Marco’s 2015 - Part II
Island news happenings, July to December
Flag-waving service rekindles patriotic hope on Isles of Capri
Smiles and tears were the dominant expressions on the faces of those gathered for a special patriotic music service at Capri Christian Church.
Sailing Solo not your average singles club
Marco Lutheran Sailing Solo Club came up with a plan to provide a safe environment for singles to meet and join for activities.
Public safety opens its doors
Marco Island Police and Fire-Rescue departments opened their doors mid-July for displays of vehicles and hands-on equipment demonstrations.
More déjà vu all over again
Now that opponents of the city's recently adopted rental ordinance have enough signatures on a petition requesting repeal or placing it before the voters, all eyes are on City Hall. Stay tuned …
Letters about the rental ordinance barrage the Sun Times. One writer declares: Head scratcher? Ordinance 15-01, (the rental ordinance), seems to have developed successfully into a Yahoo-inspiring, totally avertable, flummoxing array of duteous codswallop. It represents Marco political intellect at its finest ... or does it?
New upscale coffee cafe due for Marco
For Marco Islanders who have thirsted for a little bit of the Naples 5th Avenue offerings, the wait is over. The popular 5th Avenue Coffee Company will be moving into a space at The Esplanade that is being vacated by Starbucks.
Camp connects with Cousteau
Richard Murphy, director of education and science for Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society, returned to Marco Island to head the second Marco Island Academy Ambassadors of the Environment summer camp.
Brews shoo hurricanes
As usual, a couple of unmentionable Spam sculptures were splayed out on tables at the annual Goodland Little Bar Spammy Jammy party to ward off hurricanes. “Every year, somebody thinks it hasn't been done before,” observed one of the organizers drily, before drawing attention to sculptures of the more thought-provoking kind.
A discussion at a recent city beautification advisory committee meeting was more about the "ugly" that some are seeing rather than the beauty they expected for the $318,000 the city is paying for median maintenance.
Capri residents upset
Careless drivers, and a couple of indelible doughnut burnouts in the road upset Isles of Capri residents.
Marco celebrates the Fourth
Judging by the hoots and whoops as Marco's spectacular July Fourth fireworks show came to a close, nobody left the beach in an ordinary frame of mind. The 20-minute show, accompanied partly by some cloud-to-cloud lightning flashes from Mother Nature to the south, brought to a close a day of patriotic celebration on Marco.
Average Marco home sale price: more than $948,000
Multiple Listing Service statistics released by the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors for Marco Island-only properties comparing the first half of 2015 (January-June) with a year ago show the average single-family home sold for more than $948,000, while the average condo sale was more than $543,000.
Special 'night at the museum'
A good, old-fashioned "double feature" highlighted the Marco Island Historical Society's latest monthly meeting at Rose History Auditorium. Close to 200 people showed up. The films were "Marco in the Making" and an interview with prominent island philanthropist Jane Hittler, who died in 2006. Both films were produced by well-known local filmmaker Bill Hughes.
Sunrise Rotary celebrates new club year
President Eugenio Cardenas presided over his last meeting as president of Rotary Club of Marco Island Sunrise. He thanked the members of the club for all of the support during what he termed his "best year of Rotary."
Planners 'OK' academy request
The city's Planning Board approved a request from the Marco Island Academy to add two additional classroom portables to accommodate additional students.
Just Friends marks its birthday
Just Friends, a social club for past members of Newcomer's Club, recently had its monthly meeting and celebrated the 11th birthday of the club
More than 50 area anglers compete in Walker's tourney
"Excellent!" That's how Capt. Erix Rodriguez referred to the just-completed 2nd annual Red Grouper Tournament at Walker's Hideaway Marina. Rodriguez is the ship store manager at Walker's.
Council sets rental referendum for 2016
It seems Marco Island voters will get an opportunity during the state's presidential primary next year to accept or reject a recently passed ordinance to require the registration and inspection of all dwelling units leased or rented for less than 365 days.
Minozzi new Noontime Rotary president
President Lynne Minozzi and officers were officially installed by district governor Cyndi Doragh and assistant governor Pete Doragh.
Special-needs campers feel Marco hospitality
It's a camp where the ones who are slightly different are the VIPs. But Camp Able, structured for campers coping with conditions such as autism, Down Syndrome, spina bifida, chromosome abnormalities or lack of oxygen at birth, is actually therapeutic for everybody connected with the popular annual project. It took place once again at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
$100,000 scam victim
A Marco woman in her 70s became the victim of a huge scam that cost her $100,000 instead of rewarding her with riches.
Remembering historical society's early days
Marion Nicolay, Betsy Perdichizzi, and T. J. Brown, three of the Marco Island Historical Society's original founding members, recently reflected on the group's start more than 20 years ago at a get-together.
Marriott steaming to the finish of phase one revamp
After an unprecedented shutdown for 90 days, the Marco Island Marriott resort reopened to a limited number of guests. That's because the hotel's full transformation into a luxury JW Marriott property is still 16 months away, and the $270 million renovation is being done in phases.
Sun Times excels in statewide contest
Sun Times Journalists, photographers and editors again excelled in a statewide better weekly newspaper contest, bringing home five awards, three of them first places.
No sign of lion hunter at Marco Island home
A quiet Marco Island street became an impromptu press camp in the wake of a Minnesota hunter who set off an online firestorm by killing a lion in Zimbabwe. The hunter owns a home on Marco. That week, someone painted Lion killer on his garage door.
Council to discuss rental repeal
Council member Ken Honecker caught his colleagues off guard Monday evening when he requested they place repeal of the controversial rental ordinance on the agenda for the Aug. 17 meeting.
Police chief explains why he asked for probe by state
Marco Island Police Chief Al Schettino took to the podium at a city council meeting to address what he referred to as the "500-pound gorilla" in the room and issues surrounding a noise complaint at 300 Capistrano Court and ensuing allegations made by rental property owners Brian and Tracy Spina and council member Joseph Batte.
New uniforms boost Academy
With around 30 players on this year's roster, the Marco Island Academy Rays football team will do battle in new uniforms in an assortment of color combinations.
Mini 'radio-a-thon' helps raise funds, awareness for Y
A carousel of local celebrities, organization heads and business people helped raise funds and awareness for a Marco Island YMCA "wish list" during a four-hour radio-a-thon. The broadcast on local radio station 98.1 from the lobby of the Y was hosted by the station's Bob Ladd, along with former radio man Steve Reynolds.
Community raises $17K for city employee who suffered stroke
City workers and the community came together to raise money to help defray expenses for city employee Kristina "Kricket" Hodgdon, who had suffered a cerebral aneurism.
City takes Spina noise complaint off agenda
A noise complaint filed against the owner of 300 Capistrano Drive, Brien Spina of Bonita Springs, was removed from the special magistrate's docket. City Attorney Alan Gabriel wrote in a memo he was directing it be withdrawn due to the "ongoing investigations regarding this matter."
Star French archer visits
Fresh off winning a gold medal for France in the recent world indoor archery championships, 21-year-old Thomas Antoine spent a week on Marco for a bit of R&R as a guest of the Meurgue family.
Can-do attitudes make it work
Fun costs money, but it can be fun making the money to cover the costs. Translation: Marco's charitable volunteers enjoy what they do. That much was obvious when just one of the island's many volunteer groups got together for a pow-wow at the Marco Brewery to talk about fundraising for the Christmas Island Style series of events.
Chronicling a cancer fight
With candid honesty, emotion and sheer pluck, cancer fighter Jada Shigley has for the past few months chronicled her experiences on Facebook. She has made hundreds of posts, received hundreds of comments, and thousands of likes as friends (and strangers) have rallied around her with encouraging messages.
Barfield School has new leader
New certainly didn't mean rookie when Karey Stewart took over the reins as principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary School as the school year opened Monday. Stewart brought with her a veritable wealth of experience in the profession.
Marco grows, builds
Marco Island saw a steady pace of building and growth lately. Real estate sales were up, investments in the refurbishing of businesses and real estate was at an all-time high and new homes were cropping up all over the island.
Volunteers work to upgrade Capri community center
Some local volunteers, now referred to as the "elves and the shoemakers" from Grimms' Fairy Tales by some residents, have been tiptoeing behind the scenes and working hard to upgrade the appearance of the much-loved and much-used Capri Community Center, sometimes under the cover of darkness.
Chamber Champions sought for recognition
A local salon was the inaugural recipient of a Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce initiative to recognize champions in local business. Called, appropriately, Chamber Champions, the first one has been awarded to Rick's Island Salon & Day Spa, which has served the island since 1992.
Firefighter retires after 34 years of service
Division chief Scott Schultz worked his last duty day as commander of "B" shift of the fire-rescue department.
Academy team plays in honor of WWII vet
The Marco Island Academy football team flew to Texas to play in the Tyler Ford-Brook Hill American Warrior Bowl just outside Dallas, in honor of Owen Carr, a noted Marco resident and a World War II veteran.
Plans for new Mackle Park community center unveiled
Members of the parks and recreation advisory committee and the public got their first look at an initial plan for the creation of a new multipurpose building to replace the aging Mackle Park Community Center.
Marco Y's Green Thumb Project takes root
The grand opening for the Y's $1.5 million Youth Development Center was scheduled for October — work on the 5,750-square-foot building is on the road to completion.
Marco had a plan
Marco Island residents, city officials and first responders say they were prepared for Tropical Storm Erika after Florida’s Gov. Scott declared a state of emergency.
Advisory panels seek new fertilizer ordinance
Members of the city's beach advisory and beautification committees were so concerned about the quality of Marco Island's waterways that they began to seek Marco Island City Council action on a fertilizer ordinance first proposed four years ago.
Marco team scores big at major classic car festival
A true labor of love resulted in a Marco Island team of Island Automotive auto technician specialists bringing home honors from the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Ind. Their year-long authentic restoration of a rare 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster scooped a "primary" first place in a category reserved for first-time exhibitors of these cars.
Ashby fundraiser sees a big turnout
"You know, whatever happens to Marco Islanders, whether it's cancer of something else ... Marco is one big family. If the community needs to come together when you need help, it gets done." The words came from James Downey, a supporter at a fundraiser to help Amy Ashby cope with cancer expenses.
Greater Naples will take over Capri fire-rescue district Oct. 1
Collier County commissioners approved the agreement that allows the Greater Naples Fire-Rescue District to begin managing the Isles of Capri Fire District on Oct. 1.
Condo, single-family home prices continue rise
Statistics released by the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors for Marco Island-only properties comparing August sales to a year ago showed prices for single-family homes and condos continued to rise.
Academy girls win first match of season
Marco Island Academy's young-but-improving volleyball team reached its first milestone, defeating Donahue Catholic in four games to win its first match of the season.
Council approves budget
Council took its first step in the approval process for passage of the fiscal 2016 operating budget when it voted 5-2 to approve the $21.7 million plan submitted by City Manager Roger Hernstadt.
$7.5 million government center is proposed
The city of Marco Island is reported to be seeking state funds to build what it called a $7.5 million multipurpose veterans community service center on Veterans’ Community Park property. On Sept. 11, the Marco Island City Council met in a special-called session to discuss specific legislative agenda priorities for the city.
City council keeps 2016 tax rate same as this year
After two public hearings, Council voted to keep the city's fiscal 2015-16 tax rate the same as last year. In addition, the council approved the City Manager's proposed $21.7 million city budget and a measure to begin the repeal of the controversial rental ordinance that had become the target of a referendum movement.
Members of Moose Lodge ease school supply burden
When members of Marco's Moose Lodge 1990 set a goal, they deliver the goods. Literally. In this case, it was a utility cart full of school supplies for students at Marco's Tommie Barfield Elementary School. And, should anybody be wearing rose-colored spectacles, Collier School District information shows that about 30 percent of the children at the school are economically needy
Visitors increase at historical museum
The numbers have been tallied, and the final report is good news – visitors to the Marco Island Historical Museum have increased. According to Pam Miner, interim museum manager, 10,289 people visited the Collier County facility from January to July, an 11 percent increase over last year's 9,255 visitors for the same period.
Locals hoping to see Boehner around town
Although Marco Island is more than 1,000 miles from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the vibrations felt from the unexpected resignation of Speaker of the U.S. House John Boehner were felt here on the island. Boehner and his family have been regulars on Marco for several years. His love for golf, fishing and a close cadre of Ohio friends has drawn him to the island for years.
Community activist, and most recently the city magistrate, Monte Lazarus, 85, died after a long battle with cancer. He moved here in 1986 after a successful career as both an attorney and employee of the federal government.
Veteran’s center raises ire
A proposed government building at the island’s Veterans’ Community Park raised the ire of vets – who objected to their name being used in the course of lobbying for state funds. The issue would spark heated discussion.
Couple buys school land, officials get deed
Philanthropists Bill and Karen Young loaned the Marco Island Academy $2 million to purchase the land on which the school sits, along San Marco Road on the way to Goodland.
Help sought for burned musician
Spontaneous fundraisers arose to benefit local musician Merrill Allen – badly burned last month in a propane explosion on his boat.
Council finally repeals rental ordinance
After a year's worth of hearings, the creation of an ordinance, the passing of legislation and the subsequent petition to bring it to a referendum, the Marco Island City Council on Monday repealed a controversial ordinance that would have required the registration of rental properties.
Marco triathlon attracts nearly 300 participants
More than 280 registered for this year's Marco Triathlon hosted by the Marriott Beach Resort and Spa, including 112 females, 170 males and 19 teams.
Academy coach now suspended for one game
The Florida High School Athletic Association suspended Marco Island Academy head football coach Greg Fowler for one game after being ejected from the academy's recent game at First Baptist Academy of Naples.
Trapper seeking gator or croc lurking near Capri homes
A professional trapper was called in to help relocate a large, corrupted alligator or crocodile putting a scare into homeowners on the Isles of Capri.
New water-rate proposal goes down drain
City council ended up ditching another contentious Marco issue, a new water rate structure.
Local chef features in 'Guy's Grocery Games'
Chef Asif Rasheed, a longtime executive chef at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, competed on "Guy's Grocery Games" on the Food Network.
YMCA opens $1.45M youth center
Board members, both past a present, along with YMCA staff, city officials and citizens gathered for the celebratory event, as a portion of the YMCA's dream for an expanded facility came true during a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
No state money for vets building
In consideration for state matching funds, the proposal for a $7.5 million multiuse facility for Veterans’ Community Park was removed and council got behind City Manager Roger Hernstadt's suggestion for $2.77 million for three projects, including $1 million for legislative funding for the replacement of the Marco Island fire-rescue building on Elkcam Circle.
New Gulf beach access opens
City of Marco Island and Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce officials joined representatives from the Marriott Crystal Shores Vacation Resort for a ribbon cutting for the new neighborhood Gulf beach-access point. The access is located on the west side of Collier Boulevard, where it intersects with Winterberry Drive.
Book about Marco selling well
A new book chronicling the transformation of Marco Island from an alligator-infested swamp to one of America's top travel destinations has become a No. 1 local bestseller. "Over this past year no book, local or otherwise, has come close to selling more," said Theresa Unsworth, owner of Sunshine Booksellers' two Marco Island locations.
YMCA youth development center opens
Despite a light rain, the ribbon-cutting for the Marco Island YMCA's $1.45 million Youth Development Center was a success. Community support and enthusiasm for the project was evident, YMCA officials said. "The Youth Development Center is completely paid for through a capital campaign that has been in place for over a year," said Donna Johnston, director of grants for the YMCA.
Son taught to 'love thy neighbor' helps save a life
It isn't often that a parent receives a phone call from an only son, announcing that he is donating a kidney in hopes of saving the life of a neighbor. Such was the case for Capri resident Eddie Hall of Capri and his son, Chris, 44, of Virginia Beach.
Marco Players kick off new season
"Art of Murder," a comical mystery with twists of greed, revenge, and manipulation that earned the Edgar Award for "Best Mystery" play in 2000, opens the season for the Marco Players.
Moonbeam is about to return to its home port
Sailors and Marco Islanders Ken Bardon and his wife, Lil, near the end of their journey circumnavigating the world. Along the way, they have been joined by other local sailors for legs of the journey.
WWII veterans specially honored on Veterans Day
Among the pomp and ceremony that marked the Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday on Marco Island sat a group of VIPs among all the other VIPs. They were a small group of World War II veterans, each of whom received an extra special token in the form of a tiny vial of sand scooped up from Omaha Beach, one of five five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings.
Book club helps boost school's reading program
Given a generous cash grant by the family of a late friend and colleague, a small Marco book club instead channeled the money to a vital students' reading project at Tommie Barfield Elementary School.
All 4 Savage Bridge lanes now open to traffic
The newly-named Herbert R. Savage Bridge on Collier Boulevard opened to traffic, with some beautification still to be done.
Winterberry path project in home stretch
Two big pieces of the island's bicycle infrastructure are completed, and a third is in its final stages as the city of Marco Island continued to make the island more attractive to bicyclists and pedestrians.
Fire Rescue personnel celebrate
The Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department celebrated its 50th birthday with all the traditions of bagpipes and polished brass that would have made Benjamin Franklin, the nation's most famous fire service supporter, proud.
Police probe 11 home break-ins
Police investigated a series of 11 burglaries that occurred between Oct. 5 and Nov. 15. The burglaries took place during daylight hours and nearly all involved forced entry of unoccupied homes through sliding doors.
Marco observes Marine Corps' 240th birthday
Former Marine Joe Mealey and his wife along with Marco Brewery owners Frank and Lynette LaCava stage a big party to celebrate the Marines’ 236th birthday.
Rommel runs for state rep.
Bob Rommel, the president of the Caxambas Republican Club, thew his hat into the ring for the post of Florida state representative District 106. The job currently is held by State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, who is seeking a state Senate seat.
Variety spices up farmers market options
It might be a little tricky to curl your tongue around the names of Latin American staples like arepas, empanadas or pan con lechon, but on the palate they speak a universal language. Yum. Visitors to the weekly farmers market can try these and other tasty alternatives to burgers and fries over at a new vendor that advertises itself simply as Pan Con Lechon, which is part of an array of food outlets at the market through April.
Bikers hit road to help gift- giving charity
Bikers on all kinds of machines rumbled out of town in the annual ride to benefit the island's biggest gift-giving charity, The Joy of Giving.
Garden Club hosts holiday party
Calusa Garden Club's annual holiday party at the Mirage Condo Social Room was a celebration of another successful year for members whose favorite activity is gardening.
Thanks by way of square meals
Marco Islander Bill Filbin reported another successful food drive for Thanksgiving, courtesy of the generosity of fellow islanders who kicked in with 72 large trays of side dishes and 27 pies for distribution at St. Matthews House.
Throngs enjoy boat parades
Generally speaking, the Marco vessels were of the heavier variety, but the really big cheers went up for the colorful flotilla of smaller boats from the Isles of Capri that for the first time joined forces for part of the boat parade route.
Marco Island Academy football coach resigns
Marco Island Academy head football coach Greg Fowler resigned his position. He did not elaborate on the reasons.
JW Marriott cuisine preview
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa's culinary and cocktail crawl provided a preview of four different world-class eatery venues at Marriott's luxurious beach resort overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The resort will in 2017 officially transition to a new brand – the JW Marriott Marco Island.
Gifts pile up at shopping spree for local families
Everybody's getting into the Christmas spirit. And, on this traditionally special Saturday each year two weeks out, so are more than 1,000 children from local families. The annual Joy of Giving played out soon after dawn Dec. 12 at Wal-Mart near Marco Island, with patient lines of families waiting to enter the store, then going on their $100 per child spree.
Street parade wows
Organizers were more than happy with the annual Christmas street parade that wound along San Marco Avenue, featuring civic organizations, guards of honor and a plethora of floats and school bands.
Moonbeam sails home
Moonbeam, a 52-foot sailboat based on Marco Island, made its way back into the Marco River channel after spending nearly three years circumnavigating the globe.
Hills alive with runners
More than 200 runners warmed up around the Publix parking lot at Shops of Marco in preparation for what some refer to as the roughest course in Southwest Florida. The Hill Race has been going on almost 40 years, with 17 hills to challenge the runners for five miles.
Lutheran church gives 950 blankets to students
The smiles on every face at Manatee Middle School said it all, as 950 students held their new fleece blankets — Christmas gifts from Marco Lutheran Church.
Inside:A look back continues with July through December. Section B