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Updated: 9 hours 39 min ago

Wildfire in Big Cypress

10 hours 29 min ago

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Helicopters drop water on the wildfires. PHOTO BY CONNOR BOWDEN

One of the compelling reasons we live in Southwest Florida is the beauty of the natural environment around us. One nearby national treasure is the Big Cypress National Preserve. Big Cypress is a protected area of over 725,000 acres, bordering the Everglades National Park to the south, and reaching into Collier, Monroe and Miami Dade Counties.

On May 12, a few lightning strikes resulted in the ignition of wildfires, in what is called the Mud Lake Wildfire Complex. Initially, about 2,000 acres were affected. As of Memorial Day, the fire had consumed some 35,300 acres, including a variety of Preserve habitat: dense, coarse grass, pine timber; and cypress domes. Just as 51% containment was achieved, three new fire starts had to be suppressed.

Several agencies and organizations were involved in the containment efforts: the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Florida Panther National Refuge, Florida Forest Service, Seminole Tribe of Florida, Florida Highway Patrol and the Collier County (Florida) Office of Emergency Management.

Temporary flight restrictions over the area cleared the way for six helicopters (two large, three medium and one small) and two fixed wing aircraft to battle the fires from above. Nine wildland fire engines were used by the ground workers. All in all, 358 personnel were involved.

Incident Commander Jon Wallace said, “Fires like the Mud Lake Complex happen every year in South Florida. We are working to manage the fires effectively, while still maintaining a healthy fire-adapted ecosystem.” Wildland firefighter crews will continue to monitor existing containment lines, mop up fire perimeters, improve planned containment lines and protect camps. Crews will continue to patrol, monitor and mop up hot spots using low impact fire suppression tactics to protect threatened and endangered species, such as the Florida panther, Florida bonneted bat and red-cockaded woodpecker.

The fires have restricted access to areas considered at risk of high fire activity. Check with Big Cypress National Preserve for closure information on affected trails, hiking and camping areas at 239-695-2000 or




Policeman of the Year: Granneman

10 hours 32 min ago

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Policeman of the Year, Brian Granneman.

There was a full agenda at the recent Lunch with the Chief sponsored by the Marco Island Police Foundation. First order of business was a scholarship presentation by Foundation member, Jack Patterson, to high school senior, Colin Brown. Colin’s father is auxiliary policeman, Alan Brown. Colin will be attending Nichols College, majoring in Business.

Chief Al Schettino thanked the audience for the support showed to the department. He then began to tell the audience about the officer selected as the ‘Officer of 2014’.

Schettino stated, “On one of the officer’s very first calls, he responded to a fatal vehicle crash, and his second call was a serious injury crash. The officer came to the attention of command staff when it was noted that he averaged twice the number of traffic stops and warnings compared to his colleagues. He was commended in 2014 for volunteering to give up his weekends to cover an unfilled patrol shift. Command staff again took note of his work ethic and pro-active patrol style in July of 2014, when he had six arrests in less than a month. (Three DUI’s, two suspended driver’s licenses and a domestic violence arrest.) He was again noted by command staff at the end of 2014, when he modified his patrol schedule to benefit the department and community, although it was at the expense of sleep and days off for him. Finally, this officer volunteered to teach the DUI and the BUI (boating under the influence) portion of the Citizen’s Academy, held in December 2014. When a statistical analysis of the officer was completed, he was found to personally be responsible for 50% of all the department’s DUI arrests. He accounted for 10.9% of all traffic enforcement activity in the department. His data work on the computer while on patrol was nearly twice that of other officers, and he wrote 18% of all traffic citations for the entire police department. He is known as a ‘can do’ or ‘I will do’ officer who does his job quietly and professionally.” Schettino said, “I take great pride in co-nominating Officer Brian Granneman as the 2014 Marco Island Police Foundation’s Officer of the Year.”

Sergeant Matthew Goetz.

Granneman humbly accepted the award saying, “Thank you very much, it means a lot to have the support of the police department and to be recognized by my peers, especially because of the experience level in this department. I really appreciate that.”

Chief Schettino then described the process of appointing a new sergeant. Candidates had to answer two questions: what’s the difference between a manager and a leader, and why they’d want to be a sergeant. Eight candidates were then interviewed by a three member board consisting of Chief Schettino, a Lieutenant from the Naples Police Department and a member of the FWC. They were questioned about policies and procedures. “After 19 years of law enforcement, the sergeant has the ability to assess people and effectively supervise. We’d like to announce Matthew Goetz as the newest sergeant of the Marco Island Police Department.” Chief Schettino had the honor of pinning Matt.

Marco’s new Beach Patrol jeep.

City Manager Roger Hernstadt reported on the state of the department and the progress made during the last 18 months. Positive changes at the top have had impactful results for the department. Turnover has been stabilized; the department is now fully staffed. Hernstadt is pleased to report crime rates are down 32%, making Marco Island one of the safest cities in Florida. The Police Department has been restructured for overall efficiency. The MIPD conducted mutual training, and has an improved working relationship with the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department. Among the accomplishments was the implementation of a Community Service Officers (CSO) program which resulted in the hiring of eight part-time CSOs for code compliance, beach patrols, traffic control assistance and school patrols. Among the changes was a brand new Beach Patrol jeep, brightly colored and easily identifiable, it will be seen frequently along the beach. Also new are signs which echo the no-glass, no-bottles ordinance already in place. The signs will serve to inform beachgoers of the new ‘zero tolerance’ commitment of the department to protect our beaches. The signs clearly state ‘Subject to arrest, maximum fine of $500 and 60 days in jail’.

MICMS Students Get Glimpse into the Role of a Legislator

10 hours 34 min ago

By Don Manley

MICMS students learn legislative skills, at the dais in the Marco City Council chambers. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

Weighty topics were discussed with suitable gravity, except for the occasional giggle, by the six Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) students seated at the dais in Marco City Council chambers.

They were gathered there as mock legislators, debating self-penned and introduced bills, as part of the Youth in Government After School Club, which is a partnership between MICMS and the Greater Marco Family YMCA.

Held recently, the event was led by Zac Caldwell, Youth in Government program director for SKY Family YMCAs, which has branches in Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Englewood and Venice. Caldwell also has agreements with the Naples and Marco YMCAs that enable him to operate the program at Tommie Barfield Elementary School and at Barron Collier High School.

Youth in Government is a national YMCA program that provides youths with an in-depth exploration of the workings of the legislative process at the local, state and national level.

“I have a teacher that acts as an advisor to the club,” said Caldwell. “They have weekly or bi-weekly meetings, after school, where the students learn about the legislative process, they learn about writing laws, they interview people in their communities for issues in the community they think they can solve by writing a bill.”

Before an audience comprised of family members, Marco YMCA CEO Cindy Love, Marco City Councilman Victor Rios and interested observers, the youths turned council chambers into the scene of a mock session of the Florida Legislature. Entitled the Marco Island Student Assembly, the students were required to conduct themselves according to proper parliamentary procedure, including using ‘madam’ or ‘mister’ when addressing the chairman.

Each youth took a turn as chairman, and each one also introduced a bill they had researched and written. The simulated proposed legislation covered such topics as:

  • Creating enforcement guidelines and penalties for police citizens review boards, which would be mandated for every county.
  • Strengthening penalties for selling e-cigarettes to minors.

Banning the sales of GMO-related food products.

  • Providing funding to erect greenhouses with varied ecosystems in parks as an educational tool, especially for children of modest economic means.

After the chairman introduced each bill, its author was allowed one minute for opening remarks, before fielding non-debatable, technical questions from fellow club members. Next came two rounds of pro-and-con debate, followed by a vote.

MICMS’ Youth in Government club started in January, which did not give its members time to prepare to attend the annual Youth in Government Assembly, held in April in Haines City, FL.

At the assembly, students serve as representatives or senators, and present bills to their peers, modeling the state legislature.

“Unfortunately, it happened during testing for these students, so they didn’t get to go,” said Caldwell. “So this was our next best option, to get them together to have them work on their bills and then come to this space and do it here.”

Caldwell said he participated in a Youth in Government during high school and middle school in Kentucky, and gained a great deal from the experience. He said youths often don’t understand that government, rather than being burdensome, has a capacity for good, and their participation is essential for achieving the outcomes they desire.

“What I always say is, I think that students, through this, learn that they are agents of their democracy, that they can change things around them, rather than just be victimized by them,” Caldwell added. “And I think that is incredibly powerful. That’s why I’ve connected to it (Youth in Government) so much and that’s why I think this program is so powerful.”

Naples YMCA & Collier Area Transit Announce Partnership to Create YMCA Stops in Collier County

10 hours 39 min ago

Starting this summer, Collier Area Transit (CAT) will offer five stops throughout the county that will be YMCA stops. At four of those stops, children enrolled in YMCA’s Camp Wyhoway summer camp can ride the bus with a YMCA Camp Counselor to and from the Naples YMCA. A fifth stop will service the Marco Island YMCA. In addition to the YMCA-specific stops, a drastically price-reduced Paw Pass will be offered to make the service affordable all summer.

“This is a huge step in helping us reach kids and families who otherwise could not attend camp. Our partnerships with organizations like the Richard M. Schulze Foundation and NCEF have made camp affordable. Now with CAT Transit, we are making camp accessible. It’s a win for kids in Collier County,” states YMCA President Paul Thein.

The five YMCA Stops are located at the following locations:

  • Immokalee Road at Creekside Connection
  • Golden Gate Parkway and Tropicana Boulevard
  • 3rd Street South and Highway 41
  • Davis Boulevard and Kings Lake Square
  • Tamiami Trail at Charlee Estates (serves Marco Island)

“Collier Area Transit (CAT) is excited about its partnership with the YMCA and thrilled to be a part of an initiative that provides a safe and fun way for the youth in our community to enjoy the summer”, says Michelle Arnold, Director of the Public Transit & Neighborhood Enhancement Division for Collier County.

Families who purchase all 10 weeks of Summer Camp at the YMCA will automatically receive a Paw Pass, free of charge. All others will be able to pay a one-time fee of $30, and ride all summer long from June 1st through August 31st.

All current students or YMCA campers can purchase their Summer Paw Pass by visiting the Intermodal Transfer Station at 3355 Tamiami Trail at the Collier County Government Center, or by calling 239-252-7777. Questions about the pass should be directed to Jim Giangrosso at CAT, via email at

On-site registration and financial scholarship applications for YMCA Camp Wyhoway will be available on-site at Golden Gate Elementary and Shadowlawn Elementary, May 26-29, from 4:00 PM- 6:00 PM. Applications and registration is always available the Greater Naples YMCA Campus. For more information, contact the YMCA at 239-597-3148.


Attorney Approves Rental Ordinance Petition

10 hours 40 min ago


The Committee seeking repeal or referendum on the recently adopted Marco City Rental Ordinance received approval from the City attorney late Friday May 22, 2015.

What’s Next? What is the Petition All About?

The Committee will start circulating petitions this week for signature by registered Marco voters.

The petition seeks to compel Marco City Council to repeal the controversial Rental Ordinance 15-01 adopted then modified by City Council to include house and condominium owners who rent their property for less than a year. If Petition drive is successful and City Council does not repeal the Ordinance, then it must schedule a voter referendum and let the majority of registered voters decide.

Who is the Sponsor of the Petition? Why it matters.

The committee comes from a much larger group of concerned citizens. All strongly believe the Council majority poorly decided in adopting the Ordinance. It creates further extensive, burdensome and unnecessary government regulation contrary to common sense and in spite of existing ordinances which address the problem. Committee members and supporters all live here in houses or condominiums; some are in business, others are not. We all share a strong love of Marco Island, a desire to protect our freedoms and our individual property rights. .

How to Get a Petition for signature?

Readers can request a petition by writing the e mail address below, or sending a postal letter. We expect to have petition available for download via our website later this week.

Some condominium and rental property owners will be able to get petitions from their managers.

Further press releases will follow the progress of our petition initiative, and donations to our Political Action Committee. We ask that you, as an Islander and Voter on Marco, join our efforts.

How to Contact us or Donate to the Cause. Committee in Support of Marco Island Referendum Petition on Ordinance 15-01 By Postal Mail: 661 South Collier Blvd., Marco Island FL 34145. By E Mail:

Marco in Bloom Winners Announced

10 hours 42 min ago

By Steve Gimmestad

Susan LaGrotta and Donna Kay announce the winners for Marco in Bloom at the city council meeting May 18. PHOTOS BY STEVE GIMMESTAD

The annual Marco in Bloom contest came to a close, as winners received their certificates at the city council meeting on May 18.

This year saw a record number of entries for the contest, which recognizes those who go above and beyond for their landscaping efforts. It is not just a beauty contest, although beauty is a major component. It also uses a criteria based on the use of Florida-friendly components, which helps save water and blends in with our natural environment.

Donna Kay headed up this year’s contest, which is part of the City’s Beautification Committee. “It was so close on many levels, and there were a record number of entries this year. It was great to see so many participate in an event like this because, in the end, the entire community wins.”

Note: Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa won the Commercial division but construction prevented obtaining a photo for inclusion in this article.


“Good planting design does not follow a formula. At best, it allows you to experiment with nature and through nature to make an original statement. As in all of the arts, the best garden designers take risks. Only by taking risks can you come up with something exciting and original.”       – James Van Sweden


Personally Designed


Professionally Designed 



10 hours 50 min ago

Donna Fiala

Recently, the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts (MIFA) had an Artists’ Awards Luncheon at Wesley United Methodist Church. The MIFA President, Carolyn Burger, called the meeting to order. The room was abounding with talent (and then there was me, who can’t even tell which side of the brush to use) as they called attention to four students who received scholarships toward their college education. A solo was sung by one of those students, Joseph Byrne. These students each have an exciting future ahead of them. Besides Joseph Byrne, the other winners were Livia Lenhoff, Tyler MacDonald and Theodor Schimek. It was hard to believe they were still students, they looked so accomplished!

Then the Artist of the Year, Tara O’Neill, was honored for her talent and for all she does for our/her community. What a delight this wonderful human being is! Not only is she talented, but she has a cute sense of humor (her husband George just looks at her so adoringly!) and a kindness few can match. She is presently working on restoring two of the historic cottages in Goodland, working with the County for approval (who are the owners of the cottages) and some dollars as they come. Knowing Tara, it will get done! The award was presented by Karen Swanker, MIFA V.P. Sandi Johnson was there, always helping, pinch-hitting and greeting others as they walked in the door. Sandi was the person who introduced me to MIFA a long time ago. It seems wherever there is art, Sandi is there as well. If you’d like to learn more about MIFA, find them at

*Many people like to come “over the bridge” to sample other restaurants – especially in the summer when it is easy to find a seat wherever you go. Well, there are a few new ones you might enjoy. In my last column I mentioned that Ray and Linda Rosenberg and I went to the new Joey D’s at Airport Road and Davis Boulevard. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the food, so we would recommend you try them as well.

*Another great restaurant, not cheap though, is Pate’s Prime Steak on U.S. 41 E, where the old Mr. Mom’s Restaurant was located. It’s not cheap because they serve quality prime meat. This is owned by Cloyd Pate, the patriarch of the Pate Restaurant fame. They have succulent prime steaks, delicious fresh fish dinners, great prime rib, creamed spinach, marvelous potatoes, and so much more…plus flaming desserts! In this tiny little location he has even added a wine and beer bar fit for a king! You’ll love it.

*Of course, all of us on Marco Island love Eurasia and we show it. No matter when I go there I always run into Marcoites! That’s because their food is consistently excellent. They have such a nice variety to choose from.

*Tacos and Tequila is a jumping little place in East Naples on Davis Boulevard in the King’s Lake Shopping Center. It’s always crowded, but I guess that’s because it’s so much fun.

*Lots of people exclaim over the Burger Fi in the Shoppes at Eagle Creek, and of course there is a sister Hoot’s restaurant there as well. (It’s the shopping center where The Fresh Market is located).

*Have you ever tried 360 Market on Bayshore? People come from the other end of town, and even from Bonita, to eat there. Their food is all homemade, all natural and/or organic, homemade pasta, marvelous desserts, great wines…well, you’ll just have to try it. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, and they are always busy. You might want to call ahead, just in case. You’ll really have to try this one. You will go back again and again, even though it’s quite a ride from Marco Island. Down that same street, hidden away, is the “Real Macaw”- full bar, entertainment, island food, and lots of fun. Heck, while you’re at it, why not go for breakfast around 9:30 AM at 360 Market, then drive down to the Naples Botanical Garden for a lovely stroll, then come back to the Real Macaw for lunch. It’ll be like a little day away adventure.

*Speaking of food, the soon-to-be Culver’s Restaurant on U.S. 41 E is in construction right now. I noticed they are doing a lot of advertising on the Hallmark Channel. I guess they are preparing us for their new restaurant. I can hardly wait. Gosh, I must be hungry while writing this because all I can think of are good restaurants!



Graduation 2015

11 hours 4 min ago

Don Manley

‘Tis the season for convocations.

Yes, the time of graduations is once again upon us, with its celebrations of youthful achievements, and the prospect of bright tomorrows.

Commencement exercises for Marco Island students begin this week, and include:

  • Island Montessori Academy – The annual “Moving Up” ceremony, which will include a cookout, pot luck meal and a waterslide, is set for 11 AM, May 29. The school is located at 579 E. Elkcam Circle. For more information, visit or call (239) 642-2020.
  • Marco Island Academy – MIA’s graduation ceremony will begin at 6 PM, May 29, at The Family Church, located at 1450 Winterberry Drive. For more information, visit or call (239) 393-5133.
  • Lely High School – Lely’s graduation ceremony begins at 5 PM, May 29, in the school’s gymnasium. Lely is located at 1 Lely High School Boulevard, Naples. For more information, visit or call (239) 377-2000.
  • Tommie Barfield Elementary – TBE celebrates its graduates and their promotion to middle school at 9 AM, June 3, in the school’s multi-purpose room. Tommie Barfield is located at 101 Kirkwood Street. For more information, visit or call (239) 377-2000.
  • Marco Island Charter Middle School will close the island’s graduation season with a commencement exercise set for 6:30 PM, June 6, in the school’s gym.

MICMS is located at 1401 Trinidad Avenue. For more information, visit or call (239) 377-3200.

MIAAOR Holds Informative Membership Meeting

11 hours 7 min ago

By Steve Gimmestad

From left – Dick Shanahan, State Representative Kathleen Passidomo, Bette McGilvray.

The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors® held a membership meeting on May 19 at Hideaway Beach Club, which included some special guests of honor.

Susan Ackerson, President, opened the meeting and welcomed the guests:

Kathleen Passidomo, Florida House of Representatives

Jack Greacen, Florida Realtors® Senior Political Representative

Bill Poteet, Florida Realtors® District 5 RPAC Trustee

Anita Colletti, Florida Realtors® District 5 Vice-President

Ron Webster, Law Offices of Ronald S. Webster, introduced the RSN members in attendance. RSN stands for “Realtors® Support Network,” and are a group of professionals that support our local Realtors® in their daily activities.

Anita Colletti (left) with 2014 Honor Society Recipient Bette McGilvray.

Bill Filbin and Bill Poteet then introduced the members who have invested in the Realtors® Political Action Committee (RPAC) at various levels. A raffle was held for a 60-inch TV, and was based on participation level. Mike McCarty was the winner.

Anita Colletti introduced the 2014 Honor Society recipients. Each received a custom designed lapel pin by renowned artist Michael F. Cox.

Bill Morris, Law Offices of William G. Morris, was introduced as the platinum sponsor for this year. Morris came to Marco Island in 1983, and was able to establish a strong relationship with clients to handle real estate closings and other legal matters.

Bette McGilvray introduced Representative Kathleen Passidomo to the group. Passidomo was to give a legislative update, but instead, talked about shutting the doors early for the legislative session.

Bill Filbin (left at podium) and Bill Poteet introduce RPAC award recipients of the $99 Club. PHOTOS BY STEVE GIMMESTAD

Following Passidomo, Jack Greacen gave an update on legislation and issues relating to the realty industry. “We’ve had a very unique year as far as the legislative session is concerned,” said Greacen. Amendment 1 and the Low Income Pool were among the top issues. The estoppel certificate was also of great interest to attendees, and Greacen was able to provide updates as to legislation regarding all these issues. “You guys have some things coming down the pipeline,” Greacen added. “As of August 1, you all are going to live in a very new world as far as housing sales are going to be concerned.” Greacen is lobbying federal agencies to give Realtors® a chance to work into the new system.

Steve Josselyn addressed the group at the end of the meeting regarding the current rental ordinance issues on Marco Island, which prompted many questions and comments.

The realty business is a complicated world, and Marco Island has some great professionals that want to keep this a special place for all those wanting to purchase property here.




SoapFest 2015

11 hours 10 min ago

By Don Manley

John Driscoll of CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” and Frankie pause while completing their artwork. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

Kathy and Kelly Manha were a happy mother – daughter duo as things were winding down in the activities room at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

It was their first time attending the Art 4 Autism portion of the annual SoapFest Charity Weekend, and the Manhas were indeed glad they decided to spend their Saturday morning in that way.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Kathy Manha, as her daughter sat at a table behind her, putting the finishing touches on a painting. “We feel blessed that so many people would volunteer so much of their time. The actors will go home and it will be over, but she’ll be talking about this forever.”

SoapFest enables fans to rub elbows with the stars of daytime soap operas at a series of public event fundraisers, held May 22 through May 25 this year. The private Art 4 Autism painting session, which launched day two of the festival, matches stars with autistic children and adults, and they team up on paintings that are later auctioned off at a SoapFest event.

The festivities kicked off with “A Night of Stars,” held at Bistro Soleil. The VIP event offered opportunities to mingle with the actors, who were also available for autograph signings and photos. The evening included a Q&A session, a live auction and “SoapFest Game Night,” where guests vie for prizes based upon answering trivia questions about their favorite soap stars and shows.

A noontime, three-hour long cruise aboard the Marco Island Princess, entitled “Cruisin’ Boozin’ & Schmoozin with the Stars,” was the second event of the festival’s second day. Raffles were held for signed scripts, iconic clothing, jewelry, signed Art 4 Autism paintings and other daytime drama memorabilia. The day concluded with the “Celebrity Karaoke Bar Bash,” which took place that evening at La Tavola Restaurant and Bar.

Ryan Carnes poses with Sarah Reveland, as her mother Julie snaps away.

SoapFest concluded on May 25 with the second annual “Sponsor VIP Brunch with the Boys of Daytime.” Beneficiaries this year included Camp Able, St. Mark’s Episcopal’s summer camp for special needs children, and the Island Theater Company Kids Program, among others.

The soap stars who appeared this year included:

  • Melissa Archer and Christopher Sean of NBC’s “Days Of Our Lives”
  • Christian LeBlanc, Sean Caragan, Jeff Branson and John Driscoll from CBS’s “The Young and The Restless”
  • Ryan Carnes and Ryan Paevey from ABC’s “General Hospital”

Like the Manhas, Carnes was attending SoapFest for the first time, and Art 4 Autism, was one of the main draws for him.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Carnes. “It was such a sweet experience to get to hang out with the kids and do things with them that they may not ordinarily get to do.”

Carnes said the mother of the first girl he painted with told him that her daughter did not like to paint. “But today, for whatever reason, she dove right in,” he said. “She did the whole painting, with my help.”

Christopher Sean, another first-time attendee, was all smiles at the painting session’s end.

“This is the main reason why I’m here – for the kids, for the creative arts therapy, for the experience working with these children and all of these wonderful, wonderful, beautiful people,” he said.

Melissa Archer was making her third appearance at SoapFest. She listed several reasons for continuing to return.

“This part, painting with the kids, I love,” she said. “And it’s such a fun weekend. I love Pat [Berry, SoapFest’s founder and organizer]. I always want to come and see her. The whole weekend is so full of fun things, and of course, the cause is excellent.”

For Troy Porter, the opportunity to paint with the stars at Art 4 Autism has become an annual event. He enjoys the painting, and “meeting the soap stars. They have beautiful women.”

Woman’s Club Donates Wigs to ACS

11 hours 12 min ago

By Jessica Hernstadt

New wigs line the shelves in the ACS resource room.

“Why you are born and why you are living depends on what you are getting out of this world, and what you are giving.” This is the motto of the Marco Island Woman’s Club, and the women clearly live up to its sentiment.

The Woman’s Club recently made donations to a multitude of educational and charitable organizations which benefit Marco Island residents. Marco Island’s American Cancer Society office was a lucky recipient of one such donation. With the Woman’s Club’s generous donation, the American Cancer Society purchased 27 wigs, 12 turbans and 40 wig caps, all to be provided at no cost, to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

For Woman’s Club President Penny Weidner and past-President Sharyn Kampmeyer, this cause is personal. Penny’s daughter is a breast cancer survivor. Sharyn lost her mother to lung cancer. In Penny’s words “Nobody knows what it’s like unless you have gone through it with a mother, daughter or friend. You can’t explain it.”

Sharyn emphasized that the club “wanted to specifically help someone on the Island.” They also had many club members, family and friends battling cancer. They reached out to Sue Olszak, Community Manager Relay for Life, at the American Cancer Society on Marco Island. While visiting the American Cancer Society (ACS) office to discuss a donation, the ladies saw that the wigs in the resource room were sorely outdated. They knew immediately how they could help.

The ACS wig collection “needed a face lift” according to Sharyn. The old wigs were heavy, dark and unnatural. Sue at ACS explained how the new wigs are lighter, more natural in color and texture, and have current hairstyles. The ACS office had received many requests for different color and style wigs. Sue kept those requests in mind when she ordered the new wigs.

For many women receiving chemotherapy treatments, the side effect of hair loss has a profound effect on their psyche. Marco Island’s own Jada Shigley, who received one of the new wigs, explains it best in her thank you letter to ACS and the Woman’s Club:

“Going through treatment for cancer is so difficult and one of the hardest parts for me was losing my hair. I know that sounds silly with everything else you have to battle but it’s true…losing your hair is sort of like losing your identity and your ability to conceal your illness. I want them to know that their contribution will bring confidence to so many women which is so important during treatment. Staying positive and feeling good about yourself is half the battle!”

The Woman’s Club was founded in October 1966 by 16 local women, and now boasts 178 members. Next year marks their 50th Anniversary. They are self-described by Sharyn as a working group of “women helping women.” Except for minimal operational expenses, the club donates back to the community everything it makes during the year.

For more information on the Marco Island Woman’s Club, go to their website or email

For more information on the wigs or other ACS services, contact Sue Olszak at the American Cancer Society, 239-642-8800, 583 Tallwood Ct., Suite 101, Marco Island.



Spring Football Game Becomes a Scrimmage for MIA Rays

11 hours 14 min ago

By Roger LaLonde

MIA quarterback Andrew Fowler gets a throw off in a team scrimmage.PHOTOS BY ROGER LALONDE

On a balmy Friday night, May 15, Marco Island Academy football fans walked onto the field at Winterberry Park. They were anxious to see what the next season may hold as the Manta Rays were to play their spring game against Deerfield Beach-Zion Lutheran.

The referees chatted as they readied to have the opportunity to work a game, after being idle for more than six months.

But wait, they were only talking with coaches and players from the Rays. Zion Lutheran wasn’t on the field. In fact, they weren’t even on Marco. In the waning afternoon hours on Friday, Zion Lutheran had called to cancel.

“At that point we decided to have a scrimmage instead,” Coach Greg Fowler said.

Quarterback Andrew Fowler was the play caller for the white and black-jerseyed teams. He threw three touchdown passes, and overall looked like the QB who led the area in passing yardage last season.

Patrick Michel and Tyler Gresham led the offense, as expected. Michel made an all-out diving catch for a 47-yard gain as he scored twice for the white jerseys, while Gresham crossed the goal line three times for the black jerseys.

“If this is how our spring ends, without playing a game, I am fine with it,” Fowler said to his team after the scrimmage.

Assistant coach Win Headley gives MIA’s John Roche a pat on the shoulder after a play.

The Manta Rays will record a first when the team travels outside of Florida to Texas to play Edgewood (Texas) in the Brook Hill Classic in Bullard, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas on Friday, August 28.

The Rays will play at the Brook Hill School’s 2,500-seat Herrington Stadium. The Classic, in its sixth season, will have games each weekend night.

It is a major step for a football team in just its fourth season, following the likes of Naples and First Baptist Academy, by hosting or going out of Florida to play teams from another state.

“It will be an outstanding weekend of football,” Fowler said. “The kids are looking forward to the game and we are proud to be part of the Classic.”


Bringing Home a Trophy

11 hours 16 min ago


Under 12 girls team.

Over 70 teams competed in the Adidas Spring Cup, hosted by the Florida Fire Juniors, in Naples, over Mother’s Day weekend, including Collier FC SURGE U12 boys and girls, as well as U8 boys teams.

The Collier FC U12 boys tied their first two matches against the Venice Falcons and Florida Fire in the U12 11v11 bracket, and then won their next two matches, both 1-0, against the same two teams, for a thrilling championship.

The U8 Collier FC boys also brought home a championship plaque. “It was a fun, well run tournament for the kids,” said Chadd Chustz, SURGE President and U8 boys coach.

Collier FC tryouts for the 2015/16 season are in progress. The next tryout for U12-U17 boys and girls will be held at East Naples Park, May 27 and 28. All kids are welcome.

Under 12 boys on the field.

Collier FC Surge Director of Coaching, Rob Stoutenburg, will be hosting a Soccer Summer Camp for boys and girls. The camp will follow Pro Touch International Soccer Academy curriculum for player development, focusing on ball control, agility, passing and trapping, tactical awareness and shooting. Former USA Men’s National Team player Cory Gibbs will make an appearance at the soccer camp. The camp will have two sessions: June 15-19, and August 3-7, held from 9 AM to 1 PM daily. The cost will be $150 per session. Daily rates will also be available. For more information, go to



Marco Students Benefit from Chamber Scholarships

11 hours 20 min ago

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Dick Shanahan and Sandi Reidemann present awards while Lisa Meurgue and Lori Wagor look on. PHOTOS BY VALERIE SIMON

Ten Marco Island high school graduates were made very happy by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce. The ten were chosen to receive scholarships thanks to the Chamber’s Leadership Marco committee which hold events such as Wet Paint Live to fund the scholarships. Students from Lely High School, Marco Island Academy and St. John Neumann applied. The Education Committee is tasked with reviewing the applications and interviewing candidates, then naming the recipients.

The 2015 scholarship winners and their families were celebrated at an event held at CJ’s on the Bay on Wednesday, May 20th. Dick Shanahan, Chamber President, introduced recipients, and there to congratulate each was Sandi Reidemann, Katie O’Hara, Donna Niemczyk, Lori Wagor and Lisa Meurgue, who extended warm wishes for their future educational endeavors. Over $20,000.00 was awarded to the ten students. Kudos to the 2015 scholarship winners.

Breathing Life into History

11 hours 26 min ago

By Don Manley

History teacher Lori Galiana, with flowers, is joined by her world history class at Marco Island Academy. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

Lori Galiana’s approach in the classroom at Marco Island Academy (MIA) has led to her being recognized by district 13 of Florida’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization.

As her world history class looked on, the history instructor recently received the district’s Teacher of the Year award from Steven Smith, commander of VFW Post 7721 in Naples, and Mary Ellen Cash, scholarship chairman for the post’s ladies auxiliary.

Cash said Galiana was selected for the award, which encompasses Collier, Lee and Hendry counties, because of her focus on bringing the study of history alive for her students.

“She had a nationally renowned constitutional lawyer, KrisAnne Hall, come in and speak,” said Cash, a retired educator in the Collier County school district. “That put it over the top for me. Of all the teachers that we saw, she’s the only one who took it to that level. She actually brings history to life. She makes it real. Instead of teaching history for history’s sake, she has them live it.”

Cash cited the project the world history class was engrossed in on the day of the award presentation. It involved preparing a story board showing how an historical event, such as the Cuban Revolution, was making its presence felt in today’s current events.

“It’s very important to her that the students get it,” she added.

The VFW’s annual national Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest recognizes three exceptional teachers for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to students. Each year, elementary, junior high and high school teachers, whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education topics for at least half of the school day, can be nominated.

Cash said Galiana was nominated by the Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance, and then Post 7721 selected her as its representative at the district level, where she was also chosen as the top teacher. Another teacher won the state competition and has now moved on to the national contest.

Galiana, who is also MIA’s girls’ varsity cheerleading coach, was thrilled to be recognized for her professional efforts.

“I am very honored to win it,” she said. “There are a lot of very great social studies teachers that I’ve worked with, amazing teachers, at several different schools. I believe it is very important because we must educate students about current events, and tie history into those events, to help them understand what’s going on in the world. My biggest thing is, I want them to walk out of here appreciating understanding history, and appreciating understanding the news, and what’s happened in the places that are in the news, and how events that happened many years ago affect what’s hap

Memorial Day Ceremony by the VFW

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 7:18am

The Marco Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold it’s annual memorial day ceremony at Veteran’s Park on 25 May at 11;00 AM. The approximately one hour program will feature music by the Marco Strummers, Wes English, Director. Also, the Star Spangled Banner and TAPS performed by Craig Gruesel, Director of the Lutheran Church music department. There will be the usual salute to the armed services, with members of each service standing for recognition as their branch march is played. Post Commander Dave Gardner will give an address for the occasion, and Marco’s own Kate Smith duo, Herb Savage and his lovely wife, Emily, will lead us all in God Bless America. The posting of the colors and retirement of same will be performed by the VFW color guard along with accompaniment by the Strummers drum corps. Flags along Collier Boulevard will be set out at 7;00 AM on Saturday, and picked up 5;30 PM on Tuesday by the VFW Members and volunteers. People are advised to bring chairs and umbrellas for their comfort.

The VFW is asking for veterans who have served in a war zone to become members of our fine organization. They know what their comrades in arms went through more than anyone, and can help others who have difficulties with physical and mental problems due to their experiences. We especially ask for women who served to join and give us their help in our service to our comrades. We want them to come in not as auxiliary, but full members, so they can give their special talents to those in need.


We assure the public that all funds over cost of our flag sales and poppy collection go into our special fund for veteran’s assistance, not in our Post activities fund.

These funds are used to support our servicemen and their families when they need help, including emergencies, medical care and veteran’s homes. Your donations can be sent to our Finance Officer, Jim Lang, at 836 Saturn Court. VFW is a certified non-profit organization and your contributions are tax-deductible. Hope to see you on Memorial Day, and God Bless America.


Dave Gardner, Post Commander

Memorial Day…

Sat, 05/16/2015 - 4:50pm

Tarik Ayasun

Spending this Mother’s Day Sunday with my wife, her mom and dad and my son and our two grandchildren, waiting anxiously for the barbecue to start, the farthest thing from our minds is the Civil War. It is hard to believe only a mere 150 or so years ago, our nation was divided and our country was covered with the blood of brother killing brother. After four years of combat, which left over 600,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead and destroyed much of the South’s infrastructure, the Confederacy collapsed and slavery was abolished.

Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to honor both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. The holiday was extended by the 20th century to include all American soldiers.

To think about Memorial Day on Mother’s Day may seem like a stretch. However, we must never forget that going back to the Civil War and beyond and all the way to this morning, every person who makes the ultimate sacrifice had a mother. And that mother lived through the glory days of being a mom, raising her children, seeing them grow into young adults only to live through the agony of losing her children to a bullet, a piece of shrapnel or an IED explosion.

Through the ages, mom’s had to bear the brunt of raising their children sometimes under the most difficult circumstances; and then watch them put on a uniform and go off to war to fight for their country. Having sent a daughter and a son-in-law to war some years ago, my wife and I experienced the agony millions of parents experienced before us. No one likes wars. I know we don’t. But in the course of history and growth of nations, some wars were necessary. America certainly had her own share of the agony of wars.

That is why as we sit here peacefully on a beautiful Marco Island Mother’s Day Sunday with our loved ones; I wanted to make sure and write this piece to let everyone know that we are not forgetting those who gave it all to make this day possible.

In a perfect world, if one ever existed, all disputes could be resolved by merely sitting down together, discussing the situation and come up with a resolution where everyone agreed was the best possible arrangement. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world; it never was and I am afraid I am resigned to the fact that it never will be.

On a day like this, I find it almost necessary to sit down with the young ones to reflect on the debt we owe to those who made it possible for us to live in the greatest country in the history of mankind. I find it necessary to let them know that nothing is given; it needs to be earned. My father-in-law answered the call in 1939; went off to Europe where his ancestors recently migrated from to the New World; landed in Normandy; and ended up earning two Purple Hearts for his service while getting severely injured. He never questioned why he went; where he went or if he would ever come back. He was one of millions of young men and women who did exactly same. We owe them so much; we can’t ever repay them or even think we can. From the Civil War, through World War I and World War II and through the Korea War, Viet Nam, First Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq wars; our men and women in uniform gave it their best; sometimes under the worst of conditions. They made sure that the Old Glory flew high and mighty until the very end. And they deserve our recognition.

Therefore on this Mother’s Day Sunday we are keeping all our veterans in our thoughts and prayers as well as all our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers who raised them with great difficulty only to see them go away. Not everyone got back from these conflicts and they deserve very special honors for their service to our country.

The following words are inscribed on a memorial which is located at the Anzac Parade, Canberra, AUSTRALIA. The inscription beneath – Ataturk’s own words – pays warm tribute to the Anzacs and reflects his understanding of the awful cost of war. I chose to end my story with these memorable words which to me reflects the agony of war and love of mothers:


May God Bless all mothers; all Veterans and the United States of America.


Tarik Ayasun is president of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations. Tarik Ayasun at



Art at Marco Island Public Library

Sat, 05/16/2015 - 4:47pm


The Marco Island Public Library and the Marco Island Center for the Arts work cooperatively to provide monthly art shows at the Marco Island Library branch on Heathwood Drive. The month of May will feature the work of Marco Island artist Karen Swanker.

Inspired by the impressionists, Karen’s water lily paintings evoke a peaceful and quiet calm. By using a glazing technique with transparent washes, the water has both depth and reflective qualities. The lily pads appear to float serenely atop the water, with lotus flowers in various stages of bloom breaking the surface. Colors range from liquid blues and greens to warm pinks and oranges.

All displayed paintings are for sale, with a percentage going to the Marco Island Center for the Arts. Interested buyers can pick up a business card at the library or the Center for the Arts and contact the artist directly with any questions.

Dr. Joseph Parisi: Road to Marco Paved with Many Hats

Sat, 05/16/2015 - 4:45pm

By Steve Gimmestad

Dr. Joseph Parisi, wearing his photographer hat. photoS by Dr. Joseph Parisi

The paths we take to get from one point to another are as varied as the stars in the sky. For Joseph Parisi, there was a hat for every path, and a path for every hat.

A good place to start is the beginning, which, for our story, is Brooklyn, New York and a chicken farm. “Instead of spending the summers in hot Brooklyn, I went to Tom’s River, New Jersey and spent the summers with my Grandparents on their chicken farm. That was my first introduction to animals.”

After high school, Joe joined the navy as a corpsman and served in Vietnam and aboard ship. Following his naval service, Joe attended St. Francis College in Maine, and then went on to St. John’s University in Jamaica where he received his master’s degree.

Joe was a senior at St. Francis when he met Barbara. She was working in a local hospital. They married. Here, many people would say ‘and we lived happily ever after. The end.’ Not these two. There was still a lot of life ahead and many hats yet to use.

without his hat on at the Framer’s Market.

Joe was not thrilled with teaching. With encouragement from his wife and some doctor friends, Joe was thinking about going into medicine. His navy experience would prove valuable in pursuing this profession. But then Joe recalled his youthful days on the farm with all the animals. Joe would go into Veterinary Medicine.

Given his age at the time (about 32), many U.S. schools discouraged him, saying he was a bad investment at that age. If you’ve ever had a chance to talk with Joe, you will know, as did I, this was but fuel for his fire. After a lengthy process that would make a good story in its own right, Joe was accepted at the University of Pisa in Italy. (It is the 19th oldest university in the world).

“That first year in Italy was one of the hardest times in my life,” says Joe. “You have to remember, this was 1975; no internet, no e-mail, no nothin’. The bureaucracy in Italy was phenomenal! You wanted something done today, you better have started it a month earlier. It was cold and we heated with kerosene. Everything smelled like kerosene.”

Barbara was much better than Joe with the language. This was a major detriment as the university exams were oral and open to the general public. “My first exam was in rural economics. After the first few questions, the instructor was shaking his head and I knew this was not going well. Two months later, I retook the exam and received ‘trenta laude’, which was an A+ and unheard of for an American. I felt a little better after that.”

This was also the time when Joe’s father passed away and his mother was alone in the states. “During the time Italy was very hard but Barbara and I still say that since we survived all that, we can handle anything.”

After his return from Italy, complete with a degree in Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Parisi decided it was time to branch out on his own and, in 1982, opened his own veterinary practice in Massachusetts, which he, along with Barbara, maintained for 25 years. It was also the year their daughter, Allegra, was born. “Barbara was my assistant at our animal hospital. And the trooper that she is, worked on Saturday, gave birth on Sunday and was back to work Monday.”

It was during this time that Dr. Parisi developed an interest in Eastern practices of healing. He was certified in acupuncture and as a veterinary herbalist. (Two more hats for Dr. Parisi). He still practices both Western and Eastern modalities in working with animals today.

A photographer’s hat had been in the works for a long time. “I had trouble reading in my early years. About age 10, my Dad bought me a camera. Along with it, a book on how to use it. I had to learn to read properly if I was going to use that camera.”

“Want a Dance”
Photo willbe on display at the Marco Island Library from June through August. Dr. Parisi will also have many other photographs on display.

Devoting most of his time to school and later to his animal hospital, photography was a low-end hobby at best for Dr. Parisi. Allegra had graduated from Notre Dame and was living in Florida. In an effort to see more of her, the Parisis decided to retire and moved to Marco Island. That was four years ago. Allegra moved from Florida but the Parisis stayed. And now Dr. Parisi could focus on his photography.

Working under the name Frame Focus Shoot, Dr. Parisi has a great collection of wildlife photography which he and Barbara sell at local art shows and the Farmer’s Market. He also does portrait photography. Life came full circle and the hat collection grew again.

Dr. Parisi’s photographs will be on display at the Marco Island Library from June through August. He also puts on his veterinary hat and works with local clinics. He is best contacted through a referral from your veterinarian. His acupuncture techniques and Eastern practices are still requested by many in the area. Barbara has kept her jewelry business going, and also has a quilting business called Gator Baby Quilts.

Dr. Parisi sums it up: “In the four years we’ve been here, I’ve worked a lot and made a lot of friends. The people here in Florida are very warm, very outgoing. Sometimes I put on my Eastern hat, sometimes my Western hat and other times my photography hat. You’ve gotta keep your brain stimulated. We believe in being active and we’re involved in many community activities and groups. We love it here.”



Sat, 05/16/2015 - 4:36pm

Donna Fiala

American Legion Post 404 represented by Rosenberg, Horton and Weathers.

The Tamiami Crossings Shopping Center is now in the beginning stages of construction on 951/Collier Blvd, immediately north of the Walmart Shopping Center. You may have noticed the area being cleared, with lots of heavy machinery on site. For those of you who might not recognize the name, it’s the Kite Realty Company’s newest addition to that intersection (they already own the Shoppes at Eagle Creek, where the Fresh Market, Burger Fi, Panera Bread and Hoots are located). On this new site will be retail shops including Steinmart, Marshall’s, Ross, a pet store and more, plus a couple of out parcels will be constructed. I hope they won’t all be banks…you just can’t shop there! Their plans are to open for season in late fall. That intersection looks like it will be a busy place.

While speaking of new construction, Culver’s Restaurant has begun to build their restaurant on US 41 E, in front of the new Isles of Collier Preserve development. I would say that they should be finished in about 90 days. This company is from Wisconsin, and the people from that area exclaim over Culver’s ice cream, hamburgers, food, cleanliness, and service. We’ll all have to try it, but I’ll be one of the first in line! I’ve heard too much about it to wait a few days. The East Naples area has needed development like this for years and years. It feels so good to see some of it beginning to take place now.

Major Payne and Commissioner Fiala.

Another new building that has just opened is the memory care facility on Davis Blvd., called the “Villa at Terracina Grand” by the Goodman Group, near the entrance to Glen Eagle, and across the road from County Barn Road. This innovative memory care community is gorgeous! A most delicious meal was served by wait staff dressed in tuxedos and white gloves at the Grand Opening. The rooms and common areas were gorgeous! Outside, after the dinner, they had a lovely band followed by a fireworks display. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a magnificent grand opening in my life!

Everyone has read with pride all of the stories of Marco Island’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, but I’d like to give you a personal look. The Marco Chamber and the Marco Historical Society worked hand-in-hand for an outstanding presentation at this black-tie affair. As I looked around the room, I saw the crème de le crème of Marco Island. My seat was with the Craig Woodward family – a strong part of Marco history in itself! Craig sat there so proudly as he mentioned that his daughter was the artist who created the 50th Anniversary logo, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. (I think I need to hire her to design the logo for my re-election campaign!). Pat Rutledge, Miss Historical Society herself, always found time to hug everyone she came in contact with, and Sandi Reidmann/Lazarus was busily making sure every t was crossed and every i was dotted, as she so capably does at every Chamber event. The spotlight was on Craig Woodward as he told the audience fascinating stories of Marco past. The 7-piece band was more than outstanding! The Marriott, this being the last night of celebrations before the demolition, which was taking place the next day, presented a dinner fit for royalty! You could never tell they were closing the next day for a few months. It was truly a memorable night!

John Gariety, Joseph Doggett, Jesse Daffron, Commissioner Fiala, Phil Ballou and Stephen Ballou

May 2nd was the date for the 5th Honor Flight, flying our WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. for the day, to view the memorials, with their escorts by their sides, and returning late in the evening. Marco Island was represented at the airport in full force, with the American Legion, Post 404 represented by Ray and Linda Rosenberg, John Gariety, Joe Doggett, Jesse Daffron, Phil Ballou and his son Steve Ballou, and yours truly. The airplane touched down at RSW at 11:30 PM, but by the time the veterans were assembled and ready to proceed up the ramp, it was 12:40 AM! The bag-pipe band was playing, the JROTC’s did a sword welcome, and there was music everywhere. The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) were there, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and so many groups representing a wide range of veteran supporters that I cannot name all of them, plus our own Jim von Rinteln from Marco. The space I have for this column just cannot list all of the wonderful people who came out to honor our veterans. It was truly a heart-warming night. Thanks to Ray and Linda Rosenberg for always including me! You are wonderful!

Collier County Honor Flight had 71 Veterans at the WWII Memorial. SUBMITTED photos