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Mackle Park Referendum Back to Council

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 9:20pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

During its March 17 meeting, the Marco Island City Council voted to untable its previous discussion about the language for the proposed referendum “to determine whether to renovate and expand the indoor community center at Mackle Park.” Council will take up the discussion at future meeting, possibly on April 7.

The motion — made by Councilor Joe Batte and seconded by Councilor Bob Brown — passed by a vote of 4-2. Council Vice Chairman Larry Sacher and Councilor Amadeo Petricca voted in dissent, and Councilor Chuck Kiester was not in attendance.

Councilors attempted to tackle the issue during the March 3 meeting, but lingering questions about pricing forced them to table the discussion until further information could be provided about the true costs of the long-debated community center project. The current plan for a turnkey, modular, precast concrete design concept provided by Royal Concrete Concepts is nearly one-year-old, and so is the $2.25 million price tag which expired in September 2013.

Further, multiple attempts to contact the Royal Concrete folks have proven difficult for Marco Island officials. That’s because Royal Concrete recently merged with Metromont Corp., a concrete company with manufacturing facilities in Greenville, SC; Altanta; Nashville, TN; Charlotte, NC; Richmond, VA; and Bartow, FL.

It is a game of beat the clock, after all. Councilors want to hold the referendum concurrently with the upcoming primary election on Aug. 26, but they are facing a June deadline to give the language for the referendum to Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards.

Parks and Recreation Administrative and Facilities Manager Alex Galiana opened the door for the motion to untable the discussion during his department’s monthly report to City Council. No hard bid was available for reference, and city officials continue to have difficulties contacting Royal Concrete Concepts to get an updated quote. Even so, Galiana and City Manager Roger Hernstadt did preliminary pricing research for similar community center projects in Southwest Florida. Here is what they found:

• Collier County has approved $2.24 million for the new 11,558-square-foot Eagle Lakes Community Center in east Naples. That is $194 per square foot.

• Brian Howell with Naples-based Phoenix Associates of South Florida Inc., a construction and engineering firm, confirmed that a figure between $190 and $200 per square foot would be sufficient to build Marco Island’s current 16,000-square-foot community center with no gymnasium.

• According to W. Jeffrey Mudgett, a principal with Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects Inc. in Fort Myers, the portions of the new 30,000-square-foot North Fort Myers Recreation Center — the areas that did not include an enclosed gymnasium — cost Lee County just $162 per square foot. The current Mackle Park design concept is based on the plans for this new rec center. Mudgett suggested Marco Island add 5 percent to account for increases in market costs along with a $5 per square foot premium because construction costs on Marco are higher than those in the middle of Lee County. The price: $175 per square foot, or $2.8 million for the 16,000-square-foot building with no contingencies, furnishing or accessories.

In the end, Galiana and Hernstadt told City Council the amount in the referendum should be $3.5 million, with the question being: “Shall the City expend up to $3.5 million to construct a New Community Center at Mackle Park?”

Galiana explained that the figure of $3.5 million was based on a “traditional” construction method and pricing of $200 per square foot plus a 9 percent contingency.

Councilors were skeptical. “This dollar number is 56 percent higher than what was given to us by Royal Concrete,” noted Councilor Larry Honig. “We led the citizens to believe that we were serious about reducing the price of this proposal.”

He added: “I don’t think enough work has been done to reconcile why we were given a bid for $2.5 million, and then a few months later, we cannot find any contractor willing to come in less than 56 percent more. If that is reality and that is where we are, I am willing to accept that. I just don’t think enough work has been done.”

Batte agreed, “I think we have the opportunity here for staff to do a little more work.”

Not long after Galiana finished his report, Greg West, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and board member Dr. Gerry Swiacki gave councilors an update on the marketing efforts for the Mackle Park plan. Both men applauded Council’s decision to untable the referendum discussion.

“Mackle Park adds to everyone’s quality of life on Marco Island,” Swiacki told City Council. “The city will build the best community center (it) can for the cost available.”


iPhone Photos: Beyond the Selfie

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 9:17pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY

For iPhone users, it is no secret that their cell phone has changed the way they record the important moments in their lives.

“It’s played a huge role,” says local photographer Jason Reinhart. “The iPhone has made it possible to share moments with family and friends with a simple click of the upload button.”

It has even taken the place of professional photographers in some cases, Reinhart notes. “In recent news, the Chicago Sun Times fired its photographers to teplace them with iPhones photographers. That’s a huge move showing how photography is evolving,” he adds.

Reinhart will explore these themes while leading a new workshop — iPhone Photography and Editing — at the Marco Island Center for the Arts on Monday, March 24, 10 AM-12 PM. Reinhart has more than 50,000 followers on Instagram, and is the co-founder of @justgoshoot, an Instagram feed designed to provide exposure to talented underrated mobile photographers. The cost for the workshop is $60 for both members and nonmembers.

According to Reinhart, he developed the idea for the workshop last October. “I had been taking photos on the beaches of Marco Island, and in that time talked to plenty of people, and noticed a majority of people I talked to were not using their iPhone camera and apps available to the fullest potential,” he explains. “So I thought it would be great if their was a class or workshop where people could signup and learn basics, and also open their eyes as to what their phone camera can do.”

Reinhart has been perfecting the iPhone photo since 2007, when he bought his first iPhone. Admittedly, he was amazed at the camera that was built into that phone. “I loved that it was small enough to put in my pocket but almost as powerful as a point-and-shoot camera,” says Reinhart. “When I started downloading apps to edit photos, I realized it was like I now have photoshop on me at all times.”

Jacksonvile Pier, Jacksonville, FL

The key, though, is knowing how to use those apps to edit the photos taken with the phone, Reinhart acknowledges. It is also important to learn to use existing light to give an image impact and composition that draws a viewer into the photo.

The workshop will teach people the basic settings within the phone to take photos in various situations, as well as focus on phone accessories that improve shooting. Reinhart also will introduce a number of apps that will help people get the best possible images to share with friends and family.

Anyone interested in checking out Reinhart’s work can look him up on Instagram @JasonHReinhart. For more information about the Center for the Arts workshop, contact the Center at 239-394-4221, or visit the center’s website at


Batfish Bash Raises Nearly $100k

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 9:14pm

By Renee Wilson
Rookery Bay
Communications Coordinator

Guy Harvey donated a lithograph for the live auction titled ‘Breaking Away,’ featuring two dolphinfish in the open ocean.

The Friends of Rookery Bay held the Fifth Annual Batfish Bash for the Bay Saturday, March 15, at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center in Naples. Nearly 200 guests enjoyed a silent auction amidst the aquariums and art gallery, sunset and cocktails overlooking Henderson Creek, and a live auction followed by dinner and dancing on the center’s back lawn.

FORB is the non-profit corporation that has been connecting people with Southwest Florida’s dynamic estuarine environment since 1987. Its mission is to support the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters between Naples and Everglades National Park.

“With the back drop we have outside — under the stars and a full moon — the night could not have been more perfect,” said Craig Seibert, president of the FORB board. “We raised more money this year than ever before,” he added, saying the event raised $100,000 in total.

Silent auction items amidst the two-story exhibit hall delighted auction enthusiasts as they sipped on their Batfish Brew (the event’s signature drink), while servers passed hors d’oeuvres. They got some great deals on items like artwork, fishing charters, kayak tours, dinner deals, rounds of golf, wine tastings, and Red Sox tickets at Fenway Park. There was even a week-long stay in a lakeside cabin in Minnesota. All items were donated by local companies and other supporters.

Guests at the 2014 Batfish Bash for the Bay bid on silent auction items.

Out under the stars, event participants enjoyed delicious food from Matthews and Gardner Catering. The menu included soups, sandwiches, a fresh grilling station, and many delectable dessert options.

After dinner was served, Chris Lombardo, the evening’s energetic auctioneer, kept everyone on their toes and grabbing for their bidding paddles as he sold all seven live auction items, including artwork by Guy Harvey, trips to New York City and New Hampshire, a boat tour and lunch with the Reserve Director Gary Lytton, and a getaway at a secluded cabin within the Reserve complete with a campfire dinner and boat tour. The headlining live auction item — a seven-day luxury yacht vacation in Belize — caused quite a stir in the crowd until the bidding ended at $3,400. A special category called “Fund-a-Need” raised a record-setting $9,300 toward the purchase of a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) to be used by the Reserve’s research and resource management staff for mapping the shoreline, prescribed fires, beach clean-ups and more.

Following the auction, guests flocked to the dance floor as the Girl Meets Boy band ended the evening on a high note. Corporate sponsors for the event included Minto, Arthrex, Lennar, Naples Daily News, J.R. Evans Engineering, Pulte, Fifth Third Bank, Gulf Coast Construction, Marco Island Marriott, Stock Development, Argo Land, Southern Wine & Spirits, Artistic Science, Aggressor Fleet, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and StoreSmart self-storage.

The winning bidder of the 7-day luxury cruise to Belize aboard the Sundancer II —
valued at more than $6,000

Proceeds from the Batfish Bash for the Bay support the Reserve’s youth science education programs, research and habitat management. For more information about the Rookery Bay Reserve or Friends of Rookery Bay visit

1 Million Acts of Kindness at TBE

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 9:11pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

On a quiet, sunny Tuesday in March, Bob Votruba and his six-year-old Boston Terrier, Bogart, pulled their big blue kindness bus into the parking lot of Tommie Barfield Elementary School for a third visit in just a year. This time, the visit was extra special because Votruba was giving a special “One Million Acts of Kindness” plaque to TBE Principal Dr. Jory Westberry and her students.

You see, the Ohio native has been traveling the Unites States for the last seven years, spreading the gospel of kindness to school children everywhere. According to Votruba, his work grew out of the April 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech in which 32 people were killed and 17 injured by a lone gunman. “I was deeply moved by this event, divesting myself of nearly every possession I had and setting off in a bus to travel the country…and now the world,” says Votruba.

His goal: To help others realize how important having kindness as a goal in life is in helping people to be the kindest, most caring individuals possible.

The quick stop at TBE was to reward its students, administration, faculty, staff and parents for taking Votruba’s pledge to commit “One Million Acts of Kindness” in a year. Votruba explains that in a school community of approximately 400 students or more — with all the faculty, staff and as many parents as possible participating — one million acts of kindness can be performed collectively from September to June. TBE is just the 26th school in the nation to make the pledge prior to the school year beginning and to receive the plaque.

“Schools that shows me that they are actively working on creating a culture of kindness for the extended ‘family; of that campus will receive a plaque,” Votruba says. “Tommie Barfield Elementary exemplifies the criteria mentioned.

In total, Votruba has visited more than 300 schools in the last five years, and more than 20,000 individuals have taken his kindness pledge. Recently, Votruba was the recipient of a kindness as well, when Blue Bird Corp. donated a new bus to him and Bogart for their travels.

Votruba and Bogart also visited TBE in February when the two spent the day talking to TBE students about kindness and reading from Bogart’s book series. When completed, the series will include 12 books that teach children about the world through Bogart’s eyes. Votruba donated two signed copies of “Bogart Begins His Kindess Adventure” to TBE.

“We were so honored to have Bob Votruba and Bogart visit our school for an entire day,” says Westberry. “Bob and Bogart read their book to classes and demonstrated what one act of kindness can do, represented by an unfolding heart. Many of our students were awed by Bob and his Kindness Bus, but the message was very powerful — just be kind.”


32 Gulfport to Face the Wrecker’s Ball

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 9:10pm

By Carol Glassman

Roberto Roque, who was seriously injured by a fire and explosion in his home at 32 Gulfport Court two years ago, appeared before the Code Enforcement Board to discuss options for the condemned property that is currently under contract for sale.

At the March meeting of the City’s Code Enforcement Board, Officer Patrick Hayman reported on the progress of a property at 32 Gulfport Court, which had been cited as a public nuisance and an unsafe structure following a serious fire and explosion that injured the home’s owner, Roberto Roque (Roberto Roque Revocable Trust) in early December 2012. The property also has required extensive work on a sinkhole that appeared.

Roque appeared at the hearing to explain that he had tried to prepare the house sufficiently for sale and then realized the structure was beyond salvaging. He also has spent almost $90,000 to repair the sinkhole.

Hayman said the family had a deadline of January 4 to repair the violations and that several offers to sell the property had not been successful.

Al Cahoon of Marco Island appeared at the meeting to say that he currently has an offer on the property to purchase it “as is” with a March 31 closing date. His plan is to have the house demolished and then sell the vacant lot. Cahoon said he intends to pay for the sewer hookup but not the city’s hard costs or maintenance fees which are approximately $2,000.

City staff advised Cahoon and Roque that these costs and the city’s lien against the property would have to be settled before a demolition permit would be issued.

Al Cahoon of Marco Island intends to purchase the property at 32 Gulfport,
demolish the house and sell the lot.

Roque was given 30 days to pay the costs. The eventual property owner will then have 60 days to obtain the permit and demolish the building or face fines of $200 per day. If the city demolishes the property after the 60 days, costs incurred would become part of the owner’s fine.

In other action during the meeting, former city councilor Heyward Boyce appeared on behalf of his daughter and son-in-law, Ann Boyce and Kevin O’Neill, who had purchased a property at 83 Madagascar Court. They had appeared before the Board at February’s meeting, but as the property was not in compliance at that time for failure to connect to the city’s sewer system, mediation could not be arranged. Boyce reported that after receiving title to the property on February 24 and bringing it into compliance almost immediately, the sewer assessment fee, hard costs and the city’s administration fees had been paid. The board voted unanimously to waive all fines.

John R. Wood Opens Marco Office

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 9:02pm

John R. Wood Properties has opened a new office on Marco Island at 1000 North Collier Boulevard. The 4000-square-foot office will be staffed by 30-35 Realtors and will include a John R. Wood Cyber Café™ to best serve the company’s mobile agents and transactions.

“For the first time, this will give us a total presence on Marco Island,” said George Percel, who was hired to manage the office. Percel has been a Realtor in this area since 1992 when he was named “Realtor Rookie of the Year” by the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors.

“Obviously, we are excited to expand in this new market in a bold way,” said Phil Wood, president. “With George’s experience and our already high awareness on Marco Island, we anticipate substantial sales this year.”

“We have already been contacted by half a dozen agents who are delighted to have the increased presence of a company known for its high sales volume and reputation for helping agents achieve their full potential.”

Founded in 1958, John R. Wood Properties is Southwest Florida’s oldest and largest real estate firm representing more than 2,000 clients annually through its 300 agents and 100 staff people in 12 offices from Marco Island to Sanibel/Captiva. John R. Wood Properties is routinely ranked as one of the highest sales per agent companies in the nation.


Help FWC – Be a Citizen Scientist

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:58pm


A ritual dating back millions of years takes place again this spring on Florida beaches. Spring marks horseshoe crab mating season, and biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) want the public’s help identifying spawning sites.

Beachgoers likely will have the best luck spotting mating horseshoe crabs around high tide, just before, during or after a new or full moon. The conditions around the new moon on March 30 will create ideal opportunities to view the spawning behavior of horseshoe crabs.

Mating crabs “pair up,” with the smaller male on top of the larger female. Other male crabs may also be present around the couple. Beachgoers lucky enough to spot horseshoe crabs are asked to note how many they see and whether the horseshoe crabs are mating. If possible, the observer should also count how many horseshoe crabs are mating adults and how many are juveniles (4 inches wide or smaller).

In addition, biologists ask observers to provide the date, time, location, habitat type and environmental conditions — such as tides and moon phase — when a sighting occurs.

The FWC asks the public to report sightings through one of several options. Go to and go to “Horseshoe Crab Nesting Activity” for the “Submit a Horseshoe Crab Survey” link, then select “Florida Horseshoe Crab Spawning Beach Survey.” You can also report findings via email at or by phone at 866-252-9326.

The survey program began in April 2002, and through 2013, FWC received 2,831 reports from across Florida. Horseshoe crabs, often called “living fossils,” are an important part of the marine ecosystem. Their eggs are a food source for animals. Birds, such as red knots, rely on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their long migrations to nesting grounds.

Further, horseshoe crabs are valuable to human medicine. Pharmaceutical companies use horseshoe crab blood to ensure intravenous drugs and vaccine injections are bacteria-free and sterile. Scientists also use horseshoe crabs in cancer research.

Annual SAMI Lady’s Day Regatta

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:52pm



Saturday, March 15, was a beautiful day for sailing, and the Sailing Association of Marco Island took advantage of it, as it held its annual Lady’s Day Regatta in the Gulf waters along Marco Island’s beach.

The coastal breeze was just right to be caught in the sails and gentle enough to provide a sway of waves for the boats at anchor. Even so, it was close quarters on the water, and some held their breath for a beat or two at the awesome sights.

This is just one of several event SAMI conducts on Marco waters. The club plans and participates in several regattas each year and hosts several cruises to various locations. Organized in 1969, SAMI’s purposes is to encourage the sport of sailing and promote the science of navigation and seamanship among all who love to sail. The club also holds monthly meetings, both at local restaurants and pot luck dinners held at various locations around the area. Most gatherings feature a keynote speaker on areas of interest to the club.

Next on SAMI’s agenda is The Gulf Coast Sailing Club’s 38th Annual Regatta, set for March 28-30. Known as the Porsche of Naples Cup, the regatta also will feature Peter Schutz, the former CEO of Porsche, and Brain MacInnes of Oracle Team USA America’s Cup Group.

SAMI is always looking for new members and invites interested boating enthusiasts to check out its website at for more information.


SAMI Lady’s Day Regatta Boat Name Sail No Capt’s Name Adventure M36 Barb Evans Dragon Fly Plus 5310 Liza Brown Moby Nick 40606 Nicolette Amendola Vagabond 10890 Terai Griffith-Spence Southern Crescent 37006 Laura Kerckhoff Sea Swan 18 Brownwen McKiever Eve 711 Ruth Bee

Nest Fest Raises $11,000

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:40pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Carla and Mike Mickes enjoy the evening’s festivities. PHOTOS BY LINDA TURNER

On March 16, the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation raised more than $11,000 during its Fourth Annual Nest Fest — the most money raised at a single function by the organization to date.

“It was a great success,” says Carl Way, the foundation’s chairman and founder. “We thank all those that supported our cause.” The event was held at the Island Country Club.

The event is one way the foundation helps fund its efforts to protect and maintain the habitat for Marco Island’s resident mating pair of Bald Eagles, Paleo and Calusa. The foundation leases the property — located at 665 Tigertail Court — from Collier County Public Schools for $30,000 annually. The lease coupled with general maintenance, operational and insurance costs total $45,000-$50,000 each year. Currently, the sanctuary averages 2,500-2,800 annual visitors from all over the world. Since its inception, Nest Fest has brought $6,000-$10,000 into the foundation’s coffers annually.

Way reminds Marco Islanders to keep their eyes open for upcoming information about the foundation’s fall “ Welcome Back To The Nest “ event at the Snook Inn. For more information about Nest Fest and the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, call 239-394-9285 or visit

MIA Art Show Set for April

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:37pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Pencil sketch by Livia Lenhoff. PHOTOS BY NOELLE H. LOWERY

April is a very important month for Rob Eder’s art history class at Marco Island Academy. His students will be showing roughly 30 original art works at the La Petite Galerie at the Marco Island Center for the Arts.

These are not just any old paintings or sketches, and patrons definitely will not see any pottery. What they will see are computer-enhanced watercolors of guitars — bright, colorful, authentic guitars.

Part of a class project, Eder divided his class into working groups who then created their own guitar design companies complete with corporate name and logo. Each group had to design 16 guitars based on traditional templates for acoustical guitars and popular electric guitars created by Fender, Gibson and Les Paul.

Students in each group draw their guitar design, and create the watercolor, which is then scanned into a computer. Then, if students choose, they use a digital photo manipulation program to alter their creation as they see fit with various filters and effects. Eder’s class used Picmonkey and PhotoShop. Using a giclee printer, a watercolor image is created on museum-quality, acid-free archival watercolor paper, and voila, a unique work of is born.

Eder assigned a similar project to his art history class last year. Only, the subject of the project was skateboards. “The students’ personalities really came out into the design of the skateboards,” he says.

He is hoping for the same result this year, especially since a few of his students are avid guitar players. Take sophomore Sean Flynn, who has been playing guitar for the last two years. The classic rock loving kid was really excited when Eder announced the project.

“I took to the guitar very quickly…I’m good with music,” Flynn explains. “With the art stuff, I am clueless. The fact that Mr. Eder was able to combine both elements made it easier for me, and I was more interested in it.”

His company is Trinity, and his business partners are freshman Sydney Feriozzi and sophomore Emily McRae. Flynn’s favorite original design was based on elements he would include on his Les Paul guitar if he could create it himself. Vibrant colors and a maze-like body bring the picture to life for Flynn.

Inspired by Jimi Hendrix

Juniors Livia Lenhoff and Katie Nelson have a different take on the project. Their company’s name — Soul Serial Eater — was inspired by Lenhoff’s collection of old Emerson, Lake and Palmer albums. (No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I said albums.) Their company logo is straight out of the 1960s as well complete with psychedelic flavor.

“I like that (the project) relates to music because I am a hug music fan,” Lenhoff says.

The girls are purist, though, and they will not alter their designs in any way with a computer program. “Photoshop devalues art,” says Lenhoff. “I am an artist. I enjoy painting and drawing and selling art…Anyone can manipulate a drawing with a computer, but being an artist, that is born in you.”

Eder welcomes the philosophical debate in his classroom: “Is it art if you use photoshop? Should we embrace digital images? That is the world we live in now.”




Make World Water Day Every Day

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:35pm

By Natalie Strom

Monitoring bird population can be a good indicator of water quality. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

News flash! Water is essential to our everyday lives! Oh, you already knew that? Good. Well, did you know that you can celebrate what keeps you alive on March 22 with the rest of the world. That’s right. It’s World Water Day, and the best way to celebrate the liquid locally is by taking a trip to Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) where its specialty, of course, is water and water research.

Head out to 300 Tower Road, just off of US-951, and you will find the Reserve tucked away in a hidden paradise of walking paths, boardwalks, mangroves and bays. To celebrate, the Learning Center at RBNERR is offering a buy-one-get-one-free entrance for the day. Learn about slithering snakes, get your hands on some wildlife in the touch tank and watch the film, “Ocean Frontiers: The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship.” Walk through the learning center’s two floors to learn even more about the water that flows through Southwest Florida in its many capacities.

Is your schedule already full for March 22? RBNERR’s staff wants to make sure you get a good lesson on the importance of water anyway. Regional Communications Director Renee Wilson and Kevin Cunniff, Research Coordinator, have some important facts to share not only about the water that surrounds us and drains through the Everglades, but also the importance of keeping our fresh water supply clean.

“First and foremost, every citizen and visitor of Florida drinks the water that falls as rain onto the land where it stored as surface water, primarily in wetlands, lakes, streams, and canals,” explains Cunniff. “While some of this water discharges to coastal estuaries naturally and through water management operations, a significant amount of water percolates slowly through our porous, limestone-based ground into shallow aquifers.”

These aquifers are basically holding tanks of fresh water from which we pull for municipal water supply.

“These days, we are drawing water out of aquifers at a rate that often exceeds the ability for rain water to recharge them,” states Cunniff. “This has consequences for our ability to hold back saltwater intrusion, maintain viable freshwater drinking sources and to support the habitats that collect and hold water for aquifer recharge.

“We can all help improve this situation by being conscious of the water we use. You can directly help reduce the pressure on our aquifers by reducing your personal water usage at home and your workplace, eliminating water-thirsty turf grass and exotic vegetation and by using your voice to promote habitat protection, conservation, and restoration. Re-planting with native Florida vegetation that is naturally drought-tolerant reduces or even eliminates the need for irrigation. Seventy percent of home water use in south Florida goes toward irrigation.”

“Clean water is important on so many levels,” adds Wilson, emphasizing the need to also keep our coastal waters, canals, estuaries and bays free from toxins. “Non-point source pollution is one of the biggest threats to coastal waters. It happens when rain falling on land picks up pollutants from driveways, roads, parking lots, and yards and runs off to swales and canals that lead directly to our estuaries and the Gulf of Mexico. Keeping up with regular vehicle maintenance and proper application of fertilizers and pesticides are a few easy ways of minimizing non-point source pollution.”

RBNERR constantly monitors the waters within its 110,000 acres for water quality. Wilson and Cunniff explain that the Reserve uses the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) which is used at all 28 National Estuarine Reserves across the country.

“In addition to recording weather data and collecting monthly water samples for nutrient analyses, we have deployed continuous water quality monitoring instruments at five permanent stations in the Reserve where water quality parameters are measured and recorded at 15-minute intervals,” explains Wilson. “The data collected include water temperature, depth, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity – or cloudiness or clarity.”

Shark and bird population studies are also being performed as another indicator of estuarine health within the reserve.

Experience the Touch Tank at the Learning Center.

“Healthy coastal waters are critically important to the economy in Southwest Florida because so much of our tourism income is centered around the local waterways,” Wilson continues. “Boating, fishing, beachfront hotels, waterfront dining, ecotourism, and commercial harvest all rely on clean fresh water entering our coastal zone as runoff from summer rains. Many marine animals in the estuary and beyond are also dependent on fresh water which contains minerals and nutrients important for reproduction, shell formation, and many other functions.”

“Essentially, it is not an understatement that clean water in our estuaries, bays, and canals is the key to our health, fortune and the very livelihood of all Floridians,” states Cunniff.

It certainly isn’t. Be sure to celebrate World Water Day on March 22, but that’s not enough. Do your part and help keep our waters clean every day.

Rookery Bay is located at 300 Tower Road in Naples. For more information on World Water Day or its many programs and activities, visit or call 239-530-5940.


Tips from the DEP to protect groundwater in Florida:

• Use less by not over-watering your lawn

• Consider Florida-friendly landscaping

• Water in the early morning hours to avoid evaporation

• Install rain sensor devices on sprinkler systems

• Fix leaky faucets and toilets that run continuously

• Don’t pour medications or poisonous chemicals down household drains or toilets

• Use water-saving toilets, faucets and appliances

• Limit fertilizer and pesticide use, follow the label directions

• Maintain your septic system by having tanks pumped and inspected every three to five years

• Test your drinking water wells once a year for coliform bacteria and nitrate

• Encourage and support businesses that are water-conscious

Marco Faith & Wine Presents Christina King

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:32pm


Author, national radio host, international speaker, featured guest of EWTN and mother of eight, Christina King’s highly dynamic and interactive style will inspire you to embrace the beauty of faith and God’s plan for your life. King will present “Treasure in Earthen Vessels” at San Marco Church, Wednesday, March 26, at 6:30 PM.

The Marco Faith and Wine event is sponsored by Coastal Breeze News.

“Treasure in Earthen Vessels” is an encouraging and inspirational presentation describing individuals as unique treasures in earthen vessels that God can, and does, work through — even though we might be “cracked.” King uses an entertaining style with visuals to tell her incredibly moving and heartwarming story. Full of faith and hope, this presentation will help the audience to enter into a deeper relationship with God, becoming transformed and allowing Him to shine through our “cracks” and weaknesses.

King holds a degree in psychology and counseling with graduate studies in family counseling. Her new book, “Desperate for Love,” will be available in bookstores soon. She speaks on varied topics related to faith including: embracing your greatness, the dignity of women, the new springtime (Evangelization), parenting teens with love, pure freedom (Chastity) and many others. To learn more about Christina, please visit:,, or

Tickets for the Marco Faith and Wine event are $25 per person and include light appetizers and a glass of wine. To purchase tickets, go to or call Cindy Henning at 239-642-3177.


Sue Monk Kidd Comes to Marco Island

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:31pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Sue Monk Kidd chats with fans as she signs books.

Recently, the Marco Island Center for the Arts and Sunshine Booksellers joined forces to bring renowned author Sue Monk Kidd to Marco Island for a book signing event for Kidd’s latest release — “The Invention of Wings.”

It was a natural partnership, after all. While Rosemary Wick, president of the Center’s board of directors, is a close friend of Kidd’s, the owners of Sunshine Booksellers — Stuart and Theresa Unsworth — have represented her for years.

To say the partnership and the event were unprecedented successes is an understatement. Tickets sold like proverbial hotcakes, and soon, the event outgrew its intended space at the Center for the Arts. In fact, nearly 300 people bought tickets.

Enter the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island. Its large auditorium and additional parking made it the ideal venue for the event. The event was split between a wine and cheese reception at the Center for the Arts and the book signing and talk given by Kidd at the Synagogue. During the talk at the Synangogue, readers were issued numbers, and enjoyed the Center’s reception while they waited for their turn to get their book signed. Coffee and cookies also were served at the Synagogue.

Sue Monk Kidd discusses her latest book ‘The Invention of Wings.’

Kidd spoke for about an hour, alternating between reading passages, describing her main characters and telling stories of her life. The book — “The Invention of Wings” — is a historical novel set in Charleston in the early 1800s. It is about a white girl named Sara Grimke, who is from a wealthy family, and her black handmaid/slave Hetty “Handful” Grimke, who she was “gifted” when she turned 11 years old. The book details their relationship and the “role” of women in society at that time.

In her talk, Kidd discussed her understanding of the constrictions placed on women from her own first-hand point of view. She likened her own struggle to find her destiny with Sara’s and Hetty’s. Kidd always wanted to become a writer, even from an early age. So, when it came for her time to choose a career, she ended up becoming a nurse — a proper career for women in the 60s and 70s, just like being a teacher, social worker or secretary.

Kidd is not stranger to themes focusing on women in society, and tackled similar questions in her much celebrate book “The Secret Life of Bees.” Published in January, “The Invention of Wings” was selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and is a New York Times #1 Bestseller.

“The book signing proceeded flawlessly,” said Wick. “We will continue to partner with Sunshine Booksellers in the future because it is so important that we all work together.”

Big Cypress Annual Poetry Contest

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:28pm

April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than with a poetry contest? Big Cypress National Preserve invites aspiring poets to submit their poetry for the Second Annual Big Cypress National Preserve poetry contest. Participants are encouraged to explore the national preserve, and write about their experiences.

The preserve is accepting poetry submissions through April 14. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places, and poems will be displayed on the Big Cypress National Preserve website and Facebook page. Winners will be selected by the staff of Big Cypress National Preserve by April 30.

Here are the guidelines for poetry entries:

• Poems must be single spaced.

• Poems must be 12-point font.

• Poems may be written in any format.

• Poems must be submitted by April 14.

• Poets can submit up to three poems.

• Poems must be original and unpublished.

• Poems cannot exceed two-pages (title page does not count toward this limit).

• Poems must be about subjects related to the natural or cultural history of South Florida.

• Poems must include a title page with: name of poem, name of poet, contact address, email and phone number.

Please email poems to: For additional information, please contact the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome center at 239-695-4758.


Publix supports Bedtime Bundles

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:27pm

By Dianna Dohm

Grocery bags of food were immediately handed out to families at 6L Farms in

Publix kicked off its “Culture of Caring” campaign by assisting Marco’s hometown organization, Bedtime Bundles, with its semi-annual Spring Food Drive. Together, Publix staff and Bedtime Bundle volunteers collected over $8,500 of bagged groceries for migrant children, their families and the underserved of Collier County.

Publix manager Hugh Hackett and his assistant manager Melanie Cortes worked closely with Karen Saeks, founder of Bedtime Bundles, to develop the contents of the grocery bag which included rice, beans, canned vegetables and fruit. The Marco Island community came out in force to support both Publix and Bedtime Bundles.

“I have never seen a response from the community like we had for this organization,” said Hugh Hackett. Melanie and Karen spent time with the Publix staff to educate them on the mission of Bedtime Bundles. “That bell just kept on ringing all week long. Our cashiers couldn’t stop smiling when customers said add that bag onto my order,” said Melanie Cortes.

There was no delay in getting the food to the needy families. On Sunday, the final day of the campaign, Bedtime Bundles filled a truck with the collected food and delivered it to 6L Farms in East Naples.

The “Culture of Caring” is nothing new to the Marco Island Publix. Melanie Cortes and her staff are always willing to assist the community in anyway possible.

“We could not ask for better community partners. Hugh, Melanie and their staff made the week so much fun. Publix and the community opened their hearts to those who need it the most” said Karen Saeks.

“We are committed to a ‘Culture of Caring’ and Marco Island. This will be an annual event for us,” added Melanie Cortes.


3rd Annual Festival on Marco

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:26pm


Mike and Mary Jo O’Regan perform on the Kriger Orthodontic stage.

Three days of fun, excitement and literally something for everyone,” such was the description of the 3rd Annual Festival on Marco by Marco Island Charter School Principal George Abounader. The festival was held at Veterans Park. Festival attendees could do anything from riding a mechanical bull to enjoying the various midway amusements — including a huge ferris wheel — to taking a chance at the midway games and other rides offered by Tolve Amusements.

The Kriger Orthodontic stage lineup on Friday night was dedicated to Marco Island Charter Middle School and the numerous volunteers who donated time to the festival. Entertainers included the MCMS Jazz Band, STARZ singers and MICMS teacher and vocalist Mary Jo and her husband Mike O’Regan. The Festival on Marco benefitted both the school and the Greater Marco Family YMCA.

“This is a great family event, a nice safe place you can bring the kids, or if they’re a little older, let them enjoy on their own,” said Cindy Love, executive director of the YMCA. Proceeds from the event, she added, will help subsidize the Y’s scholarships, which many of the youngsters in the pre-school and after school programs utilize.

“Fifty percent of our preschoolers and 82 percent of our after-school kids are on scholarships or have their fees waived. You have to pay for that somehow,” she said. “We do not turn anybody away from our programs for inability to pay.”

Randy McNeely Band rocks it on the Kriger Orthodontic stage. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Beach Dogs Hot Dog venders were on hand to feed hungry folks along with Nacho Mama’s Tex-Mex Marco Island restaurant. The YMCA dished out numerous bowls of delicious Tortilla soup along with hot slices of pizza.

Walker Marine joined the festival this year with a boat exhibit. Attendees could purchase dresses and jewelry at an outdoor arts and craft fair, and a mini farmers market sold hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit and veggies to eager buyers. The Veterans Park Memorial Committee offered up information about the proposed fountain, and pavers that will be installed at Veterans Park could be purchased.

Volleyball Tournament winners were the team from the Marriott Resort & Spa who defeated a strong team submitted by the Marco Island Charter Middle School.

The Kriger Orthodontic stage also was the home to performances by the Island Dance Academy, Spotlight Dance Studio, Naples Progressive Gymnastics, Marco Magic Cheerleaders and Celtic Spirit Irish Step Dancers. Bands included MICMS teacher Shane Totten and Friends; Johnny Angel; The Greenview Band, and Nashville recording artists The Randy McNeeley Band. Sunday’s stage lineup included Gary, Kerri and Steve and crowd favorite The Sunset Bay/Jezebel Band.

Isles of Capri March Madness

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:22pm

By Joan and Carl Kelly

The Isles of Capri bocce season ended on March 14 with a celebration. Eighteen teams participated with the top eight teams battling it out this week for the championship. It all came down to last year’s winners: the Beach Bums vs. the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes came from fourth place to win the tournament.

Division A winners were Island Breeze, Ann and Eddie Hall, and Kay and Gene Brady. Division B winners were the Magnificent Frigates, Joan Kelly, Mary Ann and Lynn Fisher, and Fran Mc Cormack.

The grand prize went to the Hurricanes: Darla and Gary Goetzelman, Dave Moenkhaus, Sam Bressler and Bev Dalton.

10th Annual Walkathon for PSP

Sun, 03/23/2014 - 8:19pm


On Saturday, April 5, the 10th annual CurePSP Awareness and Memorial Walk will take place at Mackle Park. This walk continues to benefit the programs and services of CurePSP in support of families affected by PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy), CBD (corticobasal degeneration) and MSA (multiple system atrophy). CurePSP Foundation for PSPICBD and Related Brain Diseases is a national non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, headquartered in Timonium, MD.

PSP is a brain disease in the category of “neurodegenerative” diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig diseases. CBD has no known cause, treatment or cure. It affects nerve cells that control walking, balance, mobility, vision, speech, and swallowing. MSA is a “parkinsonian” condition because it often resembles Parkinson’s disease, at least for the first few years.

Registration for the event begins at 10:30 AM, and the walk will start promptly at 11:30 AM. The cost is only $20 per person and includes a t-shirt, food, beverages, dessert, prizes and much more. The length of the walk is less than one mile around the beautiful lake at Mackle Park and is wheelchair friendly.

For more information about the walkathon, please contact Cindy MacDonald at 239-353-3960. You can also visit Click on the events tab and download the brochure; or contact Kathleen Matarazzo Speca, vice president of development and donor relations at 1-800-457-4777, ext. 5672, or via email at

Jennifer J. Edwards speaks at TBE

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 11:08am

Jennifer J. Edwards, Supervisor of Elections, spoke to approximately 100 second graders participating in the Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida program at Tommie Barfield Elementary School on Marco Island Thursday afternoon. After participating in their own mock-election for Mayor, students had the opportunity to meet with Edwards and learn how real elections occur at the county, state and federal levels. After hearing from Edwards, students were put to the test on their elections knowledge through a trivia session quizzing them on various elections facts including the legal voting age, location of their precinct and Marco Island’s Early Voting location. Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida invited Edwards to speak to students For more information on the Junior Achievement Program, contact Anne Frazier at  239-225-2590.


Fiddler’s New Floor Plan

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 11:07am

Lennar Homes has introduced the Sophia floor plan, a Mediterranean-style residence located within the single-family home village of Millbrook at Fiddler’s Creek. The Sophia is a one-story, move-in ready home offering 2,032 air-conditioned square feet. This residence features three bedrooms, three baths, a den and a two-car garage. The home is designed on a split floor plan to ensure privacy and the den is large enough to accommodate an alternate fourth bedroom. Fiddler’s Creek residents have the opportunity to join The Golf Club, featuring The Creek Course, a championship golf course that is currently ranked in Golfweek’s 100 Best Residential Golf Courses in the country for the ninth consecutive year. For membership details and more information on this gated golf course community in Naples, offering move-in-ready and new homes call 239-732-9300, stop by the Fiddler’s Creek Information Center at 8152 Fiddler’s Creek Parkway or visit at