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Oleanders for a Spring, Summer and Fall Show of Color

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:53pm

By Mike Malloy

Oleanders (Nerium oleander) an evergreen shrub that makes a great specimen plant when planted in the garden but also makes a great hedge or container plant. However you decide to use this plant shrub, hedge or standard (tree), it will always be a very colorful and showy plant. Oleanders bloom from spring to fall, coming in colors of orange, pink, red, white and yellow. Some have single flowers and there are others with a double bloom. Flowers are usually in clusters at the end of branches. Oleanders can grow up to 12 feet and are almost the same size in width. Oleanders were used years ago in almost all landscapes and then went out of favor. Like many south Florida plants they are making a strong comeback.

Oleanders will grow in almost any soil, are salt tolerant and requires very little water once established (DROUGHT TOLERANT). Oleanders do not require fertilizer, but if fertilized in spring and fall it will help your oleanders produce maximum flowering potential and will keep the plant healthy. Oleanders love full Florida sun; wait (FULL FLORIDA SUN). This trait alone makes this plant a big winner because most plants have a difficult time existing in a southern location. It’s also popular with highway departments for highway beautification projects; you will see them planted in masses on sides of over passes because of their tolerance to heat, reflected heat (off the road) and tolerance for low water and long lasting clusters of bright flowers. Just imagine how well they will grow in maintained gardens with just a little care. Oleanders will grow in some shade but will produce fewer flowers and will get leggy.

Prune oleanders in the fall. This will help with shape and new growth in the spring. Trim just above a node. A node is where the new leaves come out. Left to grow naturally they become a huge mound but they can take hard pruning so they can be controlled. Oleander should never be trimmed into a box or ball. As a matter of fact I don’t think any plant should be trimmed into a box or ball. I have a feeling I’ve said this before! To promote continuous blooming dead head often. Suckers which grow out from the ground and base of the trunk of the plant should be removed as soon as they sprout. The suckers are a form of new growth that robs nutrients and moisture from the main plant and cause it to look rangy and unsightly. If freeze damage occurs the leaves will drop but the plant will recover quickly in the spring.

The one so called problem, depending on who you talk to, is that oleander gets a caterpillar which is a rust or orange color with black hairs, looking very much like larva of the gulf fritillary. These guys can strip an oleander plant in no time at all. They can be controlled by simple pruning or by using a Bacillus thuringiensis (Thuracide). Now for the other people, this caterpillar turns into a beautiful moth with blue wings with white polka dots and red body sometimes being referred to as the American moth because of its color. It’s easy to recognize because of its color and it is a day flying moth.

All parts of the oleander plant are poisonous. Please do not eat. Some people get an allergic reaction from just touching oleander so be careful and KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF.

MI Chamber Business Expo

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:46pm

By Steve Gimmestad

The Marco Island Chamber brought customers and businesses together for a festive afternoon on April 6 for the 15th Annual Business Expo.

The doors opened at 4:00 and the general public streamed into the showroom. Awaiting them were 30 booths representing various local businesses and groups armed with the finest information about their organization, giveaway items and special prizes for those entering their names at each booth. About 300 people attended this year’s expo.

During the show, chamber staff went around to each booth and gave up the microphone so businesses could tell a bit about themselves before drawing from the names they had collected for the prize giveaways.

“I enjoy meeting the the business people,” said Karen Urbanik. “It’s a chance to put a face with the company. And it’s a lot of fun. Karen was last year’s grand prize winner at the expo.

The grand prize is pulled from the sheet each person is given as they enter the expo. They take that sheet around to each booth for sign-off and place into the grand prize drawing.

“It’s nice to meet other businesses in the area and a great way to say thanks to our regular customers who stop by,” said Janel, working the Marco Island Florist booth. “More importantly, I hope many of the people I met today will become regular customers. That’s what’s it’s all about.”

The event wrapped up about 6:30 and people made their way out with full bags and a smile on their face. The true sign of a satisfied customer.

Terracina Grand to Introduce the Montessori Method for Memory Care

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:42pm

By Randall Kenneth Jones

When The Goodman Group—the development and management company for East Naples’ Terracina Grand—officially opens the doors of its latest project on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, their sights are set on literally creating a day to remember.

Their brand new, two-story building—Villa at Terracina Grand—will feature 55 apartments for 60 residents specifically in need of memory care. This includes all stages of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

What’s more, this grand opening gives the healthcare community much to celebrate. The state-of-the-art memory-care facility will focus much of its resident care on renowned psychologist Dr. Cameron Camp’s revolutionary teaching method, an approach traditionally used to maximize the gifts of young children.

Camp, the Director of Research and Development for Salon, Ohio-based Center for Applied Research and Dementia, has retooled the Montessori method to help people with Alzheimer’s regain some of the skills that have been diminished by illness.

Camp’s research has shown that the Montessori approach to learning—one based on rehabilitation principles—can benefit people in all stages of their lives, even those with serious cognitive impairment.

“The goal is a resident-driven community,” explains Camp. “The focus is on enabling the residents to create a community among themselves; to have as much choice as possible throughout the day; to be able to control their lives and to be connected with each other and the outside world; to live as independently as possible.”

This specific educational passion certainly runs in the Camp family. His wife, Linda, has been a Montessori teacher for over 20 years.

Before one wrongfully assumes that Camp’s methods place adults in the roles of children, he adds: “Maria Montessori didn’t treat children like children, she treated them like persons. You cannot treat an older adult with respect, dignity and quality and treat them like a child.”

Maria Montessori opened the first Montessori school—the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House—in Rome on January 6, 1907. There are now more than 22,000 Montessori schools in at least 110 countries worldwide.

Dr. Camp was at Terracina Grand on March 25 and 26 to conduct staff training seminars. His adaptation of the research behind the Montessori Method for use with Alzheimer’s patients is called the Montessori-Based Dementia Programming method.

The team at Terracina Grand is so committed to Camp’s inspired approach that every single staff member, from physicians and nurses to housekeeping and food service, participated in the comprehensive training classes—a process seemingly committed to answering the question: How can we create a prepared environment to enable residents to do as much for themselves as possible?

To Camp: “In dementia, it’s about enabling the person to reemerge. To circumvent deficits. To let a person’s ability, history and personality come through. To let them be themselves again.”

Terracina Grand and Villa at Terracina Grand will be the first senior living health care organizations in the country to introduce the comprehensive Montessori Inspired Lifestyle program.

“This is about making it their house, says Camp. “As caregivers, we are guests in these people’s homes and we need to ask like guests. Even Maria Montessori once said: ‘the less they are aware of our presence, the better the job we are doing.’”

According to Terracina Grand’s Craig Castillo: “TerracinaGrand’s existing memory-care program, Pearls of Life, is consistent with the principles of Montessori. Dr. Camp’s support and training have built upon—and greatly enhanced—our existing efforts.

Castillo pauses briefly before proudly continuing: “What we’re going to do here is change an industry.”

Terracina Grand and Villa at Terracina Grand are located at 6825 Davis Boulevard in Naples.

For more information, call 239-455-1459 or

Bird Rookery Swamp

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 1:37pm

By Carl and Joan Kelly

In my quest to explore the wonders that are, as I like to call it, “in our own back yard”, a friend and I set off early one morning for the Bird Rookery Swamp Trail off Immokalee Road. Many of you know of, if not visited Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The Bird Rookery is located adjacent and to the south of this preserve on Shady Hollow Boulevard, about 50 minutes from Marco Island.

Open since 2011, Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is part of the South Florida Water Management District’s CREW, Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. The trail is a 12 mile loop along a tramway road built for the narrow gauge railway formally used to log this area in the last century, a business that ended in 1957. The roadway is above the water line as it traverses through this cypress and maple swamp. The area is critical habitat for panthers and bears; other animals observed here include bob cats, deer and otters. Alas, we saw none of them, but did see more than enough to make our trip worthwhile.

As we approached the parking lot, we spotted a marsh hare. When we got out of our car, we were greeted by a bevy of ibis, egrets, and herons in the adjacent pond. A short walk led to a quarter mile boardwalk and then the tramway road. What struck me first was just how beautiful the area was; this had to have been the prettiest walk I have taken in our own back yard.

Lushly forested, with water along both sides of the road, the many shades of green were striking; duck weed and water lettuce floating on the water surface, alligator plants, ferns. Many trees were densely spotted with lichen so that they looked like, as my friend noted, dalmatians. Some trees sported red and green air plants (bromeliads) while others a bright red lichen mixed with green, aptly nicknamed Christmas wreath lichen. We passed by (and tried to avoid) some of the most perfect spider webs I have ever seen. Add to this, a foggy morning, and we truly felt as though we were entering the forest primeval although in reality the tree growth was fairly new, replacing the trees that had been logged.

The other thing that struck me was how quiet it all was, yet busy with the songs of the dozens of species of birds found here and the occasional fish slapping the water. I wish I knew more about identifying the different bird calls; my knowledge is pretty much limited to cardinals, catbirds, hawks and owls; all of which I think we heard.

Other than birds, our first animal sighting was a snapping turtle laying eggs on the side of the trail. She was probably 20-30 years old and will lay 20-40 eggs and then leave the nest alone. The babies will hatch and make their way all on their own; unfortunately most of them will end up as prey for the many predators in the swamp.

Initially, we saw no alligators. But, it was early. The many slides we observed (where they cross from one pool to another) told us that they were lurking below the water surface waiting for the sun.

A little over a mile in, we came to a large body of water known as Saddleback Lake and the trail made a sharp left turn where we encountered a tree full of roosting vultures, including one with wings spread, drying them in the rising sun. I never thought I would use the word ‘beautiful’ in the same sentence as ‘vulture’, but it truly was.

We saw many different birds, the most striking, a cardinal sitting alone in a bare tree, a pileated woodpecker, and some baby red shouldered hawks.

Along the way were flowers of many different hues…white, blue, purple, yellow, and bright red. With so much color, we noted a number of butterflies; more than a dozen different types have been observed here.

Our first alligator sighting was in a hole to the right of us. At the same time, noting a water moccasin sunning itself on a tree stump in the water to the left was a reminder that while gawking at all the beauty, we needed to remain vigilant of our surroundings.

The next sighting was a mother alligator in the water watching over her clutch of yellow striped young swimming around her. At a little more than three and a half miles in, we met our first gator across the trail. It blocked more than three quarters of the trail and we would have had to pass directly in front of it to continue. Sage advice is to stay at least 15 feet away. At that point, it was nearly noon, we had enjoyed our walk and decided to turn back. Our round trip adventure would make a more than seven mile walk, enough for us that day.

On the way back, another alligator was blocking two thirds of the trail, but we were able to pass carefully behind this one and he seemed to pay us no heed.

At one point, we came upon a gator hole that held a very angry one. It had just chased another one out of its territory. It was thrashing about and started to come out of the water in our direction. We quickly (very quickly) retreated until it calmed down.

As we neared the boardwalk again, we saw two young raccoons pass on the trail ahead of us. We thought they would be gone by the time we got there, but instead they were frolicking in the water alongside the trail. We watched their antics for a while and then, near the end of our walk passed turtles basking in the sun on a manmade float in the water while a young morehen with downy feathers swam around them. Our final stop was to observe the turtle nest now abandoned by the mother but distinguishable by its telltale hole in the ground.

On the return leg of our trip, we encountered a few other walkers and some cyclists who seemed to be biking with ease. I think, though, when muddy, it would be difficult for bikes. In any case, I would not want to bike the trail unless I had good tires.

For me, the best part of this trip was that we were able to observe the swamp without wading through water! Those swamp hikes where I can’t see what I might step on just aren’t for me. A return to Bird Swam Rookery is definitely in my travel plans.

The trail is open from dawn to dusk every day and there is a portable toilet in the parking lot. There is quite a bit of shade, but a hat, sunscreen and water are necessary in some open areas. There are a few picnic tables along the first part of the trail. At decision points in the loop there are helpful signs that indicate location and distances between various points along the loop. Guided walks are offered; consult the website: On other websites, it has been noted that vultures can be destructive to the rubber on cars in the parking lot and it is advised to hang plastic bags from door frames and windshield wipers or cover the car with a bungee secured tarp. We and another visitor had used the plastic bags, but the other half dozen cars were unprotected and undisturbed.


Rooms with a View

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 12:12pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Sue Olzsak (left) and Lisa Honig, (right) of the American Cancer Society with Tommie Rowland.

A combination of spectacular homes, stunning fashions and most importantly, a desire to contribute to the American Cancer Society, drew about 170 women to Hideaway Beach recently. A new event dubbed “Rooms with a View,” was put on by the Hideaway Beach Cancer Committee spearheaded by Tommie Rowland.

The affair featured a tour of four magnificent Hideaway homes from a villa, to condominium to luxury freestanding homes. Guests were chauffeured to the various sites via golf cart. A docent in each home gave guests the grand tour. Once complete, they were whisked off to the clubhouse where they were greeted by a glass of champagne. Saks Fifth Avenue displayed jewelry, accessories, cosmetics and more, all available for purchase. Saks, known for their attention to detail and world class service did not disappoint. After perusing the fine merchandise on display, guests were treated to a delectable tropical-inspired luncheon and the latest in summer/cruise wear from Escada by Saks Fifth Avenue was showcased by professional models meandering around the dining room. If that wasn’t enough, participants were able to enter a variety of raffles and bid on silent auction items.

Phyllis Milano, Nan Suffian and Janet Cohen chat at the Hideaway Beach’s Cancer Commitee’s Luncheon “Rooms With a View.”

The Hideaway Beach Cancer Committee have been widely recognized for their efforts on behalf of the American Cancer Society. The contribution to the Marco Island Unit of the American Cancer Society made by the residents of Hideaway Beach through this association, including this event, has totaled more than $1,000,000 in recent years. Their efforts earned them the prestigious Marco Spirit Award by the Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club in the past and this year, Bill and Doreen Dean, were honored with the Grado Award at the 2015 Imagination Ball. Bill retired as chairman of the committee this year and Tommie Rowland took the reins. The Rooms with a View event was Tommie’s first as head of the committee, and a smashing success it was!

Kira Krum, Chris Sullivan and Elizabeth Hendrix enjoy a delicious lunch at Saks Fifth Avenue fashions.

“We’re so pleased the event was a success. We appreciate everything Hideaway Beach did for us, as always, they were great to work with. Saks Fifth Avenue and Escada were phenomenal and we can’t thank the owners enough for opening up their homes to the guests. It took the entire committee working tirelessly to make sure every detail was perfect and they did a great job. The committee went above and beyond to ensure the event’s success,” said Tommie.

Significant Future Growth Planned for Collier County

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:05pm

By Don Manley

Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala.

Construction activity in Collier County has again become commonplace as the economy recovers from the most recent recession. One need look no further than the State Route 951 – U.S. 41 corridor near Marco Island for evidence of that fact. Donna Fiala, the Collier County commissioner whose district includes Marco and Mark Strain, the county’s chief hearing Examiner, discussed growth that is underway or planned for the near and distant future, at a presentation held recently at ciation of Realtors. “Collier County is built out or promised to be built out in some manner,” said Strain. However, 9.2 percent or 135,764 acres of the roughly 1.5 million of the county’s undeveloped acreage is dedicated to greenspace, he added. One of the large tracts available for development is the still-operating, 6,000acre 6L Farms Ranch, located off U.S. 41, in East Naples, not far from Marco. Plans are on the books for it to eventually be developed “in a modern town setting, with walkability,” said Strain. Fiala said the residential development is projected to add about 30,000 additional residents in the East Naples area when it is fully built-out in 30 to 40 years. Strain said the county’s population is currently about 400,000 residents, with projections calling for that total to rise by 1 million people when the county is completely built-out. Development is coming, but Fiala assured the audience that it won’t result in the Collier mirroring the environment on Florida’s East Coast. “We’ve just got to control the concentrated growth that’s going to occur in the county,” she said.

Fiala and Strain also covered the commercial growth that is now underway or planned for the 951-41 corridor. They said a Wawa convenience store, a Starbucks, Pollo Tropical and Panera Bread restaurants, and Steinmart and Ross clothing stores are all planned for the area near the Lowe’s Home Improvement store at the 951-41 intersection. Residential developments along the available for development, including for commercial purposes, they added. Fiala and Strain cited Hacienda Acres, the Isles of Collier, Treviso Bay and Fiddlers Creek as examples. A Five Guys Burgers and Fries and a Beefstro’s Gourmet Beefs are slated for Verona Walk, located off 951, said Strain. Strain, who is also chairman of Collier’s Planning Commission, cautioned that not all projects discussed during the presentation have been approved by the county. Some are under review, while others are being discussed with the property owners, he added.

Fiala said the roadway widening project on State Route 951 should be completed in August, far in advance of the December deadline, while the widening project on U.S. 41 should be done sometime in 2016. Plans call for a “fly-over” at the 951-41 intersection to be erected on U.S. 41, at some point when the East Naples area is builtout, she added.

Smallwood Store Settlement

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:04pm

By Patty Huff

Finally, after many years of frustration and expense, the Smallwood Store & Museum and Florida Georgia Grove, LLP, reached a settlement agreement on March 17. According to the Col the County Commissioners, “the four year Smallwood litigation has been resolved in favor of the County and the Smallwood family. In an agreed-upon Final Judgment… the Developer has agreed that Mamie Street is a publicly dedicated roadway, with the County and the Smallwood family accepting this newly paved road ‘as is.’” As a publicly dedicated roadway, neither the Smallwood Store nor Florida Georgia Grove will have to maintain the road; it will be county’s responsibility. Also, the public will be able to continue to use the road, as it has for nearly a hundred years. Lynn McMillin says she is very appreciative for all the support the community has given her family and the museum over the past four years. Under the Final Judgment “…all claims which could have been raised by the parties in this lawsuit, are hereby dismissed with prejudice, with each party to bear its or their own respective attorneys’ fees and costs.” So, the Smallwood Store is responsible for road to remain public and accessible. The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation will continue to assist the historic store in its fundraising efforts. Editor’s Note: A comprehensive video on the Smallwood Store and its illustrious past was produced by Hughes Productions and this newspaper. You can pick up a copy at Coastal Breeze News or the Smallwood Store. All proceeds from the sale of this video will go to the Smallwood Store for their legal expenses.

Healthy Kids Day and Dottie’s Duck Derby

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:03pm

By Don Manley

Healthy kids are happy kids.

The Greater Marco Family YMCA will present two of its signature events as one seamless extravaganza of fun, healthy living information and fundraising. Both the Y’s Healthy Kids Day and the Dottie’s 20th Annual Duck Derby fundraiser will be held backto-back on Saturday, April 25 at the organization’s Sand Hill Street campus. “We’re trying to showcase our youth this year and make it more of a fun, interactive event and hopefully, get a good turnout from that,” said Charlene Garcia, the Y’s school age (after-school program) coordinator, who is also coordinating Healthy Kids Day.

The festivities will kick off with Healthy Kids Day, which has 10 a.m. start, while Duck Derby activities begin at 1 p.m. The events were held on the same day in 2014, but were essentially separate entities, unlike this year, when one will flow directly into the other. Healthy Kids Day offers 20-minute long interactive exercise class demonstrations such as zumba, karate, tennis conditioning and Drums Alive (aerobic drumming) led by their respective Marco Y instructors: Jennifer Tenney, Nick Lemke, Eden Looney and Kathy Kurtz Crowder. There will also be information about summer camp registration, swim lessons and other Y programs. Event sponsors Krieger Orthodontics and Walgreens drug store will be present with healthy living information. They will be joined by “McGruff the Crime Dog” and personnel from Marco’s police and fire departments, who will dispense water and bicycle helmet safety tips for children and also check the helmets to ensure they are safe and fit properly. There will also be a healthy living and nutrition book fair. “We open up our doors to the entire community and we try to invite vendors who have the same mission, to encourage families to have healthy lifestyles,” said Garcia. “We want to encourage healthy lifestyles and open up (exposure to) the local resources in one unified place so families can come and pick up brochures and flyers.” New to Healthy Kids Day this year will be the Color Run, for which a makeshift mini-track will be set up for children along one side of the main Y building. The races will be broken down by age group and as the youth’s race they’ll be doused by a chalk-like, colored powder. The winner of each of the three Color Run age groups will receive a duck to be entered in the Duck Derby. The ducks will also be on sale during the Healthy Kids Day portion of the festivities. The Duck Derby fundraiser, which benefits the Y’s aquatics program, was started by its namesake, Dottie “Miss Dottie” Weiner. The Y’s pool and aquatic center, where the derby is held, are also named after the woman who started its “Learn to Swim” classes in 1972. She directed the program until 2012.

Ducks can be purchased for $15 for one or $25 for two. The Celebrity-Rock-&-Roll ducks are $30 apiece, as are the CorporateConcert ducks, which can be kept by the purchaser. Corporate and Celebrity ducks can also be purchased for $50 and be kept by the buyer after the event. The ducks are entered in three separate races, with fire department personnel propelling them the length of the pool with fire hoses. Children in the Y’s aquatics program and on its swim team will race in between heats and there will also be pool-based games for children. Weiner is the reason for Duck Derby’s success over the years, said Fritzi Holmes, a member of the Y’s board of directors who is also chairman of this year’s event. “Dottie is awesome,” she said. “She always would go out and do lots of fundraisers and of course, she was always passionate about the aquatic center. People respect her and when she would ask them to buy a duck, they would buy a duck. It’s (buying a duck) the good deed of helping ensure the aquatic center continues. All the funds go to the aquatic center, so it’s a good cause. It’s an excellent program and an excellent facility.” Weiner was a championship swimmer and diver in her youth. “People have been wonderful and cooperative for all these years and we hope we make money this year,” said Weiner. “It goes to a good cause.” She is also overjoyed with the aquatics program’s success. “It helps saves lives, so that’s one good reason (for the program’s staying power),” said Weiner. “They do a terrific job.”

The Y’s playground will be open during the festivities and the pool will be open to the community following the derby. For more information about Healthy Kids Day, contact the Y at 239-394-3144 or visit For more information about the Duck Derby, contact Holmes at 394-0974 or fritziholmes@

Enter the Wildlife Photo Contest Today

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:02pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff


It’s final call for anyone wanting to enter the Eighth Annual City of Marco Island Wildlife Amateur Photo Contest. The contest closes to entries on April 24th. Winners will be announced May 1st. If you have any photos you have shot during the past year that you are considering entering, there is still time. Categories were combined this year into Land and Marine Animals, Insects and Plants and Trees and Landscapes. Black and white, color photos and photos creatively enhanced are all acceptable. Camera type is not limited, so whether you’re using a Canon, a disposable or cellphone, all are acceptable. Amateur photographers, 14 and up, are eligible to enter. An amateur is described as anyone not receiving monetary compensation for their photography. Entries must be printed in an 8 X 10” format and set in a standard 11 X 14” mat. A digital version also be included. All entries will be on display at City Hall and then at the Marco Island Historical Museum for all to see. You can enter up to four photos and there is no fee to enter. For further information and entry forms, contact Samantha Malloy at the City of Marco Island 239-3895000 or Val Simon at Coastal Breeze News at 239-393-4991. There are so many beautiful scenes in Southwest Florida to photograph.

Deadline is April 24th, so get your entry in today!

La Tavola-Family, Food and Friends

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:01pm

By Don Manley

The traditional family gathering place – the kitchen table – evokes thoughts of heartwarming moments for long-time Marco Island restaurateurs Guy and Lisa Verdi. Such memories and their shared Italian heritage served to inspire the Verdi’s selection of a name for their new restaurant, which they have dubbed “La Tavola,” Italian for “the table.” “I really thought long and hard about it,” said Lisa Verdi. “I thought about how Guy and I, both here and when we travel to Italy and France to visit family, the best times and our favorite memories are always around the table with friends and family.” There are restaurants elsewhere in the country with that name, but for the Verdis, the significance of “La Tavola,” made it the right choice for their new venture. “For us, the meaning of it is the memories of the family, so that’s what we picked,” said Guy Verdi. “I’ve been saying it for years, ‘Family, food and friends.’ What more is there? “La Tavola” opened Feb. 2, in the Winterberry Drive location formerly occupied by Sasso’s International Cuisine & Seafood. The eatery’s cuisine is a melding of rustic Italian and American, with a distinctive flair. In fact, there are two separate menus: one for the dining room, where Italian cuisine is featured and another for the bar area, where the American influence dominates. “In the dining room, we’re doing old family recipes that we were brought up with,” said Guy Verdi. “It’s bringing the old tradition back to dining and refining it a little bit.” He said the bar menu allows their chefs, which includes Erin Wyman and himself, to exercise their creativity. “We can express ourselves with different small plates, tapas style plates and different flavors,” Guy Verdi added. “On (the bar) side, we can bring that forth.” The bar section also features traditional crafted cocktails, such as Old Fashioneds, custom Manhattans, Golden Cadillacs, Stingers and Pink Squirrels.”

All juices and flavored syrups used by the bar are made on-site, as are all pastas served by the kitchen. There is live entertainment in the bar from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday, there’s an “Industry Nights” happy hour for the island’s restaurant and hotel workers. La Tavola also offers vegetarian dishes, deserts and a diverse selection of wines, beers and spirits. This is the Verdi’s third restaurant on the island. They opened Verdi’s American Bistro in 1998 and operated it until 2012, before selling. The couple then operated Philly Grill for about 4 ½ years, before selling once again. The Verdis said they decided to return to the business when the Winterberry Drive location became available. “The restaurant business, in general, we enjoy it,” he said. “We enjoy being around people, we enjoy meeting people, we enjoy making people happy. We enjoy bringing people into our homes, no matter whether it’s Philly Grille or La Tavola – fine dining, middle dining – we just enjoy the whole feel of that.” Opening while the tourist season was at its height posed a challenge when it came to ironing out any new-business kinks, while serving more than 200 meals a night, said the Verdis. But now that that trial by fire is over and the bumps have been smoothed, the Verdis’ focus is on enhancing and expanding upon the operation’s solid foundation – whether it be revamping the menu to musical entertainment, to broadening the skills of their bartenders, they added. In the near future, the bar will be the site of special tequila and vodka tastings. “Everyone can get together and compete to see who has the best Bloody Mary and also benefit a charity,” said Guy Verdi. “La Tavola,” is located at 961 Winterberry Drive. For more information, visit or call 393-4960.

Top-Producing Realtor, Donna Kittle, Adds To Marco’s 50 Year History!

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 11:00pm

Donna Kittle celebrates Marco’s 50th Birthday having negotiated the highest selling price ever on Marco’s beachfront! She takes great pride in her sharp negotiating skills, 5 Star Service, unparalleled Comprehensive Marketing Plan and Market and Product Knowledge! One of the most remarkable parts of this sale is that Donna has now sold this rare penthouse twice! She sold the current sellers this developer ready Grand penthouse in 2008. They were so satisfied with her service and confident in her abilities, talents and integrity, that they listed this exquisitely finished by the Award-Winning Robb & Stucky 10,000 sq ft beach residence with her, trusting that she would get positive results for them. And she did that in merely 3 months! Donna has owned on Marco Island for 24 Years! Her first Investment in the Island’s wonderful lifestyle was at the South Seas Club which she contends is still the best buy on Marco for the all-inclusive amenities it offers at an affordable price! She still owns that little jewel! She now resides on the Beach in a larger residence! She admits that her success in real estate is a dream come true and simply a reflection of her Strong Work Ethic! Donna was raised in Boston in a small apartment with 6 siblings. She attended parochial schools and attributes her dedication to serving others to the Education, Values and Self-Discipline the nuns provided! She worked her way through state colleges attaining a BS in Education in MA and an MS in Counseling in ME. Donna had a very successful first career as Teacher/Counselor in MA, ME, NY, Taiwan and FL. She has always been independent, a self starter, and dedicated to her job whether it be as Wife, Mother, Teacher, Counselor & now Top-Producing Realtor! She and her husband of many years have raised three children: A Son who is a Senior Law Partner with one child in NYC, a Daughter who is an MD in upstate NY with 3 children, one of whom is going to Broadway in the lead role of a great musical, and a Daughter who is a PA in Neurosurgery and a passionate Animal Rescuer. Donna admits “Life Is Full!” and “I feel very blessed and grateful to have accomplished what I have and to be Enjoying Living and Working on Marco!” The Confidence & Trust my clients have in me have enabled me to reach a high level of achievement in an extremely competitive business on Marco!” When asked “Where do you think the Real Estate Market is Heading on Marco?”, Donna humbly replied: “Barring any crisis, I sense The Best Is Yet To Come! There’ll never be another Marco Island! It’s a rare jewel in SW Florida. I’m currently working with the First Fortune 500 CEO who will be investing in our unique Island Lifestyle!” “I don’t Sell Marco! Marco sells itself!! I introduce people to the Great Lifestyle our Island offers by educating them! The Teacher and Counselor in me is still at work! I continue to strive to make a positive difference in one life at a time!” Donna reports that our local real estate market is HOT, HOT, HOT! It has transitioned to a Sellers’ Market due to the Lowest Inventory in 10 Years! Since real estate is a Supply and Demand Industry, if Marco’s Inventory continues to decline, then selling prices should appreciate. However, nobody has a crystal ball, so only time will tell!

Coastal Comments

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:59pm


Donna Fiala

Have you been wondering what those piles of dirt are just south of the Dunkin’ Donuts on 951/41? We have too, so I called the County Growth Management Division, who had to do a little research. Staff advised that the lot was cleared under an approved Site Development Plan when the lot was part of the Shoppes of Eagle Creek. Since then the vegetation had re-grown on the lot and the parcel had been removed from the Shoppes of Eagle Creek. The Property Owner had the lot cleared again, both of which constitute a violation. The end result was the owner obtained an “after the fact” Vegetation Removal permit and also applied for an Insubstantial Change to the original Site Development Plan in order for them to be able to complete the clearing and fill the property for future development. To date though, we have not received a building permit application, nor has a pre-application meeting been held, so we do not know what future commercial business will be located there. *May 2nd will be the next Collier County Honor Flight to visit the War Memorials in Washington D.C. for the day. A number of World War II Veterans will be on this flight including our own Decorated WW II Veteran, Phil Ballou and his son, who will escort him. Also on the flight will be the USA ROTC Cadet Sterling Payne, who is being sponsored by the American Legion Post 404, and will escort one of the Veterans. Each Veteran will have an escort. A contingent of Marco Island people, including those from the American Legion Post 404, will be at RSW that evening to welcome the troops home. To learn more about this event and receive updates, check *Isles of Capri held its “Whole Island Closing” picnic at the end of March as people begin to make the long trek back up north for the summer. It’s a wonderful thing when a whole island can get together and celebrate their friendship! And speaking of Isles of Capri: I was invited to a couple’s home, both of whom are artists, and I was in awe of their beautiful work! I love their name: Sunshine! Yup, Donald and Joanna Sunshine! It brightens your day to read their names. *Goodland held another one of its famous Pancake Breakfasts (um, I just love the pancakes and sausages) and it was well attended.

Soon now, many will be gone and the events will come to a slow crawl for those of us who are left for the summer. Of course we have fun wherever we go anyway, so don’t worry about us. Oh – Goodland also had its Spring Fling – another one of those down to earth Goodland events as only Goodland can do. You always see the regular Goodlanders at these events. Always supporting them and always welcoming their guests…………such as Barry Gwinn, Greg Bello, Mike Barbush, Jim Inglis, Tara O’Neill, Joanie Fuller (when she isn’t in Alaska), Linda Van Meter, and so many more. One place I haven’t visited recently is Stan’s. I’d better make it my business to get there in the next couple of weeks! *It appears that the Marco Island Historical Museum is forging a relationship with the Smithsonian! Yes, you read that right. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the State Humanities council have sponsored their newest exhibit “The Way We Worked”, which will be on display through May 16th. The exhibit explores how work has become a central element in American culture. It traces the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. With less events taking place, this is a great time to visit the Museum and see the exhibit. *By the time you read this, the new Panera Bread should be open for business. They have made amazing strides in building the facility. Just as amazing is the construction of the 951/41 Intersection! It is 6 months ahead of schedule and also under budget. If all goes well and our summer weather doesn’t interrupt the construction, we should be able to use the finished road by September or earlier! *The new Ace Hardware store on U. S. 41 E, next to Perkin’s, has opened and it looks terrific. It’s so much fun to look around new stores, especially when they were here before and now they are upgrading! Enjoy!

Boating for Dummies…

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:58pm

By Pat Newman

I thought navigating a boat was like riding a bike—once you know how, you never forget. I recently discovered my skills were a little rusty; OK totally corroded. Excited at the prospect of sailing the waterways of Marco Island with some friends visiting from out-oftown, I rented a pontoon boat. The kids strapped on their life-jackets, and we adults confidently boarded the vessel, ready to cruise through paradise. I invited Philipp to occupy the driver’s seat and be “captain for a day” when I realized that I had no idea how to start up the engine. I figured that turning the key in the ignition was the correct move, but should the gear be in neutral, forward, or reverse? Would we suddenly find ourselves hurtling through the canal or parking the boat on the dock? He confidently slid into the seat and toyed with the key until the engine came alive. Now what? After a few bumps and grinds along the dock, we made it into the waterway. Very slowly. Within minutes we were happily bobbing along, checking for channel markers and soaking up the sun and salt. I studied the navigation chart and traced the lines drawn to mark our route to Keewaydin Island. Do we take the first right or second right? I didn’t have a clue. I glanced at Philipp who was now totally confident in the driver’s seat and asked him. “What do you think?” He immediately pulled out his smart phone. “How do you spell the place we are going?” Oh, brother. “Take an immediate right,” I directed. Most of the other boats were headed to the second right, so it seemed proper to take the lesser-traveled channel. After a few minutes, we were oohing and aahing over diving pelicans, smiling dolphins, artistic osprey nests, and tangled mangroves. Philipp grabbed his camera and began shooting, leaving the boat on auto-drive. The kids took turns steering and with no other vessels in sight, we were having a ball. Suddenly we stopped. Uh oh! I looked over the side of the boat and saw bottom.

With the propellers of the motor stuck in the muck, we had two choices. Radio for rescue or jump in and push the hulking aluminum fun craft to deeper water. Choosing to save face and make it to Keewaydin, I jumped into the water. Of course, no one else was wearing a swim suit. The water was only up to my knee-caps and dislodging the motor was my first concern. I tried rocking it back and forth and pushing us into deeper water. After a few false starts, we were free and I was shoulder deep. “Shall I rev it up now?” shouted Philipp, with me still within a foot of the motor. “NO!” I yelled. “”Wait until I get back on-board.” Easier said than done. My upper body strength is no better than a fly’s and pulling myself onto the little platform beside the motor was impossible. I grabbed the rope and tried to hoist myself up balancing my feet on the pontoon. No go. Splash. After a few more failed attempts the “crew” was now laughing hysterically and Philipp was again snapping pictures. “Alright, haul me in,” I begged. Philipp grabbed my arms by some miraculous power, I crawled back into the boat. “Yeah, Pat,” the kids cheered. “OK, rev her up, captain,” I shouted and we were back on track once again, only 30-odd channel markers away from our destination. “There it is! Marker 44!” The boat sailed into the sand and I jumped off the bow to anchor our craft. With so little sand, and so much rope, I decided to secure the anchor in the trees. “Ok. We’re off!” We navigated the little path to the Gulf side to swim and gather shells. Perfect! Soon it was time to head back and luckily the pontoon was still where we left it; a little turned around, but present. We sped back, slowing down as we traversed the channel and floated back into the dock. It was a wonderful adventure and we have all the pictures to prove it. So if you venture out on the waterways, remember these important boating tips: don’t expect to understand the navigation charts, channel markers can be few and far between, sometimes the water is high and other times, knee high, learn how to plant an anchor, bring lots of towels and drinks, wear a hat with a chin-strap and don’t watch Titanic the night before you go. Anchors away!

Letter to the Editor: Karen Young

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:57pm

Bicycle Madness

I had just left Winn Dixie and turned left on Collier. I then turned right on Tigertail and then left on Hernando. Out of nowhere there was a man, shirtless with shorts, riding a bicycle directly in front of me. It was so frightening to me. Both of us were so lucky that I did not hit him with my car. If I had hit this man he would have ruined my life. And I probably would have killed him. These people who rent bikes and think that they do not have to respect the law will destroy their lives and the person who hit them will have to live with guilt the rest of their life. Tourists on Marco please find places without traffic to ride your rental bikes. Most of you think we are looking out for you; but the residents are not. Do NOT destroy our life and yours. Use the sidewalks and the bike paths and stop and observe stop signs and traffic lights. On Marco Island you are at risk because these old folks DO NOT SEE YOU.

Coping with Alzheimer’s

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:56pm


America’s aging population means Alzheimer’s disease is one of the country’s leading health problems. Learn how to recognize it, how to care for a loved one, when to see a doctor and how to ensure quality end-of-life care. BMO Harris Bank is hosting an open discussion format presentation by Dr. Daniel Kaplan, DO, CMD on Wednesday, April 22nd at 5:00 PM. With 35 years of experience, Dr. Daniel Kaplan is board certified in family and geriatric medicine and associate medical director of VITAS Healthcare in Collier County. The event, to be held at BMO Harris Bank located in the Esplanade at 800 Collier Boulevard, does not require reservations. Call 239/649-2300 for more information. This presentation is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and Vitas Healthcare.

Celebrate Marco Island’s 50th Anniversary

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:55pm

By Don Manley

Much has changed on Marco Island since the Mackle Brothers ushered in the community’s modern era in 1962. It was then that the brothers – Elliott, Robert, and Frank, Jr. – went together with the heirs of Barron Gift Collier and established a joint venture to develop the Island. Their company, the Deltona Corp., created a master plan for the community the Mackles envisioned and also handled construction. In January of 1965, property in Modern Marco was made available to the public for the first time. The 50th anniversary of that momentous occasion will be commemorated the evening of May 1, 2015 at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort & Spa’s Islands Ballroom. Beginning at 6 PM, the black-tie optional affair will feature island artifacts from the last 50 years, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, a champagne toast and dancing to a live band. Members of the Mackle family will be among the special guests and the festivities will also include the Marco Eagle’s “Pioneer Award.” The hotel was originally built by the Mackles, who dubbed it “The Marco Beach Hotel.” Ironically, the end of the evening and the celebration’s end, will also mark the start of the facility’s transformation into its next incarnation as J.W. Marriott Hotel, in January of 2017. “We are so pleased to commemorate this milestone for the island by hosting the final event to be held in the ballroom,” said Rick Medwedeff, the Marriott’s general manager. The Marco Island Chamber of Commerce and the Marco Historical Society began planning the celebration last spring. The Historical Museum will mark the golden anniversary of Modern Marco by opening its permanent exhibit room in 2015, which captures the Deltona Era and provides an historical glimpse into history and development of Modern Marco.

“We are so excited to be showing off all of the historical items and memorabilia that were donated to MIHS, reflecting the last 50 years of Marco,” said Lorie Wagor, the museum’s enterprise manager. The event is sponsored by Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A., the Marriott, the Naples Daily New, with contributions from a multitude of other Marco businesses. Attorney Craig Woodward said, “Marco has had a number of anniversaries before, the 25th, 40th, etc. but the community has gone all out for the 50th and it will be a fabulous event. For those of us who have lived on the Island for many years it is truly amazing the changes in fifty years, and I am sure that the Mackle Brothers would have been thrilled to see what their proposed community of 1965 has become today.”

Rookery Bay Lunch & Learn: A Tale of Henderson Creek

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:55pm

By Steve Gimmestad

One diary, two years of research and a great deal of passion all came together at the Rookery Bay Lunch & Learn on April 7. The final product is a fascinating glimpse into the history of pioneer life on Henderson Creek.
The diary was written by Frank ‘Watts’ Hall and covered 186 days from 1898 into 1899. Watts was a teacher living with the Kirkland family on Henderson Creek and in his diary he shares a very intimate view of what daily life was like near the turn of the century. Ray Carroll was the presenter and, with much help from Chris Durfey, Steve Bertone, and others, assembled the information and put it into a form that both entertains and informs on what life was like in our area. A great combination to enjoy with lunch. Watts was about 25 years old at the time of the writing, he received $35/month as a teacher and was provided room and board at the Kirkland home located on Henderson Creek. The home was considered to be on the upper end of accommodations at the time. It was a life filled with many hardships. Living off the land was the mainstay of existence. Watts mentions in his diary of when the rains would flood the area around the homestead, there was much meat floating about and the smell was very bad. “Skeeters” were a huge plague to contend with and the smudge pots they had to burn in an effort to keep them at bay filled the cabin with smoke and burned the eyes and throat. Many times making it hard for Watts to write in his diary. The details in the diary are many and very enlightening. The daily routine, the hardships, and the joys all translate into shaping the life we know today.

Mr. Carroll sums it by saying: “People are people. The context of where and how they live changes, but people are people.” After the presentation, one audience member commented to Mr. Carroll that: “You are the best speaker I’ve heard in years.” “Thank you,” he responded. “It’s because I’m passionate about this.” His passion is our gain and helps to keep the memory of those who came before us alive; a testament that can be shared for generations to come. Elaine Berninger, a Friends of Rookery Bay member for about 8 years, finds the Lunch & Learn series to be a great way to hear about people’s amazing adventures. It’s free to members with a nominal fee for non-members. A great investment. The Lunch and Learn series at the Rookery Bay Learning center is a great way to learn about our area, our history, and our environment. Plus you get a great lunch in the process. One more in the series will be held on May 5th with Dr. Ellen Prager. Learn more by going to

Relay for Life and the Power of Teams

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:54pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Maureen Chodaba ran the Marco Island Half Marathon in this purple outfit. Maureen received pledges for running the race for her team Buster’s World.

As the saying goes, the more the merrier and with over 30 teams signed up for this year’s Relay for Life, it is going to be a very good event indeed. The teams all working independently towards one goal is a true reflection of the motto “One World, One Hope.” Relay for Life will be held at Mackle Park on Saturday, April 18th. The admission is free. The opening ceremony/survivor lap will take place at 11 AM, the Luminaria Ceremony will be from 9-10 PM and at 10:45 there will be a Closing Fight Back lap. A full schedule is listed on page B/19. More teams to report:

Team BMO (BMO Harris Bank)

Team captain Marva Sutt, her husband Jim and this year’s team members include branch manager Rachel Schenk, co-workers Lilibeth Nordell, Michelle Fetzer, Drew Sutt, and Penny Armstrong. Marva and Jim’s son, Drew, will be cooking on his Weber grille. You can get one of his famous pulled pork sandwiches or chicken wings for a mere $5, choice of a drink for $1. Since we are a Canadian based bank our country theme is Canada. Marva is raffling off a beautiful painting worth almost $500. The painting was donated by her granddaughter Crystal France who graduated from the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. There will be a Barbie basket raffle of a total value of $250. Marva and Jim continuously sell hot dogs at different locations on the Island to raise money.

Team Keller Williams Realty

Representing Brazil “The Rainforest” Keller Williams will have 2 tents with one being all games and the other tent is prizes. There will be animals hanging from the trees in the rainforest. The team is excited to have raised over $2000 to date from our Voice Competition and Yard Sale. Stop by for fun and games. Team Keller Williams has a banner that spells HOPE and has the names of people they’re honoring and in memory of the ones they’ve have lost. The team is excited to have about 20 people helping and supporting. The team has many survivors and they want to honor all. The weekend receptionist at the Keller Williams office, Johanne Daly is currently in the battle fighting against lung cancer and she is winning!!!! So this relay is for Johanne and all the others who are fighting. The team wants a cure so no one has to go through this in the future. There will be two slot machines on site, one can purchase tokens and then win prizes from the prize tent. There will also be hair braiding and hair cutting. Everything in the tent that is purple is for sale, headbands, tutu’s and more.

FDOT Hearing on the US 41 at Lely Resort Intersection

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:53pm


The Florida Department of Transportation is hosting a public hearing about safety improvements to the US 41 at Lely Resort Boulevard intersection. The proposed improvements include: The improvement includes modification of the full median opening to a dual directional opening. Currently all movements are allowed at the median opening. With this change, left turns out of Gridley Medical Building/Equestrian Professional Center and Lely Resort Boulevard will be restricted to improve safety at the intersection. Drivers will continue to be able to make left turns from US 41. Temporary median modification anticipated in summer 2015, with final construction tentatively set for fall 2015. The public hearing is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the Collier County South Regional Library, 8065 Lely Cultural Parkway, Naples, Florida. The public hearing will consist of an open house from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., allowing people time to view displays, ask questions, and discuss the work one-on-one with members of the project team. There will be a brief audio-visual presentation about the project at 6 p.m. followed by public comment period until closing.

Celebrate National Park Week with Free Park Entrance

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:52pm


National Park Week will be commemorated nationwide by the National Park Service April 18 to 26, and Everglades National Park is inviting everyone to come enjoy free park entrance the opening weekend, April 18 and 19. National Park Week is an opportunity to engage families and communities nationwide in America’s Great Outdoors, by reconnecting people with opportunities to enjoy parks located right in your back yard. The theme this year for National Park Week is, “Find Your Park.” “National Park Week is the perfect time for everyone to ‘Find Your Park,’ the national campaign premiered this month to launch the year-long Centennial anniversary of the National Park Service,” said Pedro Ramos, Superintendent of Everglades National Park. “We hope this opportunity to visit your national parks for free will inspire park neighbors and visitors to south Florida to come enjoy the wonderful places that are right here in your back yard. National parks are fun and affordable destinations, and we would like for Everglades National Park to be at the top of your list when you ‘find your park!” said Superintendent Ramos.

Wilderness Writing Expedition Special Exhibit: In honor of National Park Week, a Wilderness Writing Expedition special event is being held on Saturday, April 18, where local college students will display their written works about their wilderness adventures in the Everglades. Inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, each of the students slogged and paddled in the Marjory Stonemen Douglas Wilderness Area and wrote about what it meant to them to, “find their park.” As student writers, each also found their voice, and the April 18 event is being co-sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association, as part of their “Find Your Voice” Initiative. The event is being held at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. A reception with light refreshments will begin at 2 p.m., followed by the first showing of a short video about the Expedition produced by Florida International University, and a social with the students. The Wilderness Writing Expedition Exhibit will remain on display in the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center until the end of May. At Everglades National Park, entrance fees will be waived April 18 and 19 at the main park entrance near Homestead, and at the entrance station at Shark Valley. The main park entrance is located at 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, Florida. Shark Valley is located at 36000 SW 8th Street, Miami, Florida (on Highway 41). Concession operated tours include guided tram tours and bicycle rentals at Shark Valley, boat tours and canoe rentals at Gulf Coast, and houseboat, canoe, kayak, bicycle rentals and boat tours at Flamingo.

If you go: National Park Week (April 18-26) Free Park Entrance April 18 & 19 Wilderness Writer’s Expedition Exhibit April 18, 2-4pm WHERE: Free park entrance at the Homestead and Shark Valley Entrance Stations; Wilderness Writer’s Expedition Special Event at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, 40001 State Road 9336, approximately 10 miles southwest of Homestead. Visitor Center hours 9am-5pm daily. Admission to the visitor center is free.