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Conversational Drifts

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 3:08pm

Artful Life
Tara O’Neill

Some of my favorite conversations — whether I’m actively involved or just eavesdropping — consist of one bright topic setting off a circuit of others. There are times when linear conversations — those that start with one topic and finish with it before moving to another — have their proper place, but it’s exhilarating to listen as creative ideas spark like electric arcs from one to another freeform.

A recent article by David Pitt of the Associated Press on the spate of piano store closings around the country has ignited an impressive nationwide debate as to why a once home-staple could be disappearing from the retail market. Discussing this with my husband brought us far away from the plight of the piano…interesting subjects often become conductors to hot topics in our house.

We tapped a few obvious theories: the invention and subsequent advancements of home entertainment systems from phonographs to television to computers; used pianos can easily be bought over the internet or in the classifieds; perhaps our mobile society has simply made owning a piano impractical. (Each of these ideas naturally webbed into multiple theories, mostly about changing times.)

When I mentioned that maybe 20th-century children have so many other competing interests, particularly all those sports: baseball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse. How are you supposed to entice a kid into a tortuous hour of fingering scales? I was all ready to launch into my standard diatribe regarding school funding for the arts being sucked up by athletic departments when my husband put a quick kibosh on my spiel.

“Baloney,” he said, with all the elegance that word allowed him, “we may not have had all the organized sports kids have today, but do you think any kid on my block said no to a good stickball game in favor of piano lessons? No, their parents made them. We may not have been out playing tennis, but we were still out playing something. It took a special kid to want to go indoors.”

His words put me in mind of all the game-playing that went on in our neighborhoods — creative games, inventive games — all requiring a lot of running and tagging and being “it” or “home free.” (Of course those tree-climbing races often ended in a broken limb — and not the tree’s — but nevermind that now.) Yet, there always were those kids who stealthily slipped away because they couldn’t wait to take their lessons and make the music happen.

So, and I really don’t want to get tarred and feathered by a team of soccer parents here, the next arc we followed was the question of whether or not organized play was capable of smothering a child’s ability to conjure up a good bit of creative competition on his or her own. Could we be nurturing a generation of game-followers instead of game-makers? Where is the room for creative thought development? Where’s fourth base?

I know, we’re a long way from the piano here, but bear with me.

Exposing children to organized sports can offer countless benefits: exercise, competitiveness, collaboration, fun and what one Little League coach I know calls an awareness of fairness, but I am still questioning a worrisome imbalance. Once, during a two-day power outage here on the island, I listened to a group of young parents who were frazzled to their last nerve worrying how they could entertain their young ones if the outage continued.

Foolishly, I suggested they tell them to go out and play. The blank looks I got told me how far out of the loop I was. Play? Play what? They paused indulgently (perhaps waiting for me to ask for a “take-back”) and then continued commiserating, without further nonsense from me.

I shun pessimism; I avoid rose-tinted hind-sighters who forever insist things were better way back…when, exactly? Times change, and not always for the better but not always for the worse either. I am firm in my belief that creative thinking is humankind’s finest attribute and will continue to flourish despite the best attempts to stifle it.

However, nurturing it can be anybody’s game. The kindest gift we can give may be that of simply exposing someone to something new: a stick and a ball or tickets to a game; a set of paints or a visit to a gallery; a tin whistle or orchestra seats. People, of any age, will light up from something they’re exposed to or not, but we still need the exposure for that light to shine.

Oh yeah, and I’m still waiting to hear what my spouse thinks of the used mahogany upright I found on Craigslist for $300. That’ll have to be another conversation.


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

Cybercrime on the Rise

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 3:06pm

Ask The CFP® Practitioner
Darcie Guerin

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


Question: According to the news, it appears that cybercrime and identity theft are on the rise. What can we do to protect ourselves?

Answer: You’re right; these types of crime are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission reports that between 2011 and 2013, odds increased by 65 percent that if you were notified of an online data compromise, you’d become an actual victim of identity theft.

Because that’s where the money is.

Willie Sutton (1901-1980) the notorious bank robber who reportedly stole more than $2 million dollars over 40 years is cited as saying his reason for robbing banks was “because that’s where the money is.” Although he denied saying this, the assertion became known as “Sutton’s Law” and is taught in medical schools to remind students to first consider the obvious when treating patients. What Willie actually said is, “Go where the money is and go there often.” Cybercriminals are doing just that.

As technology reshapes our lives, financial habits and behaviors change. We’ve moved to online shopping and “swipe and go” electronic payments making consumers vulnerable to data breaches. As our friend, Willie Sutton taught us, robbers go where the money (or information) is located, and they go there often.

This month, our Women’s Financial Group invited a Marco Island Police Department detective to discuss identity theft and cybercrime. Not only do thieves steal information the old-fashioned way by taking wallets and dumpster diving for sensitive information, mailbox theft is prevalent in our area. Thieves also access email and other online information via cybercrime and “shoulder surf” for access codes and pin numbers. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission. This not only disrupts your financial well-being, it is intrusive, unsettling, costly and takes time and patience to resolve.

Tips to protect yourself:

1) Review your online banking, credit card and other statements every few days to minimize damage if there is a breach.

2) Shred documents containing personal, financial and medical information with a cross-shredder rather than strip-cut shredders. Most of us have seen NCIS or CSI episodes where documents are reconstructed from “strip-cut” remnants. Make it more difficult for the criminals to obtain your sensitive information.

3) Use secure websites as indicated by “https” (rather than “http”) for online transactions.

4) Make payments online or bring mail to the post office rather than placing it in your mailbox for thieves to swipe. Often the first clue that you’ve been hacked is to receive notice that you’ve been approved for a new credit card although you never applied for one. The “new” card has likely been mailed to an alternate address.

5) Dedicate one credit card for online purchases. If you’re compromised, it will be less disruptive and easier to contain the breach.

6) Monitor online use of children or grandchildren in your household with parental control features.

7) Don’t use the same password for more than one account, mix letters with numbers and special characters.

8) Practice situational awareness and be alert.

9) Avoid the outside pumps at gas stations that may be at greater risk of credit card skimmer theft because they might be out of security camera range.

10) Be mindful when posting information to social media outlets. Present-day Willie Sutton types are watching.

If you are a victim and your identity and financial well-being is compromised, call the local police and contact the consumer credit reporting agencies. A copy of the police report will be helpful when dealing with the credit bureaus. Write a letter to confirm your report and document all correspondence. Those who have been infiltrated report that working with local authorities made an unpleasant situation tolerable.

During the holiday season of 2013, Target and many of their customers were victims of a national cybercrime incident. As of Nov. 1, 2014, that breach cost the company more than $140 million and affected credit and debit card information of 110 million customers. US consumers are increasing more vulnerable to data breaches by companies and financial institutions both large and small. Last year, Home Depot, Sony and J.P. Morgan each had to deal with advanced high-level security breaches. In the first month of this year, Morgan Stanley had the personal information of 350 million high net worth clients compromised by one employee.

A move in the right direction is that this year US retailers will change to the “Europay” style of credit and debit cards. These new thicker cards contain a chip and higher levels of encryption with new codes for each transaction. US retailers were slow to make this move because of the high cost to install new point-of-sale terminals. As we move toward iPay and GooglePay technology, European-style Master Card and Visa (EMV) will be the new normal. This will certainly help to reduce crime but hackers will continue to try to separate you from your virtual wallet. Stay focused and remain cautious.

Views expressed are the current opinion of the author, but not necessarily those of Raymond James & Associates. The author’s opinions are subject to change without notice. Information contained in this report was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed.

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.”


This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, Associate Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239-389-1041, email Website:

Deep Down Dark

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:51pm

Maggie Gust

By Hector Tobar
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
309 pages – Nonfiction
Collier County Public Library: Yes

“Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories Of 33 Men Buried In A Chilean Mine, And The Miracle That Set Them Free” is the complete title of this account of the August 2010 accident at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile.

When the men of A shift report for work on Aug. 5, 2010, most of them are aware of the thunder-like noise and dust, or “smoke,” coming from the mountain mine. A few are even aware of the half-inch crack in the entrance ramp that formed a few months prior. Most are not aware that the escape tunnels are devoid of ladders, that the “Refuge” or “safe room” on level 90 of the mine is outfitted with only a two-day supply of food for a regular shift of 16 men.

The A shift on this fateful day has swollen to almost twice that number of miners and mechanics with men making up time missed or working overtime. The San Jose owners know the mine is not safe that it lacks the ventilation system mandated by the Chilean government much less the movement detectors that would have been a heads-up about the shearing rock. They themselves spend as little time as possible at the San Jose and turn deaf ears to any information about required maintenance. Profit, not protection of workers, is their priority apparently.

At lunchtime, around 1 PM, on Aug. 5, 2010, the men inside the San Jose mine are working on different levels. Some are moving to the Refuge on level 90 where the lunch truck will be picking them up for the drive to the surface for their mid-day meal. Accustomed to noises emitted by the mountain, the men’s attention is nevertheless piqued by the difference in this noise. It sounds like blasting which has not been scheduled for that day. Before they completely grasp their circumstances, they are assaulted by an escalating rumble, a sudden wind and cloud of pebbles and fine dirt. They run for the Refuge. Other men are still working, wearing protective ear gear, and do not become aware until they are hit by blasts of wind and dirt.

On the surface, Raul Villegas emerges from the mine entrance in his dump truck, the only one of the 34 men in the mine to make it out. Eventually, they learn that a block of stone the size of a 45-story building has broken off the mountain. It is blocking any chance at using the ramp to get out — or in! The general manager, Carlos Pinilla, and Pablo Ramirez enter the mine about 5 PM and discover the megablock. It is 550 feet tall and weighs about 770,000 tons. When it fell, it “pancaked” the mountain.

The hardened macho Pinilla began to cry, certain that the miners and contractor mechanics had to be dead. He and Ramirez surface and report to the owners, Marcelo Kemeny and Alejandro Bohn, that the only possible escape for any left alive would be the escape tunnels or chimneys. Such an attempt would require trained rescue police, the only people with that expertise and equipment. This means notifying the authorities.

For some reason, Bohn and Kemeny do not use the landline at the mine, but head down the road until a cell phone signal kicks in, and at 7:22 PM, report the tragedy. The message is passed through a few layers of government until the Special Operations Group of the Chilean police send six men with climbing gear to descend the chimneys. An hour later, they arrive at the mine and immediately start their mission. They have a flat tire on the ramp, where the crack has now doubled in size. “If the police unit were to know that the crack is new, and how much it’s grown in the past two hours, they might realize how unstable the mountain is and halt their rescue effort. So in Ramirez’s account of the moment, as the police get out to quickly change the tire, Pinilla looks over to Ramirez and places a finger against his lips.” Call me jaded, but maybe Pinilla’s tears three hours earlier were more for himself than the men he had sent down that day. Oh, and no one at the mine tells the families about this accident.

This is a just a brief outline of the beginning of this story. Hector Tobar’s style is journalistic, highly descriptive and compelling. He enriches this gripping story each step of the way by personalizing these men for the reader. Their marital and family status, personal quirks, religiosity, financial situations, amplify their role in this fascinating event. Tobar also describes the socioeconomic condition of the men, their wives, girlfriends, mistresses, and other family members. He also sketches the sociopolitical culture of Chile, clueing the reader in on the environment that led to this accident and its aftermath.

From Aug. 5 to Oct. 13, 2010, 33 men are trapped in an underground mine. For the first 17 days, they are convinced they are completely alone, but they pull together, eat together every other day (100 calories), drink dirty industrial water, pray together, willfully decided not to act on the anger they might feel for another man in the group, and they grow weaker hour by hour. On the 17th day, one of the drill bits breaks through near them, and they know they will be rescued. Everything changes. Tobar documents it all — before, during and after.

If you wrote this story as fiction, no one would believe it because it is so unlikely, but it is the story of 33 men plus all the people in their lives. It has been made into a movie starring Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche among others, set to be released sometime this year. I have no idea how good the movie will be, but it could not possibly encompass all the great details Tobar has included in this book.

Available in all formats just about everywhere. Good easy read that will both inspire and perplex you. 4.25/5.0.


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.


Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:49pm

Body, Mind And Spirit
Laurie Kasperbauer

My children are here. In my house. Four adult children, their four significant others and our five grandchildren, ages 5 months to five years. They’ve been here nearly a week celebrating our own Christmas Holiday. That makes 10 adults, counting my husband and me and five young children, living in the same house for a week. Over the last six days, I have felt joy, pride, anxiety and exhaustion, but most of all, I have felt gratitude.

I experienced overwhelming joy the very first morning when the babies all woke early, greeting each other with chubby-armed hugs and slobbery kisses. Joy, when our kids and their spouses, watched the little ones embrace and intervened when the hugs became choke-holds and the kisses involved teeth. Joyous was the celebration of unwrapping gifts, of cannonballs in the pool, of watching dolphins play in the canal as our family observed from the dock.

Pride is an emotion I carry deep into the marrow of my bones. I see our four kids and the outstanding individuals they have chosen as mates, and I wonder how we could be so lucky. Eight young adults who work, play, love and respect, and there is no greater pride than seeing our children as parents themselves, seeing them reflect some of the parenting skills they learned from us, improving on many techniques I struggled with; and admitting to the struggles and inadequacies they sometimes feel themselves. And the deepest pride of all, I attribute to the fact that we could all live under this same roof for a week without harsh words or squabbling. Okay, there was occasional squabbling. Fortunately, it involved those aged 2-5, and it was easily diffused.

Anxiety crept in. Deep breathing was sometimes required. Mostly on my part. As our house guests toddled and sauntered into the kitchen each morning, I began the ritual of breakfast. No fancy cooking here, but pressure to perform and please. Mashed bananas for babies. Pancakes for toddlers. Coffee by the gallon jug for the adults. Pots, pans, dishes, repeat.

Somehow, the time that passed between breakfast, lunch and dinner seemed barely long enough for the dishwasher to be loaded and unloaded. The plates and cups spent little time in the cupboard. We could have run a pipeline to the grocery store with a constant flow of milk, eggs and fruit. Meals ran into one another. The kitchen did not rest.

Exhaustion fell like a heavy boot and not just at the end of the day. For babies who weren’t yet comfortable in their new surroundings and for the parents who attended their needs in the middle of the night, sleep deprivation led to red-rimmed eyes and occasional cranky dispositions. This is not to say that the fogginess and grogginess experienced by the adults could all be blamed on lack of sleep. Some may have been self-induced and involved adult beverages, but of all the emotion that bubbled through my heart and my head this last week, the greatest of all is gratitude.

If you ever want to feel fortunate about where you live, you only need to see this beautiful Island through the eyes of a northern guest. Our family all flew in from various parts of the Midwest — places that had just seen sub-zero temperatures and ground blizzards. They arrived with chapped skin and cracked lips. They hadn’t felt the warmth of the sun in weeks. They hadn’t smelled cut grass or wet leaves in months. Within 24 hours of landing, their skin had rehydrated. The babies’ rosy cheeks healed and softened, making them irresistible to kisses. The layers of clothes peeled away to swimsuits and diaper attire.

With gratitude I observed my family. The laughter and the baby tears. The consumption of not just food and beverage, but the absorption of the nutrients of life that only loved ones can provide. One night, as is our tradition, was “kids cook” night. I went to the beach to teach a yoga class and returned to a candle-lit table and the smell of seafood and garlic. They thought of everything, and we were nourished by equal parts food, love and appreciation.

My memories of this past week are many. Laughter that filled the house long after I went to bed for the night. Thunderous applause for successful potty-training events. Pool-side conversation. Walks in the neighborhood (two strollers, one wagon, four women and a dog). A warm day at the beach. Baby toes in the sand. Spa day. Hot tub nights. Smelly diapers. Kisses laced with chocolate chips. Hugs, hugs, hugs.

Thankfulness, gratitude and humble pride rise to the surface for where I live, who I live with and who I love. It is my overwhelming gratitude that will keep me afloat after the last family has packed their bags and begun their journey back home. After the bedding is all washed, the refrigerator is restocked, the dishwasher has rested and the washing machine stops spinning, I will sit back with gratitude for the week we had together. I will find matchbox cars and Legos under the sofa cushions and behind the TV. Odd socks, in all sizes, will appear in the garage and the toy box, and Cheerios will emerge from the carpet of my car.

But, the patterns of fingerprints that grace my glass doors will remain for some time. Each time, I see them I will feel gratitude for the people, big and small, who lived here for this week and touched me with love.


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.


Have a Plan

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:43pm

Naomi & Karina Paape

Naomi at her desk.

Dear Fellow Felines:

What a whirlwind the holidays were for me and my loyal staff of volunteers here at For the Love of Cats. We had cats and kittens coming and going non-stop for two weeks. Everywhere I looked I saw cats being loaded into and out of carriers; kittens climbing the romper room walls, tumbling around in colorful balls of fur, stretching sore muscles, carb-loading at their troughs, standing in and knocking over their food and water bowls, wrestling and tackling one another, and chasing each other around in dizzying circles; and then, as if someone hit a wall switch, the exhausted kittens collapsed into piles of sleeping felines. We even had a litter of six kittens travel all the way from Michigan to enroll in our renowned “leave-no-cat-behind” program.

In the midst of all this mayhem, I had to compile year-end figures for supplies used, man hours invested and medical costs incurred in 2014. Even cats are accountable to the IRS.

My dedicated staff spent an aggregate total of 10,000 man hours scooping 1,850 pounds of kitty litter and opening and serving 14,000 cans of food, in addition to maintaining the island’s 300 spayed/neutered ferals who live in managed colonies. We found homes for 150 cats and kittens; paid for 58 TNRs (trap-neuter-return); and paid out $4,100 for “Emergency and Wellness” care for 27 cats who live in low-income fur-ever homes. Twenty-five “senior” cats were rescued from death row and given to “senior” people via our “Seniors for Seniors” program.

I’m exhausted through and through, and can hardly stay awake. Consequently, I’ll be on vacation by the time you read this. I’ve left shelter co-founders Jim and Jan Rich in charge; I sure hope they can handle it. The only way I can get them out of bed in the morning is to take up my perch on the handy ledge that towers 8-feet above their sleeping heads. The instant they try to hit the alarm’s snooze button, I pounce. I call it feline base jumping, and need a willy feline volunteer to fill-in during my absence to keep the ship sailing.


I know all of you want to know what my New Year’s resolution is for 2015, am I right? Rather than focussing on my diet and figure as in years past, this year I want to encourage your humans to HAVE A PLAN in place for your long-term care should something happen to them. Of the approximately 5,500 cats and kittens euthanized at Collier County’s Domestic Animal Services every year, nearly 2,000 are abandoned because for one reason or another their humans can no longer care for them, and no one in the family wants them either. Finding a guardian for your trusting feline is serious business, so please choose wisely. Consider this sad tale which emphasizes the importance of having a plan and a responsible person to see it through.

A member of my staff had a terrible experience a few Christmases back when her stepmother died suddenly and 3,000 miles away. As her stepmother was being wheeled to an operating room, her last words were spoken to her older sister, “Take care of my cats.” Three weeks later, the cats were still alone in the house. Every couple of days a relative went in to do the boxes and put more food and water out. By the time my staff member arrived on the scene, the abandoned cats were so starved for love and attention that they were nearly feral.

The evil older sister’s main concern had been one thing only: Who was the beneficiary of her sister’s life insurance policy? She had no interest in taking care of the cats. She did, however, make an effort to leave them at the local humane society, but left with the cats in tow after being told there was a $350 surrender fee. My volunteer knew that the family would move everything out of her stepmother’s house and leave the cats behind where they surely would have starved to death.

Today, “Joey” and “Amy” are living happily at a California cat sanctuary that sits on 12 riverfront acres surrounded by barbed wire-topped coyote fencing. There are no cages, and the 700 or so resident cats roam freely and safely. That’s why you humans out there really need to have a well-thought out plan. Don’t assume people are going to honor your deathbed request. Now on to happier topics.

Just before Thanksgiving, a concerned couple found a stray cat who was full of burrs, had raw paws and seeping eyes. They brushed her out, gave her lots of food, and created a nice shelter for her outside their front door. The good samaritan couple had their own gang of indoor cats who weren’t about to let an intruder in. It turned out that the poor little stray had low thyroid levels and was approximately 10 years old. A very hard cat to find a home for, but never say “never.”

The stray, who was given the elegant name “Tiffany,” ended up in one of our adoption ads. As luck would have it on the Sunday before Christmas, Jim made his weekly trip to Petsmart. When he got there, he found an older couple holding a cat carrier and a newspaper, standing in front of our For Love of Cats adoption center. They’d driven down from Bonita Springs for the sole purpose of adopting sweet Tiffany. According to Jan, who handles my phone calls and emails, Tiffany is doing great, and her new family adores her. Talk about a happy ending!

Then there’s the sad saga of “Marjory,” who was one mad and angry cat when she crossed the shelter’s threshold just before Christmas. In fact, I had to quarantine her for biting; she was that upset. She’d been abandoned twice by the same family, as was the other cat in the household who’d become her buddy. That cat found a new home, leaving Marjory alone in the world. Somehow, her supposedly “fur-ever” family got her back, then discarded her again. The reason given was that Marjory was keeping them up at night wanting some TLC. It took my staff three weeks to de-traumatize her and get her to trust again. And guess what? She came around, and a nice family who had very recently adopted one of our quieter cats decided to add Marjory to their very loving household. Marjory is safe now and one happy lap cat. Who said there’s no Santa Claws?


It seems like many of you fine felines got water fountains for Christmas, and are now merrily splashing through the sea, creating tsunamis of filtered water across some 25-square feet or so of kitchen flooring. A few of your staffs have asked me how to tame these roiling seas, especially golf-course Izzy’s family who thought they were pretty clever in replacing her high maintenance fountain (i.e., changing filters and weekly cleanings of the fountain) with the whackiest thing I’ve ever seen this side of the Mississippi — a dirt cheap, filterless affair that burbles and gurgles water from the bottom of its bowl. Envision an erupting volcano here sans lava. The water is ejected with such velocity that it creates flood conditions on the lanai.

We felines understand the laws of physics and gravity. Water can’t flow uphill like salmon; it instead must drain forth from above so one can reach in with a dainty paw and shovel water into one’s thirsty mouth. In lieu of the “new” water fountain, Izzy started dragging her water dish six feet across the floor in an effort to create waves in which to play “Marco-Polo” with her three pals. She tried drinking from the pool, but her nemesis, “Tanner the thug”, pushed her in two days before Christmas. With her options shrinking, Izzy discovered that water also comes out of sink and tub faucets. The discovery meant that staff spent the holidays running around the house, turning on one of seven sink faucets Izzy chose at random. The tree never got decorated, and by Christmas Eve, Izzy’s staff was on hands and knees, begging Santa Claws to bring their little princess one of those $75 ceramic fountains. The moral of the story: You can’t fool a cat.

Love, nips, and purrs!


Namoi is a 5 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,

Introducing General Surgeon Dr. Brian Smith

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:43pm

To Your Health
Scott Lowe
CEO, Physicians
Regional-Collier Blvd


We have all heard the story countless times: the one where “person X” or “person Y” comes to Southwest Florida on vacation and decides to stay. As it turns out, this really happens — sometimes at your neighborhood hospital.

When Richmond, Virginia’s, Dr. Brian Smith and his family chose Marco Island for their recent vacation, little did they know that their lives were about to change.

As the Physicians Regional Collier Boulevard campus tends to dominate the landscape for a brief stretch of Collier Boulevard just a few miles north of Tamiami Trail, it’s somewhat hard to miss. The vacationing Dr. Smith didn’t overlook it either.

Having already chatted with his wife about “what a nice place this would be to live,” Dr. Smith returned to his hotel to do a little online research on Physicians Regional Healthcare System. He discovered that we were, in fact, looking to add a physician to our team with his specific skills and background.

Next, Dr. Smith took the initiative, dropped by the hospital and introduced himself. A spontaneous tour and several mutually-beneficial discussions later and Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard can now proudly announce the newest member of our physician family: General Surgeon Dr. Brian Smith.

Dr. Smith will begin seeing patients Feb. 9.

General surgery is a surgical specialty that focuses on abdominal contents including esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts, and often the thyroid gland (depending on local reference patterns).

Though the use of the adjective “general” next to word “surgery” may sound somewhat non-specific, nothing could be further from the truth. To be successful at this particular surgical specialty requires tremendous knowledge, skill and education.

Dr. Smith received his Bachelor of Science (cum laude) in 1999 from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He subsequently received his Doctor of Medicine in 2003 from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo.

As an added bonus, Dr. Smith went on to complete his Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences in 2009 with an emphasis on Surgical Research from the University of Toledo College of Medicine.

Dr. Smith also brings his ability to skillfully perform laparoscopic and robotic minimally invasive surgical procedures. In fact, he has also been responsible for teaching other physicians on successful use of the industry leading da Vinci Robotic Surgical System.

As the Interim CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System, I am very much on record regarding my goals for Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard. In short, the more services we can offer the rapidly expanding Marco Island and East Naples area, the better.

Our commitment to service expansion is perhaps best seen in our recent investments in key areas such as Orthopedics and Bariatrics and by the 2013 opening of our Walk-in Clinic on Marco.

With the addition of Dr. Smith, our local residents have a brand new option for exceptional surgical care — one that is very close to home.

The Smiths have two young children and recently purchased a home in Naples. Please join me in welcoming — not just the newest addition to the Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard medical team — but the wonderful Smith family from Virginia who deserve all the good will and hospitality our wonderful community can provide.

Meet Breezy: The New Coastal Breeze Mascot!

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:21pm

By Val Simon

Stephanie falls in love with
the first puppy kiss

Breezy was welcomed into the Coastal Breeze family in September. He is a yellow Labrador puppy that has boundless energy.

You should know in August, two days shy of his 13th birthday, my family had to put our beloved black lab, Bo, down. His full name was J.T.’s Mr. Bodacious. It was difficult on the family, as our daughters grew up with Bo by their side as their guardian, playmate and defender.

A few months after Bo’s departure from our lives, I began to half-heartedly look at the Humane Society and Domestic Animal Services websites and in the papers for another dog. Twice, we almost gave in to either cuteness or price, but for some reason or another we didn’t jump quickly enough, and the dog would be gone before we got too serious. We checked out other rescue operations, but eventually decided we were willing to train a young puppy.

Price seems to vary with color, yellow, black and chocolate, in that order. We found Labradors from $1800 for full-bred pedigreed AKC registered pups to $150 for older dogs whose owners wanted to “rehome” them for some reason. One “farm” offered puppies for $800, but as it got closer to Christmas, the price rose incrementally to $1200 for pups from the same litter. To their credit, the breeder socialized the puppies, playing and petting them each day which goes a long way towards having a healthy and happy adult dog. I let them fall off my radar eventually as too far a distance to travel for a puppy.


When looking for a puppy, beware of scammers! There were so many cute puppies on Craigslist! One caught my eye as it sounded too good to be true. Full-bred, AKC-registered for only $250. Once I emailed them, they responded by sending me a photo of the cutest lab puppies you could imagine. They were adorable! The contact then began to write me for a deposit, but something they said didn’t seem right. So, I did an image search and found the exact same image on a webpage for a reputable breeder. These pups would be much older by now, and they weren’t in the same location.

Turns out it was a scam! Yes, I did report it. Nothing like a cute photo of puppies to extract money from an unsuspecting, warm-hearted person looking to make an addition to their family! Although the ad was removed, keep in mind a new one probably showed up a day later to lure in the next person wanting a pet. Be wary, and do your due diligence!

Eventually, we chose a yellow lab from a breeder not far from here. It was an AKC-registered litter; they kindly answered all of my questions, and there was no pressure. We sent a very small deposit, so if everything wasn’t right upon inspection, it wasn’t an issue to walk away. Once the deposit was received we could “choose” which pup in the litter we wanted. We chose the only male with a black nose. Now, we had to wait until the puppy was old enough to come home. We could visit if we wanted, and the breeder sent us photos whenever we asked.

Finally, the day came when we could bring him home. We checked out his parents on property. They seemed like nice, healthy dogs with good personalities. Some of the pups had collars on and some didn’t. When a puppy was chosen they put a collar on it, simple. We were allowed to change our mind, of course, but it was love at first sight. One lick across my daughter’s face by this cute bundle of wiggling, wagging puppy was all it took to melt our hearts. No one could resist! No changes, nope! This was definitely the puppy for us! So, we got in the car, stopped to borrow a crate from a friend and headed home. Now, we had to inform my husband and older daughter!

We put Breezy in a duffle bag with his little head sticking out and brought him into the kitchen and put the bag down. With a bit of apprehension we yelled, “Guess what we got?” Again, Breezy’s wagging and wiggling and licking melted hearts amid the screams of delight! Welcome home, Breezy!

First order of business was a full vet check and immunizations. Local veterinarian at Island Animal Hospital Dr. James Bowen gave Breezy a thorough examination. All seemed good. Dr. Bowen then asked me if we had a certificate for Breezy’s hips. Now, I considered myself an educated dog owner. How could I not ask for certification the parents did not have hip problems? This faux pas can be a bitter one. You can fall in love with a puppy, and within a year, watch it suffer painfully with hip dysplasia. Certain breeds, like labs and shepherds, are prone to this. If you’re looking for a specific breed, you might want to familiarize yourself with that breed’s common ailments. You may also ask what health guarantee is offered if going to a breeder.

Last set of puppy shots with Dr Bowen checking for incoming teeth.

Interesting to note, we were given a discount as the litter of puppies had not had their first set of shots. Once weaned, a puppy loses his or her mother’s immunities. This isn’t a problem unless you were hoping to socialize your pup with other dogs early. Vets suggest NOT socializing a puppy until he has had three sets of shots about one month apart. In Breezy’s case, that meant waiting until he was almost five months old. That is a lot of learning time lost socializing a puppy.

At this point, Breezy is assimilating well into the household. He bites and scratches his way through each day. He came with only a few factory settings: 1.) chewing and biting; 2.) peeing and pooping; and 3.) eating and sleeping. Our days go like this: Breezy wakes and begins his favorite activity — bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, bite, while we are yelling, “No! No! No! No!”

He’d go outside and comes back to chew, chew, chew. Add a couple more bites and some more “no’s,” then, it is time to eat. Of course with an attention span of a fly, that means two bites and off to something else! All this before 8 AM.

Keep in mind a young puppy has razor-sharp teeth and claws like little daggers (watch out for the extra sharp dew claws, too). My hands and arms have the wounds to prove it! I must admit several weeks have passed and the nipping is subsiding, being replaced by jumping.

Breezy came into our home before Christmas, and what fun it was putting up a “dog proof” Christmas tree. No matter how many times you say, “Don’t put the good ornaments too low,” someone does (me, in fact). By this time, Breezy has learned to grab something he KNOWS he shouldn’t have, and he RUNS away real fast. What fun it is to extract a shoe or an article of clothing or food from a dog who has a death grip on it, all while trying to protect your fingers from a mouth filled with little, tiny, razor-sharp baby teeth.

Adding to the fun of this “grab and go” game was a round Christmas tree in the middle of the room. He is such a smart dog; it took a millisecond for him to figure out he could grab an ornament, and when I took chase, he would run around and around and around the tree. Having played this game a number of times, I stopped in my tracks in the back of the tree and surprised the heck out of him! He couldn’t stop on a dime, and HA!, he was in my arms. Of course, it only happened once; after that, he started being cautious, keeping a good distance to see if I’d change direction or stopped. Sneaky boy!

Loving to swim.

Chew, chew, chew, bite, bite, bite, pee, pee, pee — all day, every day. A puppy knows absolutely nothing of their bodily functions. It takes a while to train them to realize, “Hey! I have to go” in enough time to actually make it outside. Once the puppy realizes he has to go, now you have to train him to TELL YOU he has to go!

All in all, even with wet feet from slippery, surprise puddles, bite and scratch marks on hands and arms, almost EVERYONE loves Breezy! We certainly do, and we’re happy we chose him to be the mascot for Coastal Breeze News. It’s funny because I was told a morning television news show recently added a mascot to their line-up which looks JUST like Breezy! Hmmmm, wonder where they got that idea? You will be hearing more about Breezy, and his escapades, in future editions.

Lessons learned:

  • There are scammers out there! • Be sure to get any health certificates and check on health guarantees • Don’t socialize a puppy with other dogs until it’s fully immunized.



MICMS to Host GaudÌ Traveling Exhibit

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:04pm


Marco Island Charter Middle School will be displaying giant reproductions — approximately 50 feet — of the fascinating architecture of Antoní Gaudi. A Teacher’s Discovery Traveling Exhibit, the huge, featured reproductions will be hung in the hallways outside of the Spanish, Art and Performing Arts classrooms during the week of Jan. 26-30.

Like a passport to Spain, the exhibit celebrates architecture as art, the beautiful city of Barcelona and Spanish culture and demonstrates how Gaudi gave the world one of the finest examples of architecture as art.

Brightly colored images on lightweight satin fabric include: Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló (7×17), Parc Guell (4×8) and Rooftops Casa Batlló (4×4).

“This is an academically rich, cross-curricular learning opportunity incorporating Visual Art and Spanish, two classes which many students study at MICMS,” said Spanish teacher Margo Heidenreich.

For more information, call George Abounader at 239-377-3200 or email him at

Things Are Coming Up New at Porky’s

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:00pm

By Don Manley

Porky’s Chef Fernando Gonce hard at work on a busy Friday evening.

Porky’s has changed in some subtle and some not so subtle ways.

The words “Last Stand” were dropped from the name and replaced by “Restaurant and Lounge” back in 2013 when Bob and Linda Berkowitz of Marco purchased the business from Wayne and Brooke Carmignani, who opened Porky’s in 1998.

A more recent development is one that diners may have noticed on Porky’s menus and on their taste buds, as well. Those modifications are the handiwork of the restaurant’s new general manager, Michael McNaboe, and its new chef, Fernando Gonce.

McNaboe, a long-time Marco restaurateur, and Gonce, formerly of the restaurant Alto in Naples, have expanded and revitalized the restaurant’s offerings since coming on board four months ago. However, they have maintained the emphasis on smoked barbecue that has been a Porky’s staple.

Porky’s had employed a kitchen manager and line cook system in the past. One of McNaboe’s first changes was to hire Gonce, who is joined by sous chef Jonathan Taylor.

Sous chef Jonathan Taylor prepares Ahi tuna with oriental slaw. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

“We decided we were staying with the barbecue theme, but we decided to bring in a professional chef who could incorporate new items, new recipes and incorporate sea food,” said McNaboe. “We’ve upgraded the style and recipes of the barbecue. It’s still smokehouse barbecue for everything from our ribs to our chicken.”

A Marco resident for 29 years, McNaboe has managed and owned a number of restaurants on the island, most recently the Front Street Italian Steakhouse, which closed in 2007.

Gonce has also worked as a chef at restaurants in Spain, France and Italy, after receiving his culinary training in Italy and in Cuba. Those disparate influences can be found in various ways in the dishes he prepares. “But more than changing recipes, I’ve tried to upgrade the quality of the food we serve here,” he added. “It’s changed a lot.”

The freshness of locally sourced fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood is a focus, with Porky’s now working with Gary Krist Produce and Paradise Seafood & Gourmet Market, both of Marco.

“Everything is made the old-fashioned way from scratch,” said McNaboe. “The herbs are crushed here. They don’t come in bags. I asked why they take the time to do it, and he (Gonce) said, ‘The quality of the food. You can taste the difference.’”

The “from scratch” emphasis even extends to the restaurant’s stocks and demi-glace, which Taylor prepares from left over bones rather than use the canned varieties.

“It takes time and passion,” said Gonce.

Porky’s Chef Fernando Gonce and Mike McNaboe, the restaurant’s general manager.

Porky’s entertainment is now being book by Naples-based 2b Productions, and the focus is on dishing up the oldies, oftentimes with the professional tribute acts that have proven popular on the island. “We still cater to the over-40 crowd,” said McNaboe. “These are entertainers who’ve been on Marco forever, and because of that, they have a great following.”

Regarding the future, McNaboe said they plan to continue upgrading the menu and experimenting with new items, such as muscles, crabs, oysters, local fish, veal and even gator ribs.

“We want to offer different things that can’t be found anywhere else so that if you want it, you’ve got to come here,” he said.

Porky’s Restaurant and Lounge is located at 701 Bald Eagle Drive. For more information, visit or call 239-394-8727.

Dr. Lam and the Wound Care Center at Physicians Regional

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:56am

By Pat Newman

Dr. Gary Gallo and Dr. Loan Lam discuss some updates at Physician’s Regional Wound Care Center.

We all recognize that oxygen is a vital element for life, but in its purest form, it can be a miraculous curative for patients dealing with hard-to-heal wounds. Every year, doctors are faced with between 1.1 million and 1.8 million new cases nationwide of chronic wounds, plus the 8 million existing cases.

Obviously, the need for cutting-edge wound care is essential. For patients living on Marco Island and Naples, treatment is just a phone call away at Physician’s Regional Health Care System’s Wound Care Center on Collier Boulevard. The addition of a third hyperbaric chamber enhances the center’s continuing pursuit to provide the best in comprehensive care for patients dealing with wounds that won’t heal.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) provides 100 percent oxygen under pressure at two atmospheres (the accurate measurement for healing oxygen delivery) in a see-thru chamber to patients, improving their odds of healing with less treatment time.

It is just one facet of the multi-disciplinary approach to wound care offered by the center. Dr. Gary Gallo, medical director of Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, is passionate about his team’s specialty, and speaks knowledgeably about their all-encompassing treatment method. He is a full-time specialist that believes in the total approach for his patients that includes diet, specialized wound dressings, debridement, compression therapy, prescription growth factors, bio-engineered skin grafting, edema management and non-invasive vascular assessment.

“Our Wound Care Center has been an innovative service for our medical community. Together with some of the new products and clinical practice guidelines, our patients have seen amazing results,” reported Dr. Gallo.

Dr. Loan Lam, Podiatric Surgeon and Wound Specialist, is another member of the team. The center itself has been in operation for seven years. Since its inception, Dr. Lam noted that more services have been added, along with more equipment.

“It takes a village,” Dr. Lam noted. “It takes all of us to heal a wound.” One particular advantage to part-time residents is the centers seamless approach to care through the “Healogics” (Trademark) Network. A patient spending winters in the Naples/Marco Island area can pick-up the appropriate level of care at their home Healogics Center.

Wound care is constantly developing, according to Dr. Lam, and interestingly, it is some historical treatments which are receiving new attention. For instance, natural remedies like seaweed, which were originally applied to wounds during Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World are getting a second look. Dr. Lam said that “seaweed-based” dressing along with medicinal honey is being used in wound care.

Dr. Loan Lam and Bill Jones, spokesman and administrator at the wound center, review scheduling.

Typically, there is criteria that the doctors use in evaluating patients who may be candidates for wound care therapy. “Patients with a wound that has not begun to heal in two weeks or is not completely healed in six-weeks may benefit from the proven, best-practice methodologies at the Wound Care Center,” explained Bill Jones, a spokesman for the center. Some of the indications for wound therapy include: diabetic ulcers, neuropathic ulcers, pressure ulcers, ischemic ulcers, venous insufficiency, traumatic wounds, surgical wounds, vasculitis, burns, peristomal skin irritations and other healing wounds.

As of today, Physician’s Regional and its Wound Care Center has a better than national average in healing chronic wounds. The hyperbaric oxygen chamber helps the patient’s oxygen-dependent wound-healing mechanisms function more efficiently. Enclosed in the chamber, a patient breathes pure oxygen, saturating their blood plasma and allowing it to carry15 to 20 times the normal amount of healing oxygen to the body’s tissues. Up to 18 percent of wound care patients may require HBOT treatments.

The Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine is located at the Regional Medical Arts Building at 8340 Collier Blvd., behind the hospital. Doctors included on the wound care team are vascular surgeons Dr. Vivian Torres and Dr.

A Day with the Clays for MIA

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:54am

By Don Manley

MIA student Daniel Hodsdon plays “Amazing Grace.”

Clay pigeons were the prey for 65 marksmen who blasted away with varying degrees of success to raise money for Marco Island Academy.

The occasion was the Bill Rose Memorial Sporting Clays Classic held Jan. 17 at Gulf Coast Clays at Port of the Islands, formerly the Port of the Islands Gun Club. About 12,000 was raised for MIA through participant registration fees, sponsorships, and silent and live auctions.

A Marco resident, successful businessman — he founded Rose Marina — philanthropist, avid boater and flier, and former US Marine, Rose passed away in 2010 at the age of 83.

The Sporting Clays Classic began last year, created by Terry McCreanor, of Morgan Stanley Financial on Marco.

“Bill Rose, I considered to be a friend of mine,” said McCreanor. “To remember him, I suggested a golf outing to the family, but they said he wasn’t much of a golfer. I said, ‘What about shooting?’ They said he’d like that. It was an idea that I tied in with the Marco Island Academy to give it some visibility, and it all just came together.

“We’ve had good participation,” he added. “It’s a good way to remember Bill, and it’s a good way for the (Marco Island) academy to meet people in the community who might not know what they’re doing.”

Myrt Rose steadies her aim before firing. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

The event drew participants ranging in age from 11 to octogenarians who were divided into teams of five that used shotguns to try and hit the clay targets at 11 different stations on the sprawling course off of U.S. 41.

MIA Principal Melissa Scott, Assistant Principal Amber Prange and Tina Nash, MIA’s director of development, were among the staff members and volunteers making things happen at the Clays Classic, which also included a picnic luncheon.

“We’ve been out on the course and everybody seems to be having fun,” said Nash, as shotguns boomed away in the background during the competition. “It’s perfect weather — couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Rose’s widow, Mryt, was among the participants and several other family members were in attendance.

“I enjoyed today very much,” she said. “A gorgeous day. The people are wonderful. I enjoyed shooting. Bill would have loved to have been here. He was a great shot. He had a lot of trophies from shooting, so he would have enjoyed being here.”

Auriga the Charioteer

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:52am

By Mike P. Usher

Very high tonight in the northern sky rides Auriga the Charioteer. The driver usually also is visualized as a shepherd holding a goat over his shoulder. The bright star Capella is thus nicknamed “the goat star,” and the two dimmer stars just to the left are likewise named “the kids.”

Auriga is located 180 degrees away from the galactic center in Sagittarius, and so when you look at Auriga, you are looking at the shortest way out from our galaxy. The Milky Way, although thinner, is still substantial in this area, and there are numerous star clusters to interest even the most casual binocular user. Inside the rough ring of Auriga, there are at least six clusters visible to binoculars; two of them are bright Messier objects M36 and M38 with M37 just outside of the ring.

If you want a real challenge, you may be able to spot the Crab Nebula (M1) with 9×50 binoculars. Look for the tiniest wisp of faint fuzz you can imagine, and you have it. Among all of the objects on his list, Messier may never have spotted a stranger one. The Crab Nebula is a supernova ruminant — still in violent expansion 1,000 years after the explosion. The nebula, because of the expansion, has dimmed over the centuries, and if Messier was still alive today and using his old telescope, he would never have spotted it. Modern equipment, though, still gives stargazers a chance.

Also in view tonight is Gemini with the “twin stars” Castor and Pollux. If you have some trouble telling the two stars apart (as I do), then remember that Castor is the closer of the two stars to Capella. In ancient times, Castor was considered brighter than Pollux (although this is not certain), but now Castor seems to be somewhat dimmer than its twin. Also Castor hides a secret: It is not one star but six! Delicate instruments were required to discover this.

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.

Under the Sea

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:50am

By Melinda Gray

A commendable job on a chilly morning, divers checked the seabottom
while spectators gathered along the railing of Big Cat Express.

The sky was overcast and the wind was blowing a cold snap our way in the early morning hours of Jan. 9 when I donned my jacket and gloves and joined the 120-person roster on board the Big Cat Express at Rose Marina in Marco Island. We lucky few would soon witness the ribbon cutting ceremony and deployment of the first cluster in Southwest Florida’s new artificial reef.

The official kick-off ceremony for the deployment was held Jan. 8 at the reef material staging site located on Collier Boulevard on the east side of the Jolley Bridge.

As we left the dock, I found myself surrounded by an impressive array of local dignitaries and a surprisingly large variety of press outlets. It was only then I realized the gravity of what was happening. When completed, this will be one of the largest artificial reefs in the western hemisphere with six football-field sized reef complexes in Gulf waters off of Naples, Marco Island and Collier County.

Ten miles off-shore, we reached our destination. Gearing up for the work to come and awaiting its well-deserved audience was a triple-deck tugboat painted a patriotic red, white and blue; several boats standing by for divers as they checked to assure optimal underwater conditions; and an enormous barge filled with 500 tons of concrete, just a fraction of the eventual 18,000 tons that will make up the reef.

A front-end loader pushes the clean concrete into the Gulf at the reef site.

Peter Flood, a Naples attorney and fisherman who spearheaded the project, was on hand to deliver a short thank you speech, along with state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, who spoke as well. Reverend Edward Gleason of Trinity-by-the-Cove Episcopal Church blessed the reef, and the much anticipated deployment commenced. For the next hour, we watched from our front-row seat as the large pieces of clean concrete were skillfully maneuvered by the front-end loader and dropped into the water.

According to Flood, the structures will begin to attract curious sea underwater creatures almost immediately after the day’s sea-bottom commotion ceases. The reef will provide local sea life with a source of food and shelter on an otherwise flat sandy bottom.

An impromptu meeting of the minds……

“We are extremely excited about this project. We really believe that it’s not only going to help the local environment, but will also help the tourism,” said Katherine O’Hara, director of sales and marketing for the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

The $1.35 million project, funded almost wholly by BP oil spill grants ($1.3 million) is expected to contribute an annual $30 million to the area’s economy after only two years.

“We’re all about economic development, and this is a tourist destination; we have wonderful beaches and wonderful amenities. Now, we have an amenity below the water, and that is going to be so critical to our community because we have people coming from all over the world to dive here, to fish here, to enjoy our beaches and our restaurants and to enjoy everything we have to offer in Southwest Florida,” said Passidomo.

Now at the Marco Island Historical Museum

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:15am

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Work of wildlife artist and conservationist John Agnew.

History buffs are never at a loss when it comes to things to do and programs to see at the Marco Island Historical Museum (MIHM) and Rose History Auditorium.

After his highly successful Jan. 13 program with John Ruthven, renowned wildlife artist and conservationist John Agnew has generously allowed his work to remain on display at MIHM until mid-February.

Agnew’s career began in natural history museums and zoos where he designed amazing exhibits, produced illustrations, and painted murals and dioramas in the US and as far away as Moscow. His paintings now hang in collections around the world and have also been exhibited by the US State Department in US Embassies around the world.

If you were unable to attend the opening of this fantastic exhibit, make sure you don’t miss this second chance to see and purchase Agnew’s works. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of his art will benefit the Marco Island Historical Society.

If you are looking for a more family-friendly event at MIHM, then head there this Saturday, Jan. 24, 10 AM-2 PM, for the Third Annual Pirate Day.

The event is open to the public at no cost and includes pirate-themed crafts, face painting, pirate games and treasure hunts. Come join the museum’s motley crew for an adventure into Florida’s pirate past. Attendees are encouraged to dress as pirates, solve the puzzles, and pick the right key to win some treasure from “Captains Blood’s Treasure Chest.” There will be food and drink stations, and the museum will be open.

The Pirate Princess shares her pet snake with children at the 2013 Pirate Day.

For the more scientifically-minded Marco Island, join Ronald J. Echols, PhD, for his program entitled “On the Origin of the High, Elliptical Sand Rim Around Barfield Bay,” Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 7 PM.

This presentation comes on the heels of one recently given by Echols’ colleague Dr. Michael Sararese, which focused on “The Influence of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise on the Southwest Florida Coast.” The two men have been researching some of the perplexing geological and ecological phenomena currently being witnessed in our very own backyard.

Specifically, Echols has been studying the high, elliptical, sand rim around Barfield Bay, which is shared by Marco Island and Horr’s Island. The height, continuity and most importantly, the elliptical shape of the Barfield Bay sand rim defy simple geological explanations.

Prior explanations of the rim as a dune field may be true, but do not explain the elliptical shape. Perhaps the rim is a collection of sand dunes shaped by an underlying limestone solution basin. The existence of such a limestone depression is plausible but not documented. On the other hand, some investigators have compared Barfield Bay to the enigmatic Carolina “Bays” elliptical sand-rimmed depressions that dot the southeastern coastal plain north of Florida where they number in the hundreds of thousands.

Ronald J. Echols, PhD

Dr. Echols will review current research results on the Barfield Bay sand rim and compare the pros and cons of alternative interpretations for its formation. He also will discuss future research that may achieve a definitive interpretation of this mysterious Marco Island formation.

The program is free for MIHS members and $5 for non-members.

The MIHM is open from Tuesday-Saturday, 9 AM-4 PM. For more information about any current or future programs or exhibits at the museum or Rose History Auditorium, call 239-642-1440 or visit



Construction, Charity Abounds in Collier County

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:08am

Donna Fiala

The HUGE Reef Project has begun! Surely you have all read about the kick-off event and the project, but many of you did not know that attending these initial events were Florida Representative Kathleen Passidomo, Nancy (everybody loves) Richie, Marco Island City Council Vice Chairman Bob Brown, City Council Chairman Larry Sacher, City Manager Roger Hernstadt, Bernadette (need I say more than Bernadette?), many members of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, and of course, yours truly.

Have you been watching the huge piles of construction material that comes and goes every day of the week since they started this massive Reef Project? As fast as they load up the barge (which weighs so much loaded it touches the bottom sand and the barge must wait until the tide comes in to lift it high enough to move forward with the help of the patiently waiting tug) and get under power, they motor to the Reef, unload their cargo and come back.

Meanwhile, the load on land is already beginning to pile up again. This mighty team working on the Reef Project has been stocking up construction debris on identified staging areas for two years, so there is plenty to unload — 500 tons of it to be exact. I drive by the area at the north end of the bridge to Marco every day to watch the activity. Even at night when I’m coming home from Marco, I see the men working and the lights on in the tug and on the barge. As was said recently, once built, it will be the largest artificial reef in the Western Hemisphere.

* The Greater Marco Family YMCA held their Annual Dinner Dance on Thursday, Jan. 15, at Hideaway Beach, and before the night was finished, they had raised an additional $209,000, toward their goal of $1.45 million to build a much needed YMCA Youth Development Building. The money raised was to support a community match fund. They only need another $200,000 to complete this project. John and Allyson Richards seemed to inspire others to give freely as they shouted $25,000, and then AGAIN said $25,000 (total $50,000) — on top of their original donation, which was not announced at the dinner.

So many people offered what they could, and then many offered a second time to help this terrific youth program. Even George Abounader donated, and then his wife, Y Executive Director Cindy Love, said I cannot let him outdo me, and she also donated. Other staff members also donated. The room was filled with love for the children and people who showed it! Corporate sponsors were Condee Cooling & Electric, the Law Firm of Roetzel & Andress and Quality Systems Engineering.

* Hooray! In previous columns I’ve mentioned that a new shopping center will be built on the northeast corner of 951/U.S. 41, behind the Circle K, where trees are now located. Steinmart has pulled its building permit. Kite Realty hopes to begin building that shopping center at the end of March, and we’d love to see them do it!

* Please mark your calendars. My Town Hall Gathering will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 PM at the Marco Island Historical Society’s Rose Hall Auditorium. At that time, county staff will give citizens an update on the construction of US 41 E and 951/Collier Blvd. They have been doing an excellent job of keeping the traffic moving while keeping this massive construction project on track.

Also, we’ll be hearing from the county Parks and Recreation Department with the latest updates on South Beach and Tigertail Beach, the Goodland Boat Park and the 951 Boat Launch. Additionally, they will fill you in on their work with the Marco Coast Guard Auxiliary project. The county museum staff will bring you up to date on their work with the Marco Historical Society Museum.

* Surely you’ve noticed the construction taking place at the Eagle Creek Shopping Center along US 41 E, in front of The Fresh Market. Yup, that facility will be a Panera Bread, and people have said they’ll be thrilled to see it come.

Famous Last Words

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:04am

By Pat Newman

Famous last words: “My immune system is so strong, I could walk through a typhoid ward and not get sick.” Ha! That’s what I get for bragging and laughing at the Tamiflu commercial with its giant-sized sickies balancing on teeny-tiny beds, sipping medicine from thimble-sized cups.

I unexpectedly contracted the flu while visiting Gainesville. It hit me like a Florida Gator linebacker. One minute I was chatting on the phone, and the next, I was dragging myself to the car for a trip to Walgreens. I headed for the OTC aisle and loaded up with Super-Strength Cold/Flu syrup (Zesty Orange), tissues, thermometer, Emergen-C, soup and OJ. I dumped my supplies on the counter and starting hacking like a life-long smoker (which I am not).

“And how are you today?” The cashier asked cheerily.

“It’s pretty obvious, don’t you think?” I replied, clutching a fist of tissues to my gushing nostrils.

“Oh, yes, I see. Feel better,” he responded.

He rang up my order, and I started the process of checking out, starting with my prescription savings card, reward card, credit card and license. After answering the litany of questions on the tiny check-out screen, like correct amount, cash back, friendly service, product availability and store cleanliness, the cashier handed me my receipt, announced my savings, and immediately pumped a wad of hand-sanitizer into his palms.

Once back at my son’s apartment/sick ward, I took a dose of all the medicinal products I bought and hit the airbed for about 12 hours. I woke up, cold, achy and thirsty. I layered on a sweater and sweatshirt, downed a cup of soup and re-dosed. Back for another eight hours of rest and crazy dreams.

Day two was slightly better. I crawled from the airbed to the lounge chair and watched back-to-back episodes of “Golden Girls.” More soup was consumed, more syrup ingested and the tissue box was replaced with a roll of toilet paper.

Tentatively, my son asked how I felt (or how much longer was his sick mother going to occupy his living roomy). “Minimally better,” I answered, trying to look cheerful. He offered to go to the store and pick up any necessities, but I told him I was just fine.

“Hot tea?”

“Lovely,” I said.

So day three rolls around, and I am actually starting to function like a human being again. Hot shower, hot coffee and eggs with hot sauce work miracles. I am seeing a little ray of sunshine among the clouds in North Central Florida, which equates to my overall feeling of light at the end of the tunnel of flu.

Never again will I joke about “not getting sick.” Did I get the recommended flu shot? Of course not! But, I am starting to realize that my infallibility to illness may be weakening. It’s true that the last time I suffered with the flu was back when the “Hong Kong” strain was rampant and I had my mom to nurse me back to health. It’s time to “woman-up” and take my vitamins!

So, for those of you stubborn men and women over 60 who boast about never getting sick, dream on. It can happen to you. Go drink your probiotics!


Questions…More Questions

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:59am

Tarik Ayasun

Boko Haram

As I sit in front of my computer preparing this piece for the Coastal Breeze News, I find myself drowning in questions and no answers. It is moments like these when I think my head is about to explode. It reminds me of my childhood when I used to lie down on a blanket in our back porch in suburban Istanbul on hot summer nights, gazing into the pitch black sky with millions of sparkling stars and wondering where did all this start; where is it going; how does everything work; why does the heart beat and the lungs breathe; and many more similar thoughts and unanswered questions at the time. I would only stop when I started to get dizzy and felt as if I was falling into a large black hole, spinning out of control and fearing my head would explode if I continued looking into the sky and asking questions.

Well, over the years, at least some of those questions have been answered, at least to my satisfaction and I moved on.

The questions that fill my mind and bring my head to near a state of explosion today are of a different nature. I feel very strongly there must be answers to these questions, and there are men and women out there who have the intelligence and tools as well as the power to answer them. For some odd reason, though, they are all missing in action!

They look at the same events I am looking at — albeit with more tools and abilities — and are not seeing the truth, or worst yet, are ignoring the truth they see or are just plain lying to us for one reason or another. I am not sure which is worse, but I am sure we are going to suffer the consequences in the not so distant future.

Today, I wanted to list a number of events and ask the question “what is the common thread?”, and see if someone out there will be able to tell me and save my head from exploding.

The following events took place around the world in the last 20 years or so, and they keep happening as we live our lives in relative peace in the most wonderful spot in the whole world. These events are all related to one another by a single thread, yet our leaders are in total denial, twisting and turning trying to find names like “workplace violence, violent acts by violent people, severe actions, etc.” but not calling them with their real name “Islamist terrorism caused by Radical Islam.”

France shooting attack

The USS Cole was attacked as she sat in anchor at the Yemeni port of Aden, Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 and injuring 39 American sailors; in Madrid, Spain, trains were bombed on March 11, 2004, killing 191 and maiming scores of innocent civilians, men, women and children; a nightclub was bombed in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct. 12, 2002, killing 202 civilians and injuring 209 civilians enjoying an evening out; Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer, fatally shoots 13 people and injures more than 30 others in Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009; London subways as well as a double decker bus were bombed on July 7, 2005, killing 52 civilians and injuring more than 700 civilians; 130 hostages died in the Moscow Theater siege on Oct. 23, 2002; three innocent bystanders were killed and an estimated 264 were injured on April 15, 2013, during the Boston Marathon; in Nigeria, Boko Haram kidnapped 400 girls from their homes and just last month killed 2,000 more in the village of Baga; two brothers attacked the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 while another terrorist killed five more in a Jewish Deli on Jan. 7, 2015; on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked us on our soil, killing nearly 3,000 civilians; a number of innocent civilian Westerners were beheaded and the heinous acts videotaped for the world to see …

And the list goes on and on…

The answer is clear to me.

The people or groups committing the atrocities mentioned above (and many more) were not shouting “Jesus is Great” nor were they shouting “in the name of the Pope!” or “long live Israel” as they beheaded innocents or shot down aircraft and blew up trains.

Unfortunately, it seems like the truth is not clear to the President of the United States; or to our Secretary of State, who is busy trying to open an Embassy in Tehran; or the Attorney General of the United States, who was unable to walk across the street to join the march against terror in Paris; or to many “inside-the-Beltway-Ostriches” and certain radio and television hosts whose heads are buried so far down in the sand they can almost see China at the other end.

When are we going to stop trying to commit suicide in the name of political correctness?

When is it going to be clear to all who the enemy is and what they want to do?

Will the Ostriches ever pull their heads out of the sand look around to see who is trying to kill us all?

My critical question to our readers is: Is it clear to you?

I certainly hope so.

In the meantime, I will continue to read, research and write as much as I can, as often as I can, or until the cows come home…

Marco Police Foundation 4th Annual Rib Cook-Off

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:52am

By Don Manley

Jimmy Downey, left, and Frank LaCava, in the ‘Wild Jimmy’s Beef Jerky’ tent.

They came, they grilled and in the end, big fun was had by all.

Such was the lot of the contestants, the judges and the bevy of enthusiastic onlookers who turned out for the Marco Island Brewery’s Fourth Annual Rib Cook-Off, which benefits the Marco Police Foundation Scholarship Fund.

The Brewery-sponsored event saw eight contenders vie to be selected as one of the three preparers most skilled in barbecuing that gustatory delight — the pork rib.

In the end, it was cook-off newcomer Jim Gratkowski of Gratkowski Painting Contractors, who snagged the first-place trophy with a recipe he cobbled together mere days before the event.

“I grabbed a bunch of ribs from Publix and practiced all week,” he said, while celebrating the win with family members. Regarding a title defense, Gratkowski chuckled and said, “After this display this year, I know I’m going to win next year.”

Among the competitors manning grills in the Brewery parking lot were a joint team from Marco’s fire-rescue and police departments, the Marco Sportfishing Club, Mike Dechaine, Connor Riddle and John LaCava, son of Brewery owner Frank LaCava.

Frank LaCava, his granddaughter Sophia Shea and his daughter Jamie LaCava-Shea prepare to announce the cook-off winners.

Dechaine took second place, while third place went to Riddle, who was the 2014 champion.

“This was our biggest one yet,” Joe Granda said of the $5,000 the event raised for the scholarship fund, through raffles, a silent auction and the sales of barbecue dinners to onlookers. Granda, the foundation’s outgoing president and a member of its executive board, was the event’s organizer.

Both he and Curt Koon, the foundation’s 2015 president, praised Frank LaCava for not just sponsoring the Cook-Off, but also donating the meat to contestants, the barbecue meals that are sold and even the trophies.

“There are not enough words to say, ‘Thank you, Frank, for all you do for the police foundation and for our city,’” said Granda.

Frank LaCava views such actions as a natural thing.

“I’m very family oriented,” he said. “I have a lot of grandchildren. The island is a small community. It’s given to me. Everything is not all about the money, so I do several fundraisers throughout the year where I feel we can give back.”

Jimmy Downey hams it up with a steak.

Judging was handled by Marco City Manager Roger Hernstadt, Steve Stefanides, John Arceri, Mary Quinton, Eddie Russo of Cheyney Brothers food distributors, Jamie La-Cava Shea and Sean Shea. Each entry was assigned a number, and they assessed them based on such factors as taste, texture, tenderness and the smoke ring on each rib.

Jimmy Downey, owner of Wild Jimmy’s Beef Jerky, was at the cook-off as a volunteer, assisting the joint police and fire-rescue team and with setting up tents for the event.

“It’s a lot of fun getting all the people to come out, getting the community together, the fire department, the police department,” said Downey. “This is a lot of fun. It’s all about charity and helping everyone out here.”


Music, Movies, Art at the Center for the Arts

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:50am

By Don Manley


Officials with the Marco Island Center for the Arts have packed the facility’s schedule with programs sure to please locals and visitors to the island alike.

First, on Sunday, Jan. 25, 4:00-5:30 PM, the Center will feature jazz vocalist Rebecca Richardson and The Rebecca Richardson Trio. They will present a program entitled “A Tribute to the Great Jazz Vocalists.”

Richardson has been compared to the great female jazz voices of the ages, such as Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. She began her formal training at the age of 13, winning All-State and All Northwest honors before graduating from High School. She went on to Cornish College where she obtained a degree in Jazz Vocal performance and a minor in Bass and continued studies with the esteemed Julliard School. Richardson’s popular CD “Stirred, Not Shaken” established Richardson as one of the top jazz singers of our time.

Richardson’s love for music is not limited to jazz, but also extends to Classical music. She has performed with Opera Naples, at area churches and as Founder and Director of the Naples Carolers. She teaches voice and piano privately at the Music Studio of Naples. Her classical and non-jazz endeavors have included the Seattle Symphony, Choral Civic Light Opera, The Dickens Carolers and The Hank Lane Orchestra.

Then, the Dan Heck Trio will visit the Center, Sunday, Feb. 22, to perform “A Tribute to Legends of Jazz Guitar.” Showtime is from 4 PM. Heck is a professional jazz guitarist and bassist, recording artist, composer and educator who has relocated to Naples from New York City. He is a graduate of the Berkley College of Music. As the founding member of the band “BeBop and Destruction,” he has had national success and recognition winning several awards including recording four critically acclaimed CDs.

Heck has extensive performing experience in the United States and throughout Europe, including performances at such prestigious venues as the Blue Note in New York and the Space Needle in Seattle. In addition to his four CDs, he can be heard on dozens of recordings as both a sideman and a leader. His playing is best described as “Modern Jazz” with a heavy “Bop” influence.

At the Center the Dan Heck Trio will take you on journey through jazz guitar masters, such Pat Metheny, Pat Martino, and Wes Montgomery. Included in the program will be Heck’s personal story along with his recitation of historical and interesting facts about the jazz guitar masters and their careers.

Rebecca Richardson

You will not want to miss Rebecca Richardson or Dan Heck. Seating is limited. For more information, please contact Hyla Crane at 239-394-4221 or Tickets are $30 and may be ordered online or by visiting the Center at 1010 Winterberry Drive.

On Monday, Jan. 26, the center will welcome noted author and advocate Deena Baxter as the guest speak for the Beaux Arts Program Series. The program starts at 5 PM.

In her presentation, “The Power of Art in My Search for ‘Normal,’” she will highlight many life-affirming ways she has embraced art as a navigation tool. Baxter’s perspective is creative art is one way the mind speaks, and wherever an artist’s spirit takes her, it can speak from the heart and be a powerful, expressive tool for healing and nurturing. This view informs her writing.

After losing her youngest son to suicide in 2012, Baxter set out on a mission; a search for “Normal” and who gets to decide when the mission is accomplished. Her journey included partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Collier County (NAMI-CC) to provide families with resources that “give mental illness a life-affirming voice.”

The Surviving Suicide Project includes a book and a creative arts website. The book, “Surviving Suicide — Searching for ‘Normal’ with Heartache and Humor records her journey through heartache and discovery. All profit flows to NAMI of Collier County.

This program is open to volunteers, members and the general public. Registration is requested. For more information, please contact Hyla Crane at 239-394-4221 or

Next, Center visitors can spend an evening with Bob Chase, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 5:30-7:00 PM. He will present his history as a fine art dealer, with a particular focus on his personal relationship with Salvador Dali in “Recollections of a Picture Dealer: Salvador Dali and Me.”

Chase has a long and illustrious career as a fine art dealer with Merrill Chase Gallery and as a publisher and gallery owner. Over the years, he has had the privilege of spending personal time with 20th century masters such as Miro, Chagall, Erte, Calder and Dali.

In the early 1970s, Chase suggested to Dali it was time to give the world Dali’s own vision of things to come. He was aware of Dali’s interests in Leonardo DaVinci and his conceptual scientific and futuristic thinking. At the time, Dali leaned back, pulled on his mustache, rolled his eyes, and proclaimed, “Bravo! Dali will create the future.”

As a result, Dali created 10 paintings and 10 original mixed media graphics. The final works revealed the startling concepts of the future, for some of which have prophetically already come to pass. You will hear some of the fascinating stories and surreal adventures Chase and his wife experienced with Dali.

When asked about Chase’s upcoming presentation, Center Executive Director Hyla Crane gushed, “Bob is that rare combination of art lover, expert and history teller. The evening with Bob will be interesting and revealing. His personal relationship with Dali will provide special insight to the master’s works.”

Tickets to this once in a lifetime event are only $30.00 and seating is limited. To purchase tickets or for additional information, please contact

Finally, join the folks at the Center for the second annual “Art Flicks” program, featuring foreign, independent and art house films. To be shown at Marco Movies, 599 S. Collier Blvd at 10 AM, the series features FREE theme-based films, refreshments and lively discussions for both residents and island visitors who are interested in the art of film.

The theme for 2015 is “Wine, Women and Song,” and will feature the following movies:

January 20: “Somm”

February 3: “Annie Liebovitz—Life Through A Lens”

February 17: “Young@Heart”

March 3: “Bottle Shock”

“The Art Flicks program was such a huge success last year,” commented Rosemary Wick, board president, “so it was a real challenge for the committee to find a theme and choose interesting, thought provoking and entertaining films for 2015. I think they have managed to do that quite well!”

The “Art Flicks” program was designed to help create a more well-rounded appeal for an already robust art, class and exhibit schedule for the Art Center. While the movie and refreshments are free, donations are happily accepted at the end of each film. Last year’s program raised nearly $2,000 in donations.

The Marco Island Center for the Arts is open Monday-Friday, 9 AM-5 PM, and opens its doors the second Tuesday of each month, 5:30-7:00 PM to launch a new month’s worth of art exhibits. Wine and hors d’oeuvres are served.

For more information about programs and activities of Marco Island Center for the Arts, please visit


Berkshire Hathaway Welcomes Ken Bennett

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:50am

By Don Manley

Count Ken Bennett among the legions of people who have fallen in love with Marco Island.

Bennett is the new managing partner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Marco Island office, a post he assumed four months ago.

“I love the beach,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. I like the laid back feel here. The people are all very friendly. It’s a much slower pace of life, which I think is great. It’s a little paradise, and it’s a well-kept secret, too. The whole lifestyle is just beautiful. It kind of reminds me in ways of the beaches of Southern California when I was growing up.”

A Los Angeles area native, Bennett managed an independent real estate company in the Orlando area for 15 years before coming to the island for his new job.

The move represents a return of sorts for the former defensive end and tight-end who was a football teammate of Mark Harmon, star of the CBS hit “NCIS,” at Los Angeles Pierce College. When Bennett first came to Florida in 1994, he worked in Fort Myers managing an office for Prudential realty and became a fan of life in Southwest Florida.

“I always wanted to come back to the Gulf Coast because I think the lifestyle here is so much more relaxed,” said Bennett.

Bennett’s time with Berkshire Hathaway began a little more than six months ago with a meeting he had in Orlando with Brigid Peterson, the company’s vice president for the state’s west coast. She mentioned that there a management opportunity on Marco, and he was immediately interested.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding because that’s the jewel of resort areas,’” he said. Next came a meeting with Reinaldo Mesa, CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, and after a few week’s consideration, Bennett decided to seize the opportunity.

“There’s a lot to relocating, but we’re excited we made the decision to do it and we’re excited to get down here,” he said.

By “we,” Bennett was referring to his fiancé Lisa Ranalli, who has remained in Orlando until their home there sells.

There was an element of chance involved in the journey that led Bennett to a career in real estate. After college, he enlisted in the US Navy in 1973 rather than be drafted and was fortunate enough to spend his six years as a sailor working in for the office of the Chief of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C.

When he decided to re-enter civilian life, Bennett made his way to a job fair at a Marriott hotel in Washington, where he met a man named Herb Pinkerton who changed his life.

“At the time, as an E-5 (Navy yeoman, second class), I think I was making about $7,500 a year,” he said. “I wasn’t quite sure, but I figured if I could double my income, I could make it on the ‘outside,’ as they called it. So I walked up to Herb (Pinkerton), and said, ‘Do you think I could make $15,000 selling real estate,’ and he said, ‘Gee, I think you could do that and even more.’ I said, ‘Really. Let’s do this.’”

So Bennett went to real estate school and got his license in Maryland, and upon his discharge, he began his new career in 1979. “I immediately had a lot of success with it,” he added. “It’s been a good career for me.”

As a manager, Bennett said the part of his job that he finds most fulfilling is helping the people under his charge find success, especially those who are new to the business.

“It’s really gratifying to build that relationship with them from the very beginning and to be instrumental in their first few transactions and then watch them go on to be superstars in the business and generate the sort of income that a lot of people would love to have,” he said.

Bennett is encouraged by what he’s seeing from the condition of today’s real estate market, which is more slow and steady than booming, as it was in the early part of this century.

“I don’t know that we will be there again,” he said of the halcyon days of 2003-2005.

“I think what we like to see in this industry is steady growth, consistent growth; I think that works well,” said Bennett. “When you have radical stages where things go up 15-20-30 percent per year, things can get crazy, and I think we proved that fairly well back in ’07 and ’08. That type of wild, uncontrolled growth just isn’t healthy for anybody at the end of the day.

“We’re seeing a tremendous pick up in our business,” he added. “The average sales price is growing at a very reasonable rate here on the island, which is good. Our inventory is down quite a bit both for single-family homes and condominiums. Our available building lots are up a little bit, which is interesting, but we’re seeing good growth in overall values. We had a great December in this office, and as a company, I think that portends well for our seasonal market, which extends through April, May of this year.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Marco office is located at 900 N. Collier Boulevard. For more information, visit or call 239-642-5400.