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One Day Cruising the Danube

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 4:57pm

By Carl and Joan Kelly

Carl and Joan toast the Danube River, their anniversary. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Our anniversary trip was a cruise on the eastern Danube River. Our ship, the River Aria, is run by Grand Circle Cruise Line. Most of the actual cruising, though, was at night while the passengers slept, and by the time we woke for breakfast, the boat would be docked. So, on most days our waking time was not cruising onboard the boat, but walking about the towns and cities where the boat docked; Odd to call that cruising.

One day, however, was spent cruising through the most spectacular section of the eastern Danube, the Cataracts.

The day begins with breakfast, glorious breakfast, one of three such meals every day. Dinner rounds off the gastronomic bonanza with marvelous dishes representing the countries we visited. And, I do not know how to say “no” to food.

Along the eastern Danube, many small villages situated nearly on the water.

After grazing through breakfast, we go to the sundeck and do a few laps. We note the country we are passing through; farmlands, small villages, larger towns and rolling hills that grow to small mountains. We watch the birds, egrets and herons in the shallows at river’s edge, swans swimming in ragged formation in deeper water.

The ship’s pilothouse is forward on the sundeck level. We knock on the door and ask if we can come in. The captain of River Aria, Eduard Novinsky, is a gracious host. He invites us into his domain. Available to answer any questions on the canals, the river, and the complex electronic navigation system of his ship, he gave us an impromptu tour of the pilothouse, explaining the array of instruments.

Stone carving commemorating King Decebalus.

By afternoon the small mountains have grown to the Carpathian Mountains on the Romanian side, and the Balkan Mountains on the Serbian. This is the most spectacular stretch of the eastern Danube, the Cataracts. This few miles of river is a succession of steep inclines and cliffs, sharp turns and very short straight runs.

It is beautiful. Buildings on the riverbank seem to perch precariously on the water. Two large carvings on the stone cliff walls commemorate one ancient two-year war and its hero, King Decebalus. All 150 passengers are on the sun deck, running about, cameras in hand. This was the Danube we had come to see.

In the evening we sit in the lounge at the stern, toast the Danube, and watch the sun set.

River cruise ship leisurely evenings, compelling sunsets.

50th Anniversary Celebration Concert in the Park

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 4:04pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department and First Florida Integrity Bank hosted a free Concert in the Park in honor of the City’s 50th Anniversary. The celebration was plagued by rain off and on throughout the day. Those that persevered were well rewarded with a great line-up of musical entertainment.

First up was the Marco Island Charter Middle School Jazz Band. They set the tone for the rest of the evening, and played although it began to drizzle at times. Next up was Little Eddie and the Fat Fingers, this band surely picked up a few new fans during their performance. Then all over the stage, and in the audience and in the lawn, was our own Jim Long. His energy is contagious and he kept everyone moving! Topping the evening was the NoWhere Band, a Beatles tribute band that even the Beatles would be proud of! The audience danced, swayed and sang along.

Through it all, it rained off and on. The concert was deemed a success by the sheer number of people who, in the midst of a downpour, did not vacate their seats under open skies. They stayed, they danced and they enjoyed the evening to its fullest.

Between bands, the audience was entertained by DJ Steve Reynolds. There was a Beatles trivia question, which was won by Alexandra Diaz.

In true Marco form, the rain didn’t dampen the spirit of those who came to enjoy a free concert in the park. For those who may have held back on coming out in the rain…don’t worry, you can have the next best thing, you can see it on video! Bill Hughes of Hughes Productions taped the show live, which also appeared on two large screens during the concert. The video will be available for your viewing pleasure on

Organizing the event was City of Marco Island Community Events Coordinator, Samantha Malloy, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee members, with help from Ken Hodsdon of Southwest Florida Entertainment and Steve Reynolds. The concert was free thanks to the many sponsors: First Florida Integrity, Coastal Breeze News, Physicians Regional, The Marco Island Group at Morgan Stanley, Truly Nolen, Freedom Boat Club, Sami’s Pizza Grande, Marco Eagle, NCH Urgent Care and NCH Physicians Group, Condee Cooling and Electric, Civitan Club, Julio’s Pest Control, CJ’s on the Bay, Centennial Bank, Marco Island Water Sports, Waste Management of Florida, Marco Island Marriott, LCEC, Bruce Gear Promotions and Art Sellers. The Sunrise and Noontime Rotary Clubs and the Kiwanis Club served beer and wine. Desserts were provided by the Key Club. The Optimist Club and the Boys and Girls Club of Collier County provided food, as did Sami’s Pizza Grande and Dan’s Kettle Corn.


Kiwanis Installation and Awards

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 3:40pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Kiwanian of the Year Dr. Kathleen Reynolds (left)
with her sister Jacqueline. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Kiwanis Club of Marco Island recently installed their new board and officers and presented awards during an evening at Hideaway Beach, complete with dinner, music and dancing.

Early in the evening, past president Dianna Dohm handed the reins to incoming president Tim Klune. Tim presented Dianna with a gavel for her service to the club.

Tim said his goals as president include “increasing member involvement and growing the club.” Tim told the group about the success of Project Eliminate, an example of how Kiwanis has made a “major, important positive difference in our world.” The goal of Kiwanis Project Eliminate is to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide through vaccinations.

The Kiwanis club honored three special individuals, selected for their advocacy for children, all making a lasting impact on the lives of Marco youth.

Dr. Kathleen Reynolds was honored as the Kiwanian of the Year. Kathleen chairs the scholarship committee, the Terrific Kids committee and the Priority One committee. Kathleen was also inducted as president-elect, for a term to begin in 2017.

Lola Dial received the Walter Zeller Fellowship award. Lola is the city’s teen center recreation leader. She is also an advisor for Marco Island Academy’s Key Club and provides guidance and support to the student members to help them keep the club running.

Lori Galiana was made an honorary Kiwanian for her continued dedication to the children of Marco Island. Lori is a U.S. and world history teacher at Marco Island Academy, and the school’s varsity cheerleading coach. Marco Island Academy Key Club is supported by Lori; she serves as an advisor to the students.

The new officers were sworn in for 2015-2016: President Tim Klune, President Elect Dr. Kathleen Reynolds, Vice President Janice Baptiste, Secretary Irene Glynn and Treasurer John Coff. Board members include: Dennis Pidherny, Rebecca Hodge Snyder, Joe Swaja, Fred Schoen and Marilyn Wrucke.

Case VanKleef, past international president, was in attendance and eloquently addressed the guests saying, “Kindness is not a random act, it is a lifestyle.” His fellow Kiwanians concurred.


Stop Identity Theft Forum

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 3:35pm

By Samantha Husted

Police Chief Al Schettino introducing speaker Carrie Kerskie.

In front of a full room at the Marco Island Police Department on November 18, identity theft expert Carrie Kerskie, PI presented the “Stop Identity Theft Forum.” Kerskie is also the director of the Identity Fraud Institute at Hodges University, as well as the president of the Kerskie Group, Inc.

Police Chief Al Schettino introduced Kerskie. “Identity theft is really an epidemic and it’s affecting a lot of people all over the world,” said Schettino. “Everywhere we go we’re exposed to that possibility.”

While Kerskie says there is no one absolute way to prevent identity theft, there are things that people can do, or avoid doing, in order to stay on top of their credit and identity information. Much of Kerskie’s career has been spent helping victims of identity theft. Through her presentations, as well as with her book, “Your Public Identity: Because Nothing Is Private Anymore,” she believes she can help educate people on the issue at hand.

Police Chief Al Schettino introduced Kerskie, reinforcing the importance of the topic. “It’s something that we feel really strongly about,” said Schettino. “Identity theft is really an epidemic and it’s affecting a lot of people all over the world. Everywhere we go we’re exposed to that possibility.”

While the topic of identity theft may seem intimidating, throughout the presentation Kerskie gave examples of the little things that people can do in order to protect themselves. For instance, she says to change the settings on your phone so that your Wi-Fi does not automatically connect to the networks around you. Not all Wi-Fi networks are secure and this is an easy way to access a person’s information. She also says that if you’re at a coffee shop or a place with free Wi-Fi, never use the Wi-Fi to do things that require sensitive information.

Other things you can do include never giving personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call, and shred all receipts, credit card offers, bank statements and returned checks before throwing it away.

Most importantly, Kerskie says you must be aware of your information, and credit history, and check up on it from time to time. If you would like more information on identity theft you can visit her website at

And remember, though the crimes are commonly committed elsewhere, the procedure for reporting the fraud is to first notify your local police department.

New CWA Protects Nesting Birds

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 3:33pm



A Collier County sandbar known as “Second Chance” was designated a Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The island, part of a larger shoal complex, is an important nesting site for Wilson’s plovers and state-listed least terns and black skimmers.

From March 1 through August 31 the sandbar will be closed to public access; the least tern, Wilson’s plover and black skimmer nesting season.

Second Chance hosted the largest least tern ground colony in the region for four of the last five years. It is also an important site for Wilson’s plovers and black skimmers.

CWAs are established by the FWC to protect congregations of wildlife from disturbance during critical life stages. Some of the wildlife protected by CWAs include shorebirds, wading birds, gopher tortoises and bats. People and dogs can cause shorebirds to fly from their nests, leaving eggs and chicks vulnerable to predation and overheating. Human disturbance can also cause wildlife to abandon a high-quality habitat, necessary for survival.

“With broad public support and unanimous support from the Commission, the FWC is moving forward with this very important conservation effort,” said FWC Chairman Brian S. Yablonski. “This is the second CWA recently added to the system in more than 20 years.” Bird Island in Martin County was added in 2013. The addition of the Second Chance sandbar brings the number of CWAs throughout Florida to 20.

The name Second Chance comes from the sand bar providing a “second chance” for nesting least terns, which had abandoned other nesting sites in Collier County. The sand bar is owned by the State of Florida and is managed by the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. It is located approximately 1.5 miles off of Morgan Point, Cape Romano Island.


Salute to Veterans: Gordon Timmerman

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 3:07pm


By Maggie Gust

U.S. Navy veteran Gordon Timmerman. PHOTO BY MAGGIE GUST

Gordon Timmerman served as a U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate Third Class on LCI-669 in the Pacific Theater 1944 to 1946.

Gordon remembers the radio reports of the bombing of Pearl Harbor when he was a freshman. People were stunned because there was no indication of aggression from Japan, rather peace negotiations were ongoing between the two countries. It took a couple of weeks for the full extent of the destruction at Pearl Harbor to be determined and also for America to realize the strength and numbers of the Japanese forces. “Really, the public was not aware of how serious this was going to be.”

Americans were aware of the Japanese invasion of Korea, incursions into China and other areas, mostly due to the thorough coverage provided by Life magazine. He remembers all through high school heading for the new Life magazine in the school library each week to see the photos and read the stories of recent war news.

Gordon enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a 17-year-old high school senior, when the war was going “full tilt.” The navy had a program allowing recruits to finish high school before starting basic training, if their parents would give signed permission. Gordon did not want to join the army, which was where most draftees ended up, so he convinced his parents to let him join the navy’s program. The enlistment term was “duration and six months,” so enlistees could have been in the service for a year or for 10 years!

Graduation was on a Thursday night in spring 1944, and the next day, Gordon reported to the train station in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his hometown. (They had already passed their physicals in Detroit weeks prior.) They were on their way to Great Lakes for boot camp. Many other high school seniors had enrolled in the same program, so not only was the train full of high school graduates, but the Great Lakes Training Center had many companies comprised solely of recent graduates.

After nine weeks of basic training, he was sent home for a nine-day leave, returned to Great Lakes overnight, and put on a train to Boston. They spent about a week at the Fargo Building located at the Boston Navy Yard while awaiting assignment. While there, Gordon saw Lena Horne, who put on a great show for the men at the Fargo Building. Then it was off to Charleston, South Carolina to pick up the ship, which they had to repair a bit before taking it out. During that time, they stayed in barracks at the local navy base.

LCI-669 on a seawall in Japan

The ship was LCI-669. LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) was the smallest ship of the navy that went across the ocean under its own power. Anything smaller went on a bigger vessel such as an LST to transport. The LCI was small – about 158 feet long and 23 feet wide. The LCI-669 had been in the invasion of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. It was returned to the States to be redeployed to the Pacific to prepare for the Invasion of Japan.

When the ship was ready, they started on a long slow trip through the Panama Canal, to San Diego and then Hawaii. While in Hawaii, the ship was assigned to transport a company of Marines to Guam. Among this group of Marines was one young rather sturdy fellow who developed chronic seasickness so severe during the entire 17-day trip that by the time they landed in Guam, he had to be removed on a stretcher, desperately ill.

Gordon himself never suffered seasickness, but it was a common problem among the crew. The ship was always well stocked with soda crackers, the only available remedy for seasickness on such a small craft. If you were not seasick yourself, you stayed on deck as much as possible, away from the crew’s quarters.

The ship was modified to be a fire support ship to assist the Marines on an invasion. They put six-inch navy gun mounts on the deck and twin 40-mm on the bow. They put 4.2-inch army mortars on the six-inch navy mounts, so that two guys could run them and turn them any way around. The shoreline at invasion time would be blocked out in 50-yard squares. Some ships would shoot at random, hitting whatever they could. The modified LCI’s were designed to work with radar, still in its infancy. Radar operators could see the distance of the ship from shore. The LCI ran parallel to the shore, able to maneuver in as little as five feet of water. The Marines would call in where they needed the support, and the LCI was able to fire shots at any 50-yard square.

Before modification, the troops they were transporting had stayed on the ship, but that area was filled with ammunition, mortar shells, so that basically it was a “floating magazine.”

While many service personnel complain about the food, peacetime or wartime, Gordon said he never ate so much steak in his life as he did on that ship. The ship’s larder was always well stocked, as the officers had a knack for accumulating more than adequate supplies. Their cook was an excellent baker in addition to his cooking skills. Homemade bread was available every day, as was plenty of butter, dill pickles and fresh onions. The crew was allowed to use these ingredients to fix themselves a tenderloin steak sandwich after watch, especially the 8 PM to midnight duty. The price for this luxury was cleaning up after yourself.

In port, fresh eggs and oatmeal made for a good breakfast. Coke was a favorite beverage when they were at sea. The empties would get chucked into the wide blue sea. Although no alcohol was allowed while they were at sea, when they were in port two cans of beer per man were allotted. Usually these were consumed during card games. Those who did not want to drink would give their two cans away, but there was a strict six-can allowance, two of your own and four “gifts” from friends. Their officers also imposed a 25-cent limit on the card games, not wanting any man to lose his paycheck.

If they had liberty while in port in a place like Honolulu, the poker games would take a back seat to the live entertainment that was available. Liberty in port meant a small boat would come out to the ship, take them to a dock in port and drop them off, then reverse the process on return. The large hotels in that city, the Royal Hawaiian, etc., had top notch talent putting on shows.

Gordon Timmerman (second left) with three friends on liberty.

Other forms of entertainment on the ship were reading from the small library they had on board, as well as listening to the piano. One officer played, as did another man who played jazz by ear, “Could really rattle the ivories.” For exercise, they had a set of weights and a punching bag on the back deck. Then, of course, there was letter writing to the folks back home.

A daily routine at his job would include checking the guns and mounts, and cleaning and oiling them if necessary. They also had a couple of submachine guns, shotguns, and 45’s which were used to gangway watch. Gordon would take them apart, clean and put them back together. Everything was maintained in battle shape condition. Temperatures in ammo storage areas were recorded. Work schedule at sea when at battle stations, was on four hours and off four hours, plus watch when assigned.

Gordon developed a knack for keeping the ship on course during rough sea. One wave could throw the flat-bottomed boat 45 degrees off course. There was no wheel, just a little handle electric powered that was pushed back and forth, coordinated with the compass to stay on course. Gordon was the go-to guy when the ship needed to dock for loading supplies, fueling or just pulling into port.

They operated under very few rules in general from their officers. Oftentimes when they were in port, some of the guys would not want to walk back to the ship, but would confiscate a Jeep, hot wire it, and leave it at the dock. Sometimes there were six Jeeps on the dock, none of them assigned to the ship.

The sleeping accommodations onboard were not luxurious by any means. There were 29 men plus four officers onboard a ship that was 158 long and 23 feet wide. The bunks for the enlisted men were hung from the ceiling with hooks and chains, in groups of three bunks on each side. Conditions were cozy at best, and when they would hit rough seas or a typhoon, the hooks and chains would be bounced loose so that three men suddenly found themselves on the deck.

In addition to picking themselves up off the deck, rough seas could also mean eating in the mess hall, then suddenly finding yourself at a 45-degree angle with the food from the table splattered on a wall. Gordon remembers one typhoon that lasted four or five days with the ship rising 30 to 40 foot on swells, then suddenly disappearing down the side of the wave. He always said a little “thank you” in his mind to the ladies at the factory who welded that ship together.

One of his most outstanding memories of his time at sea occurred in the Sea of Japan. The ship was anchored about one-quarter mile from a seawall when a sudden storm came up, the anchor cable broke and washed the ship against the seawall, tearing a hole in the bottom of the ship. They had to abandon ship and climb the seawall. They had to go hand over hand over the side of the ship to get over the seawall. But for the next week, while their ship was repaired, the men enjoyed a week of luxury in a home formerly owned by a wealthy Japanese family.


When the news came that a new type of bomb had been dropped on Japan, there was much celebration because they knew the Invasion of Japan would now be the Occupation of Japan and that they would be going home.

Since Gordon had spent most of his time in the service at sea, accumulating points with very little leave, he was able to come stateside in June 1946. He was placed on a troop transport to San Francisco, about a 17-day trip, transferred to a train to Great Lakes where he spent a night or two before being mustered out. With his seabag, he caught the train, was met by his parents at the Grand Rapids train station, where it all started, and settled back into civilian life.

He considers himself very fortunate. Many of his high school classmates and kids from his neighborhood never came home from their service, or suffered terribly during their tour. A number of veterans came back with major disabilities. And then there were so many who did not come back. In his block in his Grand Rapids west side neighborhood, there were at least six Gold Stars in the windows. One mother had two Gold Stars, two of her sons lost at Guadalcanal. No one “escaped” the war. Everyone experienced loss.

Gordon wasted no time getting back to civilian life. He started school in September 1946 at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he met his wife Carol, to whom he is still married. She too was a freshman, like Gordon, but she was a recent high school graduate. Gordon played on the football team, along with many other veterans. Basically, they crushed most of the teams they played. Vets not only had maturity and self-confidence, they were determined to make the most of every minute they had.

Studying history and political science, Gordon graduated, found a teaching job in western Michigan and coached football as well. Two of the male faculty members at the school were also vets. They discovered they had been on Iwo Jima together, landing about 100 yards from each other and were hit about 15 minutes apart.

While Gordon continued teaching and coaching, and he and Carol were raising their two sons, he decided to get a master’s degree in public school administration. He worked as a principal for a number of years. Then he decided on a career change. He quit his job, enrolled in a three-year seminary program of the Reformed Church of America. After ordination on his 40th birthday, he was hired by the denomination for their national staff. For most of the next two decades, he was a “troubleshooter” for the denomination, traveling to churches that were having intramural communication issues and applying his confliction resolution skills.

Carol and Gordon have had a place here on Marco Island since 2000. They were snowbirds for awhile. Now as a full-time resident, Gordon gets to play golf twice a week, year round! One son lives here on the island while the other is on the West Coast. There are five grandchildren.

Gordon joined the American Legion Post 404 when it was started here on Marco Island and has really enjoyed his association with the other members. A highlight for him was going on the Honor Flight in October 2014. There were several other members of his Legion post on that flight, which made it even more special. The most touching time of the trip, according to Gordon, was their return to Fort Myers Airport when they were greeted by about 2,500 people of all ages welcoming them back from their trip and thanking them for their service.

Thank you for doing your job for our country and enduring those rough seas in that tiny ship. We are glad that you came back and we are proud that you are part of our community.


Equitable / Inequitable

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:55pm

It has been stated that the current Marco Island Utility Rate Schedule is Equitable but, the facts indicate that it is Inequitable. This the first of several letters base on irrefutable facts that Utility Rate Schedule is inequitable.

Example No. 1:

I presented to Council at the October 19, 2015 Council Meeting a comparative analysis of large volume users. The comparison was Individually Metered Condominiums compared to high volume Commercial users, the Hilton, the Marriott and North Marco Utility.

The inequitable result deals with the Base Charges. That is the charge each customer pays even if they do not use one (1) gallon water or wastewater (sewage).

Water Base Charge comparison:

In fiscal year 2015 Individually Metered Condominiums consumed 31 million gallons of water and paid a base charge of $660,000.

In fiscal year 2015 the Hilton consumed 31 million gallons of water and paid a base charge of $13,000.

In fiscal year 2015 the Marriott consumed 78 million gallons of water and paid a base charge of $52,000.

Result: Individually Metered Condominiums paid a base charge of $647,000 in excess of the Hilton and $608,000 in excess of the Marriott.

Is that Equitable???

Wastewater (Sewage) Base Charge:

In fiscal year 2015 Individually Metered Condominiums produced 31 million gallon of wastewater (sewage) and paid a base charge of $514,000.

In fiscal year 2015 the Hilton produced 31 million gallons of sewage and paid a base charge of $8,000 and I adjusted that dollar amount for the fact that they pay $1.09 per thousand gallons of sewage to be $42,000.

In fiscal year 2015 the Marriott produced 78 million gallons of wastewater (sewage) and paid a base charge of $33,000 and I adjusted that dollar amount for the fact that they too pay $1.09 per thousand gallons of sewage to be $118,000.

In fiscal year 2015 North Marco Utility produced 25 million gallon of wastewater (sewage) and paid a base charge of $8,000 and I adjusted that for the fact that they pay $1.09 per thousand gallons of sewage to be $336,000.

Result: Idividually Metered Condominiums paid a base charge of $443,000 in excess of the Hilton, $396,000 in excess of the Marriott and $478,000 in excess of North Marco Utility.

Is that Equitable???

The results of this comparative analysis clearly indicate that one class of Utility customer is paying a significant amount of base charges versus three commercial accounts.

Respectfully submitted,
Amadeo Petricca
331 Regatta Street
Marco Island, Florida 34145-5238

Lessons Learned

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:46pm

Vickie Kelber

“Autumn Aloft” in Park City, Utah.

Some of you may have noticed that my column was on hiatus for a few months while I attended to some family medical issues. During that time, planned trips were cancelled, including my dream water view apartment in Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy. Thank goodness for trip insurance. I purchased the insurance from Roam Right, via the website. Compared to a prior incident with another company, Roam Right was very accommodating in issuing a refund. Of course, having learned from that experience, I did have all my receipts and substantiating paperwork readily available in a folder on my computer.

Lufthansa was wonderful in refunding our tickets, as well as all the additional fees they charged for seat reservations. For other scheduled trips, the now defunct US Airways issued a refund, while Delta gave us future travel credit. I have found that in extraordinary circumstances it pays to speak to an airline representative and explain your situation.

It was almost a year before we were able to resume travel. How I looked forward to the TSA checkpoints! I was prepared.

I had ordered new passports two months before our trip. Although our old ones were not set to expire until January, 2016, we would be traveling internationally within 4 months of their end dates, and some countries will not admit you if it is within 6 months of expiration; additionally, all but two pages had been used for stamps and visas. Due to that, I ordered extra pages for our new ones.

Standard passports contain 17 blank pages for visas and entry/exit stamps. The passports I ordered, for no additional charge, contained 43 blank pages. I learned that I will never do that again, as the additional pages obviously make the passports bulkier, and they no longer fit snugly in my waist security pouch. I don’t often keep them there, but if we need to have them in our possession and are in a location known for pickpockets, I do use the pouch. Realistically, a passport is only good for 4 ½ years, and we probably would not have filled all the pages of the smaller ones in that time. Even if we did, I would rather pay early for replacements and have the convenience of the more compact ones.

Our travels afforded new experiences; moose in our backyard.

I had purchased new, very lightweight luggage. I loved how lightweight it was, but learned quickly that I couldn’t “stuff” it as well as my older, heavier bag. And, on the first trip, the stitching ripped in the front. Fortunately, it didn’t pose a danger to splitting the suitcase; it was purely cosmetic. It did have a warranty, which the company honored for a $20 shipping fee for the replacement. I had put my old luggage, which was getting kind of beat up, in a pile of “stuff” to get rid of. When I got home, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to part with it and rescued it from the pile, just in case.

I had the Delta app on my iPhone so I could check on the arrival of our departure plane in Ft. Myers; it was to turn right around and fly back to Atlanta (ATL), the first leg of our trip. On the way to the airport, I checked it frequently because weather was an issue and I knew we had only 45 minutes to take the train in ATL to the terminal for our second leg.

I try to be very organized when approaching the dreaded TSA checkpoint. I had our passports, boarding passes, a credit card and some money in a holder around my neck. I had even purchased a new one that was RFID blocking. These protect anyone with a handheld scanner from reading the personal information on passports and chip credit cards. While this may not be quite the problem that news reports make it out to be, I figured it couldn’t hurt to be on the safe side.

I had everything I needed to remove from our carryon (laptop, extra hard drives, plastic bag with small liquids) all together within easy reach. We were headed to Salt Lake City where I planned to sign up for Global Entry. Hopefully, this was the last time I would have to remove those items.

Early morning balloon ascent with frost covering the ground.

My jacket was stowed, my glasses off. My husband and I both lucked out at the first checkpoint as we were given the blue “get out of jail free” cards, or in this case, do not need to remove shoes cards. I was set. We had between us a small, wheeled carryon, a backpack, and purse. I gave the backpack, which contained nothing that had to be removed, to my husband, as he does not suffer inconvenience easily. Wouldn’t you know, it got tagged. Apparently, a stylus that we never use, yet remains attached to our iPad Air case, resembles a pencil detonator. The TSA officials were very nice about it. I could tell they didn’t really believe it was something dangerous, yet they did have to unload the backpack and check it out. You can be sure I got rid of that stylus before our next security check.

Despite these missteps that were learning experiences for me, it was nice to get back to traveling. Our first trip was back to Park City, Utah, which afforded some new and different experiences. Real cowboys in restaurants. TV ads for singles on a website called We are used to seeing dolphins and manatees in our backyard on Marco, but how about moose! For three mornings in a row, there were two large bull moose in our backyard and driveway.

The moose tolerated my snapping lots of photos and videos, but they soon tired of me and one raised his head, looked straight at me, and snorted…twice. I knew it was time to bid them adieu. I’ve been told that the snort warning isn’t as threatening as a roar, but I wasn’t taking any chances. In the West, moose can be more dangerous than bears.

It had been almost 30 years since we attended a balloon ascent and we had the opportunity to go to “Autumn Aloft,” a balloon festival in Park City. There were colorful balloons from all over the country; a bright yellow one with a bucking bronco and the word “Wyoming” emblazoned on it, quite a few stars and stripes, some advertising companies. My favorite, of course, was the one adorned with palm trees.

Finally, traveling again afforded the opportunity to experience the changing seasons; the vivid reds and oranges of the fall trees, the glowing yellow of the aspens. When that first snow frosted the mountains, though, I knew it was time to go home.


Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is a former board member of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education.

New Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk Tour

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:45pm


A new naturalist-led tour of the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is the newest Friends of Fakahatchee adventure offered at The new tour uses high-tech two way headsets will help tour participants get the most out of their naturalist-led small group tour of the Fakahatchee’s Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. The tour of the National Natural Landmark site on the Tamiami Trail is a morning stroll in dappled shade along the 2,220-foot boardwalk through one of the last remaining stands of virgin cypress trees in Florida. The tour will provide many photography and bird watching opportunities. Highlights include an old growth forest, an active bald eagle nest and an alligator hole at the end of the boardwalk.

The fee is $20 per person. The season’s first tour is Thursday, November 19 from 9 to 10:30 AM. Boardwalk tours are also offered on December 3, 10, 17, and 31. For directions and required reservations, visit and click “tours and events.”

The Friends of Fakahatchee also offer swamp walks, Ghost Rider tram tours and combination tours of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, through their website.


Goodland’s Orphaned Access Road – Part One

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:43pm

By Barry Gwinn

There is only one way in and one way out of Goodland. It is aptly named Goodland Road and designated CR 92A by Collier County. On good days, one need only dodge potholes, and endure a washboard drive over the crumbling roadway. On bad days, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico on one side, and the Marco River on the other, cover substantial portions of the road creating shifting one-lane travel and traffic backups. A refrain that I hear over and over is “Why doesn’t the County do something about this?” The short answer is that Collier County (“the County”) has been attempting to do a lot about this, but has no jurisdiction over this stretch of road. The City of Marco Island owns a portion of this stretch of road and has let it fall into disrepair. How did we get into this scrape?

On August 28, 1997, Marco Island became incorporated as the City of Marco Island (CMI). Its boundary was extended through the mangroves and down Goodland Road to Angler Drive Everything east of Angler Drive remained with the County. At the stroke of a pen, all roads on the island (except in Goodland) were then on city property rather than the County’s. In recognition of this, the County and CMI entered into an interlocal agreement effective October 1998, in which CMI agreed to immediately take over the maintenance of all roads within its boundaries, which included Goodland Road. Mike Barbush was president and Connie Fullmer, secretary of the 120-member Goodland Civic Association (GCA) at this time. Fullmer told me that the board was in favor of this arrangement, especially since, under the agreement, actual jurisdiction of Goodland Road was retained by the County. “The idea was to see how well CMI maintained Goodland Road before giving ownership to them,” said Fullmer, “This would give us additional time to see if this was a good idea. It was a concession we got from the County and CMI.”

Two years later, effective October 1, 2002, the County, apparently believing that Goodland was happy with CMI, executed a second interlocal agreement. This one transferred full jurisdiction of Goodland Road to CMI. It also transferred San Marco Road, CR 92, to CMI. Now CMI had both maintenance responsibility and ownership of Goodland Road and San Marco Road. In consideration of the extra maintenance costs being incurred by CMI, the July 30 agreement provided for 15 annual payments of $1 million from the County to CMI. In addition to the above roads, payments could also be applied by CMI for maintenance of “all roadways within CMI.” All payments have been made except for 2016 and 2017.

Archives reflect that the GCA learned of this proposed second agreement only through a July 15, 2002 article in the Naples Daily News, and thereupon took vigorous action to keep Goodland Road under the County’s jurisdiction. “We had decided by this time that it was not in Goodland’s best interest to be without recourse to the County in maintaining Goodland Road,” Fullmer said. Barbush appealed to the CMI Council on July 15. The council had no objection to Goodland Road remaining under County jurisdiction. On July 26, 2002, the GCA fired off a letter to the County and CMI. It was signed by Mike Barbush as president, and Connie Fullmer as secretary. The letter requested that Goodland Road remain under County jurisdiction and advised that the GCA would be voicing their objections at the July 30, 2002 County Commissioners’ meeting. On July 30, 2002, Fullmer spoke before a meeting of the County Commissioners. A transcript of her presentation survives. Her remarks proved prescient and prophetic. They are quoted here in part:

“…As construction trucks begin to roll into the village along the winding road, the weight from the concrete trucks and delivery trucks will take its toll along that roadway. It will not be likely that Marco City will rush to do improvements because impact fees [for development in Goodland] are going to the County [not CMI], and we will be left with a damaged roadway. When Marco City Councilmen vote on where the road monies will be spent, their constituents are going to lobby for road work to be done on roads used by Marco City residents, not Goodland Village residents.” Notwithstanding Fullmer’s plea, the county commissioners approved and signed the second interlocal agreement turning over the whole ball of wax to CMI.

“Thereafter,” said Fullmer, “there was disagreement as to what should be done next and shortly after this, the entire board handed in their resignations to President Mike Barbush. After a new board was appointed, Barbush himself resigned and Tom Cowles was elected president.” This ushered in a dark era for the GCA, which effectively polarized Goodland – most in favor of the County’s retaining Goodland Road, and a few, led by Cowles, who wanted CMI to take over. Things got nasty, with GCA board members claiming Cowles had lied to them, and had been deciding things behind their backs. Linda Van Meter, who was on the board in the early 2000’s recalls improperly announced meetings. “I reported to board meetings which had obviously been underway long before I got there,” Van Meter told me. “It was no secret that Cowles was meeting with selected board members and with CMI Manager, Bill Moss,” said Fullmer.

In the face of a hostile GCA board president, but with the support of many in Goodland, Fullmer and Rich Pappy formed an opposition group, the Goodland Preservation Coalition (GPC). “We weren’t willing to give up the fight to prevent CMI from taking over Goodland Road,” Fullmer explained, “We had a large base of support in Goodland, but Cowles, as GCA president, had everyone’s ear. He was being disingenuous with the GCA board.” Fullmer says that in 2002, the GPC actually succeeded in getting a concession of sorts from County Commissioner Donna Fiala, and County Manager Jim Mudd, who gave the GPC two years to come up with a solution. Thereafter Barbush attended CMI council meetings and met with CMI Manager, Bill Moss, encountering no CMI opposition. In the summer of 2004, Barbush also appeared before the County Commissioners and requested that the GPC petition [to keep the road in the County] be placed on a future agenda. Cowles, who was also there, followed up with a bombshell, a letter on GCA stationery to County Manager Mudd, which all but killed any efforts to keep Goodland Road in the County. Cowles told Mudd that the GCA Board had been telephonically polled, and had voted unanimously, 9 to 0, to “honor the agreement.” Cowles concluded, “We feel there should not be any amendments or restrictions.” Fullmer managed to talk to four GCA board members, who claimed they were not informed by Cowles that ownership of Goodland Road was at stake. “They thought they were voting only on whether maintenance of the road had been satisfactory,” Fullmer said. One board member actually sent an email to Jim Mudd saying that the GCA board had been misled by Cowles, and that she believed the majority of Goodland residents were actually opposed to CMI ownership of the Road. Grievously wounded, but not dead, the efforts languished on the back burner for a few years.

Next edition: How bad is it? What’s next?


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



Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:39pm

Laurie Kasperbauer

The season of pumpkins and goblins is behind us for another year and we have officially entered into the “Holiday” season. Looking back at Halloween, I wonder how many children suffered bellyaches from over-indulging in sugar? No judgement from me. When I have sugar products in the house I eat them. I OVER eat them. My self control dissolves and I fall into a cycle of eat, headache, regret, repeat. If only I was better at moderation.

Recently a news report was released warning us to limit our intake of red and processed meat because they may contain possible carcinogens. The list includes, but is not limited to, hamburger, steak, veal, ham, bacon and sausage. This news was not surprising to me and it really isn’t new information because after all, isn’t too much of anything not good for us? I believe that even media releases of the latest studies can be harmful when we over-indulge ourselves with the new information.

When our oldest daughter was pregnant with her first child she received a litany of information from her doctor. The list of things she shouldn’t eat, drink or do left few options that passed as healthy or appropriate. She became anxious and irritable. My observation was that the stress of staying within the strict boundaries of the recommendations was more harmful than an occasional indulgence. She is due to deliver baby number three this spring, and using her past experience and common sense, she is far more relaxed this time around. The key, once again…moderation.

But can we be satisfied with moderate amounts of anything? Do we settle for “good enough” when “bigger and better” are right around the corner? Do we sit down at the Thanksgiving table and eat sparingly of turkey, potatoes, gravy and pie? Or do we eat until our bellies ache and drowsiness takes hold?

We live in a world of excess. We are the “land of the free, the home of the brave…” and the humming hub of too much. Our meals get “super sized,” our beverages are “big gulps.” We demand faster internet, extended cable and high quality HD TV. We have unlimited information available 24/7. We can watch a war in progress or the reality of someone else’s life from our living rooms. And all of this can be experienced with the touch of a keypad from phones that appear to grow from our fists like a metal, micro-chipped appendage.

When I was growing up we didn’t have an overabundance of “stuff.” As one of four children, I remember the rare treat of getting a candy bar. One bar, cut into four equal parts so that we all could enjoy its decadence. We had one car. We had two bathtubs and no shower stalls. And we had only one telephone. It was attached to the wall by a tangled spiral of rubbery wire, and our use of it was limited.

I’m not going to say “those were the good old days.” I believe the “good old days” are blooms grown from the seeds of “good old memories,” but for me, they were the days of good old moderation.

As the holidays approach and I create my lists of meals to plan, groceries to buy, decorations to hang and gifts to purchase, I have to stop and remind myself of two things:

First, practice moderation. If I think it’s “not enough” it’s probably, in reality, more than enough. And two, there are many people living in our world, our towns, and in our neighborhoods who may live in the world of excess, but it’s bounty is just beyond their grasp. My guess is they have honed the skill of moderation to a needle sharp point. Perhaps, for me, practicing moderation could be expressed through generosity to those who live without the comforts I often take for granted.

The philosophy of yoga addresses moderation in many ways. The practice of showing compassion for all living things and thoughtfulness for others is Ahimsa. We practice Santosa when we display contentment for what we have and acceptance of what happens. But Aparigraha may best sum up the definition of moderation. Aparigraha tells us to take only what is necessary and release our attachment to excess.

So as the Holidays approach with all the usual temptations, take one moment to step back, close your eyes, and inhale moderation. Then cut your piece of pie in two and share the decadence with another.


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.

Perfect Imperfections

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:33pm

Richard Alan

Pretty? That’s debatable.
“Krown of Lite” diamond.

Might sound like an oxymoron to you, but when it comes to buying diamonds or precious gemstones a perfectly located imperfection can save you a great deal of money.

When purchasing a fine diamond or any expensive gem, the clarity is graded by the amount of inclusions, imperfections, blemishes or flaws. Call them what you like, they can be white or black marks, striations, even surface cracks or chips. Sometimes flaws appear to be minute bubbles or similar to the scrape that an ice skate leaves on ice, inside or near the surface of the gemstone. The more imperfections the less valuable the gem, and they are especially noticeable in diamonds.

Most of the diamonds and gems I sell are shown “loose” to my customers, which means out of the setting, so the gem can be viewed or examined at every angle to assure the quality you desire and pay for. Many of my customers know my source for outstanding Belgium-cut diamonds blow away any ordinary cut stones.

I have mentioned in past articles that I am a large fan of color. I like my diamonds to be bright white, or when it comes to fancy colors such as canary color, bright yellow and even cognac colored diamonds should be vibrant and alive and must give the full effect of what is known as the “WOW!” factor.

I’m not crazy about a lot of inferior colors I see every day, such as pinkish rubies, almost black sapphires, and washed-out tanzanite. As you well know, there are different strokes for different folks – some people prefer lighter or darker shades.

If you ever see a truly fine high quality tanzanite, the intense purple blue color with reddish overtones is breathtaking. And a fine Indian “cornflower” blue sapphire is a rare and magnificent sight.

Fine gems are not inexpensive, that’s why they call them fine gems, but finding one with the “perfect imperfection” can save you dollars.

It’s really quite simple, when viewing loose gems your choice would be the one that has the flaw or inclusion off to the side where the prong would go, or where the metal that would hold the stone in the setting would be, thus covering the “flaw.”

I have sold dozens of “flawless” diamonds for less by doing just that! With the customer being aware, I place the inclusion under the prong and presto it’s gone. When the customer comes to pick up the ring or pendant, even with magnification, the inclusion is next to impossible to see. The same works for most gemstones.

The graceful emerald is a gem that has natural inclusions that are sometimes referred to as its “jardin,” which is the French word for garden (see you learn something new every day!). These are long striated lines, much like the grain on a piece of wood, which can be seen throughout the gem. If the color is magnificent, the “flaws” will be overlooked, provided they are faint to the naked eye. I have appraised many so-called flawed emeralds for tens of thousands of dollars. I have seen flawless emeralds, many were fake, man-made or glass treated, and the real fine genuine ones were hundreds of thousands in cost. One of the most beautiful rough emeralds I have ever seen weighs 78 carats and can be seen in Key West at the Mel Fisher Museum near Mallory Square. They had cut another rough that only weighed 12.72 carats, with natural inclusions, and that sold for $250,000. Imagine the value of the larger one if it is ever cut and sold!

My point is that certain gems come with natural inclusions and buying them without any blemish whatsoever can be hard to find at reasonable cost.

Tourmaline is a good example of a beautiful gem that comes in a variety of colors from reds to purples, greens and neon blues. But most tourmaline can be highly included, but to many –“Who the heck cares? We love the colors!”

There are manmade or synthetic “gemstones” on the market that look great too, and are inexpensive and have no value. Most baby boomer school rings have synthetic rubies or sapphires in them. They are basically worthless.

The process of clarity enhancement is another good example. This is a procedure that fades inclusions, and in fact makes the diamond more brilliant, thus making it more appealing.

And speaking of inclusions…I have been approached by many folks who have purchased a new type of diamond cut that is on the tourist market predominantly in the Caribbean islands. This wonderful new “gem” – “The Krown of Lite” (not the real name but close) – I would call it “The Crock of Uknowhat.”

Someone engineered the perfect way to cut a very imperfect diamond and set it in a pretty halo setting (surrounded by smaller diamonds), and from what I have seen so far, to pretty much fleece the tourists.

The diamond is kind of cut like a short and stout ice cream cone, with lots of facets on the top of the diamond. Problem is they are asking big bucks for low quality diamonds. All the ones I have seen have been SI2 clarity or worse, meaning I1 and I2, even I3 clarity.

The center is usually surrounded by poorly set round traditional full cut diamonds in a nice heavy mounting. By “poorly set” I mean the diamonds don’t stay in the ring.

I will admit the colors of the “Krown of Lite” diamonds I have seen were decent, but not outstanding. The saddest part is that they appraise for much less than the fabulously special discounted purchase price, and have no trade up or resale value.

I suggest you steer clear of these “gems.”

Just doing my job and warning folks that this is what’s up and beware of the so-called hotel jewelry auctions that will soon be flooding the Southwest Florida area. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment, and make a not-so-smart purchase you will regret, and can’t return.

And honestly I’m not interested in assessing the “bargain” you purchased elsewhere, unless it’s with an appointment for a written appraisal where I’m compensated for my knowledge, expertise and time.

A diamond rated I1 , I2 or I3 clarity is a poor quality diamond…end of story. Know what you are buying.

Ok, enough sunshine and happiness…until next time.


Richard Alan is a designer/ goldsmith and a purveyor of fine diamonds and precious gemstones. He is the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith, Marco’s Island jeweler for over 21 years, located at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters.” 239-394-9275 Visit his website at


Meet Marco’s New Baby Dolphins

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:30pm

Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

Two-month-old Freedom pops up for a look.

Freedom. Honeymoon. Little Bear. These words do not describe a mountain getaway for newlyweds. They are, instead, the names of the first three baby dolphins seen in the Marco Island area this fall. This is birthing season for the bottle nosed dolphins in this section of the world, and we are hoping to see a few more “Young of Year” (YOY) over the next several months.

As well as being an educational ecotour, the dolphin survey team onboard the Dolphin Explorer takes pride in monitoring the birth statistics in the area; which one is the mom, how many young has she produced, what is the survival rate of the newborn and additional information that may provide some insight to the population in our area waters.

Of the above mentioned YOYs, Freedom was the baby we most expected this season. An adult female can give birth about every three years and Giza, Freedom’s mom, was right on schedule. She has produced a newborn in 2006, 2009, 2012, and again this year. What really alerted us to the possibility that Giza was pregnant was the behavior of her three-year-old, Sammy. Calves in this section of the world will stay with their mothers for three years or longer. Giza was seen without Sammy when that little one was only thirty-three months old. At first there was concern that something may have happened to Sammy, but we finally had a sighting of this youngster without mom around. Just a few months later Giza did indeed give birth to Freedom. How did this YOY get its name? Many of our newborn dolphins are named by guests on our boat at the first sighting. This one was initially seen on September 11, a special day in U.S. history, and the passengers agreed that Freedom was the perfect name.

We’ve been performing our survey work for nearly ten years in the Marco Island area, and we met Giza’s first known calf, Sintas, in the fall of 2006. Three years later Doubledip was born, and in 2012 Sammy came along.

All of Giza’s known calves are still alive and in the area.

This is not the case for all YOYs. The fall of 2014 saw four newborn come along from adult females who are residents of these waters. Unfortunately only one made it to its first birthday. There is no conclusive evidence regarding the cause of death of the other three young of year, but several theories come to mind. There are sharks in our waters and baby dolphins would be in danger because of their size.

With many species throughout the animal kingdom, it is not uncommon for an adult male to dispose of the young in order to have access to the adult female for mating purposes and, in some societies, males may see a newborn as a threat to its food supply. There is also a possibility that a disease of some type could cause death of a young.

Giza and her newborn Freedom swim side-by-side.

One adult female has given birth in 2008, 2011 and 2014 and none of her young have survived. A theory here is that this mom may not be producing milk properly to feed her young.

As for the other two newborn, Honeymoon’s mom, Cosmo, has successfully raised her other calf, Hunter, to sub-adult status. We have high hopes that Cosmo’s abilities as a mom might give Honeymoon a great start in life.

Little Bear, offspring of Mama Bear, is spending time at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, a bit further away from the other youngsters. We are aware of other moms and babies in that vicinity, such as Crystal and Mica, that are doing well.

Several other females are on our list to give birth this fall, but only time will tell. It is always exciting to be on the water at this time of year, hoping to see a brand new baby.

That opportunity might be yours…come join us!


Join Bob at 7 PM on November 19 at the Rose History Auditorium for a presentation about how young dolphins survive their first three years of life. MIHS members and Marco Island Academy students and parents are free. A $5 donation is requested for all other guests.


Bob is a naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer and also owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours, an educational experience in the Big Cypress area. He is a member of the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism. Bob loves his wife very much!




Trends, Part II

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:28pm

Hector C. Fernandez

Courtesy of Hf Architect.

Continuing my column on “Trends,” we pick up where we left off and now delve inside the modern house (literally inside, as in under the hood, so to speak). Behind the scenes, or better yet, just behind the walls, things are getting sophisticated. More and more we see water reclamation in the form of cisterns or green roofs. And who on Marco wouldn’t want to save on water consumption- especially for irrigation?

HVAC systems are being split into scalable systems, such as those manufactured by Daiken, to allow for room-by-room zone controlled environments. No need to spend energy cooling or heating empty rooms.

Vented attics are gone completely, and permanently replaced with closed cell insulated attics using products like Icynene (Say hello to minimum R-42 insulated roof attics).

Lighting is unquestionably LED, with smart home lighting controls in most homes that break the 4,000 square feet barrier. Lutron is still the popular favorite.

And on the topic of smart homes, the new options are virtually endless to the point that it can make a homeowner’s head spin! Control your indoor lights, outdoor lights, pool lights, Jacuzzi, pool heater, home climate control, shades and window treatments, audio, security, etc. Do all of this from your smartphone or computer. So many options, which one is the right one for me? That is where your team of design professionals will be able to help by addressing, designing, and specifying the correct solution for your desired level of control. This is not something you want to leave up to guesswork. And don’t be fooled, there are many wireless systems out there, but reliability is…well, questionable at times. Why depend on an add-on solution after the fact, when for very little money you can put the correct system in at the same time your traditional electrical is being installed during construction? An architect will be able to best guide you and make sure that the best selection is made.

Continuing on the “smart home” and “efficiency” topics, you will even find some neat new items like a water shut off valve connected to your bathroom light switch that ensures you never run up a water bill due to a leaky faucet or bad flapper in your toilet tank (compliments of Guard Dog Valves). They are even working on a whole home shut off valve for those of us that only enjoy Marco Island seasonally.

With FPL adopting net metering, power-generating technologies, like photo voltaic, are now very much on the rise. There are even some fringe technologies that look very promising in the future, such as bio-generators and hydrogen dry cell generators.

Oh, and believe it or not, vinyl – yes you read it correctly – vinyl windows and doors are fast becoming a must. The reason is heat transference of vinyl vs. aluminum.

Courtesy of G3 Homes.

The Florida Building Code, 5th edition was just recently released this past summer and the energy performance standards are…well, let’s just say, you’re getting a LEED, energy efficient home, even if you didn’t ask for it. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy Efficient Design, which is the gold (pardon the pun) standard for energy efficient and “green” buildings. This standard was developed by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). LEED has become an adopted standard in most areas. Many of the efficiency requirements found in LEED are being integrated more and more into every new iteration of the Florida Building Code, which in itself is based on the International Building Code. So if “green” and “LEED” are important to you, make sure you hire a firm that is a USGBC member and that has LEED AP professionals working with them.

Moving to the outside again, yards are… well, let’s just say, less is definitely not more. In keeping with tropical lush fashion, thick and dense tropical foliage is the trend. A mix of indigenous plant material with high tolerance and low water needs, are mixed with tropical exotics. This allows for the use of a drip irrigation system that minimizes water consumption (remember the water cisterns I mentioned earlier?). A Zen garden tucked away never hurt anyone’s meditative state. Throw a Buddha statue in for good measure. Siddhartha never looked so at peace. Why not use beautiful landscaping to help shade and protect your home from solar exposure? This is, yet again, another opportunity where good design and the indispensable knowledge of your architect and landscape architect will not only provide a gorgeous design, but will also incorporate good planning principals and building orientation from the onset.

Oh, and this is a personal request, please remove your screened lanais or terraces. I’ve been coming to Marco for about 35 years now and in that time the mosquito crisis has come under control. There are some mavericks out there building new homes sans the screened enclosure. Trust me, you’ll be fine.

In my next issue I will focus on some of the ongoing trends closer to home, namely Naples. I’m sure many of you have seen the super trendy white cottages popping up all around downtown Naples (Great job MHK Architects). But be warned, that trend is winding down. More on Naples, next time.

I encourage all of my fellow islanders to take a day trip over to the Magic City. Yes, it is congested, loud and fast becoming dirty, but it is fun, electrifying and full of cool, hip new trends. Plus, you can treat yourself to a good “media noche” and wash it down with “un cortadito” before you make your way back to paradise. If you do venture over, make sure not to miss a visit to the new Perez Art Museum at Museum Park, which opened last year. This really great building, designed by the world famous firm of Herzog + DeMuron, is located right next door to the American Airlines Arena (home of the HEAT, sadly LeBron-less these days).

I would also like to invite all of my readers (and fans?) to contact me and let me know of any particular topics they would like me to cover in upcoming issues.

Until then, enjoy the vibe around town and keep your eyes open for the new and elegant trends soon to hit our coast. In the meantime, if you have any questions, remember to “ask an architect.”


Hector C. Fernandez, AIA, can be reached at, or by calling 239-330-8124.




What ACS Means to Me & What It Could Mean to You

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:26pm

Nikkie Sardelli
Staff Partner, ACS Marco Island

Even before I became an American Cancer Society (ACS) staff partner, I was well aware of the nonprofit organization and its mission to fight cancer. However, what I did not know until I joined the wonderful staff and dedicated volunteers, was just how much ACS provides for those diagnosed with cancer that goes far beyond funding research. Most importantly, the services ACS provides are either free, or at significantly reduced rates.

I chose to work for the American Cancer Society because I wanted my passion for coordinating events to go towards an amazing cause. Knowing that the events I assist in planning help others who are battling such a cruel disease drives me to keep going until we finish this fight for good.

Being able to get to know our local volunteers, and hearing their stories of what made them join the fight, is truly inspirational. I personally have lost three grandparents to this disease, one being quite young when she lost her battle. Cancer hits close to home for most of us. Working for ACS is fulfilling, especially because ACS contributes to those living right in our own community.

It is remarkable to know that ACS has been helping to fight this battle for 100 years now. Although vast progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. By joining such a committed organization, I feel I am doing my part in preventing this disease from going uncured for another 100 years.

As a staff partner, I want to share with you the importance of our volunteers, and how much they mean to us. We are always looking for volunteers who want to become a part of our mission. Whether a volunteer wants to play a large or small role, any degree of involvement is much appreciated. ACS is “volunteer-led, staff-run,” meaning that we want our volunteers to take the lead, and we want to help support them in their efforts to fund our mission. It is up to those in our community to keep the drive of ACS going. It is because of those volunteers, who are so passionate about the ACS mission, that we are able to support our Marco Island community.

At the Marco Island ACS office, located at 583 Tallwood Street, Suite 101, we provide free wigs/wig fittings, informational pamphlets, and loaned books for patients and caregivers. There is also our Road to Recovery program, where volunteers drive patients, who do not have alternative transportation, to doctor appointments and treatments, free of charge. To reach our office and speak with a member of the staff who may assist you, please call 239-642-8800. Additionally, our neighboring Naples office location offers our Look Good Feel Better program, where makeup and hairstylists come and pamper women for an afternoon.

On a larger scale, by calling 1-800-227-2345, you may be transferred to a representative that specializes in your particular type of cancer, where they can offer day-to-day help or even emotional support 24/7. If you are struggling with your diagnosis or just need someone’s support, you can call this helpline even late at night, and there will always be someone there for you to talk to. The resources they can provide patients are vast, and most are undisclosed to staff. This number provides a secure place to speak about private information that never gets released to local offices, or anywhere else. This is why it is so important to call the hotline and be able to speak with a specialist who can offer you aid in any aspect of your difficult journey through cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The American Cancer Society of Marco Island is here to help provide our community with resources to fight back against cancer, and create a world with more birthdays. To help support our mission and the wonderful resources we provide to our local community, you may be interested in one of our two major fundraising events: the Imagination Ball, a black-tie optional affair, held at the Marco Island Marriott on March 5, 2016 (; or Relay For Life, a family-oriented event, held at Mackle Park on April 9, 2016 (www. For any information on either of these events please contact Nikkie Sardelli, Coordinator Division Office & Event Support, at 239-642-8800 ext. 3894.

How Do You Measure Student Learning?

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:25pm

Jane Watt

As the chairman of the board of Marco Island Academy (“MIA”), a public charter high school for the past five years, I have had an opportunity to witness firsthand how the current standardized testing strategies affect students, teachers and administration at the school. As a parent of three children in the public school system, I have personal experience with how the testing has affected my own kids. In both cases, there is an unnecessary amount of stress caused by the abundance of standardized testing in schools today.

During the past few years, legislators have expressed a greater desire to measure student learning through assessments. In an effort to ensure that all students succeed, the U.S. has inadvertently created test-taking factories in the public school system. I don’t think a standardized test, or a myriad of standardized tests, can measure the true ability of our nation’s students. Schools must have high expectations and an effective way to measure student learning. But at what point do we determine that additional testing is not the solution to a much more complex problem? Are the standardized tests aligned with the standards that are taught in class? Do the test results give teachers useful data to guide instruction? Based on my experience, the answer to the majority of these questions is no.

Last year, students at MIA spent approximately half the instructional days during second semester taking tests. Between the mandatory standardized tests, FSA’s, End of Course exams, and the advanced curriculum AICE and IGCSE exams, students in every class were tested. In some cases, students were tested multiple times in the same course. For example, in the pre-AICE (IGCSE) Biology class, students took a state mandated Biology EOC exam and the pre-AICE (IGCSE) test. The amount of time spent on coordinating the logistics to administer the tests is incomprehensible. The school’s administration established seating charts prior to each test and submitted them to the district. Since MIA is a small school, we cannot afford a full time IT team. Instead, we spent thousands of dollars to have our IT representative visit the school and set up all the school’s computers prior to each test. The guidance counselor at MIA doubled as a full-time test administrator. Teachers were pulled from the classroom to proctor exams. Substitute teachers took their place in the classroom. Valuable instructional time was replaced by what I like to refer to as the “testing marathon.” We survived. In fact, we administered all the tests successfully, and our students performed very well. But in retrospect, what exactly did we gain that we didn’t already know? In my opinion, not enough to justify the time that our teachers and students lost in the classroom.

Our current data driven assessment system reduces the amount of time that teachers spend on instruction. More testing is not necessarily better. After researching countries at the top of the list consistently, according to NAEP, I realized there are different methodologies to teaching. For example in Singapore, classroom instruction is uniform across al levels and subjects throughout the country. Teachers focus on a strict curriculum and prepare students for the high stakes end-of-year testing. Their model incorporates top-down forms of teacher accountability based on student performance. While this type of structure has been effective in the past, Singapore’s government recognizes the need to evolve in order to maintain its position in the future. They are working towards a new type of framework called “Teach Less, Learn More” that pushes teachers to focus on the quality of learning vs. the quantity of test prep. In addition, teachers are incorporating more and more technology into the classroom.

While Finland is also ranked at the top of the NAEP scores, its educational model is completely different. Teachers actually develop the curriculum in Finland and design their own tests. There are no national tests, except for one that is administered at the end of high school. In the lower grade levels, less time is spent in the classroom and more time is spent playing. There is virtually no emphasis placed on standardized testing.

What can the U.S. learn from the countries who consistently rank as the top performing education systems in the world? Although it is unrealistic to think we can simply emulate another country’s education system and expect the same results, I think there are lessons we can learn from them. Testing isn’t the real problem. In fact, when used appropriately, assessments can be very useful in the education process. Teachers administer tests and quizzes regularly to gage student learning. However, I believe the quantity and types of assessments we are currently using are an issue. Standardized test administration is costly and requires hours of time. The results are not given to the teachers in a timely manner. Therefore they cannot be used to help guide individual student’s instruction.

In order to adequately measure student learning, we need to take a more comprehensive approach. Standardized tests should be used as a tool, a small piece to the puzzle, but not as the complete evaluation. Students who are taking advanced courses such as AP, IB or AICE should be exempt from all other testing. Students who are taking general classes should take no more than one standardized test, for example a PSAT or similar test once a year to measure growth. By using a nationally normed test, students can be compared to other students throughout the country. Teachers should be given the test results immediately so they can use the information to guide instruction. In addition, teachers should be expected to keep a portfolio on every student. The portfolio should incorporate various aspects of the child including samples of work demonstrating where the child excels, as well as examples of where he or she needs more help. The portfolio should be used to support the individual student’s learning needs. Some students who are creative artists, talented writers, or gifted musicians, struggle in math. Other students who are brilliant mathematicians struggle with verbal skills. The only way to truly measure student learning is to recognize the many variables that encompass each individual student. It makes me think of the line in the song “Seasons of Love,” “525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year in the life? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, and cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, and strife? How do you measure a year in life?”

Students exhibit individual talents and abilities that cannot be measured by simply administering standardized tests. Until we recognize this fact, we will not be able to accurately measure student learning. Nor will we be able to give students the support they need to succeed in their future.


Jane Watt is a mother of three children in the public school system. She is also the Founder and Chairperson for Marco Island Academy, a public charter high school. Recently she wrote the book, “Fighting For Kids: Battles To Create a Charter School.” Her mission is to help improve educational opportunities for children.



Four Things to Pack For Your Charter Boat Trip

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:24pm

Capt. Pete Rapps

When you go out on a charter boat trip, you want to be prepared to have a really great day out on the water! In order to make sure you’re prepared, there are some things you can bring along with you to make your trip even more successful.


The 4 things you should pack for your charter boat trip are:

  • Snacks and water – The proper nourishment will keep you fueled up to reel in the big one! It’s important to remember that spending a day out on the water, especially when it’s warm and sunny, can really leave you thirsty. Staying hydrated is important for safety and feeling your best, so bring lots of water. While you’re out having a great time, you may also start to feel a little hungry as well, so packing a few snacks or a sandwich is a great idea if you start to feel a bit of a stomach rumble!
  • Outside protection – While you’re out on the boat you’ll be exposed to the elements a bit, and this includes both sun, and possibly, rain. If it’s rainy, consider bringing along a poncho to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. If it’s sunny, make sure to pack a bottle of sunscreen. Keep in mind that spray-type sunscreen is a bad option for fishing charters – just a small misting can kill an entire tank of bait. Also, a misting on the deck of the boat could result in a slippery hazard.
  • Hand sanitizer – If you’re reeling them in and playing with live bait, you may also want to pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer to have on hand in case you get messy. This can be particularly beneficial before you dig into your snacks! If you happen to cut yourself on a hook or piece of gear, you can also use the hand sanitizer to keep the area clean until you get home for a proper wash.
  • Camera– Be sure to bring a good camera with you. The best part about a fishing trip is the memories of the day. That fillet you cooked for dinner gave you 5 minutes of enjoyment, but that photo of you or someone special on your fishing trip holding up their catch will last a lifetime.

I hope that these articles serve as educational and beneficial to you, and that they will help you become a better angler. If you have any questions or would like to book an instructional charter, please contact me. I also conduct free instructional seminars and workshops to various groups, clubs, tackle shops, and other venues throughout the year. If your group could benefit from a workshop, please do not hesitate to contact me. Also be sure to check out our website for dates of future workshops.


Contact Capt. Pete Rapps by email at, or by phone 239-571-1756. Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers year round expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park, and springtime Tarpon-only charters in the Florida Keys. Capt. Rapps’ top-notch fleet accommodates men, women, and children of all ages, experienced or not. Between our vast knowledge and experience of the area, and easygoing demeanors, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Book your charter 24/7 using the online booking calendar, and see Capt. Rapps’ first class web site for booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and more at


Condo Sales on Marco Island

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:22pm

Gary & Sandy Elliott

A view of the Madeira.

According to the Marco Island Multiple Listing Service (MLS), 517 condos on Marco Island have sold so far this year, ranging in price from $75,000 for a 400 square foot efficiency at Seabreeze to $6,450,000 for a 6,600 square foot penthouse at Madeira.

According to the Collier County Property Appraiser’s records, about 860 condos have changed hands so far this year. Sales of condos through the Marco Island MLS sales represent about 60% of the appraiser’s total number of recorded transactions. Another 35% of the Collier County Property Appraiser condo transactions are those owners who changed title or deed information for legal reasons, such as switching the ownership to a trust or updating the actual owners of the condo after a change of life circumstance, like a marriage, divorce or death. Less than 1% of condo transactions recorded this year came about because banks took over a property, and less than 4% of recorded condo transactions were conducted by owners who sold their property on their own to friends, neighbors or family members, or used an MLS located outside of Marco Island.

By far, the dominant way of selling a condo here is through a local realtor familiar with the island real estate market, and listing it on the Marco Island MLS. More than 500 realtors are licensed with the Marco Island Area Board of Realtors. Each of them conducts their business professionally and ethically. On Friday mornings the Association of Realtors hosts a Pitch Plus event where realtors with new listings present them to other realtors in attendance before they all take a tour of the condos and homes featured that week. Every realtor is electronically notified each morning about the newest condos for sale, and those that are pending or have sold. Once on the MLS, the condos listed for sale are syndicated to numerous websites throughout the world for maximum exposure. With that many realtors using powerful websites, their respective company resources, and their personal capabilities, your condo is bound to sell for an appropriate market price in a reasonable time period.

Today 263 condos are for sale on the island, ranging from $129,000 for a 400 square foot Seabreeze South efficiency to $7,245,000 for a 7,165 square foot Belize penthouse. At this year’s rate of about 50 condos sold per month that leaves only a 5-month supply of inventory as we enter our busy season. This season is definitely a seller’s market.




Senior Cat Adoption

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:20pm


For the Love of Cats began the Seniors for Seniors program in 2010 with a one year grant from Home Again, the microchip company. This program has become so valuable that For the Love of Cats has made it a part of their ongoing programs. Older cats languish in shelters for years. Most do not get adopted, or worse, they are euthanized to make room for younger animals. Senior citizens are often living alone, and depression is a major concern. Having a cat increases seniors’ activities, social interaction and is beneficial to their overall health.

“This is the fifth year of our program, and even though we no longer have specific funding for it, we feel it is so important that we have allocated some of our general funds to continue saving the lives of older cats and enriching the lives of senior citizens. My in-laws are 98 and 95. My mother-in-law loves her cats, and they are the ones who get her out of bed every morning. I think they are the most spoiled cats on the planet! They give her so much love and joy. No senior should be without a pet. We are so excited to have been able to save over 100 senior cats to date,” says Jan Rich, co-founder of For the Love of Cats.

For the Love of Cats Seniors for Seniors Program includes cats from Domestic Animal Services of Collier County and the Humane Society of Naples, as well as cats from For the Love of Cats. The program provides that cats that are available for adoption, that are over 5 years old, may be adopted by a senior citizen, over the age of 55, at no cost to the adopter. The adoption fee, along with a complete care kit for the cat, is paid for by For the Love of Cats.

For the Love of Cats can be reached at 239-642-8674.



“The Tears of Dark Water”

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 3:18pm

Maggie Gust


By Corban Addison

Thomas Nelson 2015, 439 pages

Genre: Domestic Fiction

Collier County Public Library: Yes


“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi


In “The Tears of Dark Water,” his third novel, Corban Addison proves himself to be one of the prominent authors of his generation. He has a beautiful writing style that is both intelligent and gripping, moving the story along at an almost-perfect pace while deepening the layers of the characters’ personalities with each page.

It is November 2011, and Daniel Parker and his 18-year-old son Quentin are nine months into their around-the-world trip on their sailboat, the Renaissance. Daniel had hoped the journey would be a bonding experience with Quentin but as it turned out, it was far more than that. After spending months in close quarters with his son, Daniel had come to see Quentin as not just his troubled autistic son, but as a remarkable person with a gift for languages, and a young man mastering challenge after challenge with a stalwart spirit. In a letter to his wife Vanessa, he described Quentin as “bullet proof.”

Vanessa stayed at home in Annapolis, unwilling to leave her medical practice. She also had no love of the water or sailing, or being in close quarters with her husband. At the time the men in her life set sail, she was contemplating ending her marriage. She did purchase a flight to Cape Town, South Africa, to rendezvous with Quentin and Daniel for a few days. Vanessa knew she owed Daniel a decision about their relationship.

Despite their best avoidance efforts, the Parkers’ sailboat is accosted by seven Somali pirates. The leader, Ismail, speaks excellent English and after a tour of the Renaissance, he realizes that this family can pay a hefty ransom for these two men.

Daniel had programmed an emergency message at the beginning of the trip, to notify his father Curtis that the boat was hijacked. He managed to send the e-mail just before the pirates boarded. Thus begins a week-long ordeal that will leave one Parker dead and one severely wounded.

The pirates really had no idea just how much of a plum these Parkers were. Curtis was a very influential lawyer. The president of the United States asked for his number one hostage negotiator, Paul Derrick, to be dispatched, along with three U.S. Navy ships, to secure the release of the captured Americans.

For a week Paul and Ismail negotiate the release of the Parkers. Ismail has been bartering with Curtis over the amount of the ransom, finally agreeing on 1.85 million dollars, down from the original 5 million demand. The ordeal is just about over and the pirates are halfway through counting the money when something goes horribly wrong. Derrick can hear gunfire coming from the Renaissance, then the SEALs board the vessel, secure the pirates and find that both Parkers are down.

The rest of the story centers around Ismail’s trial for piracy and murder, his motivations for his reluctant piracy, and the tragedy’s consequences for everyone involved. Ismail’s pro bono lawyer turns out to be none other than Paul Derrick’s twin sister Megan.

As I said, this is a beautifully written book and technically the story is very well done and entertaining. The author very clearly wants to tell a moral and at times he stretches things a bit, especially in the latter part of the book. The American characters are all well-educated, successful people with expensive lifestyles, and the Somalis, for the most part, are not. At the same time, it is very well researched and includes much information about Somalia, as well as Somalis living here in the States. I found it an enjoyable, quick read.

Rating: 3.5/5.0. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


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