By a unanimous vote, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) designated the Second Chance (SC) sandbar as a Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) in November 2015. FWC Commissioner Liesa Priddy, a Southwest Florida resident, was an ardent advocate for the CWA designation and recently visited the SC sandbar. Commissioner Ron Bergeron and Chairman Brian Yablonski also were strong supporters of the CWA designation for SC sandbar.
Annually, from March 1st to August 31st, SC is closed to public access for the summer nesting season.
The sandbar is located one mile southeast of Cape Romano. It is owned by the State of Florida and is managed by Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) in cooperation with Audubon Florida and the Department of Environmental Protection.
The sandbar has been closed annually since 2001 during nesting season, but this is the first time that CWA rules are in place prohibiting anglers, boats, people and dogs from visiting the area. RBNERR and FWC have installed perimeters and large signs to mark the closed areas. Adam DiNuovo, a shorebird biologist with Audubon Florida working in partnership with Rookery Bay, monitors the SC sandbar weekly. Just last week, he sighted about 150 least terns performing their courtship rituals, and counted four pairs of Wilson plovers with one active nest. Nesting areas are monitored weekly by both Rookery Bay staff and volunteers, throughout the nesting season.
Harassment or removal of endangered or threatened birds, their eggs or young is a violation of state law and violators are subject to criminal penalties. In addition, any attempt to remove or possess any migratory bird, their nests or eggs is a violation of federal law. FWC will issue tickets if they catch anglers, boaters and anyone else landing on the SC sandbar. All people are cautioned and urged to avoid accessing or approaching the SC sandbar until after August 31st, when nesting season comes to a close. Boating visitors may return when the signs are removed on August 31st, after the birds have left.
Each spring the least terns return from their wintering grounds in Central or South America and settle on the SC sandbar. This sandbar now serves as a habitat for the largest beach-nesting least terns in South Florida. The least terns and black skimmers are both listed as threatened, while the Wilson plover is a species of special concern. With everyone’s cooperation, the Second Chance Critical Wildlife Area has a good chance for a successful nesting season.
Recommended beach etiquette during summer nesting season:
Keep your distance from resting birds.
Take photos from a reasonable distance.
Do not force birds to fly.
Respect posted areas.
Keep the beach clean and take your trash home with you.
There is still time to enter the Ninth Annual Amateur Wildlife Photo Contest, but don’t delay – the deadline is May 6th – just around the corner.
The Marco Island Historical Museum has partnered with the City of Marco Island and the Coastal Breeze News to present the Ninth Annual Amateur Photo Contest highlighting our area’s unique flora and fauna. The selection of winners will be exhibited at the museum from May 13 to June 30, 2016.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and what began as a celebration of Earth Day has grown into a photographic tribute to the beautiful Southwest Florida area in which we live. It’s a great competition if you’re a nature lover, a photography aficionado, or you “accidentally” captured that perfect shot.
The categories are: land animal, marine animal, birds, insects, trees and landscapes (one category), black and white, and creatively altered. Amateur photographers must be 14 years old and up to enter. Photo subjects must be of native Southwest Florida species taken in the last year.
There is no cost to enter. For further information or to pick up entry forms and releases, call 239-393-4991. Entries can be mailed or brought to the Coastal Breeze News office at 1857 San Marco Road, #216, Marco Island, FL 34145.
By Barry Gwinn
Kirby Rients is a much traveled English teacher and has been with Marco Island Academy (MIA) since its inception in 2011.
Although MIA specializes in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum, the school also thinks it is important that students are well grounded in the humanities.
It didn’t take them long to recognize Rients’ contributions in this area. In 2012, Mr. Rients was given MIA’s prestigious Teacher-of-the-Year award. On March 4th of this year, Rients and two other MIA teachers (who will be separately featured in later editions of Coastal Breeze News) were personally awarded Governor Rick Scott’s Shine Award during the governor’s visit to MIA. This award is presented to educators who have been outstanding in inspiring their students. The nominations come from the teachers’ peers. Rients’ nomination was submitted by Principal Melissa Scott, who notes that Rients has been an educator for thirteen years, and has a master’s degree in secondary education, and undergraduate degrees in English and speech communication. “Kirby has been with MIA since the beginning and has had a pivotal role in our growth and success,” Scott says, “The kids love him. His classes are very popular.”
Kirby Rients grew up in Willmar, Minnesota in the west-central part of the state. He graduated from the University of Minnesota at Marshall in 1996 with a bachelor of science degree in communications. For the next eight years Rients worked for radio stations in Minnesota. He actually had been working at radio stations since the age of fifteen. “Radio was one of the most fun and worst paying jobs ever,” Rients told me, “In 2004, I decided it was time to get into something else.” That something else was teaching language arts courses. Rients considers language arts as the most important subject in school. “I decided that if I became a teacher, I would be an English teacher,” Rients said. He has been as good as his word.
Rients first job was at the Peoria, Arizona Accelerated High School, where, true to his word, during school year 2004-2005, he taught a panoply of language arts courses. While there, he also picked up a master’s degree in secondary teacher education at the University of Phoenix. Both Rients and his wife Shannon are Minnesota natives. They decided to return there in the summer of 2005. While there, Shannon gave birth to three sons, Grayson, 11, Xander, 10 and Quincy, 8. Rients taught in outlying suburban Minneapolis high schools, ending up at a charter school in Otsego. While in Minnesota, Rients took over 100 hours of continuing education courses, focusing, among other things, on guided reading and literature circles to strengthen reading skills.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Even an ill wind blows somebody some good.” In this case, such a wind blew Kirby Rients and his family clear down to Florida. The Kaleidoscope Charter School, in Otsego, as with many charter schools, was having a budget crisis. They began shedding some of the higher earning faculty. “They told me I was over qualified and let me go,” said Rients, “I immediately began asking old associates for letters of recommendation.” One of them had connections with MIA and told Rients he would be a good fit there. Jane Watt and the MIA board agreed. Rients thus became part of the MIA family when it first opened in 2011.
Rients teaches grades 9 through 12, mostly advanced and honors classes, including English IV: College Prep, English III Honors, AICE General Paper, and Journalism: Yearbook. AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) is written and overseen by the University of Cambridge in England, ranked as one of the world’s top five universities. As with honors courses, these classes cover more in depth and require individual research and initiative. “The language arts umbrella that covers reading, writing, and communications are skills that all students need now and in the future,” Rients says, “If my students learn a thing or two about English in my classes, that’s great. But if they can walk out of my class a better person than when they entered, then I am doing my job.”
Rients readily admits that his teaching style is unorthodox, but he takes pains to get the students involved and make learning fun for them. “I want students to want to come to my class.” Says Rients, “I don’t want them to look at their schedule and say to themselves, ‘Aw crap, it’s time for Rients’ class.’ I want the 90 minutes that I get to spend with my students to be the highlight of every day for them.” The comments of two of Rients’ students are eerily reminiscent of what Rients is trying to accomplish.
Teagan Havemeier is finishing up her freshman year at MIA. She is currently enrolled in Rients’ AICE: General Paper class, where they do a lot of writing – an awful lot. “I’ve never loved English writing really. My penchant has always been for reading, but I’d do just about anything to have another class with him. I have so much respect for that man,” Teagan told me, “Everything about him is truly authentic.” Rients requires them to keep up with current events, including watching NBC Nightly News each evening (in addition to the CNN Student News which is usually played in the classroom). Then, they must write about them. “We start every class with a journal prompt, but it’s not the ditzy ‘What did you do over the weekend?’ kind of writing. He gives us prompts we can form actual opinions on, based off of current events and controversial questions. He’s not afraid to let anyone voice their opinion as long as they can logically back it up, and I think a lot of kids really appreciate that in him. There are always discussions being held, and he never fails to hold a meaningful conversation.” Teagan says that her vocabulary and writing skills have “immensely” improved over the last semester. What impresses her most, however, is that she feels she has become a better person for having taken Rients’ class. “From the very start of the class he told us forget the curriculum,” Tegan said, “He said ‘if you come out of this class a better person, then I have done my job.’” I asked Teagan to rate Mr. Rients. “You can’t put a number on Mr. Rients,” she told me, “There is no grade or scale that could gage just how great a teacher he is.”
Shannon O’Regan took two of Rients’ courses – College Readiness Class and Yearbook/Journalism. Both were transformative for her. In College Readiness, the students saw what colleges of interest offered, decided what they wanted to go into, wrote resumes and college essays, and finally filled out applications. “I was nervous before I took this course, because I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do with my life,” Shannon told me, “It really made the whole process fairly simple and not as overwhelming as I had imagined it.” Shannon credits Rients for helping her to make her final choice. She is going with Florida Atlantic. In the Yearbook/Journalism course, Rients picked Shannon as yearbook editor. She had to design it, make sure every student made it in, and delegate authority, assigning different students to be responsible for various pages and sections. “It taught me a leadership role and I’m thankful for the experience,” Shannon says. Shannon finds Rients’ teaching techniques to be extremely effective in gaining and holding the attention of his students. “He uses his humor and quick wit to relate to the students and grab their attention, but teach them something along the way. He connects with every student he meets,” says Shannon, “I say he is a 10/10. If he was a hotel he would be rated five stars! Best teacher I’ve ever had!”
Kirby Rients will be leaving MIA at the end of this school year. His wife has a chance to move up in the hierarchy of Wells Fargo Bank and this necessitates a move back to Minnesota to one of their major hubs. Kirby is supportive of this and tells me that it will be a good move for his family as his sons, two of whom are autistic, “will be closer to their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and other family that are in Minnesota.” Kirby is putting a good face on this, but I can tell that it will be a wrenching move for him. “I never wanted to leave [MIA].” Kirby told me, “I wanted this to be my last teaching gig. This has been the best school that I have ever been a part of.”
Next year, when the wind is out of the northwest, I will be cocking my ear toward Minnesota, listening for the laughter, and perhaps cheers, from another of Kirby Rients’ English classes.
Since the last column two weeks ago, I’ve heard from so many, many people about Tent City, and I thank you for that. It is much better to react to the wishes of the community rather than depend on our own thoughts. The outpouring of advice has been wonderful. All of the letters had the same response, but in different levels of concern. Actually, I didn’t receive one note or letter that said, “Yes, go forward with it.” A friend of mine and I went to see the gentleman, Joe Valentini at Helps Outreach, to view what his group does and how they do it. (I wanted my friend there to make sure I didn’t misinterpret what I heard.) He said there were a lot of homeless in the north end of Collier who can’t get to St. Matthews House, or do not want to be in a structured environment, which is why he teamed up with Catholic Charities to try to create a Tent City. He said they didn’t have a definite location, but they were looking at land along U.S. 41 E, between Collier Boulevard and Port of the Islands. I pointed out that we had enough homeless in this area of the county and places to care for those who wanted a shelter. He mentioned he knew that property values fall when there is a Tent City, and he knew no one would like that, but he felt they needed to get beyond that. I told him that this area of town is just recovering from all the shelters, low income, and not for profits that have called this home, and that we would prefer to try to continue to improve our community and bring it up to a better quality of life, which we are now doing. He referred to Pinellas County again, and said how well they are doing. I told him that some folks had suggested that Tent City should investigate Ave Maria, where there is lots of land beyond the outskirts, and plenty of volunteers from the Catholic community available. He didn’t seem to respond to that suggestion though. We also suggested teaming up with an agricultural farmer; tents in the back out of sight, and work to be done. He seemed more favorable to that idea but was more focused on this area, yet he could see I did not agree with him. If a Tent City were created, we would draw from all the surrounding counties in the five county area. Do we really want to do that? As the sheriff’s office has stated, 95% of the homeless are mentally ill and really need a rehab facility to help them, to provide medications, detox them, etc. Although Mr. Valentini knew of the crime that homeless are involved with, he truly wanted to help them. I told him we don’t need to attract any more homeless to this area by providing another homeless shelter, albeit a Tent City. I truly believe it would harm our way of life. Mr. Valentini and his wife are dedicated people who have a passion for helping the underprivileged. I respect that, but I don’t think our county needs to invite more of those from other parts of the state. Most of our homeless are from out of our area anyway. They know we are a kind and generous community, so they come here; but when is enough, enough?
• Hopefully some of you come out to enjoy a few pickleball games during the first ever U. S. Open Pickleball Tournament. Players are coming from 39 states and seven countries! The events are going on now through Sunday, May 1st at the East Naples Community Park located at 3500 Thomasson Road next to Avalon Elementary School. Thomasson is the extension south of Rattlesnake Hammock Road. The transformation to that park is a miracle! There are hundreds of players there every day. There are 48 sparkling new pickleball courts. There is a “center stage” for the best-of-the-best competition. Minto Communities is the major sponsor. Tito’s Vodka is another sponsor, so for the first time ever, we will allow vodka in the park…for this event only. CBS Sports Network will have their production company on site, and it will air a couple of weeks later.
There are all levels of players, but I think you’ll see the best of the best showing us how it is done. The games begin at 8 AM, and even though the competition will stop around 8 PM, players will still enjoy the game until about 9 PM. The county has imported bleachers from other parks and other places. There isn’t a lot of shade from the sun, so make sure you apply plenty of heavy duty sunscreen and bring a hat! There will be Kiwanis volunteers to direct the cars to parking areas and provide shuttles if needed. Food and beverage vendors will be in place. The core group team has been the hardest working individuals I’ve ever met. Jim and Carol Ludwig, the catalyst couple, have worked endlessly, along with Terri Graham and Chris Evon to make this event happen. There were over 200 volunteers practicing their roles at the volunteer meeting. This is the biggest event (outside of golf) that has hit this area in many years. We are all so proud to be hosting all of the players from all over the world. This is big time, folks!
By Monte Lazarus
In memory of Monte Lazarus and his contributions to Coastal Breeze News, we are publishing many of his humor columns again in coming editions. They will bring as many smiles now as they did when first printed. Enjoy!
Charlie (the name is changed to protect the guilty) was probably the most famous criminal in Lake Forest, Illinois, in the late 1970s. Notwithstanding his criminal reputation he was beloved by all, and he loved all in return. Charlie was a large hunk of amiability – actually a retriever of some sort.
The problem was that Lake Forest had a leash law. Charlie would rather roam than walk on a leash. So, poor Charlie wound up in the hoosegow about once a month. Fortunately for Charlie he was as popular with the cops, including the chief, as he was with us civilians. They even kept a box of treats at the station house just for Charlie. He’d get picked up, taken in, given a few treats…and then the inevitable phone call. “Hi, it’s the police. Charlie got arrested again. Oh, he’s fine, just wandering around without a leash. You can pick him up at the station house, unless you’d rather have us drop him off.” With tail wagging, Charlie would get back home and be mildly reproached for breaking the law once again. We were never sure whether the City of Lake Forest ever included Charlie’s long record in the crime statistics. If so the city had a terrible crime rate.
Charlie comes to mind because of a newspaper commentary the other day enjoining us mortals not to say we “adopted” a pet. The rationale is that a pet is not a family member, and cannot be one. I’m not persuaded about that. I cannot speak for Charlie (and his family!) but I can relate to a number of very personal connections specifically with dogs. For example, Brandy, my muttski, not only was lovable and extremely bright, but also a neighborhood hero. One late night Brandy started yelling in my direction, and I told her to go back to sleep. She persisted, and pulled my covers off. I finally said: “Ok, Brandy, show me why you are yelling.” She ran to the window, pawed at the blinds, and there, across the street, the garage was on fire. For some reason a Mercedes had caught fire and was burning furiously. Thanks to Brandy the family was evacuated safely, and the garage was not completely destroyed. To this day I remember the little kids coming to the door to ask, “Can Brandy come out and play?” To them she was a treasured member of the gang.
Would anyone dare tell a war veteran who served with a military dog that the dog was not “adopted”? Many dogs sacrificed their lives to serve those veterans. Several dogs received posthumous medals. Is it any wonder that organizations ask us to “adopt” a pet?
There is certainly an argument that there is some tendency among certain people to over-humanize pets. If you feel that way, fine. However, please don’t foist your views on me. Once having had a Charlie or Brandy it’s very difficult to say that they are not members of the family. Their unconditional love is good enough for me.
New Traffic Signal on Collier
The following letter is from the president of South Seas East Association recapping a meeting for residents regarding the proposal of a new traffic signal to be installed at Collier Blvd. and Saturn Ct. with Tim Pinter from the City of Marco:
A meeting with Tim Pinter, Public Work Director for the City of Marco, was held with condo association members, along Seaview Court, to discuss the options for a new proposed traffic signal at the intersection of North Collier Boulevard and Saturn Court, 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, 2016. This signal would include provisions for crosswalks to allow residents to cross North Collier Boulevard. All three options were for Saturn Court and none were submitted for Bayside Court onto Collier Boulevard where by far the greatest danger and concerns for pedestrians exist.
This meeting was hosted by South Seas East Association.
It is our hope that Council members will support our request for the following:
1. A pedestrian crossing from Bayside Court across Collier Boulevard.
2. A light signal to control traffic on Collier Boulevard and Bayside Court.
3. New asphalt on Bayside, Saturn and Seaview Courts.
4. Upgrades to landscaping along these roads
5. If council insists on having the signal light on Saturn Court, please consider changing Bayside Court to a one way going west towards South Seas Club main gates. This will force traffic to Saturn Court and minimize traffic exiting from Bayside onto Collier thus creating some measure of pedestrian safety. If this is not possible, please consider a no left turn onto Collier from Bayside.
6. New lighting along Bayside, Seaview and Saturn Courts using lights in storage currently not being used by the City.
7. Replace and widen sidewalks along Bayside, Saturn, and Seaview Courts allowing room for both pedestrians and bikes.
8. The addition of a right turn lane on Bayside Court at the entrance to the South Seas Club gate, which would eliminate congestion on Seaview and bayside.
Tim Pinter, Public Works Director, for the City of Marco Island, who requested this meeting, presented plans to us after which a very informative session was held. It is our hope that our positions on the above issues will be addressed. We have 1,264 individual condos within South Seas Club representing one of the most densely populated complexes on Marco Island. ALL of the residences are NORTH of Bayside COURT. Per your consultant’s report regarding traffic, bicyclists, pedestrians, etc. the only location which met all criteria to recommend a signal light was Saturn Court. It is hard for us to understand why Saturn Court met your criteria and just one block south, Bayside did not. Somewhere along the accumulation of the consultant’s data there is a major flaw, or maybe, just maybe, some other outside influence by others was introduced. There is no way people will walk from South Seas Club to Saturn Court to cross the street. The safety of pedestrians crossing Collier Boulevard has been and still is from day one when we first addressed this issue, over two years ago, our prime concern.
As we experience a growing population here at South Seas East along with the other associations at South Seas and the many Condos along Seaview Court it has become very clear that pedestrians trying to cross Collier Boulevard from Bayside Court do so at a very high risk of injury. Now that you are on notice, we who are among the several hundred people who cross Bayside Court daily appeal to you before serious injury or death occurs that you take immediate action on this request.
Dr. Maurice E. Allard, President
South Seas East Association
BEYOND THE COAST
It is one of those beautiful Sunday mornings in Marco Island.
I am crossing the Jolley Bridge on my way to Naples to make a presentation on Islamist terrorism. It is just about seven o’clock and the sky in the east is bright red, just as the sun rises over the Everglades.
I am excited and a bit nervous. I may be facing a crowd that is not particularly in line with my ideology, beliefs and thoughts. As I drive on the downward slope of the bridge, leaving Marco Island behind me, many thoughts begin to cross my mind.
We live in a beautiful part of our beautiful country. This may be the most beautiful spot in the whole world as far as I am concerned. I start to think about the people I will be talking about. Islamist terrorists! What are they doing this exact moment? What sick plans are being made somewhere in smoke-filled dark rooms in dilapidated dirty apartment buildings in old Europe? I am wondering if they even noticed the sunrise earlier in the morning!
Who are these people? What moves them to strap suicide vests on their bodies, blow themselves up and kill many innocent men, women and children? What makes them so evil?
We may never know for sure.
Some of them may actually be good people who took the wrong path in life. Some of them may be born bad.
I continue to drive towards Naples on Collier Boulevard. Many new buildings appear every day on the east side of the road; a huge new shopping center ready to open big name stores in the corner of Tamiami Trail. Every new building represents new hope and big dreams for me.
I wonder if the Islamist terrorists have any dreams or hopes for the future? Are the bomb makers real human beings or are they the representatives of the devil on Earth? It is hard to tell, I guess.
There is quite a lot of traffic for an early Sunday morning. Cars coming towards Marco Island, cars passing me on their way to I-75.
I continue to drive and think. The sun is up now; it will be a beautiful Sunday.
Just a few months ago, terrorists killed many in Paris, France. Just a few days ago, they killed more innocents in Belgium. Pretty soon they will kill more somewhere else. For me, a modern thinking, educated person this all does not make sense. What have they achieved other than making the rest of the Western world hate them! For me, our every action must be meaningful, positive and productive. What could be less positive, less meaningful and more negative than going into an airport and blowing yourself up to kill as many innocent people as you possibly can? How stupid is this action when you can’t even see the results of what you have done!
These actions do not change anything to help the Islamist terrorists achieve their goal of world dominance. Just the opposite happens; our resolve gets stronger, our desire to do away with these people rises to new highs. Someday soon, the world will get together and decide to completely eradicate these evil-doers. I will be one of them.
As I turn on to I-75 north and see the four-lane highway in front of me, I think of all the magnificent achievements of our country in her short history. Right up the road in Ft. Myers is the museum of one of the geniuses of the last century, Thomas Alva Edison. He used his God-given intelligence and talents to better the world and not to destroy it.
Are there any geniuses amongst the bomb makers and suicide bombers of the world? And if there are, where are they? We are all human beings. We are born the same way. I wonder what happens afterwards to make these people so evil?
I get off my exit and stop to buy my first hot, strong cup of coffee of the day. The small convenience store behind the gas station is already filled with migrant workers on their way to work. The smell of coffee mixed with early morning burritos and yesterday’s sweat fills the stale air of the small shop. These workers work for subsistence level wages picking tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables in the local farms. They do not sit home and make bombs to kill as many innocent people as possible! They certainly could. But they press on; work sun-up to sun-down to make an honest living, while seeing the wealth that surrounds them every single day of the week.
I arrive at my destination. No one has showed up yet. Maybe no one will. It is always a last minute anxiety when you have no idea as to what people think and do.
My thoughts will continue, and hopefully evolve, as I get older, not wiser but possibly more confused than ever. I still do not understand why someone would choose death over life. I wonder if these Islamist terrorists realize that they can’t kill us all. They can never achieve their goal of world dominance this way. Until they learn to respect people who look different, who talk different and who believe in the same God as they do.
No, it is not tolerance of other religions or people I am looking for; it is respect for other religions and people I am interested in.
And I have not lost all hope yet…
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 email@example.com
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
When Andy Morffew wakes up in the morning the first thing that he asks is, “Which way is the wind blowing? Is it a good day to go to Tigertail?”
If you have spent any time at Tigertail Beach, chances are you have seen him there, quietly photographing the birds in their natural habitat, careful not to disturb them.
Andy splits his time between Hampshire, England and Naples, Florida. Although known for his photographs of birds, Andy’s background is in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. He has a Ph.D. in molecular biology.
Andy retired in 2003, and like many retirees, much of his newly found time was spent playing golf. His wife Leslie warned him that due to his new golf obsession he was becoming “one note,” and suggested he find another hobby. So Andy picked up photography, something he had dabbled in years before to provide visual aids to his horticulture lectures.
Once Andy started photographing nature regularly, he soon met other birders who told him about Tigertail Beach on Marco Island. When Andy explored the island for the first time he was thrilled by the bald eagle’s nest and the burrowing owls. But when he reached Tigertail Beach and saw the iconic wading birds, he was hooked. He says it is now his “favorite place in Florida to go birding.”
Tigertail is known in the area for having many birds. But it is not just the amount of birds that makes this area so special- it is the diversity, which Andy’s photos skillfully capture. Bald eagles, least terns, osprey, peregrine falcons, reddish egrets, roseate spoonbills, skimmers, snowy plovers, Wilson’s plovers and more. Often, rare birds can be seen in the mix, making Tigertail especially exciting for birders.
One of the reasons Andy’s photographs are so compelling is that he manages to capture birds mid-flight, with a full clear view of the bird’s face and wings. Andy accomplishes this by taking a scientific approach. He explained that birds always “land into the wind,” so he carefully positions himself, and his camera, accordingly. As the subject flies towards Andy to land in its nest, he captures a great frontal photo of the bird. He checks wind directions daily.
Andy’s photographs are not limited geographically to Southwest Florida. His portfolio is filled with photographs of nature from all over the world. Most travellers pick a location to visit and then photograph what they happen to find there. Andy does it the other way around. He picks a photography subject – such as puffins or bald eagles- and then travels to the best place in the world where he can photograph them. This method has taken Andy and his wife to Alaska, Costa Rica, Hungary, the Galapagos Islands, and many other locations. The photographs from these adventures are stunning, and have attracted much attention.
Recently, Andy was chosen to “take over” Audubon’s Instagram account with his photographs. His puffin photograph was the first picture in the take over to reach 5,000 likes.
Andy is very different from most other photographers, as he freely shares his images, with limited restrictions. He says that he is happy that people are enjoying them and learning from them. Andy’s images have been used in the Audubon Field Guide, South Dakota Species Guide, BBC Vote for Britain’s National Bird, www.ebirdr.com, U.S. Fish and Wildlife newsletter, Nature Conservancy presentations, Cornell Raptor Identification Webinar, the State of Arizona website, and many more.
Andy is always respectful in the way he photographs his subjects. He wants to protect nature, and encourages others to do the same. “I get so much from the natural world, I want to give back.” Andy reminds us to respect the nesting birds on the island, to not chase or disturb them, refrain from using flash photography (both cameras and phones), and maintain a distance.
See more of Andy Morffew’s photographs on Flickr and Instagram.
By Maureen Chodaba
Marco Island is known for its beaches, its beauty, its tourism, and its supposed affluence. But is there something hidden or omitted in that description? Thirty-eight percent of the children in Tommie Barfield Elementary School qualify for a program that provides free or subsidized breakfast, lunch and weekend food. Marco Island’s busy season of tourism winds down in the months following winter. As our “snowbirds” go away, so do many of the jobs on the island.
Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, located and managed by The Family Church at 1450 Winterberry Drive, is serving the needs of many in these difficult times. A part of the Greater Marco Benevolence Ministry, this emergency food resource is partnered with the Harry Chapin Food Bank and nine local churches, including Marco Presbyterian Church, Wesley United Methodist Church, San Marco Catholic Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Marco Lutheran, New Life Community, United Church of Marco, Goodland Baptist Church, and The Family Church. The shelves in the pantry are stocked with food and other grocery items. Once a month, families and individuals in need may come for supplies of food and toiletries.
Since its inception, as of January 30, 2016, a total of 174 people have used this resource. That has been 81 adults, 87 children, and six seniors from Marco Island, Goodland, and the Isles of Capri; Thirty-one families in total. On April 9, a record number of 92 people visited Our Daily Bread for food and other necessities. The pantry is open every month on the second and fourth Saturdays from 10 AM to 12 PM. At present, visits are limited to once a month and quantities are limited based on household size, to allow an ample supply for all those in need. The pantry is also available at other times by appointment.
The idea for Our Daily Bread was originally conceived by the organization’s leader, Jo Anne Lundquist. Lundquist told Coastal Breeze News that her inspiration came from God. She believes that God brought her to The Family Church, showed her the available space in the church’s education building, and brought faith to reality in Our Daily Bread, her mission to feed and serve those in need. Our Daily Bread Community Coordinator, Liz Pecora and Church Coordinator Vicki Johnson also agree that their efforts have been a labor of love and embodiment of their faith.
The three leaders express their desire to inform the community about this service. They all agreed that sometimes people who are truly in need are too proud to request and accept help. The pantry is available by appointment to anyone wishing privacy. All records are completely confidential. They send this message from the Bible to those in need: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Matthew 25:35.
Our Daily Bread is a community effort with the mission to serve the community. The Boy Scouts and the youth group of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church have held food drives specifically to benefit Our Daily Bread. The parishioners of San Marco Catholic Church have been instrumental in supplying food.
The Board of Directors of Our Daily Bread is especially proud of their “Birthday Bundles,” an idea brought to life by Linda James of the United Church of Marco. The bundle consists of a baking dish filled with supplies for a fun birthday for a child age 10 or younger, as birthdays should always be celebrations of life.
Our Daily Bread will soon be receiving 37 cases of food, much of what has been donated by Publix, from Calvary Chapel Pantry in Fort Lauderdale. Our Daily Bread is listed as an emergency food service with 211 Collier (call 211 or 239-263-4211) and Why Hunger, a grassroots support organization working to support networks in the worldwide fight against hunger. The efforts of Our Daily Bread are all a part of a greater hope to fulfill the message of the Lord‘s Prayer: “Give us this day, our daily bread.”
How can you help? Donations of non-perishable foods, paper goods, baby items and toiletries are always needed. Monetary donations are also welcome to aid in the purchase of these items. Volunteers are needed to sort and shelve food or to work at times when the food pantry is open. Spanish speaking volunteers are needed to act as interpreters during the pantry’s operating hours. Most importantly, you can help by just spreading the word.
Lundquist, Pecora and Johnson say that their favorite part of this ministry is the chance to touch the lives of others through their faith in God. If a guest at Our Daily Bread would like a Bible, they are given one. There are also DVDs of the life of Jesus available for the children. As they leave the pantry, the guests are always asked if they would like the staff to pray for them; not just for their food, but for any of their needs.
To learn more about Our Daily Bread, visit www.fbcmarco.com/ministries/benevolence-foodpantry, email OurDailyBread@fbcmarco.com, or call 239-394-1646, ext. 225.
By Roger LaLonde
Rosie Poling and Mallory Bell kicked it into high gear in leading the Lely girls to the Class 2A-District 12 championship at Lely on April 22.
The Lely boys used consistent placement in nearly every event to win the boys title. Both teams won easily with the girls tallying 222 points and the boys 219. The Dunbar girls came in second with 171 points and the Dunbar boys placed second with 151.
Lely coach Mark McGarity was pleased with the teams’ overall efforts. “We have a bunch of young athletes who have been working hard to do their best,” he said. “Today they figured it out.”
Poling won the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs and ran a leg in the winning 4 x 400 relay team with Bell, Katie Schiller and Wadline Thermy. Schiller was third in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200.
Bell had her personal best in the pole vault, clearing the bar at nine feet. She won the 800-meter run then ran on the winning 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relay teams.
Irmice Charelus won the high jump and Chelsie Daniel won the 200-meter run.
Emma Fernandez raced to third in the 800-meter run.
Second-place finishers in events were Tara Snyder, pole vault and Mica Auguste, triple jump.
For the boys, first-place wins went to Joshua Wagner, 800-meter run, Isaac Melendez, pole vault, Chris Racine, shot put and Cody Demalavez, 1,600-meter run. Wagner, Demalavez, Bobbie Garcia and Kole Bartos won the 4 x 800 relay.
Second-place finishers were Taejon Wright, high jump, triple jump and 110 hurdles, Edwin Plancher, discus and shot put, and Lely 4 x 400 relay team. Lely won the 4 x 800 relay.
The top four finishers in each event move on to regional action.
See all photos online at www.coastalbreezenews.com.
By Roger LaLonde
An eight-member track and field team has little chance in a district meet, but the Marco Island Academy showed heart on April 21.
The team managed nine points at the Class 1A District 8 meet as host First Baptist Academy (FBA) boys and girls won titles.
In just its second season and coach Mike Weyrauch in his first, the team gave an all-out effort.
“The team was impressive. Every single girl came to every practice and got better. The boys and girls all improved and their times dropped dramatically,” Weyrauch said.
Sophomore Olivia Watt had the best showing with a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 meter run. Unfortunately only the top four advanced to regional competition.
The boys had just two entrants, Patrick Michel and Andrew Fowler. A third boy, Brian Flynn, was not eligible, as he didn’t compete in enough events while playing on the baseball team this spring.
Other girls on the team included Anna Chamberlin, Julia Wagner, Joyce Dawson and Teagan Havemeier.
MIA doesn’t have facilities where they can practice long and high jump, shot or discus. It resulted in them having no entries in field events.
Yet Weyrauch was enthusiastic for the future.
“One of the best things about them is that they came out every day with an open mind and killed it every day,” Weyrauch said.
By Roger LaLonde
The Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) girls track and field team stayed focused as they swarmed the Lely High School track on April 23 at the South Collier Middle Schools qualifying round.
The top two finishers in each event advanced to the middle school championships on April 30 at Naples High School. Those finishing in third and fourth positions had to wait out the other two county qualifying events to see if they had better marks to advance.
It was all about qualifying individually and by relay teams. Should the scores have counted toward a team, the girls won and the boys came in second, behind Manatee.
Charter‘s premiere runner Ryenn Hart had no problem winning the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. It was made easier when her major challenger, Jillian Dempsey of East Naples, did not compete. She chose to attend another sports event, which means she does not qualify for the championships on Saturday.
“We have had good competition and I beat her the last time we raced,” Hart said. “I’m not sure who I will be going against (on Saturday). I will just run my race.”
Ellie Ball made it interesting in the long jump. Not so much the jump, but if she would even compete. She was with some other teammates who went to Golden Gate High School first, rather than Lely. Field events went off first.
Fortunately she arrived in time to win the long jump with a leap of 12 feet, 10 inches.
Dayna Dorestin won easily in the 800-meter run. Lea Blanco won the 100-meter run. Lauren Sutherland won the discus with Sierra Sann second. Katie Miller won the shot put. Ellie Poling qualified with her second-place finish in the 3,200.
Michael Mertens led the boys with a win in the 1,600-meter run.
Mertens, Johnny Watt, Kevin Barry and Steve Snover qualified by racing to second place in the 4 x 400. Watt was second in the 3,200.
Allie Greaves qualified in the 400-meter run by placing second. She joined Elyse Prodanov, Jenna Palumbo and Hart to qualify in the 4 x 400 relay by finishing second.
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Coastal Breeze News has been named the second quarter Chamber Champion by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce. On April 20, publisher Val Simon was surprised with the award at the Chamber After Five event at Marco Island Florist and Gifts.
The Chamber Champion is selected by the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce Business Alliance Committee as a way to recognize and thank a chamber member that is successful in business and also gives back to the community.
Coastal Breeze News was nominated for this award because of the many nonprofit organizations it supports, through event sponsorship, press coverage, volunteering and more.
By Samantha Husted and
Coastal Breeze News Staff
April 24th marked the Greater Marco Family YMCA’s 6th Annual Tour de Marco. Bike riders of all levels and ages came out to the family-friendly event in order to support the YMCA’s scholarship fund, and to get a good workout.
The Tour de Marco returned to the island this year after a one-year hiatus.
Approximately 120 bicyclists took part in this year’s Tour de Marco, about twenty less than the 2014 event, according to event organizer Anthony DeLucia. Taking place later in the season may have contributed to fewer riders. Although this year’s Tour de Marco had fewer cyclists, the event still raised about $3,000, an increase from 2014’s total of $2,500. Most impressive are the 30 volunteers who came out to help with the event.
There were three courses available for cyclists, each with varying levels of difficulty. Riders could choose between a 5, 15, or 30-mile route that took them all over Marco Island for a beautiful and scenic ride. The vast majority of bicyclists were in it for the long distance, and eighty of them completed the 30-mile route. Thirty-six riders bicycled the 15-mile route, and five rode the 5-mile route. Afterwards, riders reconvened at the YMCA to congratulate each other and celebrate a job well done.
Anthony tells us it was a “Great day for a ride, and a fine time was had by all. Can’t wait till next year!”
Sponsors for the event included Iberia Bank, Island Bike Shop, John R. Wood Realtors Marco Island office, Keep In Touch Cards, Gifts and More, and Sascha’s Salon.
When next spring approaches, keep an eye out for Tour de Marco event information on the Tour de Marco Facebook page.
By Samantha Husted
Barbecue lovers, grill enthusiasts and meat-eaters alike came out April 16th to celebrate and chow down at the 5th Annual Rib Cook-off at the Marco Island Brewery. All proceeds from the event went to the Marco Island Police Foundation and its scholarship fund. The Foundation also assists members of the Marco Island Police Department should an emergency financial situation occur.
It felt like a summer block party or a family reunion. Outside the Brewery there were four large tents with five grills occupying them. Smoke filled the air with its sweet smells, inviting those who passed by to join in on the fun. Contestants drank, barbequed and graciously handed out ribs.
This year there were six teams competing for the first place prize, which entitles the winner to a whole year’s worth of bragging rights. After all, what better way to boost a man’s ego than by telling him he’s the best at barbecuing?
The competition was heated, literally. Despite the day’s incredibly high temperatures, the contestants labored nonstop as they prepared their ideal ribs, each bringing to the table their own secret weapon in an attempt to woo the judges. For instance, 2014 Rib Cook-off champion Conner Riddle remained very tight-lipped about his special barbecue sauce, which he generously brushed over his ribs. Jimmy and Dale Downey, a husband and wife duo, objectively had the biggest grill. It was their pièce de résistance. The Downey’s grilled 12 slabs of ribs, or about 25 pounds of meat, in their massive, cookout-style grill.
At 5 PM, after a strenuous day of barbecuing in which each chef gave it their all, it was time for the judges to meet. In a blind tasting the judges, many of whom were police foundation members and city personnel, had to rate each rib on a scale from one to 10 based on taste, smell and texture. Police Chief Al Schettino was also present at the table inspecting the ribs carefully before giving it a thoughtful bite.
In the end, only one person could take home the first place prize and the glory that comes with it. This year the 2016 Rib Cook-off Champion was John LaCava, a first-time winner. Brothers Chris and Ross Broxson came in second place and Mikey Dechaine in third.
“We raised $6,800,” said Marco Island Police Foundation President Curt Koon. “Most of it due to the generosity of the Brewery, the staff and the LaCava family. It was a great year. It’s the best year we’ve had.”
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Leo Sutera is a lucky man.
At the young age of 54, Leo Sutera sold his successful business and retired. In the years to follow, he travelled extensively with his family within the U.S. and internationally. Leo, now 83, lives at Hideaway Beach with Barbara, his wife of 58 years. The couple also enjoys time at their condominium in Middleton, Massachusetts.
Although many people would agree that Leo Sutera is a lucky man, it was hard work, not luck, which brought him such great success.
Hard Work Brings Success
Leo’s story begins in Boston’s North End. Leo was one of eleven children born to Vincenzo (“Vincent”) and Calogera (“Louise”) Sutera, Italian immigrants.
In eighth grade Leo left school to begin work. At only fourteen years old, he became a fisherman, working as hard as the grown men beside him. Paid less for his young age, his hard work was eventually recognized, earning him equal pay to the adults. He worked as a fisherman until he was 22 years old, when Leo began work as a truck driver for a fish company in Boston.
But it was his stint as an insurance agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance that marked the turning point for Leo. He discovered that he was extremely good at sales. Leo possessed a winning combination: Strong determination and natural people skills. Before long he was honored as Agent of the Year. But when Leo was offered a promotion managing five other employees, Leo realized that there wasn’t much higher to go. Instead of accepting the promotion, he quit, determined to be his own boss in his own business.
At the time, he and wife Barbara had two young daughters and a mortgage to pay.
Instead of worrying, Barbara encouraged Leo, “I’d rather be with someone who tried to have a business and failed than with someone who just wishes he could, but never does,” she says.
Leo returned to fishing for a short time, and then worked his way up the ladder at Genoa Packing Company, a wholesale meat company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here Leo continued to shine, in sales and management. Customers learned that Leo was sincere and honest. And employees thrived under Leo’s guidance. But still Leo says, “Despite my accomplishments and the recognition that I was receiving, I still felt something was missing. I knew if I could find a business to buy I could grow it and make it successful.”
Then one day in 1967 Leo came upon a mom and pop pasta business in Revere, Massachusetts. He convinced the owners to sell to him, and Louise’s Ravioli Company was born.
The company logo became a drawing of Louise, Leo’s mother, and it was placed on all the product packaging. Leo’s mother was so proud that she carried an empty ravioli box in her pocketbook to show her friends.
Immediately Leo improved the products, using only the finest high-quality ingredients. “I wouldn’t make or sell anything that I wasn’t extremely proud of,” he explains.
In the early days Leo did whatever was necessary to grow the business. He used an ice cream truck for deliveries and ran double shifts to fill orders. His family, including the children, pitched in when they could. He tirelessly went on sales calls, saying that he “didn’t know what ‘no’ meant.”
His hard work paid off, and Leo successfully grew the company. More than 250 people worked at the ravioli plant. And at one time Louise’s had a 72% share of the market in New England.
Leo sold Louise’s Ravioli Company in 1979, and then purchased it back in 1981. When he sold it for the second time, in 1987, he retired for good.
Leo was inducted into the Massachusetts Food Association Hall of Fame. He is also the past president of the New England Food Foundation.
We asked Leo for some tips for success, and he said that in addition to hard work, “the thing you need to have is common sense.”
A Life of Philanthropy
Giving back has played a big part of Leo’s life, both before and after his retirement, and he has been involved with many organizations and fundraisers in the community.
He says that he “thanks God” that he is so fortunate, and he is “always concerned with the less fortunate.” Leo has cooked and served meals at St. Matthew’s House. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and Kiwanis. He also helped organize a fundraiser at the Island Country Club for the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation for Niemann-Pick Type C disease.
Many of the efforts Leo supports benefit our veterans, “I have a lot of respect for the veterans,” he says. He was fundraising co-chairman for the Veterans Memorial, the Wounded Warriors and the Marco Island Big Flag Committee.
Even in his philanthropy Leo has a “get it done” attitude that brings results. On a visit to the school in his old neighborhood he noticed that the classrooms were cold, and the students wearing their coats indoors. He was told that the heater was broken. Leo got on the phone and made all the arrangements to purchase and donate a new heating system and have it installed at the school.
Leo is also a member of the Marco Island Italian American Club, the Marco Sport Fishing Club, and the past president of the Island Country Club. He was also a country club board member for the Salem Country Club while in Massachusetts.
Importance of Family
Family is central to Leo’s story, and he recognizes that “there is nothing more important than my family.” He bluntly tells me that he will “live and die for them.”
Leo and Barbara have five children and ten grandchildren. Seven of Leo’s grandchildren are in college and three have already graduated. Four more will be graduating this year.
Leo and Barbara try to take a family trip or have an organized family weekend each year. Some of the international family trips have included Austria, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cancun, Hungary, Ireland, Nova Scotia, Scotland and Italy; and within the states the family has travelled to Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
For Leo and Barbara’s 50th anniversary the family took a trip to Italy. They had their own tour bus for the large group of 20 children and grandchildren. And this past Christmas, 21 of Leo’s family travelled together to Punta Cana.
Leo wrote a book for his family, chronicling his family’s arrival in the United States and his rise in the business world, “The Harder I Worked, the Luckier I Got.”
The title comes from a comment made by Barbara, after hearing Leo’s friend tell him, “Leo, you are so lucky!” She saw it differently, being side-by-side with the hard working Leo from the very beginning. She remarked to Leo, “The harder you worked, the luckier you got.”
Each of Leo’s children and grandchildren has a copy of the book, filled with Leo’s common sense, tried-and-true life lessons, to enjoy and share with generations to come. Barbara and Leo will celebrate 59 years together this June.
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
The importance of CPR training was tested at the Greater Marco Family YMCA on Tuesday April 19th.
Personal trainer Kathy Kurtz was training her client Wendy Bullock in the back lobby of the Y. Debbie Hobbs, who happens to be another client of Kathy’s, rushed through the door and said, “I think there’s an emergency out here, there’s a man lying on the tennis courts!”
Kathy and Wendy immediately took off running to the tennis courts, as she quickly told Debbie, “Go tell the front desk!”
The two women saw a man laying on the tennis court, another man standing by him and nudging him, asking, “Are you okay?” There was no response.
Kathy later learned that the man had just finished a game of tennis and all the other players had left the courts. While alone, he had collapsed.
Kathy and Wendy knelt down to the man. Wendy (who used to be a nurse) grabbed his wrist to check for a pulse and Kathy shook him and smacked his cheek a bit, while asking, “Are you ok? Do you hear me?”
There was no response. Kathy grabbed his other wrist to check for pulse and found none. She asked Wendy, “Do you have a pulse?” Wendy said, “No.”
Kathy said, “Ok, I’m doing it,” as she aligned her hands and started chest compressions.
After Kathy completed a set of compressions, Wendy gave two breaths. The man remained unconscious. Kathy resumed the compressions.
During CPR another woman showed up to assist Kathy and Wendy. She took the man’s wrist, continuously checking for a pulse. Kathy later learned that this woman, like Wendy, also was a nurse. After a few rounds of compressions and breaths, the man gasped and the woman said, “He has a pulse.”
Kathy and Wendy stopped CPR. But only a few seconds later, the woman said that there was “no pulse.” So they resumed their efforts. Again, the man gasped, and the woman announced she had found a pulse. And once again, Kathy and Wendy stopped CPR.
This happened three or four times, there would be a pulse, then it would disappear and there would be none. The women kept working as a team.
After calling 911, YMCA member services’ Alex Elaty, who works at the front desk, had retrieved the AED, and hurried out to the tennis courts to assist. Alex, along with other YMCA staff, had just received CPR training three days earlier. Alex opened the AED and was setting it up, just as EMS arrived. CPR was continued until the paramedics arrived on the scene.
When the paramedics arrived, the man was again unresponsive. At some point, paramedics announced, “He’s breathing!” But again, the man’s heartbeat ceased, and then came back several times. Through defibrillation the paramedics were able to get the man’s heart to keep beating.
Firefighter-Paramedic Chris Bowden was a first responder on the scene. He says that the man was “lifeless, and not in good shape,” when Marco Island Fire Rescue arrived. His complexion was ashy and pale. After the shock from the second defibrillation the color returned to his cheeks, and you could “see his life return.” He said if it was not for the early CPR, and then defibrillation by the paramedics, that the man would not have survived.
Chris said that once the man was in the ambulance he was breathing, and he said to the paramedics, “Thank you!”
After the ambulance left to transport the man to the hospital, Chris came back inside the YMCA, and along with CEO Cindy Love, showed Kathy a copy of the man’s EKG. Chris told her, “Congratulations. You just saved a life.”
The following day happy news from the man’s wife was received. She had called and left a message that her husband was getting a pacemaker, and the doctors expected that he would have a full recovery.
Kathy told us that she has been taking CPR training classes for many years, and always said, “I hope I never have to use it.” She says that she is “grateful that I was there and able to help.”
Chris Bowden reminded us that, “Being prepared in an emergency could save your loved one’s life. Don’t wait to get trained, do it now!”
Chris says, “The three most crucial survival aspects for someone in cardiac arrest is early recognition, quality CPR and early defibrillation.”
The Marco Island Fire Rescue Department offers free CPR training. The next class offered is on May 28. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 239-389-5040 for more information.
Never Too Early to Learn
Recently 147 eighth grade students at Marco Island Charter Middle School learned adult, child and infant CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and using the AED in an emergency setting. Along with Firefighter Paramedic/Public Education Coordinator Chris Bowden, a team of Marco Island first responders taught the students, including: Captain Chris Crossan, Engineer Pat O’Gorman, Firefighter Paramedic Christian Holmes, Firefighter/EMT Nick Macchiarolo and Student Resource Officer Rod Rodriguez. All of the students successfully completed the course and became certified.
By Maureen Chodaba
The Marco Island City Council held a regular meeting on April 18. In addition to two business-related resolutions, staying safe and healthy seemed to be the prevailing theme.
Keith Wohltman, Flotilla Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 95, and other members of the Flotilla, were presented with a proclamation from the city council, declaring May 21-27, 2016 “National Safe Boating Week.” The proclamation supports the goals of the North America Safe Boating Campaign, urging everyone to practice safe boating, particularly with the use of life jackets.
Next, the Florida Department of Health in Collier County recognized Marco Island in the Surgeon General’s Healthiest Weight Recognition Program. The initiative acknowledges Marco Island’s support of policies that focus on healthy weight, health and wellness, and healthy lifestyles. Our Pathways Plan and Farmer’s Market were cited as two of our healthy amenities.
The timing could not have been more perfect as Bike Path Advocacy Group Chair Al Musico took the podium next to speak about our Bicycle Path Master Plan. He noted that we have two distinct types of bicycle riders on the island. There is the experienced, athletic rider who chooses to ride fast in the street with traffic, using the in-road bicycle lanes. Then there is the casual rider, using the sidewalks in a slower ride. The Bike Path Master Plan is designed to accommodate both types of riders. The eight-foot sidewalks help to reduce pedestrian conflict with riders. There is a five-year Master Plan, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), with $4,000,000 still left in the funding. Projects have been completed along the San Marco, Winterberry, Tigertail/Hernando Paths, while work is in progress in the Landmark Lanes and S. Barfield/Inlet Path. Plans for the future include the N. Barfield Path, Heathwood Linear Park, Yellowbird Path, Calusa Linear Park, and Collier – San Marco Path (west of Marco Island Academy). Funding applications are in progress for a San Marco/Goodland Path (east of MIA), Bald Eagle Path (Old Marco Lane – Collier), and Inlet Drive Path (Travida to Otter Mound). Others that are eligible for the future include a “Collier alternative” winding through the Peru and Seagrape area, and Bald Eagle (Collier to San Marco). City Council voted to approve the addition of two new routes to the Master Plan – a N. Barfield Path (from Collier “hooking around“ to Bald Eagle) and Sand Hill (Leland – Winterberry). The object is to keep everyone safe while promoting an active healthy lifestyle.
The theme of health continued as Lola Dial, recreation manager with the Parks and Recreation Department mentioned the celebration of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life that was held at Mackle Park on April 9. The event was a huge fundraiser in the fight against cancer.
On another happy note, the Marco Island Civic Association (MICA) presented the city council with $5,000 to contribute to the purchase of fireworks for the 4th of July celebration. What a great way to celebrate the happy, healthy life we enjoy as Marco Islanders and Americans!
In addition, council approved a contract the bring current the standard operating procedures for the police department, which can culminate in state certification, and to hire Calvin, Giordano and Associates to facilitate a review in stages of the land development code and comprehensive plan in stages.
For more information and to view the video of this meeting, please visit www.cityofmarcoisland.com.
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
A meeting open to the public on the topic of further development of Veterans Community Park was held at Mackle Park on April 19th. The original venue at Iberiabank was cancelled, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) felt it prudent to move the meeting to Mackle Park rather than cancel it. Gathering feedback from the public on this topic has been a top mission of PRAC.
Approximately 75 people attended. PRAC Chair Jerry Swiacki led the meeting, starting with a review of the purchase of the Glon property and its course on improvements thus far. A phased Veterans Community Park master plan was developed with the help of architect Kimley-Horn and several appointed committee members, encompassing a fair representation of different groups on the island. The committee met numerous times over a two-year period and held several public meetings. Jerry explained the comprehensive plans were approved by the Marco Island City Council, but the economy took a downturn and the plans were put aside, other than the Veterans Memorial, funded primarily through private donations.
“We want to proceed in a solid direction. Should we scrap the old plans? Do we modify them? Do we add amenities or do nothing?” asked Jerry. Many attending the meeting were respondents to a survey put out by the Marco Island Civic Association.
Concern over the amount of “greenspace” was voiced. Overwhelmingly, most felt the Farmer’s Market should continue. Parking is always an issue and proved to be one of the top concerns. The master plan called for 196 diagonal parking spaces along Park Avenue. Many were unhappy with the trailer housing restrooms, considering it an eyesore.
Jerry told the group the research done by PRAC so far brought up several considerations, a band shell and parking were top of the list. Second, trees, lighting and landscaping rated highly in the groups PRAC has spoken to. Jerry explained shade, through the use of pergolas, was part of the masterplan encircling the Veterans Memorial, and asked, “Is this something we want to pursue?”
Bob Bowe was a part of the Trees ‘R’ Cool committee which applied for and received a grant to plant many of the trees at Veterans Community Park. Bob spoke to his concern about greenspace, adequate parking and the restroom trailer. His final comment was that we need to be “proud to have this space as our city center.” Herb and Emily Savage each spoke to parking issues. Some felt the park should be kept passive with walking paths and benches, as well as plantings with native landscaping materials. It was suggested the “next generation” pay for improvements once the bond for the park was paid off in 2020.
PRAC member Michael Levine indicated a band shell would only use 1-2% of the total park space. Ken Honecker referred to greenspace, wondering if those in favor of greenspace knew the plans of the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary. The Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation (the parent organization of the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary) is purchasing the 11-acre tract of land, previously known as Tract K, where the eagle nest is located. Their intention is to preserve the species of birds, animals and native flora. Additionally, the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary will provide access to visitors and school children for educational opportunities and techniques needed for future conservation.
“This would be a duplicate of greenspace,” Ken said. Jerry, also on the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, confirmed the intent to purchase the property and making it deed restricted. More comments were heard, some in favor of a band shell and some against. Eventually, a call for a show of hands was made. Approximately 16 were in favor of a band shell and 11 were not. The use of Tourist Development Taxes was questioned, adding a band shell could bring more tourists into the area.
The public is encouraged to attend monthly Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meetings to speak on this, or any parks topic. Meetings are held in the Fay and Bedford Biles Community Room the third Tuesday of each month at 3 PM.
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
TripAdvisor has released the winners of the 2016 Travellers’ Choice Awards for Top 10 Islands- United States. Once again, Marco Island has made the list, this year in the number eight spot.
The top locations are selected by millions of real travellers who submit their reviews. According to TripAdvisor travellers, the top Marco Island activities and locations include the island’s boat tours, Keewaydin Island, Mackle Park and South Marco and Tigertail Beaches.
Marco Island Chamber of Commerce President Alex Parker was not surprised that Marco was selected for the 2016 TripAdvisor Top 10 Islands – United States list. Alex says, “Marco Island is consistently voted one of the top islands in the U.S., and even the world. Visitors enjoy Marco Island’s natural beauty and beaches, a variety of activities, and the many wonderful restaurants, hotels and shops on the island.”
The full list of TripAdvisor’s Top Islands – United States for 2016:
1. Maui, Hawaii
2. Key West, Florida
3. Oahu, Hawaii
4. Island of Hawaii, Hawaii
5. Mount Desert Island, Maine
6. Hilton Head, South Carolina
7. Amelia Island, Florida
8. Marco Island, Florida
9. Chincoteague Island, Virginia
10. Mackinac Island, Michigan