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Club Face Awareness

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:29am

Golf Tips
Todd Elliott

Club face awareness drill. SUBMITTED photoS

Anyone who reads my articles understands that I believe in the body-swing connection. To constantly keep improving over time, a golfer must strive to improve the body and the golf swing. My experience of doing physical evaluations of students has made it clear to me that the club path is heavily affected by how the body functions. The club path is the path the club head travels to make impact to the golf ball relative to the target.

With that being said, the club face angle at impact is king. The club face is especially important for a player with high club head speed because being fractions off at impact means the ball will be offline and out of play. The club face angle has an effect on the club path because golfers have an instinct to hit the ball towards the target. A right-handed golfer who swings over the top, or out to in club path, which causes a slice, will instinctively have the club face aimed left of the target at impact. If the golf ball is going to be moving to the right after it takes off, a golfer has to get the ball started to the left to keep the golf ball in play. I think most people have a misconception that the club face is open to the target at impact when they hit a slice. The club path has the greatest impact on the ball slicing to the right not the club face.

Give a beginning golfer a good/fundamental golf grip that keeps the face square, and the club path will likely be on plane. An instructor I follow, Andrew Rice, tested what closing and opening the club face at address would do to a golf swing. In the test, Rice closed the clubface so that it aimed at his body. The idea then was to attempt to hit the ball at the target. A closed club face will promote an in-to-out club path. He also tested an extremely open club face with the club face aimed away from his body. The open club face promotes an out-to-in club path. The test confirms that a golfer with an improper club face angle affects the path of the golf swing.

It is important that a golfer be aware of the club face in the golf swing. The best way to gather an understanding of the club face is to practice hitting the golf ball in different directions without changing the swing or path of the club head into the golf ball.

A great drill is to put two alignment rods, or clubs, one in front and one behind the golf ball on the target line. (as seen in the picture) Alignments rods can be purchased at any golf retail store for about $20, or survey sticks can be purchased at the local hardware store for $.99 each. Poor alignment makes club face awareness very difficult because a golfer will instinctively will make a swing to keep the golf ball playable. Then put a stick in the ground 5-10 yards in front of the golfer on the target line (as shown in the picture).

I want the student to hit the golf ball to the right, left and at the stick in the ground. Sounds simple, right? Not that easy when a golfer is used to starting the golf ball in a certain direction. A golfer who slices the ball has a very hard time getting the golf ball to start to the right, golfer’s instinct. A golfer who hit a slice knows if the ball starts right it will continue to go farther to the right and out of play.

If the student understands that the club face at impact will determine the direction the golf ball takes off in, it is okay to struggle accomplishing the task. I will only start coaching if the student starts to drastically change their swing. In this club face awareness drill, the swing will change slightly to accomplish each starting direction, but there should not be a drastic change in the club path or swing. The adjustment should mostly be in the club face angle at impact. When trying the drill, take half swings to have a better feeling of the club face. After accomplishing the three starting directions with half swings, start doing the drill with full swings.

To play better golf, golfers need to have a club face that works with their club path. For example, if a golfer swings in-to-out, making the ball curve right to left for a right-handed golfer, the club face will need to be right of the target at impact. If the golfer is going to be turning left, the golf ball must start to the right for a playable ball flight.

Try to start the golf ball in different directions to get an understanding of your club face at impact. There will be one of the three directions — right, left, or straight — that will be difficult. Keep doing the drill until you can accomplish all three with ease. After a golfer can accomplish all three, it will be easier to control the club face at impact on the golf course.

Go see your local PGA Professional to help you understand club face awareness in your golf swing.


Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”


The Power of a Kind Heart

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:28am

Melinda Gray

Margie’s mom picked the winning 50/50 raffle ticket belonging to Goodland resident, Matt Finn, who donated his winnings back to support Margie.

In my 35 years of being perpetually lost in the big city shuffle, I have never had the pleasure or privilege of witnessing unity and support within a neighborhood like I’ve experienced here.

On Saturday, Dec. 6, the small island community of Goodland came together in a very big way with a tremendous show of love and support for one of their own. Nearly 400 familiar faces gathered in Margood Harbor Park to participate in a benefit to raise money for 30-year beloved Goodland resident, Margie Fortune.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Margie was diagnosed with colon cancer, and immediately upon receiving the troubling news, her loved ones wanted to do something for the person they say has always been there for them. Two of her best friends, Celeste Navarro and Denise Santos, led the charge in organizing the benefit, and with the unanimous support of the island businesses and residents behind them, the whole thing came together in just five days.

“This happened in five days because this is Goodland and because it’s Margie; everybody loves Margie,” said Tara O’Neill, friend and local artist.

A favorite picture of Margie was chosen for the flyers as well as the event.

Following her diagnosis, Margie was quickly scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday, Dec. 3. Thankfully, the procedure was an absolute success; she is now out of the hospital, back in Goodland, and 100 percent cancer free. Recovery will take some time, but to the relief of her friends and family, no chemotherapy is needed at this time.

The outcome of the fundraiser measured above and beyond what anyone could have hoped for. More than $6,000 was raised at the initial benefit; the total raised to date has well surpassed the $10,000 mark, and the donations just keep rolling in. Food was provided by The Red Rooster, with hamburgers and hotdogs served up compliments of the Little Bar, where Margie has worked as a waitress for more than 30 years. A silent auction filled with an array of items contributed by local artists and businesses amassed a healthy majority of the total funds raised. Even local musicians, Jim and Merrill Allen, volunteered their time and talents to entertain fundraiser attendees.

“It’s such an outpouring of love for someone who always leads with her heart,” said Noreen Seegers, Goodland Civic Association board member and family friend.

Food provided for an expected group of 100 people quickly ran out as attendance to the benefit for Margie reached almost 500.

“I just can’t thank everybody enough for the support they’ve given us. This is what Goodland is about. If somebody’s hurting, this town comes together like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Margie’s husband, John Hackett.

“Margie is the one who’s always there for the community, for each individual, and now she’s living proof that you get back what you give. Of course that’s not why she does it, but that’s the way it worked out; it’s a beautiful thing to see,” said Santos.


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

Platinum Plus

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:25am

Richard Alan

I trust many of you reading this are presently enjoying a day at home recuperating from the results of overindulging on Christmas Day, and then there are many of us that have to face a busy day. That includes yours truly…a goldsmith who happen to run a jewelry store.

I would like to take this moment to extend a sincere thank you and a Happy New Year to our customers and friends for exceeding our expectations and goals this past gift giving shopping season!

At my old Front Street location, I used to close the shop for a couple of days after Christmas to give my staff and myself a well-deserved break in the action, for the official even busier tourist season begins after New Year’s Day.

Close the days after Christmas? That definitely bent some noses out of joint. It certainly kept the returns to a minimum. Don’t take this the wrong way, ladies, but I find it amazing how some women will receive a piece of jewelry on Christmas Day and not be impressed at first. If they can’t exchange it immediately, though, it eventually grows on them, and then decide they can’t live without it. Just saying.

Those early years when I closed, (I don’t do it now) dozens of folks would be huffing and puffing and pulling on locked doors clutching gift watch boxes for wrist adjustments. It’s a necessary service, and every jeweler’s nightmare, like anticipating a root canal kind of thing only now it’s worse than ever, especially with the advent of television home shopping, the internet, Costco, etc. I would honestly shorten 35 or more watches in the first two hours of being open! This watch invasion inundates every salesperson for most of the day and impedes us from giving quality service to our regular customers. So we can’t and won’t do watches Dec. 26 and 27; these days are for our regular clientele so we can assist them with, returns, upgrades, new purchases adjusting rings, chains and such.

If the watch was purchased from our establishment or you are a regular customer (or a V.I.P.). No problem! The service is of course free and immediate. Those unfortunate, impatient souls who received watches as gifts that are ten sizes too large will have to chill for a few days.

Recently, I had a young couple interested in a custom-made bridal rings. I was under the impression they wanted them created in 14-karat white gold, and they later called back insisting on having them done in platinum instead of gold. When I mentioned the cost for making the rings has now more than doubled in price, for a few seconds the silence was deafening on the other end of the line, “What do you mean, why more money?” Platinum is not the same price as gold; it’s always more expensive than gold. They were obviously oblivious to this fact, so why? Is a good question.

Platinum for one is a rare metal and heavier that gold (11% more). A one-foot square block of platinum weighs a little over 1330 lbs. In fact, all the platinum ever mined since man discovered it would fit in an average living room!

Platinum is an amazing metal. It is soft yet hard wearing. Rings with platinum prongs will outlast gold prongs by decades. Unlike white gold, platinum keeps its bright white chrome like color where white gold takes on a yellowish hue in time.

In the making of fine jewelry, working with platinum requires utmost skill and experience. It is a not a forgiving metal. It dents and mars easily and requires extremely high temperatures to melt and actually weld the metal. Finishing and polishing the metal is difficult and requires many time consuming steps to achieve the final glorious effect,

It is also a fact there are very few talented platinum smiths in South Florida. Pure gold melts at 1945 F, while pure platinum requires 3224 F of heat to liquefy. Safety note: Looking at platinum while melting will burn the retinas; proper welding goggles are required.

One of the problems with platinum is some “jewelers” have no clue as to how to work with it and will use gold to size or repair the platinum article. Once gold is added to a platinum ring it is impossible to use platinum on the ring afterward; the gold will actually drip off during the high temperature welding process. The exception to this rule is in re-prong work because the heat required to weld the platinum prong to a platinum ring will burn any diamonds in near proximity.

Many jewelers will use a high-karat white gold solder to attach the platinum prong to prevent damage to the ring. If done correctly the repair blends in perfectly and is next to impossible to detect.

Cost is high for platinum jewelry. For example, on average, a gent’s heavy 20-inch, solid 14kt. white gold chain that retails for $3,500. The identical in platinum will run you close to $9,000. Big difference!

I have several customers who buy nothing but platinum; it is a small percentage indeed.


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

The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:24am

By Joanne Smith
Harmony Books, 2014, 204 pages
Genre: Christmas/Family
Collier County Public Library: Yes


“Christmas is doing a little extra for someone.” – Charles M. Schulz, “Peanuts” creator

In the first week of October 1999, Rick Smith died in the night. He had been diagnosed the prior month with a heart valve defect that needed surgical repair but elected to postpone repair until Christmas vacation when he could recuperate at home with his kids.

The story picks up two months later, 13 days before Christmas. Rick’s widow, Joanne, and their three kids are adrift, no longer functioning as their once tight-knit family unit. Still in the early stages of grieving, they are each going it alone. Joanne sleeps on the couch and showers in the guest bedroom, unable to re-enter the room she had shared with Rick. She has learned to overlook unswept floors and piles of dirty laundry.

Seventeen-year-old Ben has a bedroom in the basement as well as his own car and makes a point of spending minimal time with his mother and his siblings. Nick, 12, is in no mood for Christmas and insists on keeping his bedroom door closed at all times. Only Megan, 10, is embracing the holiday this year. She seems to sense that keeping the family traditions is a way to stay connected to her father.

Having overslept, Joanne hurries to get everyone moving to start their day and while rushing outside to warm up the car, almost falls over a poinsettia on the front stoop. Megan picks it up as well as the card that accompanied it. “On the first day of Christmas your true friends give to you, one Poinsettia for all of you.” Megan of course is delighted with the true friends, or gift givers as she calls them, as well as the gift. However, Joanne goes into Mom mode and immediately begins to suspect everyone at work, in the neighborhood, in her extended family, or perhaps they have a stalker!

At the urging of her sister-in-law Charlotte, Joanne makes a first run at Christmas shopping that evening. She is truly struggling to find a way for her children to get some happiness out of this worst-ever first Christmas without their father. Her description of her shopping expedition at the mall is both humorous and poignant, but finally she gives up, abandons her cart and flees the cheery Christmas music and grumpy shoppers. After retrieving Nick and Megan from Charlotte’s house, Joanne arrives home to find the second day of Christmas gift: “…two bags of bows for all of you.” This second gift draws Nick into Megan’s enthusiasm. Before she falls to sleep, Joanne vows to try online gift shopping the next day, unable to face another excursion to the mall.

The ice encasing the Smith family’s collective heart has begun to thaw and finally melts over the next 11 days. Mini miracles occur each day. These simple little gifts, bestowed anonymously, have shown these grieving people the way back to each other.

“The 13th Gift” is a warm, easy read. I finished it in one sitting — had to solve the mystery of the true friends. The author’s style is very descriptive and straightforward. I felt I was right in the middle of the action. Although written 15 years after the “true friends” appeared, Joanne kept journals which formed the basis for this book.

The final chapter tells the story of how Joanne finally tracked down the gift givers whom she knew had to be generous, happy, carefree souls. In reality, they themselves had been “true friended” many years prior after the tragic loss of a baby daughter left them bereft. Their gift givers had helped them find some peace in that first Christmas when their pain was so fresh. They decided to do the same for other families in succeeding years in honor of their deceased child. As Smith writes about that 13th gift: “These couples sought new ways to make the holidays matter despite their own heartbreak……The power of their gifts lies in the understanding that joy and sorrow can coexist comfortably and without guilt.”

If you need a little Christmas right this very moment, or any moment in the future, reach for “The 13th Gift.” Available just about everywhere in e-book, hardcover and audio book formats.

I hope your Christmas was as merry as possible and wish you a wonderful 2015, filled with many hours of enjoyable reading!


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.


“This book is about finding a way to honor those who cannot be with us this season, to create new and joyful memories, to experience this season of giving in a very special way. Come. Walk with me. I will share with you the message that forever changed my family, the healing magic of the 13th Gift.”


January Fishing in the Islands

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:22am

Capt. Pete Rapps

Bob with a flounder. SUBMITTED photoS

January is typically our coolest month of the year. The days when the fronts are absent. The sun is shining, and the thermometer gets up into the mid 70s. This can make for some awesome fishing!

The full moon this January falls on the 5th, and the new moon is on the 20th. In January, we typically have some of the most extreme tides of the year around the full and new moon. We will have extreme low tides the mornings of Jan.1-8 and the 17-24. They will still be great days to fish, but just be sure to do your tide chart research if fishing those days. You will want to avoid fishing during some of these extreme negative low tides. An east wind and cold temperatures will make the tides lower and last longer than a tide chart prediction shows. I use to view local tides in the areas that I fish.

Speckled sea trout are a primary target all winter. Local rules for our area allow four per person, between 15-20 inches, and allow you to keep just one over the 20-inch mark. These rules do vary so be sure to confirm them with current regulations by the FWC at

The shallow grass flats are alive with trout, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, Spanish mackerel and some pompano. One my favorites are DOA jerkbaits and shrimp, both in rootbeer and white color. You can also use 3/8 oz bucktail type jigs tipped with a very small piece of shrimp. A favorite “go to” bait has been 3-inch Berkley Gulp Shrimp. Use them on a ¼ oz Cotee Live Eye jig head.

Nice Bull Redfish caught recently on a Captain Rapps Charter.

The oyster bars hold sheepshead and redfish. If presenting natural bait, they both like to eat crustaceans like shrimp, sand fleas and fiddler crabs. Fish for these guys on the oyster bars on the incoming tide.

Snook are being caught, but please remember that they are catch-and-release only, as they are still in a recovery state since the 10-day freeze of 2010. Take a quick photo and quickly set them free. We have been catching snook over oyster bars on good moving outgoing tides. They have been hitting a variety of baits including jigs, soft plastics and live bait like some nice 3-inch-long live pilchards.

If you have been wanting to get out on the water and learn a bit more about fishing the 10,000 Islands, please do not hesitate to send me an email, and let’s get you and the family out for a fun day of fishing.


Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers year round expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park, and spring time Tarpon-only charters in the Florida Keys. Capt. Rapps’ top notch fleet accommodates men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not. Between our vast knowledge & experience of the area, and easy going demeanors, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Book your charter 24/7 using the online booking calendar, and see Capt. Rapps’ first class web site for Booking info, Videos, Recipes, Seasonings, and more at

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:21am

Ask The CFP® Practitioner
Darcie Guerin

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’” — Audrey Hepburn


Question: Every year, I make New Year’s Resolutions and never follow through. What suggestions can you make so I’ll do things differently this year, especially with my finances?

Answer: Only 5 percent of those Americans who make New Year’s Resolutions actually keep them for the entire year. Florida is the top state for making resolutions, with 65 percent of us committing to some sort of change or improvement in our lives. Of this group, 54 percent are women and 39 percent are men.

One reason so few succeed with their resolutions is that events rarely unfold the way we expect them to. Circumstances change, life happens, and we find ourselves abandoning those good intentions. You can increase your odds for success if you have a plan, regularly monitor it, and have the willingness to make adjustments in response to your ever-changing reality.

If you need help formulating a realistic Financial New Year’s Resolution here are a few thought provoking questions. Fire up that new laptop or tablet you received for Christmas, or just take out a notepad and devote a few lines to addressing these queries.

  1. What are your dreams, expectations and hopes for the future?
  2. What specific financial goals are most important to you and your family?
  3. Are you confident enough to make decisions that will affect your financial future?
  4. What short- and long-term financial issues are on your mind right now?
  5. *Have you thought about when you’d like to retire, how much you’ll need to set aside, what your life expectancy is, and how you’ll fund your retirement?
  6. If married, do you understand your spouse’s pension, post-retirement benefits and health care coverage?
  7. Do you have a will and estate plan in place?
  8. How are your investments and cash flow needs organized?
  9. What would happen to your assets, real estate holdings and credit if you were to face a divorce or the death of your spouse?
  10. Have you discussed your long-term health care directives with family or friends?

*Bonus points for choosing No. 5 as your 2015 Resolution.

If any of these issues resonates with you, that’s the place to start. Overwhelming yourself with too many resolutions is self-defeating. Pick one and break it down into smaller, manageable portions. For instance, if you’d like to organize investments and cash flow, gather your statements, identify income sources and characterize ongoing expenses. When consolidated, these facts provide an overview providing a better understanding of how your investments work (or don’t work) together to meet your needs.

Beware of the top three reasons resolutions fail:

  1. Goals are vague and unclear. “I plan on saving for my future” isn’t as strong as “I’ll save $5,000 by June 1 by saving $250 each week.” Hoping that you’ll accumulate $5,000 by June 1 won’t happen if you don’t make changes and modify current saving and spending behavior.
  2. Failure to gauge progress. It is better to monitor improvement regularly and make any necessary adjustments quickly. Track the goals on a regular basis.
  3. Lack of self-control. Anticipate temptation and have an action in place to challenges arise overcome challenges.

In contrast, here are three suggestions to provide focus for the entire year — although obvious and intuitive, they’re powerful when implemented:

  1. Be Positive, Practical and Proactive. In a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame spoke with Eli Langer of CNBC about his success. Zuckerberg attributes his accomplishments to being proactive every day. Commit to taking a proactive role in creating your desired financial future each day. Visit the plan for your future on a regular basis and examine where you are, where you’re going, and if you’re on track to reach those goals on a regular basis.
  2. Keep it real. I want to be a multi-zillionaire is overwhelming and likely unobtainable. Setting practical goals and frequently tracking your progress will help you reach the larger objectives. Also, find someone to share aspirations with and discuss your concerns. You’ll receive encouragement and become more accountable.
  3. Progress, not perfection. Measure yourself against your own benchmarks. Success isn’t measured by an index; it’s achieved when your individual goals are met. Chances are that you won’t tackle everything perfectly or as quickly as you’d like. If you do stumble or get off track, don’t quit! As my granddaughter’s favorite singer Taylor Swift says, “Shake it off!” Focus on your progress.

Ring in the New Year with a healthy, optimistic and confident attitude. To do so, your first resolution can be to avoid the lobster and chicken if you’re attending New Year’s parties. Tradition states that as edibles, they bring bad luck because lobsters move backwards and chickens scratch in reverse. Therefore, it’s thought that eating these on New Year’s may cause a financial reversal.

I wish you and yours a prosperous and healthy New Year. Stay focused and invest accordingly.

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. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success.

“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:

Searching for the Perfect Marco Island Condo

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:19am

Condo Report
By Sandy and Gary Elliott

This week there are 327 condos listed for sale on the Marco Island MLS. They come in all different sizes, building types, prices and locations, and all have differing amenities. Finding just the right one can be a daunting and time-consuming task. To help make efficient use of your time while you are here consult with one of our local realtors. The search tools and photos available to realtors on the Marco Island Multiple Listing Service are invaluable to your search.

The first thing to decide is a price range. Giving your realtor a budget price plus or minus 10 percent will narrow the search to a few dozen condos. To eliminate another half decide if you want a pet-friendly condo or one that does not allow pets. Next, pick a location you’re interested in on the island, such as on the beach, on a canal, inland, on a golf course or on the Gulf. If you’re already familiar with areas like Hideaway Beach, Cape Marco, the South end of the island or Smokehouse Bay, tell your realtor that is an area you would consider.

You can specify newer condos or any range of years that interest you. You should identify the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. If you’ve been to a few open houses, you’ll have a sense of the square footage that feels comfortable to you. Some people want to be on lower floors of condos among the palm trees; others like a mid-height floor; and others like the top floors of a condo building for the expansive views they provide. You can also look for balconies or views that face north, south, east or west.

If you want to keep your boat at your condo, look for ones with docks. Some condos have deeded boat slips, and others you rent by the season for a nominal fee. Fishing from a pier is available at a number of condos along the Gulf or on a bay. Tennis and exercise rooms may be a consideration, and look for condos with pools that are located so they get plenty of hours of sunshine during the day. Many condos have guest suites so you might want to check that out in lieu of paying for an additional bedroom. Buying a condo furnished can save a lot of aggravation during your first season, but most people add their own style preferences over the years.

If you are interested in renting your condo to support the annual expenses, be sure to let your realtor know. Some condos allow only one or two rentals per year while a few allow weekly rentals. Some condos have restrictions on the minimum number of days you can rent — 90, 60 or 30 day minimums, for instance.

Check out your condo for accessibility. Even if you can make it up that flight of stairs now, the time may come when you would like an easy entrance by elevator or a ground floor unit.

Once you have identified a short list of condos, it’s time to go shopping to get a first-hand feel for the floor plan, the ceiling height, the location in the building and that all important and priceless consideration — the view.

What to do With Holiday Plants After the Holidays

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:18am

Mike Malloy

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Christmas Cactus

The poinsettia is probably the best known and most popular holiday plant. It has been hybridized into many different colors, but I believe red is still the most popular. It’s festive and epitomizes the holiday season. It’s unfortunate that because the price of poinsettias has become so reasonable, most of them end up in the garbage after the holidays, and because I hate to see any plant suffer that terrible fate, here is what you need to do to ensure that your poinsettia, along with several other popular holiday plants, will re-bloom next year:

  1. Keep your poinsettia near a sunny window and continue watering until spring. It should continue to grow and flourish.
  2. n the spring (May), cut it back 3 to 4 inches. Replant into a pot one size larger. Watch for new growth and begin fertilizing with a water-soluble plant food every two weeks. Always follow label directions.
  3. In June, move your pot outside to a partially shaded area. Continue watering and fertilizing.
  4. During the summer (July and August), cut it back 3 to 4 inches. This will keep your plant full, because no one wants a leggy poinsettia.
  5. In late August, pinch back plant slightly, and move it back inside near a sunny window. Continue watering and fertilizing.
  6. During September, care for your poinsettia as you would any houseplant.
  7. October is the most important month. In order to achieve a blooming poinsettia for the holiday season, you will need to keep it in complete darkness from 5 PM-8 AM. I recommend keeping it in a box, basement or closet until Thanksgiving. You should start to see new buds shortly. Relocate plant near a sunny window during the day. Continue watering and fertilizing.
  8. If your poinsettia re-blooms next Christmas, congratulations! If not, give it another try next year.

In addition, old wives’ tales about poinsettias being poisonous are unfounded and false.

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)

A native of Central and South America, the Christmas cactus has become a favorite houseplant, both during the holidays and year-round. Everyone’s grandmother had one. It’s so easy to care for — hardy and long-lived — it’s usually passed down from one generation to the next.

Keep your cactus in bright, indirect light, but avoid direct sunlight, as that could burn it. The Christmas cactus is more of tropical plant than a desert plant, but be careful not to overwater. You can create a humid environment for your cactus by placing it on a tray of stones and adding water to the tray. This is actually the preferred watering method, versus watering from the top.

To force your cactus to re-bloom in the fall, it should be watered sparingly and kept cool until buds appear on the tips of plants. During the spring and summer, water and fertilize on a regular basis. Spring is the best time to prune when new growth appears.

A Christmas cactus will bloom several times a year, provided it is located correctly and kept pot-bound. If you want it blooming during the holiday season, provide bright light during the day, total darkness at night, cool temperatures and very little water. The rest of the year, treat it like any other houseplant.

Bud drop on a Christmas cactus is usually caused by insufficient light or overwatering. Do not place your Christmas cactus near hot or cold drafts, or any other plant for that matter. My Christmas cactus blooms every Christmas, with very little care on my part.


Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

This is a fan favorite for the holidays. They are normally sold pre-planted, and only require regular watering to get them started. You’ll see new growth on a daily basis. They are prized for their spectacular blooms, sometimes having four or five HUGE blooms on each flower stalk. They are easy to grow and range in color from white to red, with lots of pink combinations in between.

In order to encourage growth, place your potted bulb near a warm, sunny window. Flowers are long lasting, and can last for weeks. After the flowers are spent, cut the flower stalk down to the bulb, but leave the leaves as they act as nourishment for the bulb itself. Remove brown leaves, however.

Keep your Amaryllis bulb near a sunny window, and water and fertilize it until warm weather arrives. Then, put it outside until the fall. When fall arrives, bring your bulb in, cut the leaves off and put it in a cool, dark place for eight weeks.

Now, it’s time to repot and begin watering. New growth should begin to emerge shortly, and the entire process begins again. I keep bulbs in the vegetable bin in my refrigerator during the eight-week period. With our warm climate in Florida, many people grow Amaryllis bulbs outdoors. They make a great landscape plant with splashes of rich color. Rule of thumb: the larger the bulb, the bigger the flower.

Norfolk Island Pine
(Araucaria heterophylla)

This plant is usually sold as a mini Christmas tree. Placed in clay pots and sold everywhere around the holidays, they make great little decorations. However, do NOT plant this tree in your landscape. It is on the invasive plant list. They also have a bad habit of blowing over or breaking apart during wind events. If you decide to keep it, leave it in the clay pot to avoid future problems.

One more thing, most holiday plants come wrapped in colorful wrapping or foil. Be sure to remove before watering to allow proper drainage. As for those of you wondering what to do with an uneaten holiday fruitcake or an ugly gift tie, you’re on your own.



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

Wishing you a HEALTHY New Year

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:16am

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

Once again, we are sitting right on top of another New Year’s celebration, and many of us, myself included, use this time of the year to reflect upon our successes and failures over the past 12 months.

The result of this review is often an ambitious list of “New Year’s Resolutions.”

In a list compiled by of the 13 most popular resolutions, not surprisingly, health-related issues occupy almost one-half of the spots. They include:

  • Lose Weight • Quit Smoking
  • Get Fit • Eat Healthy Food
  • Manage Stress • Drink Less Alcohol

Despite our best efforts, many of us lose sight of these goals within the first few months of the year. I’m certainly no exception. With two young children at home and the ongoing demands of my role at Physicians Regional, my priorities can shift away from a focus on my individual health.

However, there’s another reason that many of us don’t stick to our resolutions: We go at it alone and don’t ask for help.

To say that one’s health is of critical importance is stating the obvious, but maintaining good health is not a selfish act, it’s a celebration of our loved ones. A renewed focus on healthy living is a commitment to others — to those in our lives who deserve to have us around for many years to come.

Next year, don’t do it alone. Instead, resolve to get the help you need to improve your overall health. As the CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System, I offer to you some very simple advice: Use Physicians Regional as your healthcare-resolution partner.

If you don’t have a primary care physician, get one. A trusted primary-care physician is an invaluable resource in managing the majority of the resolutions listed above.

If your goal is to eat healthy, we have registered dietitians on staff to help educate you on foods, meal planning and portion control. Though weight can typically be controlled through proper diet and exercise, for those situations when medical intervention would be helpful, Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard has the finest bariatric team around.

Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard is the recipient of a Center of Excellence designation awarded by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS). In fact, Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard is the only Bariatric Center of Excellence in Southwest Florida.

The benefits of weight-loss surgery, called bariatric surgery, also go beyond what the eye can see. Physicians Regional’s comprehensive program addresses the physical and emotional aspects of weight loss by offering education and support from pre-surgery through recovery.

We have also expanded our women’s GYN services and have added 3D mammography. Rather than the flat image of traditional 2D mammography, 3D mammography allows radiologists to look through visual slices — 1 mm at a time — to study objects at different heights in the breast.

When compared to 2D alone, 3D mammography offers a 27 percent increase in cancer detection and a 40 percent increase in invasive cancer detection.

Looking ahead, in February 2015 we will be adding a dedicated general surgeon at our Collier Boulevard location.

A general surgeon has specialized knowledge and experience related to the diagnosis, preoperative, operative, and postoperative management of a host of surgical procedures. In brief, some procedures that used to require a trip outside of East Naples can, as of February, be performed much closer to home.

As many of you already know, we have also invested significantly in orthopedic care. The Total Joint Center at Physicians Regional is “a hospital within a hospital” for individuals in need of hip and knee replacement. The Center provides a new way to treat/look at these inpatient procedures. More simply, the Total Joint Center offers a better way to treat a patient who does not enter the hospital “sick,” they just need a new knee or hip.

As the CEO of Physicians Regional, I can state my resolution for the community in very candid terms: 2015 will be the Year of the Enhanced Patient Experience.

We at Physicians Regional will continue to celebrate, not only the patients who trust us with their care, but our extraordinary team of doctors, nurses and staff who have embraced our unprecedented growth over the past few years.

You, the patient public, honor us with your loyalty and commitment.

I resolve that we will, in turn, honor you by continuing to build the most efficient, effective, skilled and diverse medical team around.

Naomi’s Christmas Fun

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 10:13am

Naomi & Karina Paape


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Did all you boys and girls get what you wanted from Santa Claws, or did you forget to leave the milk and yummy treaties out on the hearth? Remember, Santa Claws is a true-blooded tortie like me who loves his treats.

I had a very Merry Christmas with the kitty elves, the shelter kittens and shelter founders Jan and Jim Rich. I supervised Jan for days while she decorated the place. My job was to test Jim’s lionel train set, but I got pretty dizzy watching the cars go round-and-round the track. Still, I gave the operation my stamp of approval.

Once the decoration phase of the operation was done, I helped Jan wrap gifts, which is not my favorite thing to do. I, however, did have a great time making those really skinny ribbons curly-cue, but Jan got nervous when I started eating them like spaghetti (these ribbons are very dangerous when swallowed, and can land you in the emergency vet hospital). So, I contented myself by sitting amidst all the tissue paper, tearing it into shapes only I recognized.


As you may recall, Santa Claws granted my 2013 Christmas wish, and I became an official house cat in the Rich household. I have trained my three feline housemates — Max, Danny and Zoleyma — quite well. They obediently heed my every command. When I want to play, we play. When I want a nap, we nap. When I want to eat, I hiss them away. Jim and Jan have been a bit harder to train. For starters, they took me off corn chips because they claimed I was allergic. They cut back the number of hours I’m allowed to sit on the kitchen counter and stalk the refrigerator. They are, however, letting me continue with kitchen inventory inspections of the larders.

And to their credit, Jim and Jan continue to tolerate my clever alarm clock alternative: leaping from the 12-foot tall ledge above their bed and landing like an Olympic gymnast on Jan’s stomach. She hates when I do that, and says it interferes with her beauty sleep.

Enough about me. Let’s get back to business. Things were a bit rough here at For the Love of Cats during the days leading up to Christmas. We rescued an 8-year-old Ragdoll mix who arrived at a kind couple’s door. She was covered with burrs, and her paws were very sore. We named her “Tiffanie.” We also managed outbreaks of both ringworm and upper respiratory infection. Both are highly contagious and required quarantining two whole litters of adorable kittens. I felt really bad for the two kitty babies whose upper respiratory problems led to eye infections which required treatment every two hours. You can imagine the burden this places on my staff of 80.


Not only are there strict protocols to follow in the shelter, but all of our volunteers live with felines and must take Hazmat precautions when they return home. They must shed their clothing and shoes outside or in the garage before entering the house. We don’t want their kitties to catch one of these tenacious infections. Such dedication. I love you guys for all you do for the shelter kitties!

During my three-week Christmas break, I was flipping through a recent issue of “The New Yorker” and ran across an incredible story titled: “Pets Allowed: Why are so many animals now in places where they shouldn’t be?” The story investigates the current fad in which sane doctors and psychiatrists are prescribing “Emotional Support Animals (ESA)” for their anxiety-ridden patients. It is believed these animals soothe the suffer’s soul; they can go anywhere their human goes. Last year, approximately 11,000 ESAs were registered, up from just 2,600 in 2011!

The reporter who wrote the story, Patricia Marx, visited various hot spots in New York City, accompanied by one of five different ESAs. She visited the Frick Museum with a 15-pound, 13-inch turtle, a “red-eared slider” aptly named “Turtle.” Marx next arrived at the Chanel store with a 30-inch long, Mexican Milk Snake named “Augusta.” She told a sales clerk there she was looking for a purse to go along with her snake! Ha ha, right!

When Marx got hungry, she borrowed a friend’s 26-pound “Royal Palm” turkey named “Henry” and took a $30 bus ride to a popular delicatessen. For a train trip from Hudson, NY to Niagra Falls, Marx’s nerves were soothed by the companionship of a 105- pound, 4.5-foot tall Alpaca named “Sorpresa.” After they returned to the city, Marx switched animals and left town with a 26-pound pig named “Daphne,” who boarded a Jet Blue flight in a stroller.


The prize for the smartest emotional support/service animal, however, goes to “Oscar,” a cat who can predict when patients in a Providence, RI, Alzheimer’s facility are dying. Staff at the facility noticed an odd pattern to Oscar’s behavior. He would walk the halls sniffing and observing patients, then curl up to sleep with certain ones. These patients often died within two or three hours of his arrival.

Whenever Oscar’s staff noticed him sleeping with a patient, they would notify the family of the patient’s impending death. How does Oscar, a shelter-rescue, know the end is near? It is believed that some type of chemical is released shortly before death, and that Oscar can pick up this scent. Oscar’s story is beautifully told in a must-read book titled “Making Rounds With Oscar” (by Dr. David Dosa and published in 2010). Oscar’s story showcases the savvy and intelligence of us felines.

Now what about those New Year’s resolutions?

Love, nips, purrs and holiday kisses!


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,

A Sense of Community

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:42pm

Donna Fiala

What a wonderful time of year! People seem to be sparkling as much as the festive lights all over the Island. There have been so many parties and events over the past few weeks which continue to keep us all together.

As I was thinking about writing this column and accentuating the holiday season, I again feel that the island is so blessed to have the City Council who voted to buy the Glon Property, now the Veteran’s Park, and the focal point of many of the Island festivities. I truly believe it is because you have one central point to gather, one central point to enjoy the many activities offered, and one central point to meet and greet regularly.

Just think of all the various activities that are presented at the park appealing to many different audiences. Of course, there is the Farmer’s Market, where you can just sit and watch and meet and greet everyone on the island, it seems. There are veteran’s activities, various holiday activities, Christmas singing and performing, etc. I love watching the kids playing ball on the open fields while others perform. It keeps the high energy kids busy and happy.

Of course, there are the many fundraisers such as the Marco Island Seafood Festival, and how about parades like the St. Paddy’s Day parade, where everyone meets at a central location and goes from there. Now, there are many other places on the island that we also can meet and greet, which makes you realize that everything that is planned can be attended by everyone on the island if they choose to do so.

Why am I saying all of this? Because I know of no other area in all of Collier County that has such community spirit! As a person who does not live on the island but spends most of her time there, I can see “both sides of the bridge,” and the island most certainly has what every community WISHES they had but few can ever attain.

Other communities around Collier which are gated prevent anyone from coming in and closes the door to community-wide spirit. It’s truly a gift that is wrapped beautifully and enjoyed by most — almost like a Christmas Gift that lasts all year.

* Again this year, I will be holding a Marco Island Town Hall Gathering in the Rose Hall Auditorium at the Marco Island Museum. It will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 5:30 PM. No reservations are needed. We will be addressing Marco Island issues that relate to the county, as well as county issues that affect the entire area of Collier County.

* Hooray, hooray! I have been keeping track of the request for a grant from the state to continue the landscaping along S.R. 951 between Fiddler’s Creek and Mainsail Drive, and we finally received an Florida Department of Transportation notification letter that the Florida Highway Beautification Council grant has been awarded to us! The county had to submit the request and guarantee to the state that it would provide the maintenance, which amounts to $25,800 annually. Hopefully each year, now that the economy is recovering, the county can apply for grants until the landscaping runs from the bridge all the way to U.S. 41E. It is something we have all wanted for a very long time.

* Recently, the County Commission approved the donation of 10,000 to 15,000 Cubic Yards of sand from the Marco Island Marriott to be used in the Marco Island central beach re-grade project. The beach regrading project will not begin until after November 2015. This works out to be a win-win for both the Marriott and the Marco beach!

Happy New Year one and all!


Try Something New

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:41pm

By Pat Newman

The New Year is just around the corner, and it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and pick up a new skill or hobby. “Today’s” Hoda Kotbe strummed the guitar before a TV audience of kazillions recently, after only a few months of lessons. Bravo, Hoda!

So what should I pick up for 2015? I ran through a mental check list of things I have always wanted to try, and quickly dismissed most of the options due to fear or expense. Platform diving, trapeze flying and swimming with sharks topped the “too chicken” list. Becoming a Radio City Music Hall Rockette or having another baby fell into the “too old” category. Hiring a personal chef, spending two weeks at a luxury spa and opening an antique emporium were just “too expensive.”

One of my friends suggested I take up meditation. I can’t sit still for two minutes! Fishing? Too boring; but taxidermy could be a challenge. I like shell art, but am lethal with a hot glue gun. Bridge? Too mentally challenging. Mixology could be interesting, but I would have to drink all my creations which could lead to serious inebriation.

That leaves meat carving, learning chess, sculpting with paper mache, whittling and organic soap making. My adult sons visiting for Christmas reminded me of all the crazy schemes I hatched when they were growing up.

“Hey, Mom, remember when you wanted to buy that ice cream truck and sell gourmet confections in our old home town?” they asked

“Yes I do; and I contend it was still a good idea,” I answered.

“How about the time you wanted to fill up empty water bottles with sand, attach a rope and sell them to beachgoers drifting down the beach on their flotation devices,” they remembered

“Oh yeah. Anchors Aweigh. Should have done it,” I shot back.

Nonetheless, I have decided to take on something simple to start, like re-learning how to play the piano. Who knows? I may be appearing in a cocktail bar in your neighborhood next month!

Letter to the Editor: Jo-B Bromley

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:40pm

Sixteen years ago, I moved to Goodland. From the minute I turned the key to enter my new year-round home, I knew that I landed in a very special place in the world.

Dec. 6th confirmed my feelings. A week ago, my sweet friend, Margi Fortune, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Three days later, through a few e-mails and Facebook messages, a ball started to roll. With only four days to take the field, our team was ready.

Margood Harbor Park was the setting of a very successful fundraiser for Margi. I’d like to thank all the major players, you know who you are. Thanks to our Civic Association and Art Alliance for the beautiful shirts and bags you sold, of which all the proceeds went to the benefit. To those who donated baked goods, your sweetness surpassed your yummy treats. Local restaurants also stepped up to the plate to be sure that our plates were full of awesome food. Jim and Merrill Allen filled the air and our hearts with music.

Goodland is renowned for its talented artists and artisans. This was truly in evidence with tables full of silent auction wares. From fine art, photography, jewelry and crafts to poinsettia plants, mini-flocked trees and a gigantic live tree. Thanks to those who donated their works of love and those who were top bidders.

As our time was short in getting notification out for this fundraiser, there may be people who would like to contribute. A trust fund has be established to help defray medical expenses. You can send your contribution written to Margi Fortune to: Jo Bromley, P.O. Box 118 Goodland, FL 34140.

It’s been said that “it takes a village.” I am so proud to claim the village of Goodland as my home.

Jo-B Bromley

Commercial Properties Landscape Buffers: Let’s Keep the Island Beautiful

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:39pm

It is well-known that Marco Island is naturally beautiful and not just for its beaches. Designated as a “Tree City USA” for five consecutive years, the landscape and trees are very important to all residents for the high quality of life standard on the island.

Appointed by City Council, the Beautification Advisory Committee’s mission is to advise them on the beautification of the community’s landscape that is consistent with the tropical character and natural beauty of Marco Island. This committee strives to educate residents about planting the right plants in the right place, irrigation with water conservation techniques and proper pruning and maintenance of landscape that equates to a cost savings overall. In recent months, with an increase in commercial development around the island, landscape buffers have been in the forefront of these discussions.

Seeing the need to increase awareness and compliance with the landscape requirements of the Land Development Code, the Planning Board and City Council have requested that the Beautification Advisory Committee, in collaboration with city staff, survey commercial properties for lack of landscape buffer and/or maintenance deficiencies.

In November, the Beautification Advisory Committee began these buffer surveys throughout the island. They will be looking for the landscape buffer requirements of the commercial properties adjacent to other commercial properties, adjacent to all residential, public use and golf course properties and, most importantly for public safety, adjacent to vehicular right of ways. Initial surveys documented that the hedges are trimmed too short, under the minimum 3-foot requirement and trimmed to harshly, leaving defoliated and sickly looking shrubs. There are also gaps and dead or missing trees and/or shrubs in some of the hedges

For example, the following are the minimum landscape buffering requirements pursuant to Chapter 30, Sections 30-441 through 434 (Go to for the entirety of the code) for a commercial property if it is adjacent to:

  • Residential single-family, multifamily or tourist, a public use facility (such as a park of golf course clubhouse, golf course or amenity center): A 15-foot wide, opaque within one year, landscape buffer maintained at six feet in height, which may include a wall, fence, hedge, berm or combination thereof; and trees spaced no more than 25 feet on center.
  • Commercial Property: Ten foot wide landscape buffer with trees spaced no more than 30 feet on center.
  • Vehicular Rights-Of-Way: The width of the landscape buffer varies depending on ultimate width of the abutting right of way. (See Code Section 30-441(g) for this determination.) The landscape within this width will consist of a double hedge row of at least 24 inches in height at planting and attaining a minimum of three feet within one year. One tree per 30 feet of the landscape buffer length is required. The remaining width of the right of way buffer shall consist of native vegetation, grass or groundcovers. Every effort shall be made to retain and incorporate the existing native vegetation in these areas.

The Beautification Advisory Committee and city staff thank and appreciate the business community for their cooperation in this project. If you receive a 30-day Courtesy Notice to correct a landscape buffer deviancy and have any questions regarding landscape requirements, plant species and sizes or any other inquiry regarding this project, please contact Nancy Richie, environmental specialist at the city of Marco Island at 239-389-5003 or


This is Not Who We Are!!!

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:38pm

Tarik Ayasun

Mufti of Istanbul with the Pope

I must have heard or read this expression hundreds if not thousands of times last week after the release of the CIA report by Senator Diane Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee. From the President down to the last uninformed person in America, the expression was repeated time after time.

If this is not who we are, who are we? No one informed us about “who we are” up to the writing of this article. I am beginning to have an identity crisis already. If we are going to tell our enemies all our military techniques and intelligence collecting secrets for cheap political thrills, how will we expect to beat the terrorists whose collective single goal in life is to kill us all?

It was reported that upwards of $40,000,000 of taxpayer money was spent by Senate staffers who wrote this shameful report never bothering to interview a single CIA official allegedly involved in the enhanced interrogations immediately after 9/11 when our country was under great threat. Operating in a vacuum within the cozy confines of the Senate chambers, these bureaucrats who never disliked a terrorist they met, wrote a report based on millions of pages of reports filed by CIA operatives. When Sen. Feinstein stood up to read the message in the floor of the Senate of the United States of America, she reminded me of the Iranian Shiites marching towards their holy shrines, beating themselves up with chains and cutting their foreheads with knives to bleed for glory.

Attacking the intelligence collection operations of the CIA publicly or disclosing the battle tactics of the US military to the rest of the world for political gain has never been useful or productive for our country. Those of us who are old enough will remember the famous Church Committee Reports (a Senate committee headed by the Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho) and the damage it did to our intelligence operations worldwide for many years to come.

In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published 14 reports on various US intelligence agencies, formation, operations and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed with recommendations for reform, some of which were later put in place. There was a huge backlash to the activities of the committee.

The 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, a CIA station chief in Greece, followed by assassinations of a number of CIA operatives around the world intensified the public backlash against its mission. The committee’s work has more recently been criticized after the September 11 attacks for leading to legislation reducing the ability of the CIA to gather human intelligence. The agency never fully recovered from the terrible damage caused by the Church reports.

Some of us in America do not seem to grasp the reality that history always repeats itself.

Lady Santas In Istanbul

On one side are the Radical Islamic Terrorists of many different stripes, killing and beheading Christians in particular and Westerners in general. As young as 15-year-old Christian boys were beheaded just a few days ago when they refused to denounce their religious beliefs and accept Islam as their religion! Then came the horrific and unbelievable news of Taliban killing at least 132 children and nine staff in a school attended by the children of Pakistani military officers in the city of Peshawar.

On the other hand are the members of the so-called Senate Intelligence (must be an oxymoron) Committee, who are hell-bent on destroying the intelligence services of our country. The message from Sen. Feinstein to the CIA and FBI operatives seems to be: “If in future conflicts or war you catch terrorists in the battlefield fighting to kill our men and women in uniform, immediately read them their Miranda rights, take them to a cushy jail, give them three meals a day, hand out Korans and let them lawyer-up and give us zero intelligence — actionable or not.” The message is clear: Be careful or you may someday be subject to interrogations, indictments and possible jail times. We might as well get these terrorists dates and send them off to a high school prom of their choice!

The readers may have already figured out by now that I do not consider enhanced interrogation techniques torture under any and all circumstances during a time of war. Despite what you are being told by the “this-is-not-who-we-are” crowd, the methods work, and with the intelligence gained as a result of such techniques used on terrorists caught on the battlefields, we may have stopped hundreds if not thousands of attacks on our country since 9/11.

After watching the so called CIA report on torture on the evening news, I had a strange dream. I was in Iraq, watching the Baghdad evening news in my hotel room, delivered in full color by that extremely independent network called Al Jazeera. The leader of the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS/ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was releasing a special report on the terrorists “hostage taking and beheading operations” in great detail. He was very clear as to how they operated, naming names of their fighters, their recruitment techniques and how best to behead someone using a small serrated knife letting as much blood out as possible to speed up death while posing for the TV cameras and screaming “God is great” using their best British accent!!! I woke up drenched in sweat, thankfully, on my living room couch.

Hypocrisy and political correctness reached a new high when this report was released.

Then I went back to the original statement made by the President and followed by others: “This is not who we are.” To those who made the above mentioned statement I ask, who are you then?

Are you the same people who are hiding the final report on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Army deserter who left his base in Afghanistan and joined the Taliban becoming a traitor and causing the deaths of many American servicemen and women by turning over information to the enemy? The report was completed months ago but has been held up for political expediency. In the meantime, the terrorists who were released in exchange for the traitor and sent to Qatar for securing the Sargent’s release are free men now, operating and doing evil things in the Middle East. Do not be surprised if they all appear on your TV screen sometime soon, wearing a black hooded garb, holding a knife or a gun to the head of a Western hostage wearing a red garb representing Satan, whose only crime was being there to help the poor and the innocent receive care.

Are you the same people holding up the release of the report on what really happened in Benghazi where Radical Islamic terrorists killed our ambassador and three other true American heroes and you lied for weeks that it was a “video” that caused the riots? The readers may be relieved to learn that the broadcaster of the lies Susan Rice is now United States National Security Advisor to the President. I suspect she may also have been given a date and sent to a prom of her choice, but I don’t know that for sure!

Are you the same people who declared “executive privilege” and suppressed the final report on the “fast and furious” program of the US Justice Department where arms were shipped to Mexican drug lords — allegedly to have them followed by devices embedded in the weapons — who in turn used these weapons to kill our border patrol officers?

Are you the same people who treated the Prime Minister of Israel, possibly the one and only ally of the United States in the Middle East and beyond, shabbily and rudely, equating the actions of Israeli Defense Forces to the dastardly operations of those who placed rocket launchers in schools, hospitals and homes causing the deaths of innocent women and children?


And we are afraid to use enhanced interrogation techniques from the bunch of human debris who are trying to kill us all! I am sorry, but I am still not too sure who we are. Let me get off this subject which may fill the rest of the columns of the Coastal Breeze.

Now, a few words about my predictions for 2015 and beyond:

I strongly believe that America is still “a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.” After not being able to write for Coastal Breeze for an extended period of time, (I was completely disillusioned and had lost my focus on events going on unchecked around the world which would directly affect every single one of us here later on), I decided to get back to writing once again.

I think in the year to come America as a nation will start to rebuild her military decimated by budget cuts; protect and secure her borders to make sure that a fair immigration law is passed and enforced as the present situation is neither fair nor acceptable; let businesses function as businesses and not extensions of a bureaucratic government busily filing reports on anything and everything. America should become the largest exporter of energy to the world; we just need to take politics out of our energy policy, upgrade existing oil refineries and allow the Keystone Pipeline project go through.

Oil prices are now at historically low levels. As a result, Russia is near a total economic disaster, and Venezuela is beyond bankrupt. These two countries, aside from being supporters of state sponsored terrorism worldwide, were the main supporters of Cuba, the awful dictatorship 90 miles south of Key West. I was hoping that finally Cuban people would have a chance to rise up and topple the Castro regime once and for all. I was unpleasantly surprised by our government’s announcement that we will now be resuming diplomatic relations with the human rights violating, terror-supporting dictators of Cuba.

And what did we get in return for our gift of generosity? Same thing we got from extending a friendly hand to the Mullahs of Iran, the corrupt president of Afghanistan and conqueror of Ukraine Vladimir Putin of Russia: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! We have just rewarded a Communist dictatorship for all the human rights violations they committed over the past 50 years just before they economically collapsed. This is who we really are these days!

I am now sitting here in my backyard under a brilliant and clear Florida sky,on a sunny and cool afternoon wondering, “Oh! When will we ever learn?”

This year is coming to an end. The usual suspects are all around us, trying their very best, hiding behind their faulty interpretation of the law of the land to stop our fellow Christians from observing their religious Holidays freely. Gender-neutral Santas are talking to young innocent children in malls all over the country and store clerks are greeting us with “Happy Holidays” — the all-encompassing and totally meaningless greeting.

Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say one can’t say prayers anywhere they wish on God’s Earth? Where in the Constitution does it say “there shall be no Christmas trees in Government buildings?” (By the way Christmas trees are NOT religious symbols at all. Shop fronts all over Istanbul, Turkey, a country where the population is 99 percent Muslim are adorned with Christmas Trees with the “HAPPY NOEL” signs lighting up the entrances. Advice to the politically correct crowd from me, we don’t have to tolerate other’s religions; we have to respect them.)

Hope is eternal, and for the sake of my country and for the sake of the future of our children and grandchildren, I hope and pray (yes, pray) that this Christmas will be a merry one for all the Christians around the world as well as believers and followers of every other recognized religion around this beautiful world of ours.

I believe in the exceptionalism and the greatness of the American people. That will never change for me.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to all my Christian Readers and Friends. Happy Hannukah to all my Jewish Friends, Readers and Family.


Tarik Ayasun is president of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations. Tarik Ayasun at

McCarty Group: The Secrets of Success

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:36pm

By Noelle H. Lowery

Mike and Wendy McCarty are very busy these days.

Along with having the No. 1 market share on Marco, the career realtors with the Marco Island office of Keller Williams Realty Inc. (KW) — along with their team members Denis Smith and Nancy Brewer — increased their business by 73 percent in the last year, and most recently, they ranked in the top 50 agents in closed volume for all KW agents internationally.

Specifically, they ranked 44th out of 110,000 agents.

“The McCarty Group has experienced amazing growth in the last year,” explains Cindy Griesse, CEO and team leader for KW’s Marco office. “They’ve mastered lead generation to the highest level possible by engaging buyers and sellers and finding business…They’ve done this not by adding people; they got better at their skills.”

Ask the McCarty Group what the secret to its success is, and three elements are clear: market knowledge, teamwork and professional coaching and training.

Focusing on all of Southwest Florida, the team has a special affinity for the Marco Island-Naples area. After all, each of them fell so deeply in love with the area after vacationing here that they each changed their entire lives just to be a part of it.

Smith was the first of the team members to move to Marco 36 years ago. “I came here in 1972 for first time, and I had an opportunity to move here. There was no question. It was just such a unique place, and I had to be a part of it. I had a country inn in Vermont, and I sold it right away.”

Originally from Michigan, Mike and Wendy moved to Marco Island about 20 years ago after initially looking for a vacation destination. “After our son was born, we knew we wanted to raise our family in this community,” remembers Mike. “We knew if didn’t get here early in the game, we might have to wait another 20 years.”

Brewer has been coming to the area for 25 years and has lived here for 11. It was all fun in the sun at first, and then she just decided to make the move from Connecticut. “I sold everything up north and moved,” she recounts. “My first job here was in real estate.”

This deep love for Southwest Florida has given the McCarty Group an expansive breadth and depth when it comes to market knowledge and understanding what makes people want to buy here.

Secondary to its market insight is the team’s ability to truly work together as a team — something fairly uncommon in the real estate industry. Smith has been working with Mike and Wendy for 11 years, while Brewer has been a part of the team for five years.

“The goal is always on the service we are going to provide the customers,” says Mike. “We are better together than we would be alone…We are always bouncing ideas and pricing off of one another and bringing each other up. Everything is a team effort.”

But, he adds, “in order for it to work, it has to work for everyone — each of us individuals, the team and our customers.”

Griesse believes the members of the McCarty Group have a special understanding of how teamwork can be profitable in real estate. “The McCarty’s have been very successful at getting listings and selling homes, and they have hired very talented individuals for their team…This allows them to grow their business and deliver better service. It is all about customer service and results at the end of the day.”

Finally, like a professional sports team, the McCarty Team is always in training. In fact, Mike and Wendy have used the same professional coaching organization for the last 14 years and have taken full advantage of all the training offered by KW. This allows them always to be aware of what is going on in the marketplace and to have a solid understanding of trends going on in other parts of the country.

“We are a step ahead,” says Wendy. “We know what is coming at us, and this creates awareness and motivation.”

To be sure, the McCarty Group members are looking forward to 2015. Its current successes combined with a positive outlook for the real estate market in the coming year are fueling their fire.

According to the team, the baby-boomers have taken the market by storm, and their enthusiasm and excitement for the area is making for a strong overall comeback. Team members credit the property value gains in most segments locally to the financial strength of the baby-boomer buyer — some paid for their homes in cash, while those who took on a mortgage did so with a hefty down payment and the financial backing to handle the mortgage payments.

Toss in the fact that new home construction also is surging on Marco Island and in Naples, and the message is loud and clear for the McCarty Group: Southwest Florida is thriving.

“2014 was one of my most enjoyable years ever in the business,” Mike notes. “We are thrilled with our suite at the brand new location for Keller Williams Realty at 830 Bald Eagle Drive, and our focus now is excellent service for our customers in 2015.”

A Holiday Salute to Marco’s Veterans

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:35pm

By Don Manley

WWII veteran James Lonie with his daughter Sandy Elliott of Marco. Lonie received medals of commendation from the U.S., Canada and his native
England for his service.

The service and sacrifice of America’s military men and women was once again commemorated at the Christmas Island Style Holiday Salute to Veterans. Held recently at Rose History Auditorium, the annual affair blended solemn remembrance and patriotic and holiday songs with a presentation on a relatively new program, Collier County Honor Flight.

The evening coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Bulge and it ended with a special announcement honoring WWII veteran Owen Carr, of Marco Island. Among the speakers were Vietnam veterans Steve Stefanides, chairman of Christmas Island Style, and Lee Rubenstein, commander of Marco’s first American Legion branch, Post 404, which began this year.

“All over this world, American blood has been shed, not for riches or for more land, but for Freedom,” said Stefanides.

The audience also learned about the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that honors America’s veterans by transporting them at no charge to Washington, DC, to visit their respective memorials, with preference given to WW II veterans.

After a performance of holiday music by the Marco Island Charter Middle School choir, Stefanides announced that Christmas Island Style would sponsor Carr and his wife Pat on an Honor Flight trip to Washington DC’s WWII Memorial in the spring.

Spreading Joy

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:29pm

By Val Simon

The Joy of Giving started off years ago as one person — Nicki Davis — getting presents for a few less fortunate children. Within a few years, the charity grew into a handful of elves helping more children and their siblings. Today, it is a 501(c)(3) charity which has grown to serve more than 1,000 children in Collier County thanks to the help of dozens of individuals and various organizations.

Davis is still behind it all, but she insists she could not have done it without her right hand, Misty Sayah. “Each year we get better,” said Davis, “and each year, we make notes on what we can improve on the following year. As always, we come across families and have experiences that remind us why the Joy is here and what makes it work so well!”

She added: “We couldn’t do this without the help of the Island Country Club. Island Country Club has dedicated more to the Joy of Giving than any other organization. They donate not only financially, but they work to check people through the registers and give a frozen turkey to each family as well. Then we have Walmart who stepped in a few years ago. They don’t just allow us to hold the event here, they actively help us streamline the process and add key personnel so we don’t make it difficult on the people we are trying to help. There aren’t long lines and endless waiting as in prior years.

“Besides, Island Country Club and Walmart, we have some Collier County teachers who help us identify the families in need; the Noontime Rotary Club; Ernie Bordon; a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who run the Ride for Joy poker run every year; a golf tournament; the Condo Managers of Marco Island; Marco Island Academy; and Shops of Marco too. Too many groups and individuals to mention them all. I am so afraid some of them just aren’t coming to mind this moment. I don’t want anyone to think we don’t appreciate them all!”

This year’s event was held on Dec. 13, and by 5:30 AM, more than 100 people were waiting for the doors to open. Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand to greet the children; Walmart employees had scanners in hand; and the Joy of Giving volunteers were on the ready. A group of bi-lingual students were available just to help the shoppers communicate.

Each family checks in, and they have a preapproved amount of money allocated to them based on the number of little children. They shop up to the dollar amount allocated. They are “pre-scanned” to know where they stand in relation to the what was allocated, and once they have gotten through the cashier who rings up their cart, they are given a free turkey. No money changes hands at the store.

“Every year, we have experiences which touch our hearts and remind us why this is such important work. First, this year, we worked closely with a family with a terminally ill child. We had another experience with a volunteer who scanned through a family who was slightly over their allocation. The cart was filled with toddler-aged toys, but a preteen son had accompanied his mom to the store, he had only one item, a video game. When he realized he didn’t have to put the game back, he began jumping up and down. Then there is the mom who had covered her registration card with notes. She worked long and hard to be certain she spent every cent wisely; it meant so much to her. Everyone who works the Joy of Giving seems to have a touching experience that brings them back to volunteer year after year. Many of our volunteers have worked with us for 20 or more years. It’s the smiles on the children’s faces and the look of gratitude on the faces of parents which warms our hearts. It really is the Joy of Giving.”

Bicycles and skateboards wheeled by, baby and toddler toys, princess crowns, dolls and sporting goods fill shopping carts. For many, Christmas simply means new jeans or a pair of new shoes, maybe a new jacket or a dress.

Davis appreciates Sayah the most. “Misty works with many of the families as an after-school camp counselor. She works with other camp counselors and the school teachers and goes above and beyond in trying to help, all the while trying to maintain the privacy and dignity of each family. She is an amazing person with an enormous heart. She has a unique understanding of the people we work with and she works endless hours for the Joy of Giving.”

Indeed, Sayah was already there early Saturday morning ready and willing to handle any situation that came up. She met with groups of volunteers to go over last minute instructions and oversaw the entire operation with Nicki, making sure everything ran smoothly.

Work on the 2015 Joy of Giving has already begun. “We hope it is bigger and better in 2015 too, serving the children and families best. We wish each has had a very Merry Christmas!”


Kiwanis Shares the Joy of Christmas

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:25pm

By Don Manley

Dianna Dohm, president of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, instructs toy delivery volunteers.

The spirit of Christmas — the compassion, the joy of giving and the elation of receiving — has been a regular part of the holiday season at the Manatee Elementary School media center for more than a decade thanks to a special effort by Marco Islanders.

Naturally, 2014 was no different thanks, as always, to the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island.

Through its annual Toys for Kids program, the club has raised funds to purchase toys for children in need at Manatee for the last 12 years. The program also includes some students at Tommie Barfield Elementary School and the Marco Island Charter Middle School.

“It’s so exciting to be able to make their Christmas just a little brighter,” said club president Diana Dohm.

This year, the organization raised $8,000 to purchase toys valued at about $10 each for 720 children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus bracket a ‘little friend’ who helped them greet children at the Manatee Elementary media center. PHOTOS BY DON MANLEY

It’s an effort that means a great deal to everyone at Manatee.

“This is one of my favorite events for our school,” said Wendy Borowski, the school’s principal. “The students love this. We (the staff) love this. The Kiwanis Club is wonderful. They’ve done so many wonderful things for our children with books, with the gifts every year and our children love it. There’s absolute joy on their faces when they come in.”

Kiwanis of Marco Island also gives away books to Manatee and Tommie Barfield students, with almost 2,400 books to be passed out this school year.

There was an air of excitement and anticipation at the school last week on the morning of the toy distribution. After the gifts were delivered, volunteers from the club unpacked and sorted them and set up shop in anticipation of the children’s arrival, but before the students filed into the media center by classroom, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived to make the event even more special.

When the children arrived, each received a candy cane before turning a corner where the gifts and a brief but warm chat with Mr. and Mrs. Claus awaited each and every one.

First graders proudly display their toys.

“Look at you,” was Santa’s personalized greeting to each child. “I wasn’t sure you’d be here today.”

There were “Barbies” and other dolls and jewelry sets for the girls, footballs and soccer balls, toy trains and cars for the boys, and an assortment of board games dispensed.

There were shouts of “Thank You, Santa” and “Merry Christmas” voiced in unison by the students as they lined up after receiving their gifts. Everywhere there were smiles, whether it be a child exclaiming, “Guys, look what I got,” or the adults there to take in the proceedings.

“This means so much to the children because a lot of them won’t receive many gifts (for Christmas),” said Lisa Bludworth, a first-grade teacher at Manatee. “So, this means the joy of Christmas for them. It also shows them how the community can work together.”

Before any gifts were presented, they first had to be purchased, which the club did two weeks ago at a Kmart located off of Golden Gate Parkway, where it receives a 10 percent discount for the program.

Joanne O’Leary shares a smile with some overjoyed students.

There, volunteers enthusiastically prowled the aisles, where they selected age-appropriate gifts. After placing the purchases into massive plastic bags, the entire haul was placed in SUVs and cars and transported back to Marco.

Kiwanian John Coff was present for the buying and the distributing and the satisfaction of bringing joy to a child.

“All you have to do is watch the kids after they get a toy,” said Coff. “When you see them walking away and looking at that toy and smiling and laughing, that makes it all worthwhile.”




Capri Boat Parade Big Draw for Islanders

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 8:17pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

After a few years of dropping participation, the 2014 Isles of Capri boat parade saw a surge of renewed interest from boat owners and spectators alike.

On Saturday, Dec. 13, 13 vessels were decked out from stem to stern with hundreds of strings of twinkle lights, inflatable animals and holiday cheer ready to spread some wow spectators. The Island Gypsy Cafe hosted a pre-party for participants, generously donating pizza to all of the boat owners, crews and judges of the parade.

This year’s parade was chaired by Otis Tavlin and Nancy Anderson.

With the setting sun as a backdrop, the Isles of Capri Fire Rescue District boat served as grand marshall for the parade, leading the way around the eastern tip of the island and heading west out of the Marco River promptly at 6 PM. The judges — John and Linda Daniels, Ronald Oneski, Denise Snyder and Keith and Eva Taylor — had the best view of all from the dock of a waterfront home of a Capri resident.

The parade wound past the La Peninsula condos and turned eastward to Johnson Bay, weaving in and out of each of the small bays on the north side of Capri, to the delight of hundreds of spectators, many of whom were attending waterfront Christmas parties specifically for this event.

At last, the parade passed The Capri Fish House and Pelican Bend before finishing up in front of the large waterfront picture windows of The Blue Heron restaurant, where all of the patrons came pouring out to line the docks and cheer the passing parade.

At least two of the parade participants — the sailboat Thunderbird and the beautiful butterfly display of Capri Coconuts — decided to remain at the Blue Heron and can still be seen lighted nightly until Christmas.

Six winners will receive trophies in January.