fin originates back over the pelvic fin area. It can grow large, up to 8 feet and 350 pounds, but is not aggressive, though one should always show caution.

Conservation of sharks is very important to the health of the marine ecosystems. Sharks are top predators in the Gulf of Mexico (and all other oceans) and tend to have lower population numbers than other fish. They have slower growth rates, mature later in the life cycle and have less offspring. Overfishing can decimate a population quickly, and it could take generations to recover.

Due to these factors and to protect the marine ecosystems, there are regulations to shark fish. A saltwater fishing license is required in the state of Florida to recreationally (and commercially) fish for sharks. There are size and number limit requirements for different species. All Florida fishing regulations can be found at

If you are fishing and catch a shark, handle with care while removing the hook and do release the shark alive. There is no need to kill a shark just for the fun.


For more information on wildlife on Marco Island, contact Nancy J. Richie, Environmental Specialist, City of Marco Island, at 239-389-5003 or


What Birds Eat… The Beak Can Tell the Tale

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:48am

Stepping Stones
Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

A tri-colored heron’s long beak makes it a great spear fisher.

Have you ever seen a reddish egret dance along the shoreline to snag a meal? How about a great blue heron sitting trance-like on a mangrove branch just one foot above the water to catch a fish? Or an osprey swooping into the water feet first to grasp its prey?

There is such a variety of bird life in the Marco area, and they capture their next meals in several different manners. One physical feature can tell you something very unique about their diets. Take a look at the shape of the bird’s beak.

Also known as the bill or the rostrum, the size and shape of many birds’ beaks can explain their diet and eating habits. Because of the individual techniques for obtaining food, the size of the next meal and source can vary greatly. For the most part, the birds on and around Marco Island can be placed into one of four categories: wading birds, shore birds, raptors and song birds.

Great Egret lunge with their neck forward to catch fish. PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

WADING BIRDS: The most common wading birds in the area are the great egret, snowy egret and the great blue heron. All of these have long, thin beaks and long necks. Quite often, they will stay motionless in the water or on a branch just above the water. The neck will be tucked back far enough that it can lunge forward when a fish comes within range. They also will eat lizards, frogs insects and even rodents.

My favorite wading birds to watch while feeding are the reddish egrets. They have a very unique dance that they perform along the water’s edge. They will energetically run in shallow water seeking prey. They will throw open their wings to reduce the glare of the sun on the water to more accurately spear a fish. It is quite a sight to see.

SHORE BIRDS: Gulls, terns, willets and other such birds own this category. Their beaks and legs are much shorter than the egrets, so we can expect their diet to be different as well. Though some will fly above the water to seek food, many are content to travel the shoreline looking for aquatic invertebrates. It is not uncommon to see them rush toward the water on an outgoing wave, search for food, and then run back up the shore as the wave returns.

My favorite bird to watch in this category is the black skimmer. The lower beak is slightly longer than the upper, and the skimmer will fly along the water, mouth open and capture any small fish at the surface.

SONGBIRDS: Sparrows, warblers, thrushes and jays are the dominant birds here. Much smaller than the species mentioned above, they have a different menu because of habitat and size. Predominantly, they dine on grasshoppers, crickets, moths and the seeds of some grasses. The beak is much shorter, as well as the legs, simply because they are adequate at that size to catch this type of prey.

RAPTORS: Eagles, ospreys, hawks and falcons are the primary predators in this category. They are completely different from any bird mentioned above in that the beak is short and very sharp, and they will swoop down, grab prey with their talons, and fly the catch to another location.

Osprey will pick up their prey in the water and fly it to another location for consumption.

This type of beak allows the raptor to “rip and tear” the meal for consumption. Although fish is the staple of their diet, they also will eat snakes, lizards and even other birds. Once they land with their meal, the sharp toes allow them to grasp it while shredding it to feed.

My favorite raptor is the perregrine falcon, the fastest animal on the planet. They will stalk their prey from high in the sky, dive toward the object at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour and strike in mid-air. Sometimes, the force of the impact will kill the catch immediately.

Many types of birds, many sizes and sources of prey. Just looking at the beak can often tell you what’s on that species’ menu. What lives in your backyard? What will you see while driving today? Is that a wading bird or a raptor?

Take a close look at the beak…it just might hold the answer!


Bob is the owner of Steppingstone Ecotours and a naturalist with the Dolphin Explorer’s survey team. He is a member of Leadership Marco 2014. Bob loves his wife very much!

Succulents in South Florida

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:45am

Mike Malloy

Blue Agave. photoS BY MIKE MALLOY

The average rain fall in South Florida is about 60 inches a year, amazing especially when it mostly arrives in just a few months of the year during our rainy season which runs from June to September. This has not stopped South Florida gardeners from creating cactus, agave and succulent gardens.

The interest in these plants are on the rise in the past few years as water prices have increased and water restrictions have been implemented. Usually succulents and cacti are found in hot and sunny locations with poor soil conditions. Well, we have all of that here in South Florida and more — lots of rain.

It’s been slow to develop, but cacti and succulent gardens are now starting to appear in the South Florida landscape. One reason I know this is my wife began a few years ago with a section of the garden that sloped downward towards the lake planting mostly agaves and succulents, which are to this day thriving, growing and BLOOMING their little hearts out!

Remember, you will lose a few plants here and there — just like any garden you plant. I found the larger the plant you use in the beginning the better success rate you will have.

I feel the key to success was the slope of this section of the garden flowing downward towards the lake with letting all the excess water we get in the rainy season run off quickly. Also planting this garden on a berm helps expel excess water. I feel this is number one in the success of you cactus, agave and succulent gardens here in South Florida, and as always in Florida, a little luck and having Mother Nature on your side always helps.

Our soil for the most part is ideal because it contains sand, rocks and little nutrition, typically desert planting material. I really can’t bring myself to call it soil. If all else fails most of these plants can be grown in containers with a sandy potting soil. In containers, little or no water is necessary, making this an easy way to garden for all our seasonally visitors. Their different textures and shapes make them great specimen plants.

In Florida’s winter, it is most important not to over water, and drainage is critical because of the cool humid mornings we can have which can cause root rot on plants as fast as it creates fungus in our lawns. One good thing is if you plant a big enough garden you will have less lawn to get a winter lawn fungus.

After planting, you might need a little water and fertilizer to help establish your new plants. Most established succulent gardens require no fertilizer, pruning or spraying of any kind. Maintenance free? NO! There is no such thing. Weeds are everywhere.

Succulents can survive strong winds, occasionally cold weather, drought, heat and poor soil. Sound familiar? They also have few pests’ band diseases. Besides having the ability to grow under almost any condition, agaves, yuccas and succulents all give your gardens such a variety of architectural shapes. To me, this alone is worth the effort.

Beware, most of these plants are armed with some sort of barb, spines and some have down right deadly spikes, so a little bloodletting may occur.

Some great companion plants (plants that will do well under the same conditions) and that do well in these gardens are:

Agave americana (Marginata)

• Coreopsis (Tickseed)

• Gaura lindheimeri (Whirling Butterflies)

• Leonotis leonurus (Lions Tail)

• Callistemon (Bottle Brush)

• Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush)

• Erythrina (Coral Bean)

• Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

• Lantana momtevidensis (Gold Mound)

• Euryops ppectinatus (California Bush Daisy)

• Tagetes lemmmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy)

One of the newest succulent gardens here in Southwest Florida is at our own Naples Botanical Gardens. In my opinion with its desert like landscape set on a berm, it stands out amongst all the tropical foliage as a real winner.

Now when your finished or maybe just finished with phase one in your Southwest Florida arid garden, get out the margaritas, sit back and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds nectar on the flowers of the agave and yucca flowers which they love.



About The Author Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website,