Syndicate content
Updated: 21 hours 56 min ago

Johnny T: Voices of Legends

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 7:06pm


For one night only you can hear the country’s greatest one-man tribute show as the Marco Island Historical Society presents “The Voices of Legends” on March 29th at 7 PM in the Rose History Auditorium.

“A show like no other, a can’t miss performance” – said the New York Times, Johnny Tarangelo will feature classic songs in tribute to artists such as Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Vinton, Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, Elvis, Dion, Little Anthony, the Drifters, the Platters and more. A former member of the famous Doo Wop group, the Mystics that had a hit record in “Hushabye”, Johnny has performed at the Apollo Theater, the Beacon Theater, Radio City Music Hall and Carnige Hall.

Why see one tribute performance when you can see them all! Tickets are available at the Museum Gift Store for $25.00 per person. For more information call 239-389-6447.

Association Consumer Alert: Watch Out For “Official Documents” That Are Not

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 7:04pm

Condo Law
By Bob Murrell

It’s that time of year again! Many of the Annual Meetings for Associations have already taken place and others will take place within the next few months. After we get by the first of the year, it is time for the Annual Corporate Reports to be filed with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. Most of these are filed by the managers once the Annual Meeting has taken place, so that any changes to the directors or officers of the association can be made. In that way the corporate information for the association can be kept up to date.

It is critical that the corporate annual report be filed timely. The report is required to be filed annually, between the months of January 1 and May 1 of each year pursuant to Section 617.1622, Florida Statutes. It is critical for all for-profit corporations to file before May 1 each year because there is a four hundred dollar ($400.00) late fee for a for-profit corporation if the corporate annual report is not timely filed. We don’t have many for-profit condominium or homeowners associations, although there are some. Most condominium or homeowners associations are not-for-profit corporations and not-for-profit corporations are not subject to the four hundred dollar ($400.00) late fee.

Some folks may recall that this late fee in some cases could be waived under 607.193(2)(b), Florida Statutes, if the corporation did not receive the uniform business report from the Division of Corporations. However that waiver provision was removed by the Legislature in 2010. Now there is no such waiver, except in the case where the corporation was administratively dissolved or its certificate of authority was revoked due to its failure to file an annual report and the entity subsequently applied for reinstatement and paid the applicable reinstatement fee.

In addition to receiving notice from the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations regarding the time to file the Corporate Annual Report, this is also a time of year when the Associations receive “helpful” mail from companies who try to make their mail as official looking and as official sounding as possible, and are seeking to assist the corporation in obtaining a certificate of status or the filing of the Annual Minutes or Annual Corporate Report forms.

As is indicated on the Division of Corporations website under the Consumer Alert section, once an association has been formed, there is no reason to purchase or receive a certificate of status to be considered a valid business entity. Certainly, if the association desires a certificate of status they can order one, but the association can order the certificate of status itself at the time of the filing of the annual report. The certificate of status will only cost the association $8.75.

The association does not want to engage any of the companies who are offering to obtain a certificate of status on behalf of the association in order that the association will be a valid entity. There are various charges by some of these companies but most of them are in the $90 to $125 range. If your association desires to have someone order a certificate of status for your corporation, most any attorney would be more than willing to order you one, or you can go on to the Division of Corporations website and order one yourself.

The other item that always looks confusing to some association boards is the mailing for Annual Minutes or Annual Corporate Record Forms. Our office just received a ton of these on behalf of our clients. Again, they look and sound very authoritative. For just $125 the promoters of these forms will take the information that you send them and then, according to their instructions, they will send you back a set of minutes from the information that you provided. I guess if an association used this service they could put that $125 set of minutes in their minute book right next to the set of minutes that they drafted of their annual meeting for free.

Just be aware that these things are going on. They are neither approved nor endorsed by any government agency and so state on their forms. The best thing that you can do with these documents is to put them in the recycle bin. Be smart, and be aware.


Robert Murrell can be reached at Woodward Pires & Lombardo, P.A., 606 Bald Eagle Drive, Suite 500, Marco Island, FL 34146. Call 239-394-5161 or email Rmurrell@WPL-Legal.Com

Inside The O’Briens

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 7:02pm

Book Remarks
By Maggie Gust


“The diseases which destroy a man are no less natural than the instincts which preserve him.” – George Santayana

Boston PD officer Joe O’Brien is frantic. If he does not find his service weapon RIGHT NOW, he will be late for roll call and he is already in hot water with his sergeant. He looks everywhere, retracing his steps and finally into the kitchen where his wife Rosie is serving breakfast to their four children. The Glock is on the kitchen counter. Each of them denies seeing or touching his weapon even though he knows one of them had to put it there. Feeling the rage boiling inside him, Joe grabs the skillet off the stove and hurls it across the room, splattering bacon grease everywhere and leaving a hole in the dry wall just behind the chair where his youngest teenager Katie is eating eggs and toast.

Thirty-six-year-old Joe’s uncontrollable rage is a behavioral manifestation of Huntington’s prodrome (Greek for running before or ahead of) which refers to symptoms or conditions that may signal the presence of a certain disease. Huntington’s cannot be officially diagnosed until physical symptoms are present – among them are jerking body movements, especially of the upper body. The disease is sometimes referred to as Huntington’s chorea (Greek for dance) because of these muscle symptoms. The patient can look like an uncoordinated marionette and tragically, his/her brain is numb to the activity and the patient is not even aware. That is, until they see the reaction of those around them. It will be almost another decade before Joe is diagnosed and can put a name to this thing that has invaded his body.

In the meantime, he unravels slowly and learns to cover his involuntary small muscle movements and occasional temper flares. Inside, he is worrying that he may have his mother’s disease – alcoholism. Joe and Rosie live in his parents’ home in Charlestown, a traditionally Irish Catholic neighborhood in Boston, and all the neighbors know “Ruth O’Brien drank herself to death.” The vivid memories of her drinking and the physical assaults that often followed were etched in his memory. Right alongside those memories were those of the last five years of her life, spent in the state hospital, wasting away, thinner and bonier at every Sunday visit, speaking incoherently but trying to communicate to her husband, daughter and son.

Inside The O’Briens is at once heartbreaking and incredibly inspiring. If you have read Lisa Genova’s Still Alice or Left Neglected, you know she is a talented storyteller who can simultaneously entertain and educate her reader. Huntington’s is a horrific debilitating disease. The O’Briens personalize it. Joe is in his mid 40s when he is diagnosed and learns just how bleak and short his future is. As overwhelmed as he feels about his own impending deterioration, he is plunged into despair at the thought that he might have passed the gene to his kids.

By Lisa Genova Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster, April 2015, 352 pages, Genre: Fiction Collier County Public Library: Yes

His four children, J.J., Patrick, Meghan, and Katie are in their 20s, just starting adulthood, still finding their sea legs so to speak. J.J. is happily married and looking forward to fatherhood. Meghan dances for the Boston Ballet and Katie is a yoga instructor and in her first “real” boyfriend relationship. Patrick is a bartender and a jokester, a bit irresponsible. Joe and Rosie break the news to the kids at Sunday dinner, including that they have the option of being tested. If the gene is present, they face the possibilities of not developing the disease, or of manifesting symptoms around age 40. They make a pact to keep this information within the family. The exceptions to this are Joe’s two childhood friends, one another police officer, and the other a paramedic.

How this loving but genuine, flawed, fabulous family deals with this horrendous situation is gripping. Joe loses his position with the BPD, but with some dignity intact. He is still grieving the loss of his job, his identity for over 20 years, when two of the kids test positive for the gene. Two others do not take the test. Joe finally gets confirmation that his mother did have Huntington’s and the physical assaults were just the result of her uncontrolled movements. She did not drink herself to death because of course she there was no alcohol in that hospital for five years. The neighbors were wrong. But will they say the same thing about him and will his kids feel the shame he had felt his entire life?

Joe is on the brink of suicide using his service weapon, feeling it will be the best exit. His youngest, Katie, has a chat with him. She senses his despair. It is one of the loveliest father-daughter scenes I have ever read. Short, believable and incredibly poignant.

The story of the O’Brien family is that of struggling to live with impending devastation, faith renewed, faith lost, doubt, rebirth, hope, finding peace and dancing on the shadow of death. Eventually as Joe’s chorea advances, it is impossible to keep the news of his condition inside the family, so the O’Brien bunch goes public in their own inimitable way. Katie’s friend makes Joe a dozen tee shirts with various slogans on them. Genova’s description of a visit to Fenway Park is alternately delightfully humorous and touching.

She does not sanctify this family. The two sons argue at Sunday dinner about whose turn it is to scrape off the food stalactites hanging from the ceiling, formed by Joe’s choreiform movements. Rosie has a spiritual crisis while dealing with the idea of early widowhood and the fact that two of her children are known to be gene positive. Katie vacillates on moving to the west coast with her boyfriend. How they manage to each find his/her own way while becoming even stronger as a family unit is a remarkable story. This is not a tearjerker, but a story of ordinary people struck by genetic lightning who make the decision not to give up on life or each other.

The folk singer Woody Guthrie died of Huntington’s in 1967. His wife started a foundation for research on the disease. The US government has designated it an orphan disease because only about 200,000 Americans are affected by it. This means there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to do research and development. Approximately 10% of HD patients are people under age 20. Ms. Genova makes a plea at the end of the book for readers to consider donating to the research for HD by visiting her website for the link.

Rating: 4.0/5.0. Excellent selection for book discussion groups in my opinion. Can be preordered now at the usual places and will be published the first week of April.


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.

‘Til the Cows Come Home

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:55pm

Speaking of Travel
By Vickie Kelber

Although we have visited Switzerland a number of times, usually choosing to spend a month at a time, our travels have always taken place between early June and late August. On our last trip, we went a little later in the season, determined to stay until the cows came home.

Cows are an important part of Swiss culture and economy. Think Swiss cheese and chocolate. The cow has become a ubiquitous symbol of the country. After landing at Zurich Airport and getting on the internal transportation tram, we were greeted with a recording of cows mooing, cow bells ringing, alphorns, and jodeling. The bell rung on special occasions at the Swiss Stock Exchange is a cow bell. Even the reusable grocery bag that I purchased at a local supermarket was decorated with photos of cows.

The cow culture of Switzerland is unique and governed by laws, government subsidies, and strong tradition. There is something to be said for a country that pays a high price to preserve its traditions.

The Swiss Animal Protection Ordinance is very specific concerning suitable feeding, care, and housing based on current state of knowledge. Calves are given special attention; among the requirements are that calves over a certain age cannot be tethered or muzzled, must have sufficient lying area, must have straw, hay, or similar fodder and sufficient iron in their diets and they must be housed with other calves or at least able to have contact with other cows.

Swiss jodlers performing at an alpzug festival.

Beyond the laws, though, it is typical for all of a farmer’s cows to have names and in some locations the barns are attached to his house. Insurance purchased to cover helicopter evacuation for a family is common in Switzerland and the policy also covers the family’s cows. This is more than just being humane, though. Switzerland is extremely conscious of its environment. The World Energy Council named it number one in the world in terms of energy efficiency, access to resources, and environmental sustainability. Farmers know a sick or dead cow could pollute the ground water system and recognize the importance of quickly removing a sick or injured cow for treatment or disposal.

As many as half to three quarters of a million cows spend their summers in remote high pastures where the mixture of grasses, wildflowers, and herbs are particularly good for making cheese. Cows that are primarily used for milking don’t make this annual trek to higher ground.

Swiss cows enjoying their summer home high in the mountains.

At heights of 5,000 to 7,000 feet, local valley farmers band together to hire a dairyman and herdsmen and women for their cherished cows. These workers must train and qualify for their positions. The main dairyman has to serve at least one season as a helper before assuming lead position. The hours are long and pay low for the herdsmen, but somehow this way of life continues to be attractive to men and women from all walks of life. The dairyman shares his hut, called an alp, with the cows. Often the alp does not have power, running water, or refrigeration.

To help keep track of the cows, they are belled. There is nothing more mellifluous than the symphony of those bells as a chair lift or other aerial conveyance whisks us up a mountain over a herd of grazing cattle.

While the cows are on high, the farmers remain in the valleys, mowing the vegetation, haying, and stockpiling it for the winter. The cows remain in the alpine pastures for approximately 100 days, returning to lower ground by September 30th in a ritualistic, traditional manner. It was this ritual that drew us back to Switzerland this time of year.

Known by different names, alpfahrt, alpabfahrt, alpabzug, alpzug or désalpe in the French part of Switzerland, the “cow parade” is a time for the local farmers and townspeople to rejoice in the summer’s bounty of cheese and the return of their beloved cows to lower ground. The farmers wear traditional clothing while the cows are adorned with huge ceremonial bells, flowers, flags, ribbons, pom poms, even small trees. Typically, the procession is by families, with the largest number of cows at the end. In the Appenzell area of Switzerland, decorated goats precede the cows.

Typical decoration for a cow coming home for the winter.

In many towns, the alpzug is a cause for a festival with lots of food (cheese based, of course) and drink and a market with local products and arts and crafts along with traditional music of alphorns, jodeling, and accordians. Swiss jodeling is not the hokey, high pitched noise sometimes passed off as yodeling by country music stations in the US. Rather it has evolved from a Middle Ages way to communicate between mountain villages into a melodious type of a capella singing.

In other places, the descent takes place without much surrounding fanfare, but, of course, with the traditional costumes, bells, and decorations. If an alpzug happens to pass by a school while it is in session, lessons stop and all the children come outside to cheer the cows.

Our month in Switzerland allowed us to attend a number of alpzugs; some planned, some serendipitous. Perhaps the nicest was in the town of St. Stephan, population 1300. Almost 400 cows descended down to the festival grounds and back to their farms. They came not all at once, but rather by farms, decorated in time honored fashion.

The most memorable, however, was totally unexpected. We were on an alpine bus, taking us up 4500 feet to a remote area from where we were going to hike. As we ascended the steep, narrow, hairpin turn road, a man in traditional costume approached the bus and flagged it down. The driver pulled over to the side in order to let a large group of festooned cows pass us in their descent. This happened three more times as we climbed to our destination. There was no accompanying festival for these cows; they were merely returning home. With all that is going on in the world, it was almost surreal, yet comforting, to witness this peaceful tradition that has been going on for generations.

While the alpfahrt is a time honored, deeply ingrained tradition, some of it may be in for a change. A recent study as part of a doctoral dissertation at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology revealed that those very large bells weighing more than 12 pounds can create noise levels up to 133 DBs and may damage the hearing and feeding habits of cows. These large bells, though, are merely for ceremonial purposes, worn perhaps only 2 days a year; time will tell whether concern for the cows will change tradition.


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.

Join the “Team”

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:42pm

Coastal Connections
Renee Wilson

Submitted Photo : Team Ocean boats check on popular spots like Keewaydin.

Southwest Florida is a great place to live and play because of the beautiful weather, amazing beaches, and great fishing. Forty percent of Collier County’s coastline is protected within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, with hundreds of boaters visiting on a daily basis. The “Team OCEAN” program at Rookery Bay has a mission to help boaters safely and responsibly enjoy the waters and wilderness around Naples and Marco Island.

The boat-based volunteer program got underway at Rookery Bay Reserve in 2007 following a model at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Team OCEAN (Ocean Conservation Education Action Network) volunteers make regular visits to high-use areas such as Keewaydin Island, which is one of the most popular boating destinations in the region.

Forty volunteers currently in the program are fully trained for safety and are well-versed in accurate and effective educational messages for beach visitors. The information they provide, such as “Leave-No-Trace” guidelines, boating safety tips and fishing regulations, helps ensure that their fellow boaters are being responsible guests and stewards of our shores. They also help protect coastal birds by posting and maintaining “Important Nesting Area” signs that alert visitors of the presence of nests on the beach in summer.

Submitted Photo: Team Ocean follows Leave-No-Trace Guidelines.

Florida Sea Grant, Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Marine Industries of Collier County, and other community partners support two vessels and the part-time salary of Mike Wetherbee, the Team OCEAN coordinator on staff at the Reserve. Wetherbee, who came to the Reserve in 2009 to volunteer for the prescribed fire program, is a former marine patrol officer with the New Hampshire State Police. “I just want to give back to this place,” said Wetherbee, who enjoys his free time on the water and also works part-time as an eco-tour provider for a local company.

Wetherbee is building a diverse crew of year-round volunteers to help get the message out so that the ecosystem remains healthy for everyone. His volunteer captains are checked out for navigation skills and certified as safe boaters so that they demonstrate proper boating ethics in everything they do. The on-board team receives training in environmental education and serve as an additional arm of the Reserve’s education program on the water.

In addition to weekly visits to Keewaydin Island, the crews also stop by Cape Romano, Kice Island and other locations within the Reserve to ensure boaters are aware that they are visiting a protected area, and to answer any questions. Most of their encounters, especially at this time of year, are with visitors who are unfamiliar with the area.

“Team OCEAN is the best gig in town,” said Marilyn Naiman, a relative newcomer to the team. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Marilyn has been coming to Marco Island as a visitor since 1983 and now calls it her permanent home. Marilyn enjoys the opportunity to educate beach goers about simple things, such as keeping their anchors away from protected sea oats, and how helpful it is for migrating birds when people give them space.

Submitted Photo:
A boat based volunteer program.

Team OCEAN volunteers carry trash bags, both as a conversation starter and to collect trash. According to volunteers, 90 percent of the people they speak with thank them for picking up trash, and many even help pick up trash that was not their own.

“That’s the bottom line,” says Wetherbee. “Team OCEAN is all about partnering with our local boating community and working to establish an environmental ethic that creates a special and sustainable wilderness experience for all visitors in the Reserve.”

To become a Team Ocean volunteer, individuals must learn about the Rookery Bay Reserve and attend a training course at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. They also accompany the program coordinator, other staff, and experienced volunteers to receive on-the-job experience. Volunteers with boating experience and knowledge of local waters are especially needed.

Visit to find out about joining the team.

Any local boater who doesn’t have time to volunteer is encouraged to take the Team OCEAN pledge at

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Renee Wilson is Communications Coordinator at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. She has been a Florida resident since 1986 has joined the staff at the reserve in 2000.

Somewhere Between Duty and Distraction

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:35pm

Artful Life
By Tara O’Neill

Here’s one that definitely doesn’t apply to just artists, but certainly requires some artful adjustments: The Home Office. You know, the one that modern technology promised would help us shed the scales of The Work Place and allow us the freedom and flexibility to work from our own nests? May I just say, it ain’t that easy.

In fact, it can be really hard. How, for example, is one to stay focused (yes, the f-word) when the kittens need feeding – and then play-time, dang they’re cute – and there’s that laundry to do, the phone is ringing and there are loved ones you don’t want to neglect and Cary Grant is on the old movie channel and emails are gushing through the dike with a force no Dutch boy could stop? Seriously, freedom and flexibility? More like a recipe for disaster. I have such a home office.

But it’s doable, right? We know a lot of professionals who function quite nicely in The Home Office. And I am committed to finding their secrets…and by the way, a complete lack of distractions does not count as a ‘secret.’

Last month – high season, mind you – I opened a “pop-up gallery” in empty store- space in North Naples for two weeks (hence, the term “pop-up”). I filled half of a 1600- foot room with paintings, artful merchandise, and promotional displays. I also brought along my travelling paint rig and a box of canvasses because, as long as I would be there 6-8 hours a day, I might as well put the time to good use. And I painted like crazy.

Ridiculously, I got more work done in two weeks than I had in the past four months. Me, with my treasured Home Office. And Studio. Away from the phone, the computer, the kittens and laundry, I was on fire. Alright, changes would have to be made. The problem, I figured, wasn’t all the things tugging at me while trying to work at home. it was my ability to draw the line between duty and distraction.

Turns out, while I was away at The Work Place the kittens got fed and fooled with, laundry (eventually!) got done, the answering machine answered the phone, the non-profits I support stayed perfectly afloat, and in the end most emails got answered. Life went on without me. Also I sold a lot of work, met some great contacts, and my husband still loves me. Huh.

I am now trying to face The Home Office with more positive control: during certain hours, I will make sure I attend my own business first, I will then attend the needs of the cultural organizations that are as much a part of me as I am of them. Family and friends will have to be patient until our relatively short ‘busy season’ is over, I will miss some things, but I will still make kitten-time, and my laundry is, after all, handled by machines.

Just so you know, I’m failing horribly at my resolutions. Recently, a dear friend and beloved sister visited over a weekend that included two and a half major events for me as participant/organizer/ambassador. (My mom used to caution me, “you can’t go to all the parties!”) In the end, I neglected some of the needs of my business, which left me with short time and temper to attend the needs of event participants. I briefly resented the intrusion of loved ones (who were wonderfully helpful!)…which meant, dang, I’d done it again.

So, if anyone out there’s holding a priceless tip or two for running The Successful Home Office, please share them with me and my thousands of readers. I remain, by appointment, at your service.

Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at

Appraising an Appraisal

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:32pm

All that Glitters

By Richard Alan

Mystery… It’s something an appraiser of fine jewelry such as myself comes across now and then. The mystery is the document I am reading, a professional appraisal that is supposed to describe the piece of jewelry in my hand in every detail, but what I am reading in no way describes anything.

An appraisal dated December 14th 1965, from John Doe Jewelers, One ladies gold diamond ring……. $2,500.00 Huh? I don’t know of any insurance company of this day and age that would even consider accepting this appraisal. It’s like describing a car as… one automobile containing four wheels…. $30,000

The bad news is the customer lost the ring and even though she has been paying for protection for decades against loss the insurance company refuses to settle because of the incredibly vague appraisal from the 60’s. It is not an unusual situation. First of all the horse has left the barn, so to say. I cannot appraise what no longer is in her possession, beside it being unethical to appraise what one cannot see or possess, that even her description of the beloved ring prevents me from putting a current real time price of replacement. If that were the case anyone could tell any appraiser they own the crown jewels in the Tower of London and then claim they were stolen.

So the question is what is an appraisal for fine jewelry? An appraisal is an opinion performed on a piece of jewelry or gemstone that the appraiser physically holds in his hand and analyzes with the authentic tools of his trade that allow him to describe the authenticity, quality of gemstone, measurements, approximate carat weight, design and most importantly, the value of the item.

There are several reasons for a current and valid appraisal, one is for insurance reasons. The document dictates the exact cost of replacing a valuable item. Another reason is for the use of estate settlements. The passing of a family member which can be traumatic enough, is made more difficult if the loved one’s valuable jewelry hasn’t been appraised recently. Who’s to know what’s expensive and what is not?

Last reason is “a need to know” the true value, call it a second opinion after the fact. A touchy subject I mentioned in my last article.

A proper appraisal should be precise and easily describe the piece in question so even a layperson can understand what is printed on the appraisal. For example… One of my average appraisals.

1.) One ladies 14 karat yellow gold diamond and sapphire finger ring, consisting of a center round brilliant cut white diamond measuring 8.00mm.x 3.60mm. The approximate carat weight is 1.56 carats the diamond is H color and SI1 clarity is an ideal cut with excellent scintillation. The flanking two (2) round cut Burmese blue sapphires measure as follows… right sapphire measures 6.50mm. x 3.90mm. Weighing approx. 1.10 carats medium blue in color, slight banding in color, eye clean. The second sapphire measures 6.54mm. x 4.10mm.weighing approx.. 1.24 carats and is a perfect color and clarity match to the before mentioned sapphire. The three gemstones are set in a traditional four prong three stone mounting in heavy 14kt. yellow gold the ring is a size seven (7) and the complete ring weighs 7.9 grams.

Retail replacement value…$18,650.00

Now there are many appraisers out there that may say my rendition is not totally precise such as table dimensions and facet angles, specific gravity etc. etc. My reasons for the simplicity is the tried and true, I use the K.I.S.S. system ( Keep it simple stupid). And don’t forget when a gemstone is mounted it is near impossible to assess the exact weight while in the setting and removal of the gem to confirm exactness is not advised in the industry. Clear and concise is a good appraisal.

Creating and appraising jewelry for over forty years I was only challenged once on my opinion about an appraisal from one insurance company who wanted even the tiniest diamonds in a 74 multi-stone micro-diamond ring individually graded and priced, which is totally ridiculous. And a couple of times for not meeting the insurance criteria by insisting that I must be a full blown registered and certified graduate gemologist. I guess being a practicing goldsmith who purveys in precious gemstones and makes the entire piece of jewelry by hand in his own workshop on a daily basis has no comprehension on what it takes to put a price on a piece of jewelry.

I can assure you there is no law that an appraiser of fine jewelry must be a gemologist. You can expect to pay a lot more for that appraisal if he or she is a registered gemologist, all to simply satisfy an insurance company’s criteria that will later make you jump through flaming hoops and walk over burning coals before you get that deserving settlement check.

There is no doubt that anyone reading this can imagine the before mentioned diamond and sapphire ring vividly in their minds. It would be no problem for anyone picking that ring out of a jewelry box with fifty other items in it. I have seen vague examples and reams of paper describing a single stone ring, besides being confusing. It’s a waste of time and paper.

Also the costs for a professional appraisal can vary, Some jewelers can charge $100.00 and up per article. I knew of one jeweler, who charged a percentage of the total appraisal. He’s no longer in business, no wonder?

My rate is on average $150.00 for one to three articles and $40.00 for every article after that. I secretly shopped around and found I was one of the most reasonable in the area. It may sound like a lot of money, but a lot of time is used measuring and analyzing to come up with current prices. A two carat diamond that was purchased for $2,500 in 1960 can be worth $20,000 or more today, or the couple could have paid $2,000 for a piece of faceted glass, it has happened.

Bringing in old receipts or old appraisals can be helpful and can save me or any other appraiser a lot of time and that can save you money especially if the weights and gem descriptions are valid and agreeable with the jewelry in question. One thing I look for is overpriced or underpriced appraisals.

There is no sense in paying exorbitant monthly or yearly premium payments on an article(s) that is worth many thousands less than its supposed value, or the pain and anguish of having a valuable under appraised diamond come up missing and the insurance check is thousands of dollars shy of the current replacement value of exactly the quality diamond you lost. Remember the two carat diamond I mentioned above purchased for $2,500 in 65’? If lost, they would only get a check for $2,500 not $20,000, because they never updated the old appraisal. Good luck finding a nice two carat diamond for that money. $2,500.00 won’t even buy a decent ¾ carat today.

Another thing I try to catch is over–blown or downright deceitful appraisals. These can come from foreign countries or even the nearby Caribbean islands. It is not uncommon to see incorrect gemstone weights and stone qualities or descriptions put down in writing that are meant to deliberately swindle a naive buyer.

Many years ago a customer brought in expensive jewelry pieces that were supposedly created by the famous artist Salvatore Dali. Everything and I mean everything was in beautifully handmade wooden and satin display boxes with page after page of certified documents proving the pieces were authentic.

So I was asked “What are they worth?” Quite honestly I have never feasted my eyes on anything quite like it. But something didn’t seem right! I called several of my compatriots in Boston and the Big Apple and was told to be careful there were a lot of “Dali” fakes around. The jewelry was of fairly good quality but was it actually created by the master himself? On further investigation I found an obscure address on one of the documents located in Madrid, Spain and eventually contacted the shop. Not only was it purchased from them in the 1980’s but they still manufactured some of the pieces today! Sort of interesting considering Salvatore Dali has been deceased since 1989. The results of my investigation were that they were “authorized” to “reproduce” Mr. Dali’s works but nowhere were those facts mentioned in the documents, and who exactly “authorized” them?

A bit misleading wouldn’t you say? The actual value was around $10,000 not hundreds of thousands of dollars as the owners anticipated the jewelry would be worth.


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith/appraiser and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith and welcomes your questions about “all that glitters” and please note that all appraisals require appointments. 239-394-9275


“A proper appraisal should be precise and easily describe the piece in question so even a layperson can understand what is printed on the appraisal.”

Small Trees but Big Show

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:30pm

Plant Talk
By Mike Malloy

Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena)

For all of us who want to have one of the showiest trees in town in our gardens (Royal Poinciana) and just don’t have the room because of their size, here are some of my favorite small trees that can be grown in courtyards, containers and small yards here in southwest Florida that can also be as special as the big boys.

Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinina pulcherrima) is the little brother to the Royal Poinciana but a much smaller size. This evergreen shrub that can be pruned and trained into a specimen small tree, usually about 10 to 12 feet in height can grow up to 15 feet. This tree also can be called Peacock Flower and the Pride of Barbados.

The foliage is similar to that of mimosa and comes in a range of colors from the all yellow, to red, yellow and orange variety which is most common to a rosy red flower combination. Blooms on and off several times a year and tolerates sun to partial shade.

Hibiscus Tree (Hibiscus fijii) this group of small trees is probably the most used here in southwest Florida. The flowers range in size from dinner plates to small lanterns on weeping branches, exploding in every color of the rainbow and almost any combination. Hibiscus starts out as shrubs that are then trained into standards (shrubs trained into a single trunk). They can be used for color and height in the gardens flower beds or as a single specimen plant. Hibiscus trees make a strong statement when planted singly rather than in mass.

Dwarf Ylang – Ylang (Cananga odorata) First things first, used to make Channel NO.5 perfume, flowers are very fragrant, I mean total garden fragrant, it will permeate the entire yard. It grows only to about 6-8 feet tall and blooms all year. My large Ylang-Ylang tree in my garden has been blooming for over two years straight and at night we have a ritual of standing in the driveway gasping for air. Likes dappled light to partial sun with average water needs. For very little work you receive big benefits from this little beauty which grows well as a container plant.

Desert cassia (Senna polyphylla)

Glory tree (Tibouchina) has showy purple long lasting flowers that bloom from early summer to fall. Planted in a protected area (from winds) helps with its happiness as a small Florida flowering tree. Partial sun and lots of fertilizer and average water will make this a focal point of anyone’s garden. Heavy pruning in the spring also keeps this tree happy and shapely.

Jatropha Peregrina (jatropha integerrima) Blooms all year round with fiddle and oval shaped leaves. It used to be you could only get this plant with red flowers, not that that’s bad but now it comes in a pink and coral color. Major nectar plant for all butterflies, particularly the Florida state butterfly the Zebra Longwing. They have been used in the medians in town with great success and give our roadways color. They can reach heights of up to 15 feet and 10 feet wide but can be held at any size with a little trimming. They have also come out with a ‘Compacta’ which grows smaller and more compact only with red flowers. Full sun to partial shade and drought tolerant rounds out some the bonuses of this small tree. This has been one of my long-time favorites. Not only as a focal point in your garden Jatropha makes a great hedge and also makes a great container plant.

Desert cassia (Senna polyphylla) grows to about 10 feet. This is not only the slowest growing plant I have ever come in contact with. My tree has not grown three feet in 10 years, not kidding. It also happens to be the host plant (plant that butterflies lay their eggs on) for the sulfur or yellow butterflies here in Florida. It makes a great focal point for any butterfly garden and for that matter any garden. Bright yellow flowers appear a couple times a year but bloom a long time making it seem like it blooms all year. Likes full to partial sun and is drought tolerant. Leaves are tiny and feather like.

Hibiscus tree

Crape Myrtle (Crape myrtle spp.) bloom in the summer till fall. Flowers come in shades of white, pink, red, purple and more. If dead headed right after blooming the crape myrtles will most likely bloom again. Leaves give fall colors of purple, red, orange and rust, just before they drop for the winter. In the winter the bark of crape myrtle peals and takes on shades of brown, cream, white and gray. In my opinion that makes the crape myrtle one of the showiest trees in south Florida. Trimming in spring will produce lots of blooms because flowers appear on the new growth.

Orange Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena) is used in south Florida as a container plant, street tree and small shade tree growing to about 20 feet. The Geiger produces brilliant orange flowers all year especially in June and July. The salt tolerance is high, does well by the beach. The orange Geiger is also drought tolerant which makes it perfect for the Naples area. The trees do well in full sun and are used in the medians here in south Florida. With a little pruning they produce a beautiful full canopy. The Geiger’s small fruit have a pleasing fragrance. Geiger trees are also thought of as native trees. They are not.

These are just some of the trees available to us in south Florida. Others are:

Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpininapulcherrima)

Cassias or sometime called Sennas

Angles Trumpet- (Brugmansia)

Pink Tabebuia- (Tabebuia heterophylla)

Carribbean Trumpert Tree- (Tabebuia aurea)

White Geiger-(cordia bossieri)

Weeping Bottlebush-(Callistemon viminalis)

Tibouchina granulosa

Lignum Vitae-(Guaiacum sanctum)

Milky Way Tree (Stemmadenia galeottiana)

Just ask your favorite nursery and they can get it for you if they don’t already have it on hand. 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.


Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:23pm

Body, Mind And Spirit
By Laurie Kasperbauer

……you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need…. - Rolling Stones


I celebrated my birthday recently and as always, I was humbled by the wishes of family and friends. Because I was born on Valentine’s Day, it’s an easy birthday to remember, which is a distinct advantage, especially for my husband. Not that he forgets important dates like anniversaries and birthdays, but because he sees constant reminders of Valentine’s Day through advertisements and store displays, he sometimes even plans ahead, as he did this year. So, several days before my birthday he said, “You should be receiving a couple of packages this week”. Cool! I like packages that arrive at my door. Immediately my brain started anticipating what might be coming. New walking shoes? Something yoga related? Do jewelry stores deliver??? Just a few days later a large rectangular box landed on my doorstep. I grabbed it and brought it in. Fragile, the box said. 24 Long-stemmed, it said. Score! Roses! What a thoughtful and romantic gift! That night when we were together, I opened the box, arranged my roses and displayed them in the perfect spot. Then my husband said. “There should be another box coming.”

How do you top two dozen roses? This next one has to be chocolate or diamonds, right? The next day another box appeared. Similar in shape and size to the box of roses. Cargo Floor Mat Cover it said on the box. Hmmmm. This must be something my husband ordered for himself. I never mentioned needing a floor cover for my car. No, this was definitely his box, not mine. When he got home that night he said. “You didn’t open your gift.” Say what? A rubber floor mat? I played it cool. “I wanted you to be here when I opened it, I said.” So I did. And my husband installed it in the cargo space of my car.

Expectations are a slippery slope. An expectation fulfilled may make us feel happy or accomplished in the short term but soon our mind hones in on the next level, greener pastures or something bigger or grander than where we are. On the flip side, how often does life come up a little short of our expectations? Frequently, I believe. How could it be otherwise? We all have different expectations of any one event. We all have our own perspective; our own point of view. We even have expectations of one another. Yoga has an answer to Expectation. It’s called Santosa.

Santosa is contentment. Santosa means to be happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don’t have. Santosa tells us that there is a purpose for everything, and we cultivate contentment to ‘accept what happens’. And once again, we are reminded to live in the Here and the Now. To be present.

When I first decided to practice yoga it was for the same reasons most of us do. I wanted to become more flexible, maybe lose a little weight and work up a sweat. These were my expectations of yoga. I didn’t have any interest in the theory of yoga practice. I had no idea how powerful the noise in my mind had become and therefore I had no interest in quieting that voice. Meditation sounded like pure torture. To be present, and enjoy the moment at hand, sounded like such a waste when there was so much to anticipate. Dwelling on past mistakes was my punishment for making them in the first place, right?

Through yoga practice, I have become more flexible. Yet the ability to get into a bind or do a lovely Triangle pose are not nearly as beneficial to me as the ability to calm my mind and my breath. I don’t need to touch my toes often throughout the course of a day, but reaching deep inside for compassion, contentment, balance and peace….these things I look for constantly and yoga guides me in my search.

In anticipation of the packages I was promised to receive on my birthday I allowed my expectations to trample the beauty of what was right in front of me. My husband, in his thoughtfulness and love, gave me a gift that I needed. The gift is a reminder that we all have a different point of view, and expectations are built on unstable foundations, begging to be toppled. I love my rubber floor mat! It collects the sand that constantly falls from my yoga gear and keeps it contained. It guards the carpet from tears and stains. But beyond this, my floor mat reminds me that what we receive may have far greater value than what we expect. My expectations will not always be realized. But if I try, I will find that I get what I need.


Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.

Manatees Are Back!

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:19pm

By Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

During the week of March 4th thru the 11th I was fortunate to be on the water every day. In addition to surveying our area dolphins, some other marine and bird life was very noticeable.

A manatee surfaces briefly for some air.

A few Kemp-Ridley turtles popped their heads up and some of the osprey hatchlings are now several weeks old and growing fast. Arriving from as far away as Brazil on their 10,000 mile round-trip journey, even a few Swallow Tailed Kites were seen.

The biggest surprise of all was 5 separate sightings of those lumbering aquatic giants in the Marco River area, the manatees.

Having wintered in the warmer fresh waters of the area, I saw about 30 of them in a canal north of U.S. 41 and just west of Rt. 29 a few weeks ago ) they seem to be returning to their summer homes. Information from a friend tells me that the manatees have already left the Lee County power plant area as well, a favorite place to see them during the colder months.

Of the few manatee species in the world the West Indian manatee calls Florida its home and can also be found in Central and South America. The West Indian manatee is the largest of all of these species and can weigh up to 1,300 pounds and grow to lengths of 11 feet. They are herbivores, which means that they only eat plants and they eat a lot. They will consume about 10% of their body weight in plants each day.

A major misconception about these mammals is that they are very fat, since they weigh so much. The opposite is closer to the truth. Manatees have very little body fat, a reason that they disappear from our canals and rivers for several months during the winter. It is nearly impossible for them to survive in water temperatures below 60 degrees so they head for the warmer fresh water areas not too far from here. These waters provide a fairly consistent temp for them. Without that body fat they are subject to hypothermia and other cold related diseases.

They have a huge bone structure and large intestines that account for much of their body mass. They spend most of their time eating as well as resting or traveling. Since seagrass beds and water vegetation are favorite foods we will find them primarily in shallow rivers, canals, coastal areas, saltwater bays and estuaries.

As with most large mammals, manatees have a low reproductive rate. Both males and females become mature enough to reproduce in the 5 to 9 years of age range. One calf is usually born every 2 to 5 years. Since they are mammals, this would be a live birth and the infant will feed from mother’s milk. These newborn will weigh approximately 40 pounds and stay with mom for several years. The gestation period is around 13 months.

One of the most unique features of these “sea cows” is their teeth. They have 6 to 8 flat molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws for a total of 24 to 32 teeth. Since they continually chew for 7 to 10 hours per day these molars become worn by sand and grit very quickly. To compensate for this, the manatees are constantly producing new teeth. They are called “marching molars”. New teeth develop at the rear of the jaw and “march” forward at a very slow rate as the older, worn teeth fall out. This process also occurs in kangaroos and elephants.

Although we find them in the saltwater or brackish (mixture of salt and fresh water) areas during most of the year, they do not drink salt water. Their intake of water occurs while eating aquatic plants. Otherwise they must return to fresh water to drink but only once every week or two.

So keep an eye on our river and canals as well as the shoreline. You may be lucky enough to see that snout come up for a quick breath, but look quickly. That one intake of air can sustain them for as long as 15 minutes.


Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and a naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer. Bob loves his wife very much!

Naomi’s Up to Her Ears in Kittens!

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:15pm

For the Love of Cats
Naomi & Karina Paape

Dear Fellow Felines:

I’m up to my tortie ears in kittens! I’m talking lots and lots of kittens! Just the other day I was making my morning rounds – taking inventory if you will, and thought surely my eyes were deceiving me; so much so that I had to dig out my calculator. The numbers weren’t lying. Sometime in the early hours of a placid March morning, nine kittens appeared as if out of thin air. We – For the Love of Cats, Marco Island’s no-kill cat shelter – had recently taken in two homeless and very pregnant mamma cats who’d been kicked to the curb by irresponsible humans who’d failed to have their furry friends spayed.

In the course of my feline head count, I discovered that both mammas had proudly given birth to their kittens while I slumbered on a ledge 12-feet above the sleeping bodies of shelter co-founders Jim and Jan Rich. Naturally, I ran back into the house and awakened them (I use their torsos as a trampoline) so they could share in the joy. What fascinated the three of us most was that the two mom cats – officially known as “queens” (after having their first litter) – were housed in adjacent condos. I really should have gotten in on the shelter volunteers’ birth-date-and-time pool. Yet another opportunity missed.

Sweet girl-cat “Bea”, a subdued tri-color tabby, gave birth to five kittens: Timmy, Bongo, Goose, Buck, and Badger. Proud mamma number two – “Katy”, a docile black cat – gave birth to four beautiful kittens my staff felt compelled to name: Roo, Kiwi, Joey, and Taz. When you add in our already-in-residence tabby queen Avril’s four kitten haul of a few weeks earlier, that’s 13 new kittens! My favorite – and you won’t be surprised – is a chocolate tortie named “Blossom” from Arvil’s litter (tortoiseshell is not a breed; it refers to a coat color comprised of any combination of brown, amber, black, cinnamon, and red). Her siblings are named Basket, Asher, and Jellybean. And no, I can’t honestly tell you how my staff of 80 volunteers (remember, dogs have owners; cats have staff) come up with these out-of-left-field names.

Since we last spoke, the shelter has had two big scares. The first came when one of our more grown up kittens – “River” – went into acute renal (kidney) failure, much to the horror of her fur-ever home’s parents. The youngster had somehow ingested a pesticide that had been applied to the yard the day before, possibly from swallowing a poisoned bug. When her owners found her not moving and hunched in pain, they rushed her to their vet where she spent the next five days on IV fluids to flush the toxins from her kidneys.

In the meantime, her littermate – “Joan” – spent the days and nights of River’s lengthy hospitalization searching the house and meowing for her friend whom she thought was simply playing hide and seek.

River’s ordeal compelled me to research what substances/materials are deadly to cats. The biggest culprit, according to The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, is topical anti-flea treatment. These products contain permethrin, an insecticide that can be fatal to cats if absorbed in high concentration. Most cases of feline permethrin poisoning result when an owner accidentally applies an anti-flea product meant for dogs to a cat. In some cases, the over toxicity is the result of a cat licking the coat of a dog to whom the product has been recently applied.

River is now thriving, so much so that she made a video of herself playing with water coming out of the faucet of her staff’s bath tub. I was so entranced by her performance that I started practicing the faucet dance in Jim’s bathroom sink. In addition to splashing water everywhere, I have mastered the art of drinking from the unpredictable stream of water. Sadly, however, I think I’ve hurt Jan’s feelings. She laments, “Only Jim’s sink will do!” But it’s really not about favoritism, it’s about tortie-tude (we are strong-willed and very possessive of our person)! While we’re on the topic of the complex nature of tortie personalities, I am happy to report that a newly discovered Dr. Seuss book will be published by Random House, titled “What Pet Should I Get?” A no brainer right?

Our second big scare came when a de-clawed, 12-year-old cat named “Rascal” dashed out the front door of his fur-ever home and disappeared into the woods. An immediate search was launched and Rascal was found torn to pieces but alive. A bobcat had gotten hold of him and, but for the intervention of the family’s dog, would have surely killed him. Poor Rascal was covered with bite wounds and suffered a complex leg break and nerve damage. He has been recovering at the shelter for the last six weeks and should be able to go home sometime next month.

In the meantime he is undergoing physical therapy under my expert supervision. I send him on forced marches around the shelter several times each day. And if I must say so myself, and you know I must, Rascal is progressing by leaps and bounds, which reminds me, did you know specialty veterinary hospitals are now using underwater treadmills for cats? Since 90-percent of geriatric felines suffer from some form/level of arthritis, said treadmills can improve their quality of life. These treadmills are also used for cats who’ve lost a limb and thereby must learn to walk on three legs.

Rascal is a repeat escape artist who has crossed the threshold of For the Love of Cats several times. As shelter supervisor, I’ve tried to rehabilitate him from his door-dashing ways. The only remedy for wily cats like Rascal, however, is to put them in a closed room when leaving the house. Or there is the very humiliating remedy of being put into a mesh-front, enclosed pet “stroller” and taken on tours of the neighborhood to satisfy these cats’ need to flee. I know of one very fluffy and very determined white Persian named “Cleopatra” who actually submits to said excursions. She insists that her daddy take her out each morning in her pink stroller to retrieve The Wall Street Journal. She justifiably expects a palmful of treats to soothe her blushing soul.

Now that we’ve ended up on the topic of food, my favorite subject, I have some fun facts to share with you. Forty-five million U.S. households are occupied by cats, 83-percent of whom consider their cat part of the family. Americans spend roughly $56 billion a year on their cats and dogs. Of that, an impressive $22 billion is spent on food alone. However, I don’t think I’m getting my fair share!

Love, nips, and purrs!


Naomi is a 6-1/2-year-old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website,

No Snoozin’ in Goodland

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:12pm

Goodland Life
By Barry Gwinn

Seasonal visitors driving through Goodland or visiting some of our excellent eateries, observe a sleepy village (except on Sundays) where, during the week anyhow, nothing much seems to happen. There are no stores, beaches, theaters, or malls. The village is surrounded by water and mangrove forests. There is only one way in and one way out. What do those guys do anyhow? Quite a bit actually.

One of my favorites is the self-styled Pool Sharks and Red Hot Mamas. Formed in 2009, this eclectic bunch gets together every Thursday afternoon, at a member’s house to shoot pool for nickels, dimes, and bragging rights. The group is made up of a World War Two veteran, a retired FBI Agent, a retired hardware store owner/school teacher, and a retired builder. Two of us are long time seasonal residents, and two live here full time. The bond that we have in common is an unconditional love for and appreciation of Goodland.

For three hours, passers-by can hear shouts of triumph and groans of defeat reverberating from the pool room. Praises for Kentucky basketball, Florida football, and Duke basketball are also voiced. The merits of Urban Meyer are debated. History and politics are dissected. But mostly, nine ball and eight ball are played with intensity, punctuated by a hearty guffaw at a miscue.

At 4:30, the group breaks up to meet for a late lunch with their wives. It was the wives who decided on the name for the group. These ladies are supportive of the Pool Sharks and active in the community. They obviously consider themselves to be Red Hot Mamas and look the part. We generally meet at one of our favorite restaurants either in Goodland or Marco Island. Occasionally, one of the Mamas will have us over for dinner or desert.

At these gatherings one can learn of life during the Depression in rural Kentucky, Life in J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, unfair competition to small business owners by Walmart, and life in the U.S. Navy in the 60’s. Experiences in the Michigan National Guard during the 1960’s Detroit riots are also recounted as are the personal and poignant experiences of each of us as we have progressed through life.

For me, Thursday afternoon is usually the social highlight of the week, and as we drive home from lunch, I am already looking forward to next Thursday.

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

Davis Cup Action: Great Britain downs USA again

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:10pm

By Doug Browne

Even though we had the home court edge last year, (San Diego) the Great Britain Davis Cup team stunned the USA squad 3-1. Every tennis fan was well aware of GBR’s Andy Murray and his stellar record but the Americans knew they could outshine James Ward and win both singles matches. Additionally, the USA squad boasts the best doubles team in the game today, which enables the team to win 3-2. Unfortunately, tennis matches are not played on paper; Ward played loose and free and was able to topple both Sam Querry and Donald Young.

Last week, the USA team had to travel to Glasgow and cope with the rabid Murray fans; not only could they cheer for Andy in his singles contests but they were primed to cheer on Jamie in doubles play.

Coach Jim Courier did not have current Grand Slam champions to choose for his traveling team but he did have a healthy John Isner. Any time Isner hits the tennis court; his gigantic serve gives our team a fighter’s chance to knock off an outstanding player like Andy Murray. Captain Courier stunned me with his other pick, Donald Young. Why?

Many of my fellow tennis coaches were rooting for rising star, Steve Johnson Jr. of USC fame whose ranking is climbing rapidly. Not only does this young man sport a huge serve but he also commands a fierce forehand drive. Moreover, Johnson has become a crowd favorite because he is so tenacious on the court. Johnson’s fight for every point is infectious and this attitude would resonate with his new teammates and just might give team USA a slight edge.

Regrettably, the ‘Brits’ rose to the occasion once again as they soundly defeated team USA. Perhaps there was just too much pressure on Team USA to win both singles matches against James Ward and then claim the doubles point?

Without a doubt, American men’s tennis is down, as we have not had a Grand Slam winner since Andy Roddick won the US Open. Presently, we do not have a player ranked in the top ten and it may be a few years before we see a big change. But, as I alluded to earlier, we can control our team attitude as GBR doubles player, Jamie Murray made this astute observation last weekend:

“It’s obvious to me that we’re a much tighter team than the Americans. The way everyone on the bench is getting behind us. I didn’t feel that from their team at all. “They weren’t getting up or cheering or anything for the Bryans. Our guys were going hell for leather every point.”

When I think of big upsets in sports, I vividly remember the Florida Gulf Coast (Ft. Myers) men’s basketball team knocking off one top seeded team after another in the March Madness tournament. The FGCU bench was going nuts after every big play and in short time, the neutral crowds were pulling for the underdogs.

One of the enduring facets of Davis Cup or Fed Cup is that tennis players are pitted in a team event where attitudes and emotions could carry a team to victory. Had Captain Courier chosen to go with fiery Steve Johnson Jr., he might have catapulted his team to victory.

In Courier’s defense, he probably hesitated to have a Davis Cup rookie cope with pressure of playing on the road in potentially hostile conditions. To me, it was the perfect time to roll the dice as we needed a real shot in the arm and I’m confident our two-time NCAA singles champion would have provided.

Okay, we need real solutions to solve these numerous problems with USA tennis. Pro friend, Donnie Petrine would like to tweak Title 9. His resolution would be to change the magic number, 85 (equated to the number of male football scholarships at D1 schools) and lower this number so we do not have to eliminate so many men’s tennis teams.

When Title 9 was instituted in 1975, no one knew that there would be any negative consequences. Since my wife, Leslie, received a full tennis scholarship to play for the Lady Lobos in that year, I am well aware of the overall importance of this groundbreaking event. However, since the advent of Title 9, numerous men’s tennis teams have been eliminated and this has had a profound effect concerning men’s tennis in this country.

In addition, with so many collegiate tennis scholarships being awarded to foreign-born players, American kids are left out of the loop and it has had a very negative effect for our teenagers. When I scour rosters throughout Division 1, some teams only have one or two American boys on their teams. With my son, Matthew currently playing D1 tennis at Furman, I have seen first-hand how many different foreigners are on each squad. For instance, during the Southern Conference Championships last spring, Matt played two Australians and one South African tennis player.

Indeed, the conundrum for parents with talented kids is whether they wish to spend the money to develop a future tennis champion. If the trend continues, the up and coming young tennis player may only have one option: Turn professional and bypass college.

On various Internet tennis forums, there are many concerned coaches and parents who are trying to offer new alternatives to this specific issue: Is it possible to have a limit of scholarships for foreign-born players? (Is it constitutional to pass such a proposal?)

There is quite a bit of optimism concerning the appointment of the new Player Development Director (replacing Patrick McEnroe) and the construction of the new mega-complex in Orlando. We need a full-time Player Development Director who is open minded about our future stars; we must allow private coaches and not be rigid about where one must train.

Finally, we need to eliminate bureaucratic mandates on how to run our game. Whether it be 10 and under tennis (green balls etc.…) collegiate tennis (shortening the game to satisfy television) or the elimination of popular junior events all around the country. There is no perfect plan to produce an eventual ATP or WTA champion. Some kids need to stay near home and others may flourish being far away and constantly traveling. If we are flexible, it’s bound to reap benefits.

Here is my simple solution to our growing issues in tennis: Put together large groups of former top players and coaches in different sectors of the United States. If certain people cannot attend, allow various electronic solutions so one may hear a large variety of opinions. Compile all of the data and then have a report to use at the new complex in Orlando. There are too many capable, talented, dedicated tennis experts who will have meaningful solutions. I guarantee it!


Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.

Before the Dog

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 6:07pm

By Mike P. Usher

Shining high in the sky tonight in the southeast is the bright star Procyon in the otherwise non-descript of Canis Minor – the little dog. Canis Minor processes but two stars – Procyon being the brightest. Procyon is larger, hotter and brighter than our Sun, but the primary reason it’s the seventh brightest star in the sky is that it is so close to us, only 11.46 light years.

Procyon is thought to be approaching the end of its life and will soon become what is known as a red giant star and expand to over 80 times its present size with a corresponding increase in brightness. It won’t be soon on a human time scale though. The expansion probably will not start before 10 million more years elapse. After the red giant phase is over, Procyon will shrink down to a white dwarf star not much larger than the Earth – too dim to make out without a telescope.

Procyon’s name comes from the Greek “prokyon” meaning “before the dog”. It comes by this name by rising before its neighbor Sirius the dog-star in most northerly latitudes. This is untrue on Marco Island, however. Sirius beats out Procyon by a couple of minutes.

Between Procyon and Sirius lies a very obscure constellation called Monoceros, the unicorn. You won’t be seeing it tonight with the Full Moon in the sky. In a couple of days look again, Monoceros will still be hard to spot but with your binoculars sweep the area and you may be rewarded with the sight of several star clusters. M47 is perhaps the brightest of these.

As long as you have your binoculars out, look at Jupiter. It’s very high and bright in the eastern sky, nearly overhead – you can’t really miss it even with the Full Moon shining. With ordinary 7×35 binoculars it is easy to see up to four of Jupiter’s satellites although just seeing two or three is common. Holding your binoculars rock steady will help you get a good look; try resting your elbows on the roof of a car if you don’t own a tripod.

See you next time!


Mr. Usher is president of the Everglades Astronomical Society, which meets the second Tuesday each month at 7 PM in the Norris Center at Cambier Park in Naples.

South Seas Towers – Enjoy the Island Lifestyle at a Median Price!

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 5:45pm

By Gary & Sandy Elliott

The median price of the 342 condos listed for sale on Marco Island this week is $479,000 – half of the condos for sale on the island are priced below $479,000 and half are listed for more than $479,000. Representative of this middle price range are the four South Seas Towers located on the beach along Seaview Court. Altogether there are 848 condos in these four buildings. This week, 43 of them are for sale ranging in price from $376,000 to $779,000. All of these condos are two bedroom, two bathroom units with differing floor plans. The unique architectural design of the towers provides views of the beach, Gulf and sunsets to the west, northwest, southwest and south depending where in the building the condo is located. Many of the apartments have been extensively renovated and updated since the original construction in 1980.

South Seas Towers is an upscale, private, gated community with all the amenities condo buyers are looking for like boat docks for lease, tennis club, resort style heated pools, fitness club, shuffle board and covered parking. Lush landscaping, walking paths and Marco’s crescent beach are steps from the buildings. Towers 1 and 2 to the south allow 30 day minimum rentals averaging $6,500 per month in season and Towers 3 and 4 to the north offer weekly rentals of about $1,800 per week in season. Many buyers of these condos do so because a few weeks or months of rentals can offset the annual operating costs of condo fees, insurance and taxes. The residents here come from all over the United States, Europe and Canada.

Spectacular sunset views are ever changing as are the Gulf waters. Tigertail Beach is adjacent to the complex and great for residents to enjoy kayaking or a stroll along Sand Dollar Island collecting seashells. Tigertail Beach has a children’s playground, food concession and beach equipment rental facility. South Seas Towers is just a short distance to the Island’s restaurants & shops providing another way to enjoy Marco Island’s relaxed lifestyle at a median price.


Wellfit Girls Peruvion Adventure

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 10:35am

By Don Manley

Jill Wheeler rejoices at the summit of Huayna Picchu, the peak that rises above the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru.

Alexis Buhelos embarked on a bold journey of self discovery last year that brought about some life-altering changes for the then 14 year old.

The Marco Island resident and a group of other teen girls from Lee and Collier counties devoted five months of their lives to expanding their fitness, empowerment and leadership skills through the Naples-based Wellfit Girls Program.

Created in 2014, the Wellfit Girls Program is dedicated to inspiring girls between 13 and 18 years old to maximize their potential through regular group meetings and a rigorous regimen of yoga, fitness and leadership training. That process prepares the youths for what comes next, a ten-day expedition to Peru for intensive cultural immersion. The excursion includes a three-day trek through the Sacred Valley and up to more than 15,000 feet and culminates with a 7,972-foot skyward trek to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, one of the new Seven Modern Wonders of the World.

They are joined on the mountain expedition by 10 Peruvian teen girls, who are integrated into the group and help introduce them to life in that country.

“It changed my life, it really did,” said Buhelos, a sophomore at Lely High School. “It just helped me to see that I’m more than I believed myself to be and that it’s not ever impossible to make a difference, that no one has to be stuck in this place they’re in, that they can make a difference, that nothing is out of your reach. It just opened me up to having a better self image.”

Machu Picchu: The 15th Century Incan city sits high in South America’s Andes mountain range. Peru.

Wellfit Girls was created by Jill Wheeler, a mental health counselor, yoga teacher and fitness enthusiast who is also the founder of the Wellfit Institute in Naples, which offers fitness classes, wellness and empowerment coaching, workshops and adventure travel excursions.

Wheeler, of Naples designed the Wellfit Girls Program to challenge the teens on all levels as a means of helping them develop the coping skills and drive necessary to overcome obstacles, whether it is those they face today – body image and self esteem, bullying, eating disorders or substance abuse – or the issues that can arise later in life.

Those issues can be a part of any teen girl’s life, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances, she said.

The physical tests, such as the mountainous climb to Machu Picchu, serve as a metaphor for the skills required to overcome life’s difficulties.

“The goal is to inspire and empower each girl while nurturing and developing each girl’s individual leadership style,” according to Wheeler. “We are building strong women to be our future leaders.”

Wheeler is a Connecticut native whose comfortable upbringing did not shield her from the angst and alienation that can plague teens. “I didn’t have a real outlet for my unique way of being,” she said. “I grew up in New England and we were supposed to be conservative, but I was a bit outside of that.”

Alexis Buhelos shows her joy at reaching the summit.

Long drawn to the outdoors, as a young adult Wheeler moved out West where she found herself contending with the fear and uncertainty that can be part of the human condition. She decided the solution lie in what she called “the ultimate journey,” a solo backpacking trip in the wilds of Wyoming, which she undertook in 1994.

“I had the skill and strength, but also I had the knowledge,” she said. “When I was out there, I realized how empowering a solo trip was and I wanted to provide that for people in life, a vehicle for transformation. I left the ordinary world and stepped into the unordinary world. It was beyond comfort to find a bigger part of myself to overcome fear.”

Wheeler was leading a wilderness excursion with a group of adolescents about 15 years ago when the idea of starting the program that became Wellfit Girls began to take shape. The group was a mix of wealthy and less materially advantaged teens, who found themselves challenged when a torrential rain storm hit.

“I realized it (nature’s challenges) was the ultimate leveling of the field because everybody was dependent on one another,” she said. “There was no advantage to having wealth. There’s no advantage to anyone when you’re out in the elements in the wilderness. I think that can be empowering and humbling at the same time.”

The 11 girls began preparing in January for this year’s trip, which begins June 8. They meet twice a week, including one-hour long sessions with personal trainer Andrew Miranti of Total Athletic Performance at the Naples Bath and Tennis Club.

Wheeler and Miranti will accompany the girls this year, along with Colby Robertson, program director for Wellfit Girls and a former journalist with WINK-TV.

Buhelos said that although the opportunity to travel to Machu Picchu interested her initially, it took awhile before she was truly excited by the prospect of making the trip.

What was muting her sense of anticipation?

“My mentality because I was not in a good place mentally and I was telling myself I couldn’t do it,” said Buhelos. “It was just something that took a bit of time. I was surrounded by a group of people. Just being there and knowing that did it. I overcame it.”

Buhelos said that as the process unfolded, the girls developed close bonds, ties that grew stronger during their Peruvian experience. “We were like family during the trip and we still are,” she added.

Last year’s journey to Peru was filmed and turned into the feature-length documentary “Warrior One,” which has screened locally as a fundraiser Wellfit Girls, as well as elsewhere in the country. The documentary is intended to serve as an inspiration to girls around the world.

Wellfit Girl’s Program is in the process of obtaining its nonprofit status, so it is a partner with local non-profit, the House of Gaia Community Learning Center in Naples, for this year’s excursion.

Robertson said Wellfit Girls is holding fundraisers all spring because while it’s hoped parents can contribute to the $5,000 per-girl cost for the program’s training, travel and expedition, not all of them can.

“So we’re looking to raise at a minimum $50,000,” she added. “We are constantly looking for corporate sponsors and private donations.”

There are three upcoming funders over the next month:

  • A Day In the Life of a Wellfit Girl With Jill, Andrew and Erica Norgart will be held from 4:30p.m. – 6:30 p.m., March 27 at Total Athletic Performance 4995 Airport Pulling Rd. North). The workout will consist of 90 minutes of exercise, including yoga for a suggested donation of $20.
  • The Swing for the Stars Golf Tournament is set for a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m., April 18 at the Vinyards Country Club in Naples. The cost is $125 per person and sponsorship opportunities are available.
  • The Bala Vinyasa Benefit for Wellfit Girls will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., April 25 and feature power Vinyasa yoga for all levels led by Debi Grilo. The cost is $20 per person and the event will be held at Bala Vinyasa Yoga in Naples. After the class, there will be a silent auction and a bake sale, with all proceeds going to the Wellfit Girls Program.

For more information about these events, contact Colby Robertson at 529-0366.


Thu, 03/19/2015 - 8:51am


Tarik Ayasun

Other than taxes and death, we can always count on one other certainty in life; extremely short memory of our fellow Americans. It wasn’t long ago when the previous Speaker of the House Mrs. Pelosi uttered the now infamous words “We have to pass the health care bill so you can find out what’s in it.” With those words of wisdom, the flock of sheep who parade as U.S. Congressmen passed a massive law which may at the end bankrupt the country, if it has not already done so. Now, the leaders of the same group who gave you Obamacare want you to trust them to sign a nuclear treaty with Iran! When asked what the details are, we are being told to wait and see; once it is signed, we will let you have the details! There used to be a popular saying, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.” I am not sure people use this saying any more but it is as appropriate an expression of dismay today as it ever was. Before we get into discussing whether this is a good or a bad deal (we have no idea of the details) we must establish the fact that United States Government policy is NOT to negotiate with terrorists or states that support terrorists. Iran fits into both categories and therefore we must question the wisdom of negotiating with them in the first place!
What are we doing? What is wrong with the leadership? Since our government already chose to negotiate with terrorists, exchange terrorists for deserters, release terrorists back to freedom so they can kill more innocents, let’s examine some details. Surprisingly, in any deal anyone makes with Iran, I trust the Iranians. One can be sure without any reservation whatsoever that any deal Iranian Mullahs sign with the United States or any other nation will not
be honored. They will lie, they will cheat and mock us for the fools that we are. That is why I trust them because they are so predictable. You will know going in exactly how you will be coming out, as losers! One has to be a total fool to believe that Iran can be stopped from building a nuclear weapon in order to threaten her neighbors, destroy Israel and go after the rest of
the Western world. Who is our head negotiator in this unfortunate situation? Secretary of State John Kerry! This is where the short memories of our fellow Americans come in. Does anyone remember his testimony in Congress on April 22, 1971? Well, I do remember distinctly as a student at the
University of Maryland, sitting around the black and white TV in the social room with a number of Vietnam veteran students with missing limbs and continued nightmares about the war, watching John Kerry speaking on behalf of a group called “Vietnam Veterans against the War.” The lies he told
Congress that day will remain with me for the rest of my life and that is why I trust the Iranians more than John Kerry when it comes to signing nuclear treaties or anything else. With the Iranians, we already know the outcome. With John Kerry, we may never know the truth. He is the same man who lied about throwing away his Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts when it was convenient to do so; and changed his mind years later when running for President that it was only his ribbons that he threw away. Now the entire country is supposed to trust this man who lies out of convenience. During his testimony before the US Congress, Kerry lied about the activities of the US Military personnel in Vietnam who were putting their lives on the line day in and day out. “I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command…. They told the stories about times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. And now, we are asked to believe that as Secretary of State of the greatest nation on earth he is to be trusted to sign an agreement with the Mullahs of Iran to stop them from proceeding with their nuclear program! Give me a break! Let us remember the immortal words of the Prime Minister of Israel, our closest ally in that part of the world when he spoke to
our Congress; with 58 unfortunate Democrat members boycotting his talk in order NOT to hear the truth. “… no country has a greater stake — no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat. Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity. You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the
difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace we all desire.” I trust the words of Mr. Netanyahu. His struggle is for the life and death of the nation of Israel and millions of Jews who live there. Mr. Kerry’s struggle on the other hand is for delivering a “legacy” for his boss at any expense. At our expense. At Israel’s expense. At the Middle East’s expense. America should never, ever sign any agreement with the Mullahs of Iran under any conditions. The Mullahs of Iran are the purveyors of death and destruction. They have American blood on their hands. All
they want to do is to establish a Shiite Caliphate in the Middle East in competition with the Islamic State terrorists’ recently declared Sunni Caliphate. If we think things are complicated in the Middle East now wait till Iran gets its dirty hands on a nuke. You can be sure they will use it.

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 turk1949@comcast. net

Spring Break Then and Now

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:49am

By Pat Newman

Ah! Can you smell it? The scent of sun lotion and beer is everywhere. That means only one thing—spring break is here again. That heady mix of aromas reminds me of some of the best times of my life, especially my first foray into Florida during college break in the 1970s. My friend Donna and I headed to Daytona Beach in search of sun and fun and discovered sun, 40 degree temps and a few hangers-on from the weekend’s Daytona 500. Intrepid travelers that we were, we decided to continuing driving south until we got a “good vibe” and temps above 70 degrees. We had no reservations anywhere, so we were free to cruise all the way to Key West if we wanted. Equipped with a an eight-track tape deck and a small suitcase of music, we sang, stopped for free orange juice, picked up cute hitch-hikers (remember, it was the 70s) and refueled the Malibu station wagon I commandeered down I-95 for a paltry 95 cents a gallon. Eating healthy and nutritious food was not even on our radar, so a bag of White Castle burgers for breakfast and a slice of pizza for lunch provided enough nourishment until happy hour. Donna had a brainstorm that we should go to West Palm Beach where she once lived for a year or two and bunk with a retiree named Ann. “She will absolutely love to
have us,” Donna predicted. I was slightly skeptical of the proposed plan, but with no other options on the horizon and the temperature soaring hour by hour we arrived at Ann’s door step and after some fast talking from Donna (she knows no other way to talk) we were spending our vacation in Riviera Beach. Our refuge was a stone’s throw from the beach where we camped on the floor in sleeping bags free of charge. In addition to lodging, we were also taught how to crochet tops on dish towels courtesy of Ann, walk her flatulent-prone poodle Missy, and play a lot of canasta with Ann and her buddies. When we weren’t taking Ann out to Early Bird specials in gratitude for her hospitality, Donna and I soaked up some rays, shopped, went “clubbing” and took pictures which we both still have as snaphots in yellowing photo albums. It was not my last spring break in the Sunshine State, but one of my most memorable. Later stays involved traveling with three children before cars were fitted-out with DVD players and ear phones. Compared to today’s luxury rides, my experiences could be described as hell-in-a-twodoor compact. I’m not mentioning names here (you know who you are), but I had one child who required hourly bathroom stops, another who had the same problem as Missy the poodle, and a third who constantly teased the other two. You know the drill, “Mom, make him stop hitting (pinching,
flicking, touching, looking, etc. at me!) By the time we arrived at our destination everybody was hungry, thirsty, cranky and craving a TV fix. My last spring break in the Virgin Islands left me with a broken wrist due to an unfortunate spill on the rocks. Two years prior, my no-break spring break presented me the choice of adopting a dog, which I thankfully chose to do. Which leads me to this year and my anticipation of hosting a wonderful family for several days, who thankfully have a car with several DVD’s, children with hearty bladders, and reservations at a local hotel. This may be the best spring break yet.

Humanitarian of the Year: Al Bismonte

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:45pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The Marco Island Civic Association Humanitarian of the Year award was developed in 1998 to honor the unsung heroes of Marco Island. It was recently announced the honor for 2015 goes to Al Bismonte. Al is a retired pediatrician. He still practices medicine and travels to Chicago for a couple of weeks each year to cover for his former partner while he goes on vacation. He prefers to get paid in the form of medicine so he can take it to his Mission in the Philippines where he spends three weeks every year opening a day clinic at his sister’s home in a rural part of the country. Over the three weeks, Al sees approximately 50-60 children per day and gives them the compassionate medical care they need. For those children that he does not have the proper medication, Al gives them a voucher to go to the only drugstore in the area to get what they need. Al then pays for all of the medicines. Why does Al do this each year? He wants to give back to the community that helped him on his way to become a doctor. In addition to treating the people that come to see him during his annual treks, Al’s family often feeds those that have travelled miles and their turn to see him.
Al is active in his Marco community as well. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, where he has served as Grand
Knight for the Council and Faithful Navigator of the Assembly. He also serves as District Deputy responsible for all the Councils in Southern Collier County. Al is a Eucharistic Minister for San Marco Catholic Church and a member of the Noontime Rotary Club. He is a driver for St. Vincent DePaul, delivering meals
to the elderly and poor workers at the 6L Farms. He also drives the elderly to their doctor visits or for their weekly chemotherapy treatments for those who cannot drive and need assistance. Al is now a member of the Board of Directors of the Marco Island Civic Association! Al Bismonte is an outstanding, caring role model.

40 Years of Marco Players

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:39pm

By Don Manley

The Marco Players is still going strong 40 years after staging its first production. “Challenging ourselves to do better and better work, a good fiscal outlook and having actors and directors who want to work here,” has been a key to the theater group’s longevity and success said Beverly Dahlstrom, its artistic director and president of its board of directors. “This doesn’t mean everyone will like everything we do,” she added. “But the work that we do is interesting and varied. Technically, like all the 501cs (nonprofits) on the island, a successful show is what brings in revenue. We are a small business on Marco Island and we realize that our patrons want to see funny and meaningful events and productions. We try to bring that to our stage.” Operating from an 83-seat theater in the Marco Town Center Mall, The Marco Player’s offerings span the broad spectrum of theatrical productions, everything from dramas, to comedies, to children’s theater, solo performances, Shakespeare, its Ladies Who Lunch Series and more. Founded in 1975 as a children’s play reading group, The Marco Players became a for-profit, adult community theater group known as The Marco Island Players a few years later. It later incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, under The Marco Players name. The group had no home base for much of its existence, staging productions at a variety of locations, such as the island’s Radisson, Marriot and Hilton hotels, in local restaurants and at the Town Center, where it set up shop 14 years ago. Dahlstrom pointed to several other reasons for The Marco Players having achieved its ruby anniversary as a vibrant and going concern.
“We look to the new talent, actors and directors that come to us from around our area, actors with a passion, who want to be on the stage,” she said. “Some of our best productions are with a mix of new talent and seasoned actors.” Dahlstrom said the group also provides opportunities to new directors who might otherwise not get a chance to practice their craft in other theaters. “We
give that opportunity to them,” she added. “I think that is what has kept us around so long.” Dahlstrom came part of The Marco Players family in 2001, when former board president Judy Daye asked her to direct a play. She was then asked to join the board, becoming its president six years ago, later adding the title of artistic director with the retirement of Richard Joyce. She has seen a multitude of changes
since joining the board, including a the decision she and former board member Jim Lopas made about five years ago to rebrand and remodel the theater, which also included adding a Facebook page, Twitter account and a website that features on-line ticket purchasing capability. “This improved our sales and made the theater a really nice place to come and see
local people doing what community theater is supposed to do, do great plays that people enjoy,” said Dahlstrom. “Unlike years ago, we don’t have much trouble finding directors or actors anymore. Most of our directors want to come back each year and the same is true of our actors. Our reputation for doing quality work brings in patrons and performers alike. All these things are accomplishments I am proud of.” In 2014, Marco Players became part of
the newly formed Cultural Alliance of Marco and Goodland, which also includes the Goodland Arts Alliance, the Island Theater Company, the Greater Marco Family YMCA, the Marco Island Center For the Arts, the Marco Island Foundation For the Arts, the Marco Island Historical Society and the Marco Island History Museum. “The alliance of these organizations has helped us all unite the arts community on Marco Island,” said Dahlstrom. “We are all aware of each others’ events, and spread the word about each other. Most of the organizations get coverage and are more aware of their need to get the information out to the papers early. When related topics come up on the island that would involve the arts, someone from our organization appears and speak to that topic to the city council. We recently had a proclamation from the City of Marco Island designating March 18th as Arts and Culture Day.” The Marco Players has also expanded the number of productions it presents annually from three to four and extended the number of performances for each show from 12 to 15. This season, the Naples-based Shakespeare in Paradise theater group will present “The Merry Wives of Windsor” April 16-19, April 23-26 and May 1-3. The Bard’s work will also be on display May 22-24 and May 30-31, when the Marco Island Academy stages “Macbeth” at The Marco Players Theater. “Love, Loss & What I Wore” by Nora and Delia Ephron, is the Marco Players current production. Directed by Dahlstrom, the play runs until April 4. The play is a set of monologues that focus on female relationships, using a women’s wardrobe as a time capsule of a her life. For more information about “Love, Loss, & What I Wore,” tickets and more, visit