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Lely Senior Night

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 10:34pm

Lely High School senior football players and cheerleaders will be honored before Lely’s home game against Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. Friday (Aug.28)

Here are those that will be introduced before the game begins.

 Katie Schiller (captain)

Escorted by: Her dad Richard Schiller & mom Susan Schiller

Activities: Varsity member of cheerleading, cross country, soccer and track since freshman year

Thank/College: Thank her parents for being persistent motivators, her sisters & brother, her friends and all of the coaches and teachers she has met in her past four years at lely high school. Plans on attending Florida State University to study political science.

Tara Snyder (Captain)

Escorted by: Dawn Snyder (mother) Abbey Goldman (best friend)

Clubs/activities: Varsity Cheer, Varsity Track, Helping Hands,

People you’d like to thank: I’d like to thank my mother for believing in me and showing me God has a plan for my life, I’d also like to thank my wonderful cheer coach, Ms.Burdick for being more than a coach and an inspiration for our team.

Plans for college: I plan to attend the University of Florida and major in biology for a pre-med route and minor is disabilities in society.

Ellie Bennett (Captain)

Escorted by: Mother Dody Bennett, and Father Kyle Bennett

Clubs/activities: Varsity Cheer for 4 years

Thank you: To her Mom Dad and Sister for always believing in her, and pushing her to new goals. Also to Coach Burdick for being there for anything she needed throughout her years at Lely.

College Plans: Plans on attending the University of Mississippi and major in nursing.

Vayda Wasem

Escorted by: Her mom Lyndsi, Stepdad Adam, Sister Sydney, and Brother Oliver

Clubs/activities you’re involved in: vayda has been a part of the lely cheer team since freshman year. She also volunteers with the Marco island tumbling program.

People you’d like to thank, and plans for college:

She’d like to thank her friends family for always supporting her. She hopes to attend university of Florida and major in criminology.

Brittany Kordus

Escorted by: Her Mother Nancy, Todd, her boyfriend Jonathan, and her best friend Breigh-Anne

Clubs/activities: varsity cheerleading, varsity softball, varsity golf & key club People i’d like to thank: family for supporting my decisions and friends for being there for me

College: Hopes to attend UCF or UF






Jerry Casimir

Escorted by: His Siblings

4 Year Varsity, Running Back, GPA 3.0 #21

Accomplishments: Involved with the Basketball and Track program for 3 years

Plans to go to college after graduation so he can become an engineer

He would like to thank God first and foremost, for giving him the abilities to play and endure the sport.

Calerb D’Haiti

Escorted by: Mother Francisca and Brother Isaiah

1 Year Lely Varsity, Running Back, GPA 2.7, #1

Accomplishments: 3 Year Varsity Football Starter, 2 Year Varsity Track, CROP Academic Scholar

Plans on playing college football and pursuing a career in physical therapy.

He would like to thank his mother and father for giving him love and support. He would also like to thank Lely for being a family to him.

Carl Dorcent

Escorted by: Mom, Dad, and Sister

4 Year Varsity, Line Backer, GPA 2.8, #55

Involved in JROTC for 4 years

After high school he would like to do one of the following two things, either go to technical school or go to the National Guard.

He would like to thank first off his family for being there with him, He would also like to thank his coaches, and a special thank you to CWA Harp and his Girlfriend Esmeralda.

Jean Dossous

Escorted by: Father Elixer and Brother Kency

4 Year Varsity, Defensive Back, GPA 3.8 #6

Accomplishments: Played Football and Track

Plans to go to School and become a pharmacist

He would like to thank God, family, coaches and staff for all that they have done to help him through the last four years.











Lik Estilien


Escorted by: Mother, Father, Brother, Sisters, and Cousin


Accomplishments: 4 Year Varsity Letterman in football and basketball and he is a pro at sleeping he has 18 years of experience


He would like to attend UCF and study electrical engineering.


He would like to thank God for letting him see another day. He would also like to thank his family for getting him through the hard days, and he would like to thank his teachers and coaches for trying to help him get to the next level. Last he would like to give a shout out to Dr. Ricciardelli, and Mrs. Keegan “I see you” and Mrs. Coleman, Mrs. Cox, and Mrs. Darla “What’s Up!” And most of all Mr. Mottola and his Wife “Ya’ll are the Best!!”


Caleb Filus


Escorted by: Vida, Ricky, Don, Chrishigh


3 Years on Varsity, Wide Receiver, GPA 2.5, #81


Accomplishments: Ran track for a year, Perfect Attendance for a year


He plans on going to college and studying sports management or being an entrepreneur


He would like to thank his parents for supporting him in everything that he does and for providing for him with a roof over his head, food on his plate, and clothes on his back, He would also like to thank the team for always being his family.


Wesley Germain


Escorted by: The Germain Family


4 Years on Varsity, Defensive End, GPA 3.1 #7


Accomplishments: 1 year Academic Letterman, 2 Year Varsity Letterman


He plans on attending FAU or FIU majoring in Criminal Justice to get his Bachelor degree


He would like to thank God for blessing him and giving him the opportunity to play sports that he loves. He would like to thank his family, friends, and coaches for being with him and pushing him to strive for greatness these past four years, Last he would like to thank Coach Padin JR for always pushing him to be stupendous.


Henry Monpremier


Escorted by: Father Justin


2 Years Varsity, Defensive Line, GPA 3.1 #8


Involved in: Key club and FCA


Plans to attend UCF


He would like to thank is Lord and Savior Jesus, his parents, brothers and anyone who has truly made an impact on his life.








Caleb Nash


Escorted by: Father Steve


Involved in: Volunteering for Carwashes and Competed in Track


He would either like to become a fire fighter or would like to work on going to college and studying psychology.


He would like to thank the Good Lord, his father, his grandmother and grandfather and Coach Culmer.


Al Nelson


Escorted by: Tamara Nelson and Darlene Charles


4 Years Varsity, Offensive Tackle, GPA 3.0, #76


Accomplishments: Played 2 years of basketball and 1 year of track


He plans on attending Iowa State University and double majoring in Business and Management, and Law Studies


He would like to thank his family for always being there and supporting him and keeping faith in him.


Jimmy Pierre


4 years varsity, linebacker, defensive end, gpa 3.2 #10


Involved in: 2 years of Basketball and Perfect Attendance for 3 years


Wants to go to college and study sports management


Would like to thank his family for supporting him in everything that he does. Also for pushing him to do his best in everything and for believing that he could do anything he put his mind to.


Thomas (Tre) Popoli III


Escorted by: Cathi Popoli, Thom Popoli Jr, Mia Popoli, Gabby Popoli, and Hunter Popoli


2 Years Varsity, Center, GPA 4.8, #75


Accomplishments: 4 Year member of Track, 4 Year member of Scholar bowl and A-Team, Student body secretary and active member of student council, AICE Diploma Recipient


Plans to attend college at the University of Florida and major in Health Science with plans to master in public health.


He would like to thank his coaches for guiding him through the past four years.

Name: Wodelin Prophilien


Escorted by: Yvonne Desir


3 Years on Varsity, Defensive Tackle, GPA 4.4 #11


Accomplishments: 3 Year Academic Letter, 3 Year Varsity Football, National Honors Society, Chess Club, Quests Program


He plans on going to college and studying software engineering, or psychology


He would like to thank his mom, his family, God, the coaches, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ


Raynald St. Jour


Escorted by: Rolly St. Jour, Adriana, and Jenny


3 Years Varsity, Guard/Center, GPA 2.7 #77


Accomplishments: 3 Year Varsity Letterman, Freshman Track


Plans to go to college and study Criminal Justice to become a police officer.


He would like to thank Coach Culmer for helping him with school and football, He would also like to thank Coach Padin for motivating him during practice and football games because he knows how much potential he has.


Fidner St. Louis


Escorted by: Mom Larose


3 Years Varsity, Left Tackle, GPA 3.0 #70


Plans on attending a college and majoring in engineering


He would like to thank God, his mother, and his coaches


Jose Vega


Escorted by: Father Jose


2 Years on Varsity, Wide Receiver #17


Involved in: FCA and Key club


He would like to attend SCAD in Atlanta Ga


He would like to thank Coach Culmer, and all of the coaching staff, as well as the team for welcoming him in as part of the family.


Daniel Van Der Bogart


Escorted by: Tom and Jane Major


1 Year Varsity, Offensive Line, GPA 3.1, #69


Accomplishments: (Past school) He was President, Key club, weight training club, and Entrepreneur club.


He wants to get his realtors license and go to college for Business


He would like to thank his parents, friends, God and all my fellow peers and supporters.








Huggens “Lil’ Snoop” Vilsaint


Escorted by: Hugo and Kettly Vilsaint and Siblings


2 Years Varsity, Cornerback, GPA 3.0, #4


Accomplishments: Football District Champs, Basketball Summer League Tournament Runner up


Plans on attending college and studying psychology


He would like to thank his parents for pushing him and being hard on him these past 17 years. My uncle Snoop for raising me to be a man at an early age. Coach Fritz and Coach Culmer for making me find and be a better me every day. Mrs. Coleman for being my second mom these last two years, and last but not least God, without him, I don’t know where I’d be right now.


Tra’ Vaughn Young


Escorted by: Vaughn, Rose Young and Sister


3 Years Varsity, Running Back/Line Backer, GPA 2.8, #13


Accomplishments: 3 Year Varsity Player


He would like to go to college while continuing his football career, study business management and sports management


He would like to thank God, his family and coaches for pushing him to give it his all at everything he does.


Rays in Texas

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 10:32pm

Fowler’s Manta Rays get their first feel of the Brook Hill high football field as they ready for tonight’s game in the Brook Hill Texas Football Classic. They will play Edgewood, Texas, at 8 p.m. Photo by Chuck Ludwigsen.

As coach Greg Fowler gazed at the Brook Hill football field this morning (Friday), the 50-yard line seemed a long way to the end zone.
Yes, but the Marco Island Academy football team has already traveled 1,200 miles just to play in the Brook Hill Texas Football Classic in Bullard, Texas.
Kicking off at 8 p.m., the Rays will go up against the Edgewood, Texas Bulldogs. The schools are similar in numbers, but not in experience. It may seem strange, but the fourth-year Rays have 17 starters back with many key players among them. Edgewood will be playing with many sophomores in the lineup.
The Rays arrived Thursday, taking a flight from Fort Lauderdale. They return Saturday night.
The Coastal Breeze is working on having photos on the team and fans who flew or drove to the game.
Follow tonight’s game results this Facebook page

Rays Travel to Texas for Season Opener

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:48pm

By Roger LaLonde

MIA’s Tyler Gresham (8) is alone with his thoughts as he readies for the preseason game against Gateway Charter School, while Bon Deese (74) makes a point to other players.

Coach Greg Fowler gave his Marco Island Academy (MIA) football team a passing grade after a 26-21 preseason home loss to Gateway Charter on August 21.

The Rays travel to Bullard, Texas to play in the Brookhill Football Classic against Edgewater, Texas at 7 PM on Friday, August 28

The statistics didn’t count in the preseason battle against Gateway Charter School, but overall Fowler was pleased.

“We probably ran for 200 yards and threw for 150,” Fowler said. “We made adjustments at half time that gave us momentum that we expect to carry forward [against Edgewater].”

Fans got a surprise when the first quarter opened with both schools fielding junior varsity teams, the first time for MIA.

With MIA having a 30-man roster, Fowler isn’t sure how often a JV team will play, but for the night it was good to get them into game-condition situations.

The varsity teams took over in the second quarter. It looked like MIA would score first.

Senior Brian Flynn made plays on both sides of the ball. Playing safety, he pounced on a loose ball to place MIA in scoring position. As wide receiver, he turned a slant pass from Andrew Fowler into a 30-yard gain. Unfortunately, scoring expectations ended with a Gateway interception in its end zone.

“Brian Flynn played an excellent game, stepping up as our senior captain,” Fowler said.

Gateway Charter defenders give chase as MIA’s Tyler Gresham runs for 69 yards to set up a Rays score.

Gateway’s Girard Battle powered his way 42 yards for the game’s first score in the second quarter. The extra point kick failed, leaving the game at 6-0 at half time.

The big names on offense to be heard all season are Cayden Couture, Andrew Fowler, Tyler Wallace, Tyler Gresham, Patrick Michel and Flynn.

Couture scored first for MIA on a 26-yard run. Wallace caught a three-yard pass from Fowler for its second score, and Gresham had a 69-yard jaunt that resulted in Michel’s 11-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

Gateway blitzed MIA for three scores to decide the game in the fourth quarter. Five turnovers hurt MIA. A pass interception gave Gateway its winning points.

“We made mistakes, but that is what an exhibition game is for,” Fowler said. “We came out of the game healthy and ready for Friday.”

Fowler traveled to Texas when the teams were announced in May.

At the time he said, “It will be a chance to be a part of that camaraderie that you feel at the college level. This will be a good step for us by building cohesiveness as a team, to come out here and spend three days together.”

MIA will have 50 passengers on a Spirit Airlines flight that leaves out of Fort Lauderdale at 7:30 AM on August 27. They return the evening of August 29 to Fort Lauderdale.

On opening night, August 27, Brookhill will host St. Bernard’s Catholic of Eureka, CA. MIA will follow with its game against Edgewater on Friday, and on Saturday, Houston Second Baptist plays Episcopal School of Dallas.

Trump: A Friend’s Perspective Roy Eaton’s Friendship with Trump Spans Decades

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 1:29am

By Don Manley

Donald Trump’s yearbook page from his senior year at New York Military Academy. Trump with his parents, Fred and Mary. Military photos by Donato Studio

It’s hard to turn on the television or read anything pertaining to American politics without encountering the name Donald Trump.

The real estate mogul, reality show star, author and now, politician, has captured the national news media’s attention, if not the country’s, with his bold and provocative remarks while on the campaign trail.

“The Donald,” with his outsized personality, showman’s flamboyance, plainspoken pronouncements, and high-profile business dealings and personal life, has long been a lightning rod for controversy. Now, it is his campaign to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee that has attracted both ardent support and rapid detractors.

Few members of the general public have insight into the human being behind the public persona, but long term Collier County resident Roy Eaton, of Verona Walk and formerly Marco Island, is someone who does, having become friends with Donald Trump in the early 1960s, when they were cadets at The New York Military Academy.

They met in 1962, when Eaton was a sophomore and Trump, a junior, at the academy, located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, and they have maintained a friendship for over a half-century. In fact, Trump wrote an endorsement for Eaton’s first book, “Soldier Boy,” and third book, “Makers, Shakers & Takers,” a collection of essays that includes a story about their first meeting.

Trump’s endorsement in that first book reads: “I thoroughly enjoyed reading Roy’s Soldier Boy. He brings back many memories of The New York Military Academy, and has done a fine job. Roy was always a winner, and nothing has changed.” Trump’s endorsement in the third book reads: “Roy writes with compassion, skill and insight. “Makers, Shakers and Takers” is a terrific collection of stories and essays, and definitely worth your time and attention. A great read from someone who knows and respects Roy.”

Eaton said that Trump’s example and advice during their high school years had a profound effect on his life, an impact that continues to this day.

“I never got in trouble,” said Eaton, an author, and retired high school math teacher and wrestling coach. “I never did drugs, nor drank. I have to attribute that to my parents and who they were. But it’s also the people you meet along the way, and he was one of the most influential. Even if he didn’t try to be, he was.”

Eaton, the child of a working-class, Connecticut family, and Trump, the scion of prosperous New York City real estate developer Fred Trump, met one evening when Eaton was on guard duty. Trump and another cadet were roughhousing in a phone booth in what was supposed to be a quiet area.

“I said, ‘C’mon guys. Can you hold it down, please? This is a quiet area,’ ” said Eaton, a cadet no more than five-foot-two, at the time. “They just looked at me awkwardly, but they held it down. They respected what I said. After they were done, Donald came over and said, ‘Hey, my name is Donald Trump. You really take your job seriously.’ I told him, ‘Most people mess up on this. I take it seriously.’ ” Eaton’s commanding officer and sergeant were ill with the flu, and the commandant-of-cadets was about to replace them when Trump went to bat for Eaton, telling the commandant he believed that Eaton could handle the job.

“He came down in the morning and asked me how I was and if I needed any help, and that sort of formed our friendship,” said Eaton. “It showed me that he valued people who are committed and accountable, people who are honest and will stand up to anybody. I mean, I was standing up to two six-foot-one-inch guys. They could have pulverized me.”

From there, the friendship flourished, with the teens getting to know each other, learning about each other’s families, and Trump revealing his hope of taking over his father’s business one day. Eaton said Trump also discussed personal matters with him, things that he’s never divulged to anyone.

Roy Eaton, who became friends with Donald Trump during their time at New York Military Academy. Military photos by Donato Studio

“I was no competition to him,” said Eaton. “I was the poorest. He was the richest. Everybody was always trying to outdo him. They were jealous of what his family had and his confident demeanor. I didn’t know, didn’t care. I knew he was wealthy, eventually, because people would say it. But it didn’t mean anything to me. The things that I got from him were the same thing as I got from my parents, core values – be honest, be straightforward, be outspoken, dress immaculately, be clean shaven, do it with class or don’t do it all, and you have to spend money to make money.”

Trump invited Eaton along on the academy’s junior class trip to Bermuda, and even called Eaton’s mother to convince her to let her son attend. “My mom was a great judge of character, and although she could see through the hype, she respected Donald and truly loved his persona.”

Eaton said the Trump he observed interacting with young women on that trip, and his days at the academy, is at odds with his current public image in that area.

“I never heard him swear, I never heard him belittle a woman, he was always gracious,” said Eaton. “He was always respectful. He always spoke favorably of his mother, his sister and all women. I never heard him degrade a woman, so I was kind of shocked at some of the things he was quoted as saying about women during the campaign. People can change, but I’m one who believes your demeanor can change, but I don’t think your core values change from when you were a kid.”

Eaton said that as is true today, the Trump he knew at the academy was supremely confident, principled, a perfectionist and someone who spoke his mind, while also possessing a witty, but dry sense of humor. “He always had that grin,” he added. “I could read him quite well, because when he had that smirk, I usually knew what he was thinking. It was always like, ‘Yeah, right.’ ”

Trump’s affection for the real estate profession and the locale that dominates his life were apparent back then.

“He knew real estate,” said Eaton. “He loved real estate and he loved New York City with a passion. And, I know he deeply loves his country.”

They went their separate ways after Trump’s 1964 graduation, which saw him attend Fordham University, and then the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School for his bachelor’s degree.

After graduating from the academy in 1965, Eaton earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Pennsylvania Military College — now Widener University, near Philadelphia. He later received a master’s degree at Connecticut College in New London.

The duo reconnected during Eaton’s junior year at Pennsylvania Military College, when Trump called him from out of the blue and asked him to dinner. To Eaton’s surprise, Trump offered him a job on the executive staff of the real estate firm he was forming, making him the first person to receive such an offer. He said Trump was even willing to wait until his military obligation as an officer in the army was completed.

“The salary was incredibly generous,” said Eaton. “What he offered me for my first year in ’68, if I worked for him when I graduated – it would have been more than four or five times what I would make as an officer. Trump said, ‘I’ll do that for two or three years and when you prove yourself, I’ll double it.’ I may have been well on my way to eventually becoming a millionaire in a couple of years after that,” Eaton said. But Eaton had other plans.

“I told him I didn’t particularly like New York City, and I really don’t want to work there. I said, ‘I want to go home. I’ve been away for 11 years and I want to know my parents. I’m very close to them, I love them and I miss them.’ ”

Eaton said, at the time, he also had concerns about the wisdom of working for an old friend.

What Eaton didn’t tell Trump was he wanted to return home to help his parents care for his handicapped older sister, and he had recently learned that his father, LeRoy, had been diagnosed with terminal emphysema and had only a short time to live.

Instead, Eaton returned to Connecticut, where he taught and coached at St. Bernard High School in Uncasville, CT for 20 years, where he was also a member of the board of trustees. During this same time period, he also worked as a teen center director, a private beach manager, and for 10 years, he worked a second full time job as a night security guard to earn additional money to help his parents build their first home.

Over the years, there have been some regrets over not accepting Trump’s offer because of what the job would have meant financially and personally. “If I had gone with him, he would have brought out the best in me, because I work well under pressure and it would have made life much easier,” he added. “There were many nights I patrolled the college campus in bitter cold, and blinding rain and snow. But, I think things worked out for the best, because I wouldn’t have met my wife or had the additional time with my Mom and Dad.”

Donald Trump poses with his family when announcing his presidential bid this year. Photo by The Trump Organization

Trump’s entrance into politics hasn’t been a surprise for Eaton, but he was somewhat surprised by his friend’s candid comments about politicians such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., illegal immigrants from Mexico and Megyn Kelly, the Fox News host who was a panel member at the recent Republican presidential candidate debate.

Eaton said he believes Trump has great respect for the military and veterans, but simply doesn’t care for McCain.

“He may have gone a little over the top with the things he initially said about Mexico,” Eaton said. “I think what happens is he gets a little caught up and he says things sometimes that often get taken out of context. Our school was about 30 percent Hispanics from all over the world. He got along with everybody. I never saw him be racist or sexist toward anyone, never, ever. I just never saw that.”

Regarding the post-debate comment about Kelly and “blood coming out of her wherever,” Eaton agreed Trump’s meaning is open to interpretation.

“Perhaps some people can interpret that as hormonal,” he said. “Some people can interpret it, like he (Trump) said, ‘Its eyes or nose, etcetera. It’s normal.’ Or you can interpret the way I did, which is he started giving an answer and simply went on to something else. I give him the benefit of the doubt there from knowing him and knowing his true character.”

Eaton described the debate panel’s treatment of Trump as a “set-up,” exemplified by their opening question, which asked the participants whether they would pledge not to run as a third party candidate against the eventual Republican nominee, knowing ahead of time what Trump’s answer would be. Trump was the only one of the 10 to refuse to make that pledge.

“You’re going to ask a question that’s geared exclusively to him only, to put him off guard and ruin his train of thought, which it didn’t?” he said. “I was proud of Donald for keeping his composure and I was proud of him when he stuck his hand up right away, for two reasons. One, if you’re going to pick the very best and be a man who says he’d do that, why would you unequivocally say you’re going to support someone when you don’t know who is going to be nominated. And this is America. Don’t you have the right to say you might vote for someone who is not a Republican?”

“The questions pertaining to issues raised by Trump such as immigration, mistreatment of veterans, and GNP were, instead, mistakenly directed to others.”

Eaton said Trump is much more sensitive, compassionate – he supports universal healthcare –and politically progressive than the public may perceive. But Eaton believes he is monetarily and fiscally conservative, and that his candidacy is not simply an ego-driven lark.

“As Trump would say, ‘Don’t take on anything you’re not going to finish,’ ” said Eaton.

Trump and Eaton haven’t met face-to-face since that dinner many years ago, but they have stayed in touch by corresponding.

“If he does get in, I think the one thing people can count on is there would not be incompetence in government, there would not be a lack of integrity. There would be transparency.” Eaton added. “I don’t think special interest groups would totally control Congress. Put it this way, they wouldn’t control him. The people in positions who aren’t doing a good job, I think he’d fire immediately.”

“America is truly at a crossroads and needs a strong leader that can protect our nation from those wishing to destroy us. And, we need a really smart executive who will steer us away from the potential economic Armageddon that bureaucratic incompetence, irresponsibility, and greed, helped to create.”


Eaton predicted four years ago, in “Makers, Shakers & Takers,” that Trump might seek the White House.

On that topic, he wrote: “Can you imagine a relentlessly decisive candidate with no fear of failure, who can multi-task and macro-and-micro manage, who answers to no special interest groups, who readily expresses his own controversial views, who refuses to accept failure and can most likely finance much of his campaign? Most candidates would not be willing or able to handle his dominant, aggressive demeanor and condescending, brash behavior. Yes, Donald can be charming, personable and humorous, but when engaged in confrontation, his intimidating style can unravel the best of strategies.”

When asked what has enabled the friendship to endure this long, Eaton laughed and said, “Maybe because we don’t see each other. Honestly, I think what it is, is we have a mutual respect for each other. He respects me as a person. He always thought that whatever I did, I’d do well, and I knew he would be incredibly successful. Having mutual respect doesn’t mean that you don’t think a person has flaws. But having that mutual respect, that’s what’s important.”


Island Life Comes to Marco

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 1:08am

By Don Manley

The allure of Marco Island’s upscale, subtropical, waterfront lifestyle will once again be on display for a national audience thanks to HGTV.

“Island Life,” the cable network’s new show that depicts the experiences of families moving to their island dream home, has filmed two episodes on Marco this month. The show follows the families during their realtor-assisted search for a home that fits into their budget, whether it be something ultra-affordable or the sky’s the limit.

The show also shines a light on each island’s natural wonders, dining, shopping and other amenities.

“I think “Island Life” really wants to showcase the lifestyles and life changes that people and families often make in order to live a more relaxed and comfortable life,” said “Island Life” executive producer, Ben Hatta.

Thus far, the show has featured such destination locales as Martha’s Vineyard, the San Juan Islands in Washington, Islamorada, Nantucket Island and Georgia’s St. Simons Island, for families leaving behind homes in Atlanta, Hawaii, Kodiak Island in Alaska, Boston, Pittsburgh and other locations.

How did Marco come to be included?

“We love to find new and different islands for our episodes, to keep the series fresh and introduce the audience to different islands around the country,” said Hatta. “We’ve shot in Florida before, but never on Marco Island, so we did some research and found that Marco Island is really a cool place. With the show, we not only follow the client’s house buying experience, but we also showcase the particular island, and all the places and activities that there are to do there.”

Filming of HGTV’s “Island Life” at Mango’s Dockside Bistro.

After selecting an island that is of interest, the show researches and then contacts local real estate agencies in search of interesting home shoppers to profile.

“Then we reach out to their clients to find out if they’re interested in sharing their buying story with us and if they would like to be on the show,” said Hatta. “We look for fun and interesting couples and, or, families of all different types and backgrounds who are really looking to give up life on the mainland, for island living, and all the adventures and excitement that come with it.

On Marco, the show has worked with realtors Scott Needles and his sister, Stacy Needles Witthoff, of The Needles Group at ERA Flagship Real Estate, and two of their clients.

“I think it is a great honor to represent Marco Island on HGTV,” said Needles. “It is great experience and could potentially bring more exposure to our beautiful island. It is great to be chosen out of all the many agents on Marco.”

Scott Needles, left, of The Needles Group at ERA Flagship Real Estate, chats with Kevin and Amanda Ray and their daughter Alyssia, of Iowa at Mango’s. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

The Marco episodes will profile the Rays, who come to the island from Kentucky, and the Pellegrini family, who leave behind a home on New Hampshire’s Atlantic coast.

“Both families expressed that the harsh winters and the lack of time outdoors throughout the year are the main factors for them making the move down south,” said Hatta. “All of our families are really looking for that outdoor lifestyle and year-round access to the outdoor amenities, like water activities (sailing, surfing, paddle boarding, etc.) and beaches that Marco Island has to offer.”

Marc Pellegrini, his wife Mirian and their daughter Alexia, 8, became Marco residents last week, moving into a townhome, for now, while they wait for their home in New Hampshire to sell.

“We have friends that live on the island and we came and visited them, and we fell in love with it the first time we were here, so we decided to move here,” said Marc Pellegrini, a consultant who works from home. “What really attracted us was the fact that you can have a home on the water at a, relatively speaking, reasonable price. You don’t have to spend millions to be on the water here. We love the beach – Alexia loves the beach – and the climate is obviously a big thing for us, coming from New Hampshire.”

Needles had some initial nervousness over being on-camera, but the butterflies quickly disappeared and he enjoyed the experience.

But there was no apprehension for his sister. “I really wasn’t nervous because it just felt natural, having worked with so many buyers over the years,” said Stacy Needles Witthoff. “I just let the conversation flow like I normally would when representing a buyer. Overall, it was a lot of work, but in the end it was interesting to see how a show like this comes together.”

Marco’s inclusion among the islands featured on the show speaks volumes about the community’s appeal, said Witthoff.

“It is a beautiful place to live and people that live here sometimes don’t appreciate how great it is to live here,” she said. “The couple moving here is a young family and Marco is not only a retirement place, but also a great place to raise a family.”


HGTV’s “Island Life”

The episodes shot on Marco in early August should air in January.

For more information about “Island Life,” please visit

Community Center Unveiled

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 1:02am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The building design for the new Mackle Park Community Center was unveiled at the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) meeting Tuesday, August 18th. The total square footage of the center, including covered areas, is 12,054. The overall consensus of the committee was positive. The committee, in a motion by Dr. Carlos Portu, agreed to review the plans in more detail during a workshop to be held on September 1st at 3:00 PM. The architect, Victor Latavish, AIA, who also designed the Fiala Community Center in East Naples, will be present. The plans include an effort to save a large oak tree directly in front of the building. During the workshop in September, PRAC will begin reviewing the Veterans Community Park master plan. Public comment will be taken during the meeting.


50th Anniversary Concert in the Park

The City of Marco Island will host a 50th Anniversary Concert in the Park on November 21st at Veterans Community Park from 4-9:00 PM. The concert will be free and open to the public. Four bands are scheduled and will include a variety of genres. Everyone is welcome. Food and drinks will be available throughout the event. Watch for more information coming soon. If your business is interested in sponsoring the event, contact Samantha Malloy, Community Events Coordinator at 239-389-3917.

Farmers Market Vendor Application Process to Open

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 1:00am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The Marco Island Farmers Market will be open Wednesday mornings from November 18 to April 13.

One of the highlights of each season is the return of the Farmers Market.

This year, from November 18, 2015 to April 13, 2016, every Wednesday morning from 7:30 AM to 1:00 PM, Veteran’s Community Park will host the City of Marco Island’s Farmers Market.

Part of what makes Marco’s Farmers Market so special is the abundance of farm-fresh produce and unique products. Local artists show their talents along with florists, bakers and craftsmen. Shoppers can find everything from fresh herbs to local honey, natural soaps and handmade jewelry.

Alex Galiana, the city’s Administrative and Facilities Manager, Parks and Recreation, tells us that they are getting ready for the application process. Beginning on August 28, prospective vendors must complete an application and submit it to the city by September 30. This season, there are 100 spaces available. Marco residents and businesses will receive a discount on the cost of the space.

Vendors sell unique handmade jewelry
at the Farmers Market.

The selection process takes work. Each year many more vendors apply for spaces than can be accommodated. Alex explains that preference is given first to local residents and businesses, then to past vendors, and finally, to products that are not already represented at the market.

Alex said that they are always looking for things that the Farmers Market doesn’t already have in order to keep an interesting variety for shoppers. They seek out products and goods that you “can’t get anywhere else” says Samantha Malloy, the city’s Community Events Coordinator who co-manages the Farmers Market with Alex.

This careful selection process helps to provide the perfect balance of goods, keeping the Farmers Market interesting, and shoppers coming back every Wednesday.

This is the sixth year that the Farmers Market will be held at Veteran’s Community Park. The market quickly outgrew its previous location at Mackle Park, due to its continuing popularity among both locals and visitors.

The Farmers Market will accept vendor applications August 28. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Vendors are encouraged to apply early. The city expects that the 100 spaces will fill quickly, and there will be a waiting list of 30-40 vendors. Businesses with a local and unique product will have a better chance of getting one of the limited spots.

To complete an application, go to the city’s website at on or after August 28. For questions call 239-389-5196 or email






Collaboration, Team Effort Key to Success of MIA Expansion

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:46am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

A true team effort accomplished the expansion. From left: David Fireman, Dave Vergo, Stephanie Riordan, Tim Truesdell, Kim Barry, Jennifer Macko, Katie Oakley and Jane Watt.

When Marco Island Academy opens its doors on Monday, August 17, students will be greeted by two brand-new science labs.

This year the young school reached full capacity with 250 students. To accommodate additional students, two modular classrooms have been added to the campus.

Keeping true to its STEM curriculum, the new modulars will be used as labs for chemistry/physics and biology classes.

Planning for the project began last September, when MIA’s board of directors examined the school’s needs and planned for future growth.

The addition of the two new modulars, build-out, infrastructure, interior and furnishings cost a total of $250,000. Most impressive, the school accomplished the project without incurring any additional debt. A push in MIA’s fundraising drive in the second semester of the 2014-2015 school year provided much of the funds.

But the project required more than just funds to accomplish. That’s when parents, board members and volunteers stepped in to help.

MIA parent and board member, Dave Fireman, is the chairman of the expansion committee. He worked throughout the year to coordinate the group of parents and community members who volunteered to help. Most of the committee members have a background in the construction business.

Jane Watt, school founder and board chair, tells us the project’s timely completion was driven by the tireless efforts of Stephanie and Barry Riordan, MIA parents. Barry, who owns Island Construction, stepped in as project manager, and has been on-site daily to supervise and provide his expertise. His contribution has been instrumental in the project’s success.

Stephanie, who has extensive interior design experience, originally was asked to help with color choices. It evolved into much more, and Stephanie created a budget and timeline to keep the project on track. Stephanie says her goal was to “find the best quality possible- within budget.” The interior is top-of-the-line.

More help came from Dave Vergo, whose wife Dawn is on the school’s board of directors. Dave’s family business, Accurate Air Conditioning, gave him knowledge and insight into many of the project’s components, including technology and security. Dave’s thorough research helped find the brand-new modular units, and keep the project within the school’s budget.

Additional expansion committee members include David Fireman, Scott Dehooghe, John Szerdi, Andy Delgado, Kelly Monnot and Melissa Scott.

Jane tells us she is grateful that there has been an “outpouring of help from the community in everything we do.”

MIA still needs eight more smart boards, at a cost of $2,000 each, for the classrooms. Donations may be sent to Tina Nash, Marco Island Academy, San Marco Road, Marco Island, FL 34145, or contact Tina at For more information on MIA, go to their website at, or call 239-393-5133.

Marco Teen Ariana Garousi Travels to Tanzania

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:41am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

On Ariana’s last day of teaching, playing hangman with students. PHOTOS BY MATT PERROTT

Most teens, and adults for that matter, have a hard time being without their cell phones, internet and other technology- even for a short period of time.

But this summer 17-year-old Ariana Garousi stepped away not only from technology, but virtually every other creature comfort in order to explore the world while serving others.

From June 30 to July 23, Ariana travelled with a group called Rustic Pathways to Tanzania, Africa. A total of 11 teens from all over the world joined her on the trip.

For the first week, the teens climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to its highest peak- Uhuru Peak, which is 5,895 meters high (19,341 feet). The climb posed physical challenges only made worse by below zero temperature. Acclimating to such a high altitude is difficult and unpredictable. During the climb, temperatures fell to an unimaginable low of -15 degrees Fahrenheit. Ariana, an athletic teen who plays basketball, softball and swims, told us that it “was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”

After the climb, the teens travelled to the village of Mangola Juu for the service portion of their trip.

Ariana encountered the poverty of the people, and the enormous differences from modern life in the U.S. The roads in the village were composed of a rust-colored dirt. It stained everything it came into contact with. Most people in the village ate only one meal a day. Meat was scarce, and hard to afford for most.

Following their English lessons, students asked Ariana to take their picture. PHOTOS BY ARIANA GAROUSI

Ariana slept in a sleeping bag on the floor, without any modern comforts such as air conditioning, plumbing or electricity. When we asked her why she chose to spend her summer vacation this way, she said that she “wanted to give back.”

The village of Mangola Juu, with a population of almost 4,000, did not have a doctor. In Tanzania, in order to get a doctor, the village must first build the doctor a house. Mangola Juu was hoping for two doctors, and so they needed to build two houses. Ariana’s mornings were spent with other teens, building in the heat, to accomplish this task. She and the other teens mixed tons of cement, carried rocks and assisted the local masons.

In the afternoons, Ariana taught English to a Standard 6 class of 11- and 12-year-old students. Some of the students travelled as far as 10 km to get to the school. Although the children experience challenges living in a third world country, they shared so many things with children everywhere. Ariana described waking up in the morning to their singing, playing various games with them, including hangman, and activities such as soccer and Frisbee.

Ariana brought back many lessons which she shared with us. She wisely told me that “people can find happiness in the simplest things.” She also reminded me “that we don’t need all the material things that we think we need.” Her mother Nancy, a third grade teacher at Tommie Barfield, calls her daughter “an old soul.”

On their second day in the village, the teens partook in a soccer game on the local pitch. This little boy asked Ariana to take his picture.

Ariana has an adventurous spirit. In the summers of her sophomore and junior years, she travelled with Rustic Pathways to Costa Rica and Thailand. Both trips had community service aspects. In Costa Rica, she painted a school, planted trees, cleaned the beach and taught English. In Thailand she worked for elephant conservation, caring for the animals. Her travels are fueled not just by wanderlust, but by her deep rooted desire to help others and make a positive impact on the world.

Back on Marco Island, Ariana has helped her mother with her third grade students, and she has coached at basketball camp.

Ariana started her senior year at the Community School in Naples this fall. She is planning to attend college next year, most likely continuing her education out of state. Not surprisingly, she is thinking about a degree with an international aspect, as well as a career where she can “give back.”



Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Burson!

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:35am


Wanda Day and Gene Burson would like to announce their marriage. They were married at Naples City Hall on August 7, 2015. Dick and Debra Shanahan were their best man and matron of honor. After the ceremony the couples celebrated with friends at Vergina Restaurant in Naples, and then went on to the Bistro Soleil on Marco Island for dinner and more celebrating. The Bursons will continue to reside on Marco Island.

Turkey… Syria… and Beyond…

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:33am

Tarik Ayasun

Kurdistan imagined.

The readers are probably aware of the fact that Turkey, over the past two months, has been run by an interim government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was deprived of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002. This situation has altered the center of power in Turkish politics and has also forced the AKP into a compromised foreign policy.

The leadership of the AKP is now in “negotiations” with the main opposition parties CHP, MHP and HDP. President Tayyip Erdogan is AKP’s unofficial boss. As demanded by the Turkish Constitution, he is supposed to be above politics; a head of state with no involvement in the day to day affairs of the state, which falls under the purview of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

However, before the June 7 Parliamentary elections in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan campaigned for one party (AKP) to win around 400 deputies out of the possible 550 in order to change the Turkish Constitution and introduce an Executive Presidential system which he thought would have given him broad powers to take the country into an Islamic direction he strongly believed in.

However, the election results were not to his liking. AKP garnered only 258 seats. This was not even enough to form a single party government. Mr. Erdogan’s dream of amending the constitution was completely dashed. His like-minded lame-duck Prime Minister Mr. Davutoglu is now having a tough time putting together a new government. He initially tried to put together a “minority government,” meaning a government consisting only of AKP members, yet having the vote of confidence support of one or more of the other political parties in the Parliament. This attempt failed. He is now negotiating with the head of the main opposition party, CHP, to form a coalition government. Mr. Davutoglu was going after a “historic deal,” however, these negations also failed to succeed last week, as the talks apparently collapsed.

Mr. Erdogan may now feel he has nothing to lose. After the constitutionally mandated forty-five days are exhausted after the June 7 elections, he will be calling for new elections in the fall!

There is no reason whatsoever that the results will be any different.

On the other hand, the uncertainties faced by Turkey as a whole pushed Mr. Davutoglu to agree to a Western coalition led by the U.S. to fight the Islamic State in Syria, which they had been resisting for a very long time. Mr. Erdogan had been passively supporting the Sunni Islamic State in order to achieve his personal goal of getting rid of the Assad government in Syria. IS controls large areas of land in Syria and Iraq near the Turkish border.

As a result of this agreement, Turkey and the United States this week took steps toward getting more heavily involved in the Syrian situation. Turkey agreed to allow the United States to use Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey to conduct operations against the Islamic State. As a part of this agreement, the U.S. administration agreed to the establishment of a “safe zone” in northwestern Syria that “moderate Syrian opposition forces” would protect along with Turkish and American airpower. Turkey also undertook airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria, and the Davutoglu government in Turkey took advantage of this agreement (possibly with a secret wink from the U.S.) to bomb the ground forces of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. The U.S. had already used the Incirlik airbase for strikes with armed drones, and approximately sixteen U.S. F-16 fighters have been stationed at the base for further strikes that started last week.

With this arrangement, Washington basically gave the go-ahead to its most reluctant ally in the fight against the Islamic State to somehow combat, perhaps the most effective fighters in the conflict, the Kurds. Under this new arrangement, the Turks will now fight the Turkish Kurds of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and the affiliated forces of their Syrian cousins, YPG (People’s Protection Units) under the guise of combatting the same enemy.

Taking part in coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State and rounding up suspected supporters is a side benefit to Turkey. The Turks actual goal may be disrupting Kurdish plans in Syria and hitting the PKK. If there are any doubts about Turkish aims, Mr. Erdogan in late June declared “We will never allow the establishment of a Kurdish state in Syria’s north and our south.”

Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Davutoglu are obsessed with the idea of getting rid of Mr. Assad in Syria. However, one must not forget that the fall of the Assad regime may most benefit the Islamic State in Syria. By aligning with the Turks to establish a safe zone in northern Syria, the United States may have caused an alliance between the Islamic State and the Assad regime.

Foreign fighters join Peshmerga.

On the positive side of this entire equation may be the warming of relations between Israel and Turkey, which were downgraded back in 2010. There are stories going around the Middle East press that there have been back-channel talks between Ankara and Tel-Aviv which should be viewed as positive by all other countries in the Middle East, except Iran.

When we hear the famous words “elections have consequences,” we must pay close attention. As a result of the June 7 elections in Turkey, which absolutely weakened the Islamist party AKP in Turkey, and which may in effect result in the ending of Turkey’s unconditional support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. According to some stories in the Israeli press, the Turkish government may have ordered Salah Aruri, a top Hamas official it had been hosting, to leave the country. This is pretty big news in the area, especially in Israel, although not reflected properly in the American press. Aruri is the organizer of terror attacks in the West Bank. He was released from an Israeli prison and was reportedly in charge of rebuilding the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank. In recent years he was in “exile” in the friendly arms of the AKP government somewhere in Turkey.

One very important result of the Turkish elections back in June 7th may actually be the end of Mr. Erdogan’s dreams of building a new Middle East under the dominance of a Sunni Turkish leadership. The dreams of establishing a new Sunni Caliphate led by Mr. Erdogan and his AKP followers (which the forefathers of the modern Turks, the Ottomans held until their demise as a result of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s vision and reforms establishing a secular new Turkish Republic) may have been sent into the dustbin of history for good!

I most sincerely wish that all these developments in Turkey in particular, and the Middle East in general, will not pull the U.S. into another war which will involve both blood and treasure of many Americans. America should never enter another armed conflict anywhere around the world, unless we go in with the unconditional support and backing of the American people and our serious intention of winning a decisive and final victory.

One can only hope and pray…


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



Historic Site #4: Tin City 1200 Fifth Avenue South

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:31am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Around the time that Naples was founded in 1886, the waterfront area was attracting wealthy tourists and investors. In the 1920’s economic activity was centered around the tin-roofed buildings, as this part of the Gordon River became the heart of Naples’ fishing industry, including clam shelling, oyster processing, boat construction and maintenance. In the 1970’s seven of Tin City’s old buildings were transformed to become “The Old Marine Marketplace” with a mixture of shops and restaurants. Today, Tin City holds its historic old Florida charm and is home to over 30 unique shops, waterfront restaurants and a variety of water and boating adventures. A history showroom takes you back in time with old photos and a “waterfront floor map.”

In their effort to increase public awareness of the importance and significance of Collier County’s historical and archaeological heritage, the Historic and Archaeological Preservation Board of Collier County produces a 28-page booklet featuring historic sites in Collier County. The 44 sites highlighted in the book are grouped together by proximity and shown on a locator map.

Each of the sites listed was given the ‘historic’ designation by County Commissioners. The designation of specific sites, structures, buildings, districts and properties may be initiated by the Preservation Board or the property owner. Consideration of the Preservation Board’s findings and recommendations, and upon the consideration of the criteria and guidelines contained in the Land Development Code, the Board of County Commissioners either approves or denies the petition. The Board of County Commissioners has designated many of the sites and structures as locally significant.

For more information go to


Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:30am

By Roger Lalonde

Roger Raymond with members of the Poling family at the annual Sports Night. Each year, the family gives Raymond a photo album depicting the sports he oversees. From left: Mickey, MICMS Student Athlete of Year, sisters Ellie, Rosie, Student Athlete of the Year in 2013 and in front, Maggie.

Roger Raymond has stepped down as athletic director at the Marco Island Academy.

Kelly Monnot, dean of students, and successful volleyball coach, takes over.

I have known Roger Raymond since we met when the Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) was getting off the ground some 17 years ago.

His “aw shucks” straight ways caught me off guard when so many were playing it politically correct to get what turned out to be one of, if not the best, charter schools in Florida.

There were many key people who believed in the absolute need for the school. I would be remiss in not crediting all those who stepped up big time, but I was writing sports for the Marco Eagle when this once Indiana farm boy became the activities director.

He and I understood the value of academics and education as keys to developing these sixth through eighth graders. Selfishly, I was trying to make the Eagle the paper to turn to for sports coverage.

His wife Karen was, and is the school’s music director, putting together memorable programs year after year.

Under Raymond, MICMS developed one of the most complete athletic programs for middle schools in the county, if not the state. About the only program it didn’t have was swimming, capably handled by Kamal Farhat at the Marco Island Area Family YMCA.

Championships followed in cross country, football, basketball, baseball, tennis and track. Even though small in numbers, they conquered Collier and Lee County schools.

“We can compete with anyone,” was often said by Raymond.

Then came a determined Jane Watt to create a special charter high school, Marco Island Academy (MIA).

It has been five years and the student numbers at MIA have grown from 60 to more than 250.

An important aspect, as it is in any high school and college, is sports programming. In came Raymond.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Roger Lalonde, long-time sports
writer, works closely with
Roger Raymond.

As with MICMS basketball, Raymond took the reins of the first MIA basketball team. In its first season, the team played four varsity teams, losing three games. The next season, they were 12-13, then 13-12 and 16-7, garnering a Class 2A district title.

The school now has football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, cross country, track, golf and swimming.

With the growth of sports programs and other activities scheduled at both schools, Raymond felt the pinch.

Then, on his daily run that he had done for 3,954 consecutive days, Raymond broke his femur in two places while trying to avoid a car, on September 12, 2013.

So, Monnot became his assistant athletic director.

“Kelly was there [at his home] every day and Maureen Marcoux, assistant middle school principal, did an outstanding job in scheduling for the middle school,” Raymond said.

Between the two schools, Raymond was everywhere, attending MIA district sports meetings, same for all charter sports, along with other school activities.

“It all just became more intense,” Raymond said. “As the school [MIA] grew I knew changes needed to be made. Kelly is there every day [while Raymond is at MICMS]. Kelly can give that personal attention and is capable of doing a very good job.”

Watt knows well what Raymond has meant to MIA.

“There is an entire chapter in my book, Fighting for Kids, dedicated to Roger Raymond and the legacy he leaves behind at MIA,” Watt said.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with him for the past four years. His positive attitude and willingness to do whatever needs done helped define MIA’s athletic program. Most importantly, he has dedicated his life to serving children. He inspired me in many ways and I will miss working with him. However, he has built a strong foundation for MIA’s athletic program. I am confident that Ms. Kelly Monnot, MIA’s new athletic director, will continue to move MIA’s athletic program onward and upward.”

Raymond said, “When it began it was a benefit to the school for me to be there as I knew so many ADs [athletic directors] at other high schools,” Raymond said. “Schools like Naples, Golden Gate, Seacrest, Gulf Coast, they agreed to play our teams. They had nothing to gain, but they all understood that it was about the kids.”

“For me, it will always be about the kids.”



Leadership Marco in Session: History

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:28am

By Steve Gimmestad

The group explores Captain John F. Horr’s home, located on Key Marco (formerly known as Horr’s island). PHOTOS BY DONNA NIEMCZYK

The Leadership Marco sessions are underway! On August 12, History was the subject and the class of 2015 learned about the heritage of Marco Island. Laura Schneider of Iberiabank gave Coastal Breeze a great recap of a most educational adventure.

Class began with a trip to the Marco Island History Museum where Craig Woodward guided them on a tour of the exhibits and local history. The group then hopped aboard the bus for a trip to local landmarks around the island.

“I’ve lived here for 10 years, and there is a lot I didn’t know,” says Laura Schneider. “We went to Otter Mound, which is where the Barfield’s originally lived. The house Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Otter lived in during the 1950’s burned down in the 80’s, but the outhouse survived along with a shell wall.”

The group then visited the site of the Indian Hill Observation Tower that used to stand on the high point of the island. At a time when aerial pictures were not common, this afforded people a chance to get a personal, birds-eye view of the island.

“What a great marketing tool for the time,” comments Laura. “It’s a view that could really sell the buyers and developers on the Mackle’s vision of Marco Island.”

Although the tower structure is no longer there, stone steps remain as a marker for visitors interested in experiencing some of Marco’s early days.

Laura talks about their trip to Olde Marco. “Craig prepared a nice notebook for us and we had a chance to visit some of the places that used to be there like the general store. We learned about the William T. Collier family, including son William D. “Capt. Bill” Collier (no relation to Barron Collier) and how instrumental they were in the development of Marco as a community.

“We spent about nine hours for this session, but it could easily have spent three days learning about that aspect of our history; the early canneries, the stores, commerce and industry.”

The group broke for lunch at Snook Inn and then returned to the Museum for some films and further enlightenment on Marco’s interesting history.

The group got a tour of the Church of God, located at the Marco cemetery. This is the fourth location of the church.

“Now I know what these names mean,” comments Laura about the names of some streets and alleys. “There’s a Wells Sawyer Way, named for the artist who helped document much of the findings at archeological digs here on the Island. There’s Jim Vensel Way who worked closely with Herb Savage (another street name) and the Mackles in designing the vision that is Marco Island.”

One of Laura’s epiphanies during this session was the vision of the Mackles (and others) in creating this community. “It blew me away! To look at this area and design and build a beautiful, viable, forward-thinking community is amazing. They truly wanted a place that was unique and enjoyable. It wasn’t just about money. It was about a lifestyle that many people could afford and enjoy for a long time.”

So why is history an important part of Leadership Marco? Laura answers:

“It shows you so much of our heritage was built by vision and fortitude. It’s a way of bringing things full-circle to us, as leaders in the community, to make an impact on Marco moving forward. We learn from the past, and then apply that knowledge to make solid decisions for the future. Each of us has a set of skills we can use, and based on a solid foundation of what was, what is and what can be, helps us to work together for our community.”

Many thanks to Laura Schneider of Iberiabank for sharing her experience of the history session. Stay tuned to the pages of Coastal Breeze for more session updates.




Meet Marco: Alex Galiana

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:22am

By Steve Gimmestad

Marco Island is a great community. This is the first in a series which profiles some of the City employees that make it that way.

Meet Alex Galiana. Alex works for the Parks and Recreation Department as the Administrative and Facilities Manager. He is tasked with overseeing all the duties and facilities that go into the recreation activities of the Parks and Recreation department.

“I wear many hats in my position,” explains Alex. “On the administrative side, I prepare the budgets, three of them, for the recreation departments. All the administrative and financial responsibilities fall in my lap.”

Alex also makes sure the department is adhering to their set policies, goals, and procedures for the recreation facilities, which includes Mackle Park, the Racquet Center and Winterberry Park.

One point to make clear is the difference between facility maintenance and activities. The cutting of the grass, upkeep, repairs and cleanliness of each facility falls to the Park’s maintenance staff of the Public Works Department.

“I work closely with Jim Hodgdon (of Public Works) to get a site ready for certain activities. I will let him know when we have things scheduled, like a soccer or football game. He will then get the fields physically ready so we can go in and chalk the lines and get set-up for the actual activity. My team is responsible for the ACTIVITIES that happen at each of these sites, not site maintenance. It’s a gray line between the two departments and we work together to make sure all is good so everyone can enjoy their chosen activity.”

In addition, Alex oversees some of the activities at Veteran’s Community Park. He is the Manager of the Farmer’s Market and works with Samantha Malloy and Mindy Gordon to ensure the success of what has become a iconic event on Marco Island.

As with every job, there are challenges. Alex says that sometimes the there are limited resources for what seems to be unlimited activities. His team works hard to maximize the space available for all those wishing to use the facilities.

“It’s a balancing act,” says Alex. “And while everyone may not get exactly what they want, I work hard to give them what they need. We have great team, and although we may not be big in size, I like to say ‘We are small and mighty’. I work with some really good people who truly care about our community programs.”

Another Hat that Alex is now wearing is that of the Project Manager of the new Community Center. The project is currently in the design phase and ground-breaking is scheduled for summer of 2016. It’s an exciting project and in good hands with Alex as the point man.

A Floridian (originally from Miami), Alex, his wife Lori (also a Floridian from Inverness), and two boys, A.J. And Max, moved to Marco Island full-time in 2001. Prior to that, they lived in Chicago where Alex was a commodity broker working the floor at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for 15 years.

“The goal was always to return to Florida. It just took a little longer than planned.” Says Alex.

After coming to Marco, Alex worked in real estate and then as a business banker before taking on his current duties. This year, Alex celebrates five years with the Parks and Recreation Department.

Alex started the baseball program for the Marco Island Charter Middle School and coached for seven years. Lori taught at the Charter Middle School for six years and is now in her second year teaching at Marco Island Academy. And, given the fact that A.J. and Max grew up on the Island, the Galiana name is well known and respected by many who call Marco Island home.

Alex is especially proud of his work with the Wounded Warriors softball team. They are a national organization of war veterans who have been wounded in action. Alex has worked with them on their two visits to Marco Island.

“I’m living the dream,” says Alex smiling.”I love my job. Seeing the smiles on so many faces, and the fun everyone has with all our activities, makes it so worth while for me. I’m very happy to be part of this community and involved with so many great people.”

Tarik Ayasun Speaks at JCMI Deli Night

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 10:57pm

JCMI guest speaker Tarik Ayasun holds up the book Judaism: An Eternal Covenant, written by his friend, the late Rabbi Greenstein, who dedicated it to him.

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Friday, August 14, the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island (JCMI) opened its doors for a Deli Night featuring speaker Tarik Ayasun.

Prior to Shabbat services and Tarik’s speech, sixty guests noshed and kibitzed in the social hall.

Guests enjoyed the feast of pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye, with all the traditional accompaniments you would find at a real New York City deli. JCMI chefs Bernie Seidman, Bert Thompson, George Karpman and Don Schwartz prepared for the event for two days. They showed their culinary skills with fresh homemade coleslaw, potato salad and pasta salad to accompany the deli sandwiches.

The deli meat for this event was from a new source, which try as I might, I could not get any of the four chefs to divulge. The brand of meat, which was leaner than prior brands, will be the same type used at the annual JCMI Deli Feast, which usually takes place in January to a sold-out crowd.

The guests came for more than pastrami. Everyone we spoke to was also there to hear guest speaker Tarik Ayasun. Tarik is a well-known Marco Island resident and international businessman, who also writes the popular column Beyond the Coast for Coastal Breeze News.

Bernie Seidman serves guests at the JCMI Deli Night.

Tarik has strong ties to the Jewish community, Israel and the JCMI. He spoke of his friendship with Rabbi Greenstein, who passed away in 2006. For years, Tarik and Rabbi Greenstein would discuss politics, “right and left,” as Tarik described it. Rabbi Greenstein dedicated his book Judaism: An Eternal Covenant to Tarik.

Tarik, who is Muslim, was born in Turkey. As a boy his parents sent him to Israel where he lived on a kibbutz at the foot of the Golan Heights. He said the experience changed him. There he learned “humanity, humility and the love of Israel.”

He has a passion for Middle East politics, which is only fueled by his opportunity to discuss these issues with people from all over the globe. It provides Tarik with a unique insight that most of us do not have.

Corned Beef sandwich at the JCMI Deli Night. PHOTOS BY JESSICA HERNSTADT

Tarik’s talk focused on the Iran nuclear agreement and how it is of grave concern to the Jewish community, Israel and the world. Telling us that he has concluded from his many discussions that “Israelis and most Middle Easterners do not believe the promise of a moderate Iran.” Tarik voiced concern for the safety and security of Israel. This fear is not limited to Israel; it is shared by many Middle East countries. Questions from the congregation reflected this concern for Israel, fearing that the country will become “collateral damage” to the agreement.

The Jewish Congregation of Marco Island is located at 991 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island. For more information about events at the JCMI and membership, go to their website at or call 239-642-0800.




Seafood (BBQ + Music) / FRESH = Saltwater Blues

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 7:42pm

By Don Manley & Steve Gimmestad

Some wonderful people to take care of your evening out. (from left) Alicia Cushman, Jeff Morgan and Sherry Graczyk.

It’s a simple equation and you don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate it. Gulf seafood – awesome, smoked BBQ and fun music all come together at Saltwater Blues on 951 just south of the I-75 interchange. (Yes, yes, we all know it’s where Cracklin’ Jacks used to be).

Chef Mark Shores, a Lely High School graduate, opened Saltwater Blues in June of this year. He and his wife, Anne, had a couple M&M Down Home Diners in Collier County 14-15 years ago, but closed them. “My wife, last year, said, ‘Why don’t we get back into owning a restaurant.’ She had seen the former Cracklin’ Jacks building was available for lease. We looked into it more and felt it was a great fit. We came up with the concept of Saltwater Blues and decided to make it a Southwest Florida tribute.”

Chef Mark invests heavily in the concept of fresh seafood. He picks up his shrimp from the boats on Pine Island. “There are so many restaurants in this town that say they have fresh,” says Chef Mark. “But I have not been to a restaurant in Naples that has hand-picked, pink Gulf shrimp.” He also gets crab, both hard and soft shell, locally.

“Doc” cranks out some great blues music southern style. Doc used to be with the Mambo Brothers.

Saltwater Blues also has a special blend of coffee you can’t find anywhere else in the country.

Chef Mark attended the Kendall Culinary Institute in Evanston, IL and spent time working in France, Italy and Spain. He also helped to open Sea Salt on Fifth Avenue in Naples and worked at Celebrations Unlimited. He uses his experience to prepare items for a wide range of palate desires.

“There’s something for everybody,” says Chef Mark. “We have everything from fine-dining dishes to hamburger and BBQ.” Their Firecracker Shrimp has proven to be very popular. All the sauces are prepared fresh with a dash of innovation.

The perfect compliment to the food and drinks is the live entertainment. “I love blues music, I love great food and I love a relaxed atmosphere,” says Chef Mark. “That’s what we are creating here at Saltwater Blues.”

Owner/Chef Mark Shores stand next to the smoker which plays an integral part of the Saltwater Blue menu selections. PHOTOS BY STEVE GIMMESTAD

Currently serving beer and wine, they will be expanding soon and offering full bar service. You can find more information on their Facebook page. They are open daily from 11:30 (closed on Mondays). Stop in for some great, fresh food and stay for the live music. It’s a fun atmosphere perfect for a Southwest Florida experience.


Marco’s Surge Wins Trunk Full of Trophies

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 9:30am

By Barry Gwinn

U12’s with 1st place trophies. Top from left: Kevin Jungo, Kirra Polley, Jonathan Watt and Armando Anaya.
Bottom from left: Matthew Vergo and Nicholas Vergo, with Coach Watt.

In July, Disney World puts on their annual 3v3 tournament in its ESPN Wide World of Sports facility in Orlando. It is a national tournament with each team bringing six players. They range in ages from Under 6 to Adult. This year the tournament was held on July 31, August 1, and August 2. As they have done for the past several years, Chad Chustz (pronounced “shoots”) and Jim Watt, assisted by Dave Vergo, took some of our local kids up to compete. Chustz has his hands full with the Under Sixes (U6’s), while Watt and Vergo coach the U9’s, U12’s and U15’s. The teams operate under the aegis of Surge, the Marco Island Soccer Club.

Jim Watt is the varsity girls’ soccer coach at Marco Island Academy. He takes no pay for this. He is the national sales manager for a family lumber products company headquartered in Ohio. When not coaching, he is traveling to client sites or running the sales department from a Marco office. He manages his work schedule so as not to miss practices or games with his teams. Dave Vergo is the owner of Accurate Air Conditioning, with offices on Marco Island and Naples. Chad Chustz is the past director of soccer for the Optimists Club, and is currently the president of Surge, the Marco Island Soccer Club. He works for Island Trends, and is in charge of internet marketing. Watt, Chustz and Vergo have seven of their kids playing on the entered teams.

Including the teams and accompanying families, about 50 Marco Islanders made the trek to Orlando. They stayed at the Holiday Inn at Disney World, arriving Thursday and leaving on Monday. One can only imagine the pandemonium after the kids checked in and took over the place. The teams were mostly from Florida, but there were teams from Georgia and Texas as well.

Johnny Watt speeds past defenders.

The games started on Friday and concluded on Sunday. Alarms were set for 5:45 each morning; games began at 8:00 AM, with the last games at 3:00 PM. Each of Marco’s teams played a minimum of 6 games.

The games were run much as the recent Women’s World Cup. Participating teams in each age group played 4 pool games (playing all teams in their group), after which they were seeded for the 4 single elimination games. Each age group could compete in one of two divisions – the Recreation Division (RD) and the Competitive Division (CD). The RD is for those teams who come from informal public park settings. They practice when they can, and are coached by mostly parents. Any kid who shows up is likely to play. The CD is for club teams, with hired coaches, tryouts, and a rigorous regimen of practice and competitive game scheduling. Some of the games were back-to-back or simultaneously on different fields. Watt, who is the sole coach of the kids back at Mackle Park, couldn’t have pulled this off without the coaching assistance of Dave Vergo. The teams are further divided into both girls and boys teams. Girls can play on a boys’ team, but not vice versa.

U6’s with trophies. From left: Mario Guzman, Evelyn Vizcaya, Justin Martinez, Gabriel Polanco and Tyler White, with Coach Chustz.

Chustz’s U6 team came in fourth in a field of 15. They played 7 games and received trophies for their high finish. The players were Justin Martinez, Evelyn Vizcaya, Aiden Chustz, Tyler White and Mario Guzman. I have watched this group practice and often wondered at Chad Chustz’s patience with these little guys with such short attention spans.

Watt and Vergo’s U9 team competed in the Recreation Division. They got fourth place out of the 8 teams competing. This group consisted of Nick Gionet, A.J. Hobbs, Lucus Chustz, Lincoln Labutte, Jake Watt and Alex Macko. Jim Watt was pleased with how much this group grew as a team during the tournament. These youngsters were awarded trophies which glowed in the dark. The boys lugged these around everywhere they went, reminding passersby of fire flies flitting about.

U15 2nd place team. From left: Morgan Jones, Kayla Kladis, Olivia
Watt, Miranda Webb, Julia Wagner and Elizabeth Schultheis, with
Coach Watt.

The U15 team consisted of Elizabeth Schultheis, Julia Wagner, Olivia Watt, Kayla Kladis, Miranda Webb and Morgan Jones. Schultheis, Wagner, Watt, and Kladis will be sophomores at MIA. They started on MIA’s girls’ soccer team as freshmen last year. Webb and Jones are incoming MIA freshmen. These U15 girls should be the core of a pretty good MIA varsity soccer team this year. I know; I watch them practice. They competed against 6 other teams in the Recreation Division. They came out of pool play seeded first, and were able to walk off with second place for the group. This is a tight group of girls. They have formed close and lasting friendships. There is no quit in this group.

For Watt, the biggest surprise of the tournament was his U12 team – Armando Anaya, Kevin Jungo, Jonathan Watt, Matthew Vergo, Nicholas Vergo and Kirra Polley. Jonathan Watt is an outstanding athlete by any measure. I have seen him play soccer and basketball. For the prior 3 years, his teams had won the Recreation Division. This year, Watt decided to enter this team in the Competitive Division. Remember, the CD consists of club teams, with hired coaches, regular practices, and a grueling schedule of games against other club teams. Watt practiced for this tournament only four days in advance. All three of his teams ran drills and practiced together at Mackle Park under a blazing sun. The practices lasted two hours and the kids never slowed down. As the only coach present, Watt could not spend a lot of individual time with each team. He had to mix and match them so that all got playing time with teams consisting of all age groups and genders mixed up. During the two hour practice sessions, the only breaks Watt got was when he had to take a business call on his cell phone. Running a national sales department usually takes second place to his soccer teams. Watt invariably conducts his business so as not to interfere with soccer practice and games.

U9’s, from left: Coach Watt, Lincoln Labutte, Lucas Chustz, Alex Macko, Nick Gionet, Jacob Watt and A.J. Hobbs.

Before the first tournament game, Watt reminded the U12’s that they would be “going up against really good players, but not necessarily good friends.” Because of that, he said “they were likely to fold when things started going against them.” Some of Watt’s U12’s had been playing together since they were six- and seven-years-old. He reminded them that they were close friends and would have each other’s backs no matter what happened out there.

The U12’s came out of pool play seeded third. They lost only to Vanish, a Miami CD club. They went on to the single elimination against the number two seed, Vanish, which they beat 9 to 5. The final was against the top seeded Real Madrid, from Cape Coral. Everything clicked at just the right time for our U12’s. Passes were perfectly executed, shots squeezed in from all angles and the defense was stout. The final score was 11 to 6. As Watt had anticipated, the cohesiveness of his U12’s wore the other team down.

U12’s and U15’s whoop it up. PHOTOS BY CHAD CHUSTZ

A couple of days later, I ran into Nick Vergo at the hardware store. It wasn’t hard to get him to talk about the tournament, once I got him started. His face lit up with pride when describing the U12’s accomplishment. He reminded me that this was a national tournament and that the Marco U12’s had won the toughest division in their group. “I guess that makes us the best team in the U.S.” said Nick. Who can argue?

Lely Playing Up for Preseason Game at Island Coast

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 9:21am

By Roger LaLonde


Two seasons ago, Culmer St. Jean began the ascension of the Lely football program. He was rewarded with being named All-Area Football Coach of the Year.

A year later, he took his charges to its first district title in 17 years and won a playoff game. Maybe he should have been rewarded with the coaching honor again.

However, St. Jean is swift to disregard personal honors, saying it is a combined effort of players and the coaching staff.

With only 10 returnees this year, St. Jean is focusing on improvement every day, every game.

“We need to do just what we have done in the seasons before,” he said. “We improved week by week, finishing better than we started. That’s what we want to do.”

The Trojans travel to Island Coast in Cape Coral for a preseason game at 7:30 PM Friday, August 21. Lely opens the season at home against Gulf Coast, at 7 PM, Friday, August 28.

Lely, 5A, plays up against the 6A Gators in the preseason matchup.

Recording a 10-3 mark, the Gators made it to the state semifinals before losing to the eventual state champ, American Heritage, in 2014.

“We look forward to playing up, it will help us get ready for the season and the playoffs,” St. Jean said.

With experience thin, St. Jean points to players that can provide leadership.

Three seniors will bolster the defense. They are Wesley Germain at defensive end, Jean Dossous, corner back and Woody Prophilien, defensive tackle.

Seniors on offense include Raynald St. Jour, tackle, running backs, Daniel Obidiegwu and Tra’Vaughn Young, and tight end Lik Estilien.

Estilien saw major time at quarterback last season, and will be the backup to sophomore Jacquez Carter. Calerb D’Haiti, Golden Gate transfer, will join the backfield.

Mainly a running team last year, St. Jean sees more options with Carter.

“He makes good decisions and has the ability to throw and run,” St. Jean said.

Lely doesn’t have a district game until it travels to Dunbar on September 18. Instead of a three team district as in the past, there are five teams battling for the top spot to go into the playoffs. They include long-time rival Immokalee, Mariner, Cypress Lake and Lely.

“This will be a very competitive district,” St. Jean said. “With just three teams you couldn‘t afford a loss to earn the top seed. Now we can win a few more.”





Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:46pm

Donna Fiala

An application for a TIGER VII Discretionary Planning grant application has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Collier Boulevard Corridor Improvement Project. This project, if awarded, will complete a 15 year, $200 million reconstruction effort to upgrade 15 miles of Collier Boulevard. The project will include construction of transportation infrastructure improvements along the Collier Boulevard corridor from Green Boulevard to I–75. The past growth, plus forecasted population growth, necessitates this expansion, and is planned to connect growing neighborhoods to the established commercial and employment areas. The project will not only expand Collier Boulevard, but also increase the bridges within the area, and include new bike lanes, pathways, sidewalks and transit facilities. The county will be required to pay a 20% match if the grant is approved.

*Hopefully many of you have read about the new Collier Identity Fraud Task Force which has established an Official Advisory Council within the Identity Fraud Institute of Hodges University. The co-founders of this task force are Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and Dr. Michael Reagen, along with Dr. David Borofsky, the President of Hodges University, and are the driving forces behind the Identity Theft Task Force. Our own Keith Dameron has been working with this task force to shine the light on their work and give them community exposure. Hodges University Identity Fraud Institute will serve as the hub for all identity theft and fraud related information through the State of Florida, as well as provide victim assistance programs. The Institute includes a research center, which will be comprised of a network of businesses that will collaborate in reporting tips and trends of identity fraud. For further information please call 239-598-6281.

Those people wondering what is going on with the cleared area near the entrance to Fiddler’s Creek will be interested to know that the traffic light, which had been requested for many years by the Fiddler’s Creek people and had never met FDOT’s “warrants,” was finally approved for construction. Fiddler’s Creek will be paying for that light. Once approved, FDOT needed an engineering company to design that site for a light, then the traffic light had to be fabricated according to FDOT’s requirements, permits needed to be obtained, etc. You are now seeing the project in its final stages before being installed.

*This summer has been a wonderful adventure, and I hope yours has also been relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful. My adventure has mainly been with my Amish “family.” We had a wedding in July – the first in the family. This couple, who were born and raised Amish, decided to become very conservative Mennonites – sometimes referred to as Beachy Amish. The woman still wears a head covering, but now it is shaped like a round black doily. She still wears Amish clothes, but they both can own and drive a car and they have electricity in their home. The man doesn’t wear Amish trousers. The first thing a young Amish woman does when she marries is leave her job. Her home and husband (and future children) become her main focus. This bride is a graphic design artist for a printing company, and being that they have electricity in their home, she can still work on her computer to earn a little extra income. Her place of employment was happy she would stay on, even if she wasn’t there physically. Her husband is a timber woodcrafter. He and the bride’s father built the dad’s new home together, which looks like a magnificent hunting lodge. The husband did all the open beams with wood pegs. The wedding was in a Mennonite church. There were 480 guests, with about 80% Amish, 20% Mennonite, and two English (non-Amish), with me being one of the two. The family all got together the day before to prepare some of the food. The caterer brought the rest. Then afterward, everyone at the wedding who wanted to help – about 150 of us – washed dishes, folded tables and chairs and returned them to their proper place, took down decorations, cleaned everything, packaged food, and with all the help, we were done in no time! Team work. It works so well. The gifts to the newly married couple included a wheelbarrow, shovels, lawn mower, lawn trimmer, tools, electric small appliances, ice cream maker, byler (sorry, don’t know the English word for this type of cooker), and so much more. If I ever get my hands on some of the pictures taken by the professional photographer, I’ll ask to publish a few of them in the Breeze.

There are two Amish weddings coming up next – such fun!