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A Golden Reputation

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 1:12pm

By Melinda Gray

From left to right Jason Wallet, Ari Kathein and Avital Kathein.

I love my job; it’s the vehicle through which I’ve met some of the most wonderful people since I’ve been here. Getting to know people is inherent in interviewing them for a story, and I recently had the pleasure of meeting, and interviewing one such family. The Katheins opened Golden Gate Jewelers of Marco on June 3, and contrary to what the name might suggest, they are not from Golden Gate, but rather Florida’s east coast.

They are very excited that Marco Island is the location of their second store; owning a jewelry store here has been a long-time dream for them. They founded Golden Gate Jewelers 34 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, but after visiting Marco Island for more than 30 years, they decided to start making it official by purchasing a home here eight years ago.

“I fell in love the second we drove over that bridge. We’ve seen the changes, and watched it grow,” said Annelie. “I always say, ‘Hello, my island!’, when I come here, and I was always sad when we had to leave. I just really love this place.”

“We grew up here over the summers. It’s beautiful,” said Avital. “Our home away from home has now become our home.”

Mother and daughter, Annelie and Avital, are now year-round Marco Island residents and will operate this location full time. Father and son, Amir and Ari, commute during the week to run their Golden Gate Jewelers location on the east coast. They, too, would like to be here full time, but say transitioning fully will take a few years. Being part of this community, getting involved and giving back to the area is very important to all of them.

Together, the family has built a stellar reputation, and they are proud to offer the vast experience they each bring to the customer. People know them by their name and their business card; clientele from all over the country and abroad will wait until they get to Florida to see them.

“I’m proud to say that when people give us a chance, they don’t go anywhere else,” said Ari.

Avital, a psychology and marketing student at FGCU, has marketing skills and a creative flair; Ari, a graduate GIA gemologist, is very particular in his designs and likes to educate his customers; and the family patriarch, Amir, knows everything and anything there is to know about any watch.

“And I do what moms do: whatever needs to be done when it needs to be done,” said Annelie.

Surrogate family member and employee, Jason Wallet, brings his training as a goldsmith, and is currently the only licensed importer of Australian fire opals. The family is thrilled to have him and his skills available to their customers.

The goal is that their customers always know what they are buying and feel comfortable with their purchase. They believe any jeweler-client relationship has to begin with trust.

Striving to set themselves apart in their field of expertise, they offer a great selection of fine time pieces, a large diamond selection, custom design, appraisals and remounts. Any high-end watch a person is looking for they can bring in, and any high-end watch bought, new or pre-owned, comes with a one-year warranty. They offer in-house watch service and a quick turnaround on repairs, a welcome change from the average two-week wait.

With on-site 3D CAD modeling software, they can bring your dream to life, and they promise that if they don’t have it, their store on the east coast will. Whether you’re looking for a gift under $50 or a 24-carat diamond tennis necklace, their only limit is your budget.

 “We’re able to cater to any and all needs. We stand behind our product and the customer service doesn’t end with the sale,” said Ari.

“We treat our customers like family. It’s very important to me that everyone feels comfortable when they come into my store. It’s like my home; you have to be comfortable when you come into my home,” said Annelie.

“If I have to do the Macarena to break the ice, I will,” said Ari.

“We love life, and we really believe in just being happy,” said Annelie.

Golden Gate Jewelers of Marco’s summertime hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 AM-5 PM. Store hours during season will be Monday through Saturday 10 AM-6 PM. They plan to hold a grand opening bash sometime in November.

Vibrant Ljubljana

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 1:02pm

Vickie Kelber

A stroll along the river is yet another pleasant diversion in Ljubljana. PHOTOS BY VICKIE KELBER

I have two words for people who say the capital cities of Europe are old and stagnant: visit Ljubljana (lyoo-BLYAH-nah). The capital of Slovenia and located approximately in the center of this small country, it is young and vibrant. With a population of about 280,000, the 60,000 students in this city help invigorate it. It is a captivating city in which to spend some time.

Major rebuilding after an earthquake in 1895 has made this city an architectural delight with a mixture of some original and restored Baroque and Vienna Secession (art nouveau), along with a touch of Byzantine and neoclassical. Much of the remodeling was designed by the architect Joze Plecnik, and his name is touted throughout the city.

The focal gathering spot in Ljbljana, Prešernev Square (trg), is somewhat reminiscent of the Dam in Amsterdam the way young people gather and sit on the stepped pedestal of the statue that gives the square its name. When the statue was erected it was somewhat scandalous as a semi nude muse overlooks the seated poet Prešernev, who is a national hero credited with inspiring the rise of nationalistic pride in the 1800s. Visible from the nearby Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, residents used to drape the muse to cover her nakedness. Finally, trees were planted to block the view from the church. Today, the square buzzes with activity including street performers, shoppers on their way to the very upscale galleria on one corner of the square and a stream of bicycles flying through the car free area.

The Ljubljanica River flows through and divides the city, and its bridges are landmarks worth visiting. Just off the square is Pleãnik’s Triple Bridge. When he redesigned the bridge, he wanted to keep the original stone arch but needed to accommodate the increasing traffic, hence the triple multi-balustered span. Now, only pedestrians and the ever-present bicycles can use the bridge.

The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation in Prešernev Square.

The wonderfully whimsical Dragon Bridge was built when Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was dedicated to the 40-year rule of Franz Joseph I. The dragons that decorate it and also have become a symbol of the city relate to a legend concerning Jason and the Argonauts; they supposedly killed a dragon that watched over the marshes of Ljubljana.

The decidedly modern pedestrian (and bicycles, of course) Butchers’ Bridge is covered with padlocks that lovers have placed there, symbolic of eternal love. This is a custom that is becoming increasingly popular in Europe; we’ve seen it on bridges in Prague, Paris, Moscow, Florence, Seville and Zurich. Sculptures of Adam and Eve, Prometheus, and a styr line the bridge.

Another Plecnik stone pedestrian bridge, Cobbler’s, connects two other popular squares in the old town. Perhaps because of the name of the bridge or perhaps just a coincidence, students have begun a tradition of flinging their shoes over the power lines on one side of the bridge at the end of the term. Dozens of pairs dangle making it a popular photo shooting site.

The market, a graceful colonnaded structure reminiscent of a Greek or Roman Temple at the northern end of the old town, provides an arcade for sidewalk artisans and food stalls. Downstairs is a fish market and restaurant; an outdoor produce market is adjacent to it.

View of Ljubljana from the castle.

Rising above the old town is a castle that has housed both the Hapsburgs and Napolean’s forces, as well as serving as a prison at various times in history. The area around the castle has been inhabited since 1200 BC; the castle dates from the 12th century. There is not a lot to see of the castle itself, but the view of the city and surrounding mountains from the castle tower is magnificent, especially at noontime when accompanied by the pealing of bells from the churches below. There is a funicular and a tourist “train” (motorized tram) up to the castle.

There are three major churches in Ljubljana: the Orthodox Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius; St. Nicholas Cathedral; and the aforementioned Annunciation. The “new” town is on the west bank of the river and includes the university and government buildings and cultural sights, such as museums and the opera….and some lovely boutiques.

Slightly outside the main attractions is Metelkova Mesto. A former barracks, it has become an arts and nightlife center with bars, clubs, galleries. Its look is quite avant-garde, with its graffiti-covered buildings and eclectic sculptures.

A stroll along the river, with elegant willow trees providing shade on the cafe-lined quays, is a relaxing pleasure in Ljubljana. Cruises on the river are available, but don’t expect an experience like the Bateux-Mouches on the Seine in Paris. Tourism is still fairly new in this former Yugoslavian country. The boats are simple and the trip not narrated. But, it is an enjoyable way to see a little more of the city core and also to see how close the city is to the river resort areas. All along the river, you see young people enjoying the fresh air and relaxation its banks provide.

A group of children perform traditional Slovenian dances — one of the many cultural events offered to the public in Ljubljana.

During lunch in Ljubljana — a four-course event that day — we were reminded of home. Our vivacious, young waiter asked where we were from. We said, “Florida,” and he inquired, “Where?.” When we told him Marco Island, he said, “I know Marco Island. I have been there and to Naples.” Originally from Macedonia, he worked as a waiter for six months in Miami and visited Collier County. We mentioned that when we had dined recently in Naples, our waitress was from Macedonia. He said, “Was it……?” (naming a restaurant on Fifth Avenue in Naples). Yes, he truly did know Marco and Naples.

Ljubljana is definitely a tourist-friendly city. Their tourist information bureau offers free walking tours, as well as a wealth of literature and other assistance. They also provide driver-staffed golf carts that wander throughout the old town, offering free rides to visitors. There is an extensive self service bike rental system, with bikes available approximately every two-tenths of a mile. English seems to be universal, and, as a member of the EU, Slovenia uses the Euro as its currency.

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

Villa at Terracina Grand Tops Out

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:42pm


Pictured left to right: Peter Hendrickson, executive director of Terracina Grand; Erik Schmid, project manager with DeAngelis Diamond; and Mark Fisher, vice president of construction and development for The Goodman Group.

Villa at Terracina Grand in East Naples just reached a key construction milestone with the “topping out” of their two-story, 55-apartment building. When complete in early 2015, Villa at Terracina Grand will focus on care for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory impairments.

The Goodman Group, the development and management company for the new community and Terracina Grand, hosted a topping out ceremony on Thursday, June 19. The event featured a “hard hat” barbecue lunch to thank the construction crew and commemorate the completion of the building’s exterior.

 According to Peter Hendrickson, executive director of Terracina Grand: “Celebrating the efforts of the construction crew used to be commonplace in the industry. Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case. However, there would be no ‘Villa at Terracina Grand’ if it weren’t for the talents of these highly-skilled craftsmen and women.”

Hendrickson continued, “As we are in the business of ‘caring,’ we felt an obligation to honor these dedicated construction professionals. With development on the rise again in East Naples, I certainly hope others will follow our lead.”

Terracina Grand Food Service Team.

Beyond the BBQ lunch and the tradition of placing a tree atop the building’s roof, representatives of the crew also helped plant a special tree in Terracina Grand’s existing memory care garden.

Villa at Terracina Grand will accommodate up to 60 residents needing memory care. The new memory care community is situated next to Terracina Grand, near the corner of Davis Boulevard and County Barn Road. The community will feature well-appointed studio apartments, friendship suites, and one-bedroom apartments. It is expected to open in early 2015.

Families interested in obtaining more information about the new Villa at Terracina Grand memory care community, or the Pearls of Life memory care program, are encouraged to call 239-455-1459 or visit or

The Terracina Grand construction crew enjoys its appreciation lunch.

Final Semester Honor Rolls

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:40pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Collier County School District released the final honor rolls for the last quarter of the 2013-14 school year. Listed below are students from schools which fall into the Coastal Breeze News distribution area. Congratulations to all the students below! Best wishes for continued success in the 2014-15.


Everglades City School

Elementary Straight A Honors

Alexis Hendrickson


Lely Elementary School

Elementary Honor Rolls

Amar Ahmed, Katira Davis, Angel Diaz, Kyler Howard, Sarah Lucrecio, Taylor Savage, Sebastian Serna, Jacob Simmons-Rosen


Parkside Elementary School

Elementary “A” Honor Roll

Ruby Armas, Alondra Bautista, Jonathan Garcia-Lopez, Fabiola Lopez, Jenny Milien, Sabrina Rodriguez, Salomon Solorio


Tommie Barfield Elementary

Elementary “A” Honor Roll

Kevin Barry, Tyler Chute, Casey Erickson, Karmynn Guttenfelder, Jason Hoenig, Reese Jones, Michael Moriarty, Olivia Mundie, Kristen Petronzio, Eileen Poling, Kirra Polley, Elise Prodanov, Bianca Sparr, Julian Totten, Michael Trzyna, Johnathan Watt


Everglades City School

High School Honors

Mark Brown, Haylee Ellison, Savannah Oglesby, Ana Roldan, Brandon Steffen, Cristen Steffen


Everglades City School

Middle School Honor Roll

Ashlyn Goff, Bryce Kish


Lely High School

Highest Honor Roll

Alex Alas, Diana Alas, Jessica Andrade, Kimberly Blanchette, Elizabeth Carrington, Jackelin Castillo, Ezequiel Chavez Zavala, Nadia Chowdhury, Jonathan Cintora, Charles Ciurla, Brandy Cordes, Emma Crawford, Lourbiane Duverseau, Danielle Egalite, Mathew Estrada, Colleen Evely, Connor Fitzgerald, Jordin Giles, Yanet Gomez, Tatiana Gorospe, Adriana Guzman, Shane Hackethal, Karla Hayman, Alondra Hernandez, Naaman Herrera Montes De, Salomon Herrera Montes De, Kenny

Igarza Ajo, Jonathon Irigoyen, Angelica Jaime, Moliere Jean-Pierre, Samantha Jennings, Hannah Jones, Aliana Kellerhouse/Griff, Julie Kuper, Monika Lara, Modline Lemorin, Carolina Limones, Monserrat Lopez-Flores, Lyndsay Mahoney, Watson Marcelin, Eduardo Mireles, Katherine Moss, Nicole Murry, Taylor Murry, Elizabeth Palacios, Vanessa Palacios, Jose Perez, Jeroen Poelstra, Maura Poling, Araceli Pomajambo, Sanya Prabhakar, Daniel Reed, Juan Reyes-Rodriguez, Jessica Ricciardelli, Paola Rodriguez Fumero, Maya Roux, Kevin Russetto, Giovanni Sanchez, Everardo Santizo, Cody Simmons, Camila Simonelli, Madison Smith, Santiago Solis-Gamarra, Timothy Stoll, Rebecca Sutton, Charmine Sylvestre, Lindsay Tindell, Sophia Torres, Emily Vira, Anahi Vivar, Brittany Walker, Gage Wheeler, Taylor Williams


Manatee Middle School

Middle School Highest Honors

Daniel Abraham, Kayla Acosta, Julissa Almanza, Guilline Andre, Jacqueline Aparicio, Belinda Arroyo, Spencer Baldwin, Jesus Barrera, Michelle Bautista-Velasco, Chelky Blaise, Eduardo Briones-Lemus, Ashley Brown, Jetro Calixte, Brando Calzada, Roberto Carcamo, Shanice Carmenate, Chantania Cerisiers, Cherlande Cheribin, Azshur Chesterfield, Perla Cisneros, Lizeth Compean, Carla Contreras, Alicia Contreras-Sagredo, Thamar Coriolan, Helen Corzo, Isabel Cruz, Loobert Denelus, Daviel Diaz Pajon, Nodine Duverseau, Karen Enock, Lorena Estala, Jason Exantus, Kenneth Excellent, Dginica Faustin, Kimberly Ferruzca, David Foreste, Christelle Francoeur, Areli Garcia, Kiara Garcia, Jairo Garciga, Kalerbe Gerald, Idania Gomez, Leticia Gomez, Azalea Gonzalez, Jose Gonzalez, Lizbeth Gonzalez, Madisen Hankins, Betsabe Hernandez, Mayte Herrera, Fabian Jaime, Selena Jancsok, Ketnel Jean Gilles, Ella Kerchner, Natalie Lara, Ritz Larose, Jasmine Lopez, Jaime Lora, Juliana Loredo, Briana Marin-Alamias, Alyssa Martinez, Nayeli Martinez, Carolina Medellin, Wendy Mejia Serrano, Brittney Mendoza, Alminesha Meronvil, Varsha Nazareth, Axel Nogueda, Alfredo Noguez, Jennifer Padilla, Widjinalie Palissier, Madison Parker, Noemi Pascual-Martinez, Trinity Perez, Steve Pierrelus, Diana Pina-Loera, Sheebensh Prophilien, Karla Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez-Lancon, Matthew Reed, Jessica Reyes, Mercedes Reyes, Miguel Rodriguez, Salma Rojas, Estefany Rojas Hinojosa, Sadara Ruiter, Mariana Ruiz-Vallejo, Jasmine Saldana, Sierra Sann, Adamaris Santiago, Damaris Sarduy, Diana Saturnino, Smith Sillien, Elizabeth Stephen, Claudia Tariche Fortes, Maria Trejo, Norma Urrutia, Jocelyn Vazquez, Emisael Vega, Iris Vega, Katia Vega, Patricia Zepeda


Marco Island Academy

High School Highest Honors

Jordan Barrett, Alexa Campisi, Katie Cookson, Duneshka Cruz, Austin Estremera, Brandon Estremera, Katherine Felipe, Gage Frazer, Romina Gimenez-Rosano, Jacob Golec, Krystal Gonzalez, Michael Grossi, Natalie Halbuer, Ashley Hall, Jessica Hall, Haley Havemeier, Anna Howard, Jacob Hurtley, Matthew Jessen-Zegers, Miranda Kinnaman, Livia Lenhoff, Adalid Lora, Taylor Matheny, Fermin Mendoza-Jauregui, Elizabeth Milakovich, Benjamin Nguyen, James Nguyen, Johnathan Olszak, Mayra Ortega Reyna, Joseph Politi, Jessica Ragan, Meagan Reisinger, Kyle Reyes, Kyle Russo, Caitlyn Schmidt, Connor Schmidt, Peter Servente, Colin Stretton, Danielle Sullivan, Stephen Vale, Diana Vickers, Alexis Vilk, Joshua Zegers


Marco Charter School

Middle School Highest Honors

Juan Acosta, Victoria Alvarez, Francisco Antunez, Emma Bailey, Ellie Ball, Joanne Belliveau, Nicole Brotzman, Morgan Broxson, Madeline Burt, Mckinley Champeau, Marshall Daffner, Lauren Dehooghe, Michael Desantis, Saruthna Fleury, Madeline Grucci, Ryenn Hart, Kiley Hartman, Teagan Havemeier, Cameryn Henell, Josemaria Herrera, Savannah Hoolihan, Madison Hopkins, Ariel Joel, Isabelle Johnson, Lauren Johnson, Morgan Jones, Scott Martin, Cipriano Martinez, Michael Mertens, Brianna Monroe, Daniel Nguyen, Victoria Novotny, Lia Okenkova, Mark Oliger, Vincent Piranio, Laura Poelstra, Richard Reisinger, Mikayla Rivera, Lily Rosenblum, Harry Sukonik, Jolie Sukonik, Josephine Torres, Yamileth Trejo, James Ussery, Ethan Van Boven, Jordan Vann, Hailey Vaughan, Enrique Vizcaya, Sandy Vizcaya, Olivia Watt, Lauren Wesson, Ryan Witthoff, Melisa Yeseren


Teamwork Works at NCH

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:37pm

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

NCH has three primary goals: (1) Improve the quality of care, (2) increase patient safety, and (3) enhance the patient experience. To accomplish these goals requires one thing in particular — shared decision-making from all of our 4,000 colleagues.

With an “A” grade on safety for both campuses from Leapfrog, a well-respected national accreditation organization, we must be doing something right in terms of integrating the formidable resources of our entire caregiving team. This team-based model involves those who are closest to patients and families. By being involved and directing professional standards and behavior, all of us are able to provide better care, receive better care, and have a much more satisfying and engaging experience.

This team-oriented journey started for NCH four years ago in nursing, under the transformational leadership of Chief Nursing Officer Michele Thoman. Our more than 1,000 nurses have transformed their practice at NCH by operating through nine committees, which meet monthly to share best practices, evaluate new technology, standardize care, model communication, and reward and recognize the outstanding work being done locally. Results speak for themselves. We now have the lowest annual turnover and least number of open positions ever. In some areas, we have a waiting list of applicants. We also haven’t had traveling nurses for two years.

More recently, the Respiratory Therapy and Rehabilitation Departments adopted this same methodology. Today, we are poised to go system-wide, from top to bottom and side to side. Having a common shared decision making methodology, that emphasizes participatory decision-making ensures the best outcomes for patients, community and ultimately ourselves. Successful healthcare systems like ours create a positive culture of trust and open communication in which all stakeholders share a common purpose and worthwhile work, and are all making a difference. These are the goals we stress with new employees at their first orientation and throughout their careers with us.

For the past year, we have enhanced this participatory decision-making model with the MyIDEA program, which rewards colleagues for contributions adding to value (quality/cost). Thus far, 15 employees have received cash awards ranging from $50 to $2,900 for their good ideas. Here are a few examples:

• Rhonda Gary, accounts receivable service rep, suggested changing the face of patient hospital bills, placing credit card information on the front, thus increasing visibility, convenience and payment.

• Nicole Low, unit secretary ICU, suggested stopping production of consent and other lab forms every time a test was ordered. These permissions now will be completed once during a hospital stay.

• Jillian Ewel and Mercedes Rankin, pathology office coordinators, and Histologist Matt Rudy together suggested ceasing a process involving surgical specimens where spare samples were never used and most times damaged during storage.

• Adam Francis, clinical educator, noticed Clinical Engineering replaced our telemetry wires with a different brand; asked a nurse in Angioplasty to “pilot” an alternative ECG wire for a month to ensure they were of similar quality. Resulted in a 25 percent savings annually by switching to the new telemetry wires

• Peter Beckler, Cardiac Cath Lab Supply, suggested a way to transfer the logo and information fields onto blank discs that cost 14 cents each, instead of $3.50 each.

These are the people on the front lines, who implement their great ideas, are key to shared decision-making, and help make our system the envy of many others, as we continue to serve our patients and our community.


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

New Board at Marco Urgent Care Center

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:36pm


The NCH Healthcare System recently announced the election of new officers and board members for the Marco Urgent Care Center Board of Trustees. Incoming Chairman Kevin M. Fitzgerald said, “It is a privilege and an honor to serve as the chairman of this dedicated group of community leaders who strive to ensure that quality-driven, patient-centered care is provided to patients at the Marco Urgent Care Center.”

In addition to Fitzgerald as chairman, Jack Patterson is the newly elected 1st vice chairman and Dick Adams, 2nd vice chairman, as well as the secretary/treasurer. Newly incoming trustees are Lisa Gandy, David Caruso and Dianna Dohm. Existing officers are Beth Martin, assistant secretary, and Allan Weiss, M.D., president and CEO of NCH Healthcare System. Additional trustees include Jim Curran, Lou Guidarelli and Dennis Pidherny.

“The NCH Healthcare System is grateful for the expertise and leadership provided by the officers and trustees of the Marco Urgent Care Center Board of Trustees,” said Weiss.

The Marco Urgent Care Center has provided prompt, convenient care to patients with minor illnesses and injuries for more than 20 years. The center is staffed with a board-certified physician, physician assistants and other healthcare professionals. Outpatient rehabilitation services offered include physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. In addition to cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, the NCH Wound Center is available for chronic wounds that won’t heal.

For more information, visit

Celebrate Our Nation’s Birthday by Respecting Our Beach

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 11:01am

Nancy Richie

One of the best holidays in our country is the 4th of July! Our nation — turning 238 years old — knows how to put on a party, right? It is a day to reflect why our nation is so great, how we are the luckiest citizens on earth, and be thankful for all those that have and do ensure that the United States remains the “land of the free.”

It has always been such a big, happy, fun-filled holiday for my family growing up in California in a small town and then raising my own family on Marco Island. Most everyone around here heads to the beach by car or boat, ready to eat burgers and hot dogs, potato salad and ice cream most of the afternoon, while family and friends relax.

Most folks will hear as the day’s background sounds: waves lapping, horseshoes ringing throw after throw, loud splashes and laughter from the Gulf, and perhaps in late afternoon, the thunder start to roll. My daughters, since they were babies, now both in their 20s, have enjoyed the Resident’s Beach party and fireworks that fill the sky over this island. That light show is such a spectacular sight after a day of boating and beaching with family and friends. Uncle Sam’s Sand Jam, this year’s event at the beach will no doubt be a great celebration as ever, but let’s make it even better by respecting our beach.

We are very fortunate to have such a beautiful beach that most of us visit every day. It’s not a surprise that more and more visitors are discovering the fact that Marco Island’s beach is, well, perfection. One can walk for literally miles, pick up dozens of types of shells, see dolphin and manatee yards away as they cruise by nearshore, view wildlife such as shorebirds up close, take a warm water swim, be adventurous on a jet ski or parasail and witness a jaw-dropping sunset on any given day. One could just pull up a chair and read a book too. It’s just paradise in every sense.

It has been an effort over the last few years to keep up with the trash that ultimately results from more people visiting the beach. It’s not apparent at first, but all those bits and pieces of plastic wrappers, straws, bottle caps and cigarette butts do add up — so much so, the local Volunteer Beach Stewards easily collect a bag of trash on their daily walks and during monthly beach clean ups, and dozens of bags can be filled in a couple hours. Each week, hundreds of plastic straws are collected by these volunteers; counting straws is not something a beach walker wants to do while strolling or shelling.

Unfortunately, one of the trashiest days on Marco Island’s beach is always July 5 — from too-many-to-count beverage bottles and cans to food and its single-use plastic and styrofoam containers and wrappers to broken chairs and tents, plastic toys and even entire grills. The firework debris also is spread across the sand. These patriotic beachgoers come for the day, celebrate and leave…empty handed. Perhaps they think “someone else” will take care of the mess. Why is this?

That “someone” else is us. Let’s celebrate our nations’ birthday by respecting our beach. It’s easy. Whatever you pack to take on the boat or to the beach stay away from plastic and single-use containers. Use reusable containers, and make sure you bring it home. Bring your own trash bags to make sure you can pack everything back home. When you walk down the beach, pick up any trash you see. Then dispose of it properly, recycling all that is appropriate. This will keep trash and plastic off the beach and out of the Gulf of Mexico. It is estimated that every piece of plastic that makes it to the ocean survives for 50 years floating around, harmful to sea life and naturally, in turn, our lives.

Interested in getting more involved to conserve and protect Marco Island’s beautiful beach? On our nation’s birthday, respect our beach by giving yourself a gift, a gift to conserve and protect our beach. Here are a few easy ideas:

  1. Participate in a monthly beach clean up: The city of Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee organizes monthly beach clean ups with local businesses and groups. All public are welcome to join in. Other groups on the island also have clean ups, such as Friends of Tigertail and Kiwanis. Contact the city of Marco Island for more information on upcoming dates at 239-389-5003 or go to
  2. Become a Volunteer Beach Steward: Volunteer Stewards are local ombudsmen for the beach. They answer questions on shorebirds, sea turtles, shells and much more. They remind beach goers that no glass, bikes and dogs are allowed on the Marco Island beach. If interested in protecting Marco Island’s beach, please call the city of Marco Island at 239-389-5003.
  3. Become a Collier County Shorebird Steward: During the spring months, Least Terns, Black Skimmers and Wilson Plovers nest and hatch tiny chicks on the beaches. Shorebird Stewards educate and provide viewing opportunities to all who are interested. It is an experience you will never forget. For more information, please contact
  4. Join or support organizations that protect the beach, the Gulf of Mexico and its wildlife: Locally, the Friends of Tigertail proactively educate the public and monitor and improve the Tigertail Beach area habitat. To be a member, volunteer or to participate in one of their many activities and presentations, please go to Other local groups, all which have many opportunities for volunteering that support our local beaches and wildlife, are Friends of Rookery Bay (, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida ( and the Audubon of the Western Everglades (Collier Audubon) (

Happy 4th of July! Let’s wish our nation a very happy birthday by respecting our beautiful beach!


For more beach and bird information, please contact Nancy Richie, City of Marco Island, at 239-389-5003 or


Keeping Old Traditions Alive

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:59am

Richard Alan

I recently celebrated my 60th birthday. (Wow! Where did the years go, though I’ve been told I’m still a puppy by Marco standards!) Enough said about that. From now on, I stop celebrating every year.

Traditions involving jewelry are a subject I still remember. I may be a baby boomer from the 1950s, but I’m not totally senile. Today’s generation hasn’t a clue about traditions of any kind. It’s a shame.

I’m talking about presenting a delicate solid gold signet ring engraved with graceful interlocking script initials to a daughter or granddaughter for her 16th birthday or a gift for graduating from high school.

Remember the “add-a-pearl necklace?” This tradition would begin at the birth of a daughter. The necklace would begin with as little as three pearls of any diameter; some chose to build a graduated strand or all pearls the same diameter. The add-a-pearl tradition was very simple. On every special occasion — including birthdays, holidays or just because — a pearl or pearls would be added to the strand, and depending on the time frame, by the time the young princess reached the age of 16 or so you would have a completed strand of pearls.

I just completed an add-a-pearl necklace for a customer. The finished necklace was exquisite. Even though it took years to complete, the shape and color of the pearls were a perfect match.

Whether it was 100 years ago or the present, no young lady should ever be without a set of beautiful cultured pearls as part of their jewelry adornments. Nothing oozes class more than a strand of fine pearls on graceful neckline accented with matching pearl stud earrings.

And what ever happened to gold or silver birthstone rings or pendants? I can remember my sister’s reaction to receiving a birthstone ring on her 12th birthday. The word thrilled was an understatement. She still wears that ring on her pinky finger to this day.

Jewelry traditions for young men also have seemed to go by the wayside. Tn the 1960s, my uncle Richie, also a goldsmith, presented all his nephews magnificent solid gold signet rings with our initials carved into them. I will never forget how proud I was to wear that ring. For the life of me, I can’t remember what happened to it. My cousin Rocco still wears his to this day.

I have actually done three men’s signet rings this past season. One was a family crest; the other two initials. Guess the tradition is not totally forgotten. Who can deny that a heavy square or oval gold family crest ring does not look regal and elegant on any gentleman?

Remember when identification bracelets were all the rage. This tradition goes back to World War II. Many combat troops were concerned about not being identified if they fell in battle, and the gold or sterling bracelets they wore would have their name, rank and serial numbers.

I recently restored a sterling I.D. bracelet belonging to a customer’s grandfather, an Army Ranger who survived landing in Normandy on D-Day. He wore that bracelet on his wrist his entire long life. It was presented to him by his wife in 1943 the day he left the states to train in England. Besides being engraved with his name, rank, etc., it also read “make sure you come back to me!” Needless to say, it was a very emotional moment, when the granddaughter came into pick up the restored bracelet.

All these years as a goldsmith I sometimes have to remind myself how much emotion and love can be absorbed into a simple piece of jewelry and the story it could tell if only it could talk. The historic WWII I.D bracelet I just mentioned purchased in 1943 probably cost less than $20, and now 71 years later, to the family of that brave Army ranger, that simple silver bracelet is priceless.

Well-made jewelry can last for generations, and can be passed from father to son from mother to daughter — leaving them a legacy.

More comments from cyber-space:

Apparently I ruffled a few feathers (what a surprise?) of some folks reading my column in the Breeze last issue regarding the paranoid ones out there who think every jeweler is just waiting to pounce on their precious diamond jewelry and switch their “perfect blue white flawless diamonds” or steal the jewels out of their watches while we perform a simple battery change.

Rather than answer the “comments” individually I would like to reiterate what I wrote that obviously insulted what apparently is a coven group. In the many decades I have been a goldsmith/jeweler, not a week goes by where my staff or I do not sense hesitation from a client or clients regarding the relinquishing of their precious valuable jewelry for whatever reasons.

I have taken in single pieces of jewelry worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the customer would walk out not even asking for a receipt, which I insist they must take. In the 1970s, my uncle and I restored priceless historic jewelry for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. If that means anything to anyone? On Marco, my customers have left bags of jewels for cleaning or appraisals without a second thought, but all this does not add up to a gram of trust if you do not know me.

I don’t blow a gasket when a stranger questions my integrity; I ask them, “what is the cause of their distrust?” If they are concerned that the diamond they leave will not be the one they pick up a few days later, that is easily remedied.

No two diamonds are alike — ever! Under magnification especially, other identifying features include inclusions, precise measurement and how the gems are cut. The precise means of identifying your diamond or diamonds is called a plotting. This can be performed by any professional jeweler.

I will blow a gasket, though, when a pair of paranoid psychos causes an unnecessary scene when I have a store full of trusting customers that have known me for 20 years! No words of assurance will convince them that nothing sinister will happen to their jewelry while we perform whatever service they require. Sorry, you are not coming behind my counter, so I can do it while you watch my every move right then and there! Here take your ring, goodbye and have a nice day! Is that rolling shopping cart heading for your Lexus?

I’m blessed that the customers I currently have and who trust me keep me busy year round, so quite honestly I don’t need the work or the drama. Quite honestly, I once was ordered to have the customer come behind the counter and watch me re-set her diamond. What a nut-job she was, sticking her fingers in my face and on my bench, and she still accused me of wrong doing while cleaning the completed ring. I had the manager fired when I called the boss. So bring your stuff and the grief to someone who needs the money and will put up with you.

Oh! You could have that priceless diamond laser engraved with your social security number for undoubtable security! Oh! I forgot; who would you trust to do that?

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

The Anatomy of a Rumor

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:54am

Melinda Gray

With a job to be done, workers took relief from the high temperatures in their man-made shade.

It’s a well-known fact that big news, or any news for that matter, travels fast in a community as small as Goodland. It’s also widely accepted that as news travels farther from its source it tends to lose the original, factual information in favor of a more dramatic, sensationalized version. In short, minor issues feel like major happenings, especially this time of year.

I recently experienced this phenomenon first-hand when what eventually proved to be a routine, short-lived inconvenience was all anyone could talk about in the days leading up to the morning of June 16. Goodland was scheduled to be without water for the better part of that Monday while the island’s 15-year-old water meters were systematically replaced.

Reports describing dark days to come made their way across more than 1,800 miles, finding us in Ohio. Given the fact that we had yet to see the actual notice, the message got a little lost in translation.

Our initial understanding was that we would be without water for weeks, a worrisome situation to say the least. Forever the skeptic, I thought we should call some of our Goodland friends to see if anyone had the scoop because the story we were hearing was just so unbelievable.

We determined that some of our neighbors had seen the flyer in their doors, but weren’t sure of how many days the shut-off would last. Others hadn’t even gotten the notice, but were not happy to hear about the implied community Port-a-Johns we would allegedly all be sharing for an indeterminate amount of time.

Hours of debate were followed by a sort of resignation to the unknown, but when we finally made it home, we were eager to lay eyes on and interpret the official paperwork for ourselves. Thankfully, it contained almost none of the aforementioned doom and gloom that was expected. We set out in preparation, and when the day did arrive, the whole ordeal was virtually painless.

As promised, a small tent was set up across from Stan’s providing bottled water to anyone who needed it, and three Port-a-Johns were offered at the boat ramp. With our showers out of the way and the pets’ water dishes full, the convenience of running water wasn’t even missed until late into the afternoon when, sadly, happy hour was canceled as our four local restaurants were closed.

All in all, we survived the county imposed, day-long drought, and water service was restored as the evening hours approached. We were placed on a “precautionary water boil notice” for an additional two days, and on June 18, residents were informed that bacteriological testing had deemed all was good again in Goodland.


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

2nd Annual SUP Poker Run

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:25pm

By Melinda Gray

Conversation while riding, clearly a sport that allows for some socializing.

Southwest Florida’s trademark bugs and humidity didn’t deter standup paddle board (SUP) enthusiasts of all ages from enjoying the 2nd Annual SUP Poker Run on Saturday, June 14. The Capri Fish House on Isle of Capri was packed to the gills with volunteers, coaches, participants, athletes and professionals who came to support sending the local Special Olympics (SO) athletes to this year’s SUP Invitational in Key West.

The team created the annual poker run with the sole purpose of raising money to help offset the cost of attending the highly anticipated invitational, which includes bussing, food and housing. For now, they have to raise their own funds because SUP is a new sport and newly introduced to SO.

“SUP isn’t a sanctioned SO sport yet, but it will be soon,” said Stephanie Dangler, SO parent and owner of Stephanie’s Pest Control. She got involved when her son tried SUP and loved it. She said she has been addicted ever since; it has become her passion.

“We started in just two counties, Collier and Monroe, and we progressively moved through counties across the state of Florida. We got people trained, and then they started their own teams,” said Dangler. “We started with just three athletes, and now we have 27, twice as many as last year.”

A leisurely floating boarder waits for the run to begin.

“She came up with the idea for our SUP Poker Run and followed through on every detail,” said Becky Newell, fellow SO parent and organizer, of Dangler, who was visibly in charge of making sure the event ran smoothly amongst the flurry of activity.

“These kids love it! I’ve been with some for eight years, and once we got them on a board, I had some of them talk that hadn’t spoken to me for years,” said Dangler.

“This event is so much fun. You get so many people involved in it from all over the community, it’s just a great event,” said Newell.

David McKenzie, county director for Special Olympics of Florida Collier County (SOCC), was among those on hand to help. This is the SOCC’s fourth year working with this SO SUP team here in Collier County.

This year’s official SUP Poker Run began and ended at Capri Fish House with stops along the way at Rose Marina, Snook Inn and Island Gypsy. Participants collected their cards one by one in hopes of ending the event with the winning poker hand.

“These stops welcome us with open arms; anything for Special Olympics and to see these kids smile. It’s worth everything,” said Dangler.

The day began with a flurry of activity, while the rainbow colored array of boats and boards awaited their riders on the beach below. PHOTOS BY MELINDA GRAY


Stand-up paddle boarders of all ages rounding the first corner of their route that day.

Bob Brown to Run for City Council

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:21pm

By Noelle H. Lowery


On June 17, Marco Island City Councilor Bob Brown sent a letter to the Coastal Breeze News offices. The content of the letter: He intends to run for City Council during the November 2014 election.

Marco Islanders will remember that Brown took over the City Council seat vacated by Larry Magel on Aug. 14, 2013. Magel had 14 months remaining on his term, and during the Aug. 18 regular City Council meeting, councilors voted 4-2 in favor of Brown, who was sworn in on Sept. 3.

Since then, Brown and his fellow councilors have handled a laundry of difficult agenda items, including the 2014 city budget, utility bond refinancing and rate hikes, the search for and eventual hiring of a new city manager, the Mackle Park Community Center referendum and ballot language, the approval of the reconstruction of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge and most recently the approval of the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s $150 million renovation project.

In his letter, Brown wrote: “(T)he time has come to decide whether to continue the challenges presented. After much consideration, I would like to announce it is my intention to seek an elected seat on council during the November 2014 election.

“This decision to seek a full four-year term is done with the knowledge our community still seeks a number of difficult challenges ahead of us. It would be my desire to continue to bring a common sense approach to those issues, and I am hoping the residents of our wonderful city find it in their hearts to support me.”

He pledged to continue to work “to bring our residents closer together. Since cityhood, we have suffered from many growing pains and have certainly had to deal with our share of divisive issues. My involvement in city issues began with the STRP project back in 2005/2006. While never wanting to enter the political world, I soon came to the realization that if you care about the community you live in and its residents, it is imperative that you get involved.”

CBN sat down with Brown to find out more about his decision and what his vision is for Marco Island’s future.


Q: What do you think you have brought to this council that was missing or that enhances the decision-making process?

A:While I’ve only had an abbreviated time on council, I feel in general I’ve brought a new and slightly different perspective to the decision-making process. As we have seen in the past and certainly with recent decisions made by council, so many of our major issues have a tendency to divide our community. I feel that by researching and bringing all sides of an issue to the public, it helps us make what we hope is a decision that is best for the majority of Marco Island. It is important that we don’t move our personal preferences in front of what the people want, and I hope to continue that and listen to all of the people. Again my goal is to bring our community together and not drive them apart. Easy to say, but certainly a huge challenge for all of us.


Q: How has your business background impacted your decisions?

A:As someone who headed up operations in a mid-size company, it was always a challenge to get the people focused and moving in the same direction. I did manage to do that in business and had the respect of the majority of my employees. I try to use some of the same logic in making decisions with and for our residents.


Q: With the Marriott and Smokehouse Bay Bridge decisions made, what challenges now top the charts for the city?

A:We have many challenges facing us at the city over the next several years. Certainly density transfers are a hot topic; a PUD for the Island Plaza is in the works; Marriott Crystal Shores is continuing their project; continuing to address our massive utility debt; water/sewer rates; parking; and the list goes on. We have a huge job facing us, and certainly being familiar with all of these issues is very important.


Q: With regard to the referendum on the Mackle Park Community Center, what impact do you think the referendum will have on City Council’s next move on the issue?

A:Hopefully City Council will get a good feel for the pulse of the people on the island. We all recognize that Mackle Park is in disrepair and has been squeezed due to the size constraints of the existing structure, but our residents need to decide whether they want to commit to another sizable investment at the same time we are dealing with our other projects. Of course, the other side to this is if the community strongly supports the City Manager’s capital improvement plan, which would help make the decision easier.


Q: Where do you personally stand on the Mackle Park Community Center issue?

A:I am clear that the existing facility is not adequate and needs substantial funds just to make it usable. My initial reaction is that we would be throwing good money after bad by trying to update the current facility. That being said I will support the will of the people on this issue. The Parks and Recreation Committee have worked hard to educate the community as to why the new facility is needed, and hopefully, the residents will answer them with a positive vote in the referendum.


Q: How do you characterize the new development or redevelopment on Marco Island? Are you concerned this development will adversely impact the “small town, tropical island” character of Marco Island, and if not, how do you respond to those who believe it will? If you are concerned, how do you believe those adverse impacts can be mitigated?

A:I don’t really see us veering off course from the original Deltona concept. The Marriott needed an upgrade to remain competitive, and I’m sure all Marco Islanders would agree the that the Marriott is the “gem” of the community. I believe we must be sensitive to the people on the island and be sure that we hold large expansions in check. Those that have invested in Marco (both in business and personal) need to be comfortable that the community and government will help them keep their properties viable and lucrative.

Again, our biggest concern needs to be the expansion north and east of 951 because as those communities grow the obvious direction that they will head is Marco Island. That is where our real “growth” problem lies.


Q: Have you received any preliminary support from any groups on the island? If so, from whom?

A:I have received a tremendous amount of support from so many people. Many are associated with many of the groups on Marco Island, and I feel very good that folks have been so positive when pushing me to run for this position. I have not solicited nor received any direct support from any groups on the island.

Focus on Utilities Budget

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:17pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Nearly two months after proposing a new — and aggressive — general city budget plan for FY 2015, City Manager Roger Hernstadt and Finance Director Guillermo Polanco were at it again during a special-called Marco Island City Council meeting held on June 19. This time, the Marco Island Utilities budget was under the microscope.

The usual scrutiny was given to the Utilities’ perceived “spend-spend-spend” mentality, especially in light of the 7 percent rate hike that took effect on Nov. 1, 2013, and the news that $2 million of the $6.9 million the city received last summer from the refinancing of an old bond issue had been used by utility officials without City Council authorization for an unfunded seawall project. With an additional 2.1 percent rate increase set for Oct. 1, city councilors were understandably on point.

“When there is excess money here, it is spent,” Councilor Larry Honig summed up the general feeling of councilors during the meeting.

According to the presentation given by Polanco, Marco Island Utilities operated in the black for the first eight months of FY2014. While the utility has brought in operating revenues totaling more than $19.2 million this year, it has spent a little more than $15 million. Polanco projected that as of Sept. 30, the utility would have nearly $7.7 million in reserve funds.

Moreover, Marco Island Utilities General Manager Jeff Poteet was praised a number of times for cost-cutting measures implemented in 2014 that will lead to a $55,000 reduction in his overall FY2015 budget request. Chief among the cost savings were a reduction in the required sampling costs, reductions in electricity fees at both the North and South water treatment plants, reductions in bridge piping maintenance and reductions in communications for offsite stations. Councilor Amadeo Petricca requested a full accounting of these reductions.

Even so, there were also increases in spending at the utility in 2014, including higher insurance and administration charges, increases in electricity fees at the Raw Water Treatment Plant and rising vehicle maintenance costs. Both Polanco and Hernstadt also pointed out that funding gaps are anticipated for the utility over the next five years: $5.1 million in renewal and replacement projects, $5.3 million in capital projects, $314,000 for a legal settlement, $2.3 million for prior year unfunded projects, $438,000 for new fleet vehicles and $25.1 million in unfunded projects in the utility’s capital improvement program (CIP). Then there is the city’s debt service responsibilities, which total $11.447 million in FY 2014 and $11.645 in FY 2015.

To help mitigate the projected shortfalls, Hernstadt is advocating the same “debt free” budget concept that he introduced for the city’s general fund in April, adding some additional planning and approval guidelines for utility projects. While a full review of the utility’s CIP project list already has been conducted by city staff, City Council will participate in a similar review of the list, and no projects will be started until otherwise approved by City Council, even when the projects are included in the CIP.

With regard to rates and citizen concerns over them, Hernstadt and Polanco assured City Council that utility revenues and expenses are being “closely monitored” and will be reviewed again in July. Moreover, Public Resource Management Group Inc. (PRMG), the city’s utility consultant, will provide a rate structure analysis to City Council at a special rate structure workshop on Thursday, July 24, from 1-4 PM.

To help councilors better understand what the utility’s highest priority projects are for FY2015, Poteet provided a detailed CIP for 2015, including recommendations for possible funding sources. The list of projects included a new head work structure at the Reclaimed Water Production Facility (RWPF), the already approved emergency standby generator for the South Water Treatment Plant (SWTP), general renewal and replacement of water and sewer equipment at all five treatment facilities, a pilot study for train and membrane conversion at the SWTP, a new SCADA software operating system, a new lime thickening tank mixing mechanism at the North Water Treatment Plant (NWTP), repairs to the MLE tank, a new lime sludge press and housing at the NWTP, manhole repairs, inspection and video documentation of the island’s gravity sewer system, meter replacement, installation of variable frequency drives at offsite wells, new fire hydrants and replacement of lift station control panels.

When Poteet completed his presentation, Councilor Petricca sighed and said, “It’s going to be fun.”

The Question of a Public-Private Partnership

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:11pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

During its June 16 regular meeting, the Marco Island City Council put to rest the debate over the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s $150 million renovation project, approving the PUD amendments by a vote of 6-1.

Even so, new questions rose about the Marriott’s offer to give the city $1 million to expedite the renovation of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge. Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff made the offer during the project first appearance before City Council on June 2. The $1 million contribution to will cut the construction schedule by eight months, eliminate any potential overlap between the bridge work and construction at the Marriott and also remove the potential need for Marriott construction traffic to use San Marco Road (U.S. 92).

The new questions came from Andrew Dickman, attorney for homeowner Bob Olson, who is a major detractor of the Marriott project. Dickman suggested the deal should be moved back to the city’s Planning Advisory Board and challenged the Marriott’s offer and the city’s acceptance of it.

According to Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt, though, the Marriott’s involvement with the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project amounts to a public-private partnership (PPP), and is truly a sign of the times. “Joint-use, multipurpose facilities and expediting the construction of infrastructure via public-private partnerships to accomplish projects of mutual benefit are common in large cities,” explains Hernstadt.

“Some of these projects are cases where the government contributes money or an abatement of taxes or fees in consideration for the public improvement that is built by the private partner,” he adds. “The most common application is access roads, expressway or turnpike exits or ramps associated with building new stadiums or arenas.”

To be sure, the state of Florida has been at the forefront of the public-private partnership trend for some time, especially when it comes to projects procured through the Florida Department of Transportation. Since 2007, more than $1.1 billion in roadwork has been completed by the FDOT through PPPs, including a 30-mile stretch of I-75 in Lee and Collier counties extending from Golden Gate Parkway to Colonial Boulevard.

Currently, FDOT has nine PPP road projects under construction totaling nearly $3.4 billion, and is currently procuring a project to improve I-4 through Orange and Seminole counties in Central Florida. The price tag on that project: $2.3 billion.

Additionally, the state bolstered its support of pubic-private partnerships further in 2013. First, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law opening up additional PPP opportunities for governments and businesses. The law allows businesses to submit unsolicited proposals to local governments and agencies. Qualifying projects include any serving a public purpose, such as airports, seaports, pipelines, mass transit infrastructure, nursing homes, educational buildings, and cultural centers or sports stadiums.

Second, the state created the Partnership for Public Facilities & Infrastructure Act Guidelines Task Force. Managed through the Florida Department of Management Services, this task force is creating recommendation for the Florida Legislature to consider for the purposes of creating a uniform process to establish public-private partnerships on the local level.

According to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the reasons for all the love for PPPs in Florida is simple. In the aftermath of the recession, state governments remain strapped for cash, bonding authority and other public revenue-raising methods, and they need help to build and maintain their infrastructure, roadways, utilities and water facilities, prisons, tunnels, hospitals and schools.

PPPs, which allow private companies to cover the upfront costs of projects in exchange for the right to operate and collect payments the completed facilities, fit the bill. In fact, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, roughly two-thirds of states now have laws authorizing PPPs.

Still, there are nay-sayers who believe PPPs corrupt governments, putting them at the whim of the private interests funding the projects at the expense of the taxpayers. Governments sacrifice the public service generally provided by whatever public project is being funded for the profits of the private companies forking over the money for the projects.

In the end, Hernstadt believes the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project is a strong example of the state’s emphasis on public-private partnerships, and indeed, it appears city councilors are okay with it as well with their approval of resolution 14-19 also during the June 16 meeting. The resolution created the required change order for the city’s contract with Quality Enterprises USA for Smokehouse Bay Bridge, reflecting the addition of the Marriott’s $1 million contribution and amending the construction schedule.

The new not-to-exceed price for the bridge work is roughly $8.625 million with a substantial completion date of July 1, 2015, and a final completion date of Aug. 1, 2015. The resolution also provides extended working hours for the project of 6 AM-10 PM, six days a week, with pile driving limited to daylight hours. Finally, liquidated damages to be assessed if the construction exceeds the proposed contract schedule, without any delays, would be valued at twice the rate indicated in the bid documents, or $6,114 per day.

The change order has been forwarded to Quality Enterprises for review and acceptance. According to Marco Island Public Works Director Tim Pinter, the contractor has until close of business on Wednesday, July 30, to deliver the signed contract to the city, so Marco Islanders will have to wait another month to see if its first public-private partnership will come to fruition.

Youth See Police and Fire-Rescue Service Up Close

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:06pm

By Val Simon

Each year, the Marco Island Police Department works closely with the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department to present a Police/Fire Academy through the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department. The weeklong camp was headed up by MIPD Officer Al Schettino and Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Bowden.

The academy — designed for students in the sixth through eighth grades — gives a hands-on look at the variety of training and skills each of these professions require. It’s an ideal camp for children interested in law enforcement, firefighting or emergency services. They cover everything these first responders do on a daily basis.

Officer Al Schettino has worked the camp for four of its seven years. He explains the academy this way: “The camp introduces our youth to the job duties in the police, fire and emergency response services. The children help investigate crime scenes; they have the opportunity to work on the water with the Police and Fire Rescue Marine Units while learning vessel safety; they participate in Search and Rescue scenarios, make simulated traffic stops and work with Fire-Rescue personnel using jaws-of-life Hurst Tools to simulate extracting a person from a car crash. They learn firearms safety, see taser demonstrations and are shown defensive tactics to protect themselves. The participants even have an opportunity to soar to new heights in the fire department’s tower truck. They go through a police training obstacle course and learn about internet safety. We keep them busy all while they’re having fun and making new friends.”

According to Firefighter/Paramedic Bowden, organizer for the Fire-Rescue side of the academy, “The Purpose of the Police and Fire-Rescue Youth Academy is to educate the children of the community. We teach the kids what the Police and the Fire-Rescue departments do on a daily basis. The kids participated in activities, such as crime scene investigation, marine rescue, vehicle extrication, gun safety, fire extinguisher use, traffic stops, search and rescue. Of course, we really enjoy hosting the camp every year. It is a great way for the kids of Marco to understand exactly what we do in emergency situations.”

Bowden also has assisted organizing the camp for several years, but is quick to add, “Many people from both sides helped — too many to list. All shifts from Fire-Rescue and all Police shifts help too.”

Mindy Gordon, recreation manager for the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation says, “The Police/Fire Academy is a great opportunity for our middle school youth in learning the ins and outs of police and fire rescue. Kids get the opportunity to be in the shoes of Marco’s finest and bravest and see exactly what they do on an everyday basis to help our Marco Island community. The collaborative effort between the MIPD, the MIFR and Parks and Recreation Department has provided our kids with a top notch hands-on educational camp. “It’s amazing to see such a successful program reaching out to our youth. I would like to thank our Police and Fire-Rescue teams for their help and dedication to a very successful summer enrichment camp week!”

The popular camp is only available to 15 students, so once the dates are announced, it fills quickly. If your middle school child is interested in Police or Fire-Rescue services and you want information on next year’s camp, call Mackle Park at 239-642-0575 for more information.


Field of Prey

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 5:57am

Maggie Gust

By John Sandford, G.P. Putnam 2014, 392 pages, Genre: Mystery

“There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.” – Joe Ryan


The 24th book in John Sandford’s Prey series proves the author is only getting better at his craft. I was engrossed in this story from page one. Although Field of Prey is a mystery, the reader knows from the beginning who the killers are. The mystery involves how the police track them down.

The story opens with the kidnapping of the “fifth woman,” Heather Jorgenson, while she is depositing refuse bags into the dumpster behind the diner where she works. Suddenly a canvas mail bag is pulled over her head, her legs are duct taped together and she is shoved into the back of a truck. She struggles for a minute or so, able to move only her arms inside the bag, then realizes she has a multi-tool with a 3-inch serrated knife in her uniform pocket. She slices herself out of the bag, cuts the duct tape, then attacks the driver with several vertical stabs to his neck and back, causing the truck to run off the road. She gets out of the ditched vehicle and runs across a rural Minnesota field to a distant lighted house. By the time the police arrive, the truck is still in the ditch, lights are still on, but the driver is gone. They check the registration and race to his house but he is not there and never shows up during months of subsequent surveillance.

Zip through a decade plus a few years and we are with a teenaged boy and girl who decide to make July 5 a very memorable night. Layton Burns, Jr. knew the perfect spot to make these special memories was an unused neglected field he had discovered the prior summer when detasseling corn. (For you folks from non-corn-growing areas, i.e. city slickers, Sandford includes a succinct description of detasseling.) After Layton and Ginger Childs make a few memories, they try to track down the source of an horrendous odor. Although they can centralize the strength of the odor and hence its seeming source, they can see only grass. They hightail it out of there but the next day Layton talks to a police officer he knows and tells him about the unusual smell. “There’s something dead up there. Something big. I never smelled anything like it.” They go to check it out and discover an old cistern which emits tremendous putrid gas and at the bottom reveals two human skeletal feet.

Then enters Lucas Davenport of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. By the time Lucas shows up for work the next morning, they have discovered at least 15 skulls and are still counting. Because the cistern is directly over a spring, it is making retrieval of the remains extremely difficult. Eventually, it comes to a total of 21 female victims over about 20 years. The police come to realize the killers are local and they are smart.

For those new to Lucas Davenport novels, it is good to know he is not the typical state government employee. He is self-made wealthy, drives a Porsche 911 and Mercedes SUV, goes on bi-annual trips to New York City to replenish his wardrobe, wears British-made shoes, loves and is loyal to his family, and is still friends with a girl, now a nun and psychologist, he has known since Kindergarten. His relationship with his adopted daughter Letty is remarkably close with Letty even accompanying on some investigations and reading the murder books with him. He is tough, tenacious and thorough. During the course of this investigation, he meets his female counterpart in the form a Goodhue County Sheriff’s deputy, Catrin Mattsson. I am quite certain she will show up in the 25th Prey novel.

In Field of Prey, Sandford develops the plot at intervals to keep readers engaged; my interest never sagged. Halfway through the book the reader realizes the “killers” are truly, deeply mentally ill but it’s another 150 pages at least before their capture. The author uses humor, details of investigative practices and forensics and lots of great dialogue to move the story lines along. Unfortunately, some of the good guys do expire in this book. There are some scenes involving hand to hand fighting between one of the killers and a female hostage that are pretty brutal but well written.

I read this book in two sittings. If you are a patient reader, you likely could spread it over a week or so of bedtime reading. I enjoyed the intelligent dialogue, humor, variety of characters, detailed descriptions of locations and procedures and the fact that Davenport took time to go play for awhile and clear his head. For its genre, Field of Prey is quite good.

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.


Maggie Gust has been an avid reader all her life. Her past includes working as a teacher as well as various occupations in the health care field. She shares a hometown with Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, but Florida has been her home since 1993. Genealogy, walking on the beach, reading, movies and writing, are among her pursuits outside of work. She is self employed and works from her Naples home.


AAA Lot Mowing Cited for Repeat Violations

Sat, 06/14/2014 - 8:10am

By Carol Glassman

Donald Liston, a tractor operator for AAA Lot Mowing owned by Bernard Wegman, ran up a very expensive tab for his lunch break May 12. Liston decided to have his lunch “with a better view” and “possibly seek another client,” but chose the wrong location. 1929 Indian Hill Street is a privately-owned lot that for approximately 15 years, according to city staff, has been deemed unmowable.

Donald Liston, an employee of AAA Lot Mowing Inc., incurred several repeat violations by knowingly entering a gopher tortoise habitat. The Board clearly stated that the employer is responsible both for the education and the actions of its employees, and showed little mercy for repeat violations of the law.

In addition, the lot has been posted by Wegman himself, as a result of a previous conviction, as a protected gopher tortoise habitat. In December 2012, Wegman’s company was found guilty of destroying gopher tortoise nests, and then purchased and installed $1950 worth of warning signs to be posted in appropriate areas. In fact, Liston said he had helped install them.

The Indian Hill lot was described as “highly woody with native trees and shrubs, such as seagrape and prickly pear” food for gopher tortoises. The lot is apparently, according to city staff, also “a sensitive archaeological site.” Tractor tire marks left by Liston showed he came within five feet of the nests, and although he did not destroy any, some of the native shrubs were damaged.

Liston admitted that he knew there were gopher tortoise nests in the area and said they are hidden under the foliage.

As this is a second violation by this company, the board members stood firm when making a determination on irreparable and irreversible damage, although they did not levy the maximum fines.

• A violation occurred when the vehicle came within five feet of the gopher tortoise nests. Even though there was no evidence of damage, the violation occurred when Liston entered the property. Fine: $3,000.

• A violation occurred when vegetation, shrubs and leaves in a protected area were torn. Fine: $2,000

• It is a violation to disturb the protected habitat of gopher tortoises by entering their protected zone. This is a repeat of the previous violation. Fine $2,000.

As the damage to native growth is minimal, no mitigation or replacement was sought.

The five members of the board present — Ray McChesney, Paul Kampmeyer, Richard Adams, Lou Prigge and Debra Shanahan — voted unanimously to fine Wegman’s company $7,000. Wegman was unable to attend the meeting himself. His representative said he had a longstanding medical appointment.

The second case on the agenda was postponed to the next meeting. City of Marco Island vs. Charles and Marlene Church of 727 Fairlawn Court charges the Churches with obtaining an Illegal Conditional Use Permit for using their home as a Bed and Breakfast facility.

Richard Adams, current chairman of the Code Board, announced his retirement after 7 years of service.

Board Chairman Richard Adams announced that he will be retiring from the board at the end of June when his term appointment ends after seven years of service. Although the board would usually entertain nominations for election of a new chairman and vice chairman at this time, Adams suggested that perhaps the status quo should be maintained for the time being as the City Council soon will be discussing replacing the board with a magistrate.

With many city meetings planned for July and a shortage of meeting space, the next Code Board meeting will be announced soon.

D-Day to Disgusting day…

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 10:33am

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. My father-in-law was amongst these men who accepted his duty to his country without hesitation, without question and with deep commitment to the United States of America, his country. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded that day, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard march across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Germany.

On the 70th anniversary of this heroic event which changed the history of the world, the United Sates government in a totally disgusting decision negotiated with known terrorists and traded five top Taliban Jihadists from Gitmo in order to win the freedom of a U.S. Army deserter in time of war. These five will without a doubt in my mind return to the battlefield in no time to kill and maim Americans in and out of uniform.

I am totally disgusted, angry and beyond any consolation. I am unable to find the right words to describe my feelings, let alone contribute an article to the Coastal Breeze. Instead, I am going to share the following facts with our readers:


Articles of the Unified Code of Military Justice:

Article 85—Desertion

(a) Any member of the armed forces who—

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another one of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States, is guilty of desertion.

(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.”


Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter and a traitor:

“The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at,” wrote Sergeant Bergdahl in an email in 2009 as published by “Rolling Stone” magazine. “It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies. The few good sergeants are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same.”

In the messages, quoted by “Rolling Stone” magazine, he tells his parents: “The future is too good to waste on lies.” He further wrote, “And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong.”

Three days before he went missing, he told his parents: “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”

Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, later added: “I am ashamed to be an American(*). And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools,” (*The word American was spelled with small letter “a” instead of a capital letter.)


What was given up:

To get this America-hating deserter back for reasons we are yet to find out, we sent back the following war criminals and murderers to Qatar:

• Abdul Haq Wasiq: Taliban deputy minister of intelligence

• Mullah Norullah Nori:Senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif who commanded insurgents fighting U.S. forces in late 2001

• Khairullah Khairkhwa: Senior Taliban official believed to have ties to Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder

• Mohammed Nabi: A regional Chief of Security for the Taliban and eventual radio operator

• Mohammed Fazi: Believed to have overseen the mass extermination of Shiite Muslims during the 2000 – 2001 war that saw the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan.

The readers will make up their minds as to why this happened.

70 years ago, we were dealing with heroes at every level of our society.

70 years after D-Day, we are dealing with cowards, deserters and traitors at every level of our society.

God Bless America. We shall overcome this too.


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


Happy ‘100’ Gretchen Hawes!

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 9:43am

By Noelle H. Lowery


Gretchen Hawes was born on June 4, 1914, in White Water, WI, and on June 4, 2014, she celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by friends in her Goodland home. It was a day filled with hugs, life stories, laughter, Chinese food and birthday cake.

To say Hawes has lived through some amazing times and has seen some changes in the world is a grand understatement. When she was born, women were five years away from getting the right to vote. Europe was on the brink of World War I. Woodrow Wilson was president, and Mother’s Day had just been named an official holiday. The car still was a relatively new invention. There were no televisions. No computers. No internet. No email. No cell phones.

On hand to marvel at the centenarian’s life were caregivers from Always There Home Health Care Janel Sine, Jeannene Rutherford, Linda Hanna, Barbara Cushman and Mulcar Le Guerre; caregiver Karen Repco; trustee and friend Bob Kuehling; and longtime friends Fay Newby, Linda Van Meter and Linda Brannan. Always There Owner Roz Minicozzi called in to wish Hawes a happy birthday.

Hawes and her husband, Charles “Chick” Hawes, moved to Goodland in 1978, after years of vacationing there. According to Kuehling, the Hawes’ spent the early years of their marriage raising their son, Harold, and running a fresh egg business in Wisconsin. They collected fresh eggs from area farmers and took the to Chicago to sell them.

When Chick passed away in 1986, Hawes remained in their Goodland home, enjoying the sun, fishing and friends. Van Meter remembers well the glamorous vision Hawes cast each time their women’s group would meet for lunch and a movie. “She was always dressed like a lady, like a movie star,” Van Meter notes. “I always thought she looked like Barbara Stanwyck.”

Hawes’ home health care providers certainly have taken a shine to her as well. “I told her when I started working with her that I was going to stay with her until she turned 100, and here I am three years later,” joked Repco. She credits Hawes’ active and healthy lifestyle — everything in moderation and a bit of dessert everyday — to the incredible state of her health. She is not under a doctor’s care, nor does Hawes take any regular medications.

Repco recounted a funny story Hawes once told her about baking cakes: “Gretchen baked for her husband every Sunday, always from scratch. When boxed cake mixes came out in the grocery store, she would buy one, make the cake and put the box in the bottom of the trash. She kept making her ‘homemade’ cakes for him every Sunday.”

Always alert and ever watching those around her, Hawes passed on some birthday advice to her well-wishers: “Always put your plans down on paper, and never have too many of them — just one or two at a time.”

MIPD: ‘Take It and Lock It’

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 9:42am

By Noelle H. Lowery

A weeklong crime spree currently is under investigation by the Marco Island Police Department. Between May 29 and June 5, a rash of residential and vehicle burglaries, as well as two vehicle thefts occurred at various locations near the south end of the island.

According to Assistant Chief of Police Dave Baer, the majority of the incidents happened over a 72-hour period, and MIPD is working with the Naples Police Department, Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Region Six Fusion Center to solve these crimes and prevent future ones.

“The key to preventing these types of crimes is very simple,” Baer says. “Lock up. Marco Island is a very safe place to live and work, but we are not crime free. Residents must lock their doors and vehicles to avoid inviting trouble. Remove all of the valuable from your vehicles when you park them. Just lock up.”

In fact, nearly every one of the burglaries noted occurred without forced entry — via an unsecured door. Two of the three vehicles taken were stolen after the suspects located keys in the unsecured vehicle.

Baer also urges residents to call 911 immediately when they see anything suspicious. “We’ve had people tell us they didn’t want to bother us with a call. We are the police, and when you see something that is out of sorts or suspicious, please call us right away. Don’t wait.”

Here is a timeline of the burglaries:

• Thursday, May 29: A laptop computer was taken from an unsecured vehicle located on San Marco Road. While the theft occurred on May 24, it was not reported until five days later.

• Friday, May 30: A wallet was taken from an unsecured vehicle parked in the South Beach parking lot sometime between 10 AM and 3 PM.

• Monday, June 2: An unsecured vehicle was burglarized on Saxon Street, but not items were taken.

• Monday, June 2: An unsecured vehicle located on Clyburn Street was burglarized between 10 PM on June 1 and 8 AM on June 2, and prescription medication was taken.

• Monday, June 2: An unlocked vehicle on Saxon Street was entered and the keys taken sometime prior to 3 AM.

• Monday, June 2: An unlocked vehicle on Saxon Street was entered and documents taken.

• Monday, June 2: A home on Saxon Street was broken into through an unsecured garage door, and electronics were taken.

• Monday, June 2: A vehicle was burglarized on Clyburn Street between 8:05 PM on June 1 and 8:45 AM on June 2. While the vehicle reportedly was secure, there were no signs of forced entry found. Cash and other items were taken from the vehicle.

• Monday, June 2: A 2013 Ford F150 Extended Cab XLT (Florida BWWX17) was stolen from a location on Clyburn Street between 10:30 PM on June 1 and 8 AM on June 2. The vehicle was unlocked with the keys in it.

• Tuesday, June 3: A wallet and other items were taken from a vehicle on Balfour Street.

• Wednesday, June 4: A chain saw was taken from an unsecured work vehicle located on Nassau Court between 7:30 AM and 2:30 PM.

• Thursday, June 5: An unlocked vehicle on Snowberry Court was entered between 9:30 PM on June 4 and 7:30 AM on June 5.

• Thursday, June 5: An unlocked vehicle was entered on Post Court, but nothing was taken.

• Thursday, June 5: An unlocked vehicle was illegally entered and cash was removed. It was located on Copperfield Court.

• Thursday, June 5: A 2005 Toyota Tundra pick-up was stolen and recovered from Ivory Court between 8:30 PM on June 4 and 9:00 AM on June 5. The vehicle was unlocked, and they keys were lying on the floor. MIPD recovered the vehicle in the 1200 block of Jamaica Road at 10:45 AM on June 5.

• Thursday, June 5: A 2008 Ford F150 Super-Duty Truck (Florida 163WSS) was stolen from a location on Jamaica Road between 5:30-6:00 AM. The vehicle was locked with no signs of forced entry. MIPD developed information that the vehicle was northbound on I-75 in northern Collier County at approximately 6:30 AM on June 5.

• Thursday, June 5: A home on Hickory Lane was burglarized through unlocked door between 2:15-2:30 AM. Nothing was taken, as the subject fled the home when heard by homeowner. The suspect was not observed, and there was no description given.

• Thursday, June 5: A home on Ivory Court was burglarized by forced entry and electronics were taken sometime between April 30 and June 5 at 10 AM. It was reported at 2:12 PM on June 5.

• Thursday, June 5: A unlocked vehicle on Moon Court was burglarized between 10 PM on June 4 and 5 AM on June 5. No items were taken.

Please call MIPD at 239-389-5050 with any information regarding these incidents.



A Celebration of Success

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 9:35am

By Noelle H. Lowery

Family, faculty, staff and school board members joined together Friday, May 30, to salute and celebrate the first-ever graduating class of the Marco Island Academy. The ceremony was held in the Capri Ballroom at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.

Among the local dignitaries in attendance were MIA Founder and Chairwoman Jane Watt, former MIA principal George Andreozzi, current Principal Melissa Scott and Marco Island Marriott General Manager Rick Medwedeff.

The ceremony marked the end of a week filled with nervous excitement and anxious anticipation for the 20 students who made up MIA’s class of 2014. On Thursday, May 29, MIA staff held a Senior Breakfast to honor the graduates and to recognize their academic achievements.

Myra Ortega was named the class valedictorian and Jacob Hurtley the salutatorian. The two outstanding students also received a number of additional accolades. Ortega was awarded a number of scholarships, including the Andrew Hunter Homes Role Model Scholarship, a Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation Scholarship and a Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club Scholarship. She also was recognized for outstanding achievements from the Science Department at MIA. Hurtley was named a State of Florida Scholar and received Merit Diploma designation.

AnnMarie Grossi also was recognized for her exceptional academic achievements, having received a scholarships through the Bright Futures Florida program, the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation and Marco Island Woman’s Club. Grossi also received the Social Studies Department award.

Patrick Silveri received a scholarship from the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation and recognition from MIA’s Art and English departments. John Olszak earned scholarships from the Gene and Mary Sarazen Foundation and the Marco Island Woman’s Club, and also was recognized for his accomplishments in the MIA Math Department.

In addition to her scholarship from the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, Taylor Matheny was the recipient of the Manta Ray Service Award. Alexa Campisi received the Manta Ray Leadership Award, and Kiera Ludwigsen was presented the Manta Ray Spirit Award.

Other MIA class of 2014 scholarship winners included Alex Excell (Andrew Hunter Homes Role Model Scholarship)l Ian Van Cleef (Florida Polytechnic University Inaugural Scholarship); Sarah Reisinger (Marco Island Sunrise Rotary Club Scholarship); and Joshua Delsing (Marco Island Woman’s Club).

After the speeches and diplomas were handed out, MIA’s class of 2014 converged on the beach to fulfill the tried and true celebratory graduation tradition of tossing their caps into the air. The sun was setting in the western sky as caps and tassels flew into the air quickly followed by the excited sounds of expectation and relief, allowing MIA’s first graduating class to say one final farewell.

MIA’s graduating class of 2014. PHOTOS BY VICTORIA WRIGHT