Marco’s year in review - Part 1

Compiled by Quentin Roux


New Starbucks on the way

Coffee lovers can begin to rejoice, as construction has started at 1090 N. Collier Blvd. on a new standalone facility for the Starbucks brand, just down the street from its present location.

This spectaular aerial by local photographer Barry Howe is the cover photo for a new book on Marco by Michael Coleman. For prints or mounted canvas copies, call Howe at 919-2360.

Island’s top authors, photographers collaborate

on new Marco book

Working with “talented individuals who have been chronicling life here in various mediums for decades.” Michael Coleman launches his new book, “Marco Island, Florida’s Gulf Playground.”

Council OKs home-rental law

The first meeting of the new year saw the Marco Island City Council approve on first reading an ordinance to regulate and register rental homes on the island. At the same time, the council also voted to give City Manager Roger Hernstadt a 4.7 percent pay increase after his first year on the job.

Pals run marathon together

The weather was blustery, windy and frigid the morning of the New York Marathon as 51,000 runners waited at the starting line. Maria Lamb and Shelli Connelly from Marco Island lined up with the other runners to compete in the world-class New York Marathon. The headwinds, tailwinds and sidewinds never stopped for 26.2 miles, said Lamb, who described the weather as only a mild distraction.

Marco Charter Middle School soccer girls cap perfect season with 6-1 win

The Marco Island Charter Middle School girls soccer team came out strong, scoring four goals in the first period and blitzed an over-matched Evangelical Christian School.

The Bargain Basket, Marco Island

Bargain Basket celebrates 40 years of service

The Basket is the oldest thrift store on the island, opening for the first time in a former coin laundry on Collier Boulevard in January 1975. In 1978, it moved to 525 Bald Eagle Drive, and 12 years later moved to a larger site at the Island Professional Building.

Marco's extremly popular senior softball season gets into full swing. Hitting is Bill Kayhart.

Senior softball season underway

The 2015 Marco Island Men’s Senior Softball began with two new sponsors in the league, Mango’s Dockside Bistro and the Speakeasy, both in the Marco Division. This year the Marco Division is comprised of seven teams and the Island Division six.

New artificial reef splashes down

A yellow forklift front loader dropped a concrete junction box into the clear green water 10 miles off Marco Island to create the first of 36 artificial reefs that will make up a $1.35 million artificial-reef project.

Man with BB-pellet gun arrested after school shutdown

Police charged a man with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of resisting with violence in connection with a police call that resulted in the shutdown of local schools. A search at the man’s revealed a BB-pellet gun was discovered in the bushes.

Marco observes Arbor Day

Marco Island observed Arbor Day with the planting of a golden trumpet tree at Mackle Park. The ceremony included a number of city officials and members of the Marco Island beautification advisory committee.

Marco Island police chief named

Police chief Al Schettino, named in January to the top job, reviews staffing requirements for the holidays at his desk at the Marco Island Police Department headquarters.

Al Schettino, a 37-year law enforcement veteran, was interim chief before that. He had been with the Marco Island Police Department since 2006.

Marco home sells for $7.5 million

Cathy Rogers of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty sold a home at 1549 Heights Court for $7.5 million, which she said was the highest-priced home sold on the island in seven years.

Chamber changes guard

Wrapping up a successful 2014, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce over the weekend installed its new officers and graduated the latest Leadership Marco Class. Dick Shanahan took over the reins from 2014 President Jacquie Koon.

YMCA raises another $210,000

The Greater Marco YMCA took another toward its long-time dream to build a $1.45 million youth development center on the Y campus on Sand Hill Street, with a fundraiser bringing in $210,000 for the project, and to within $200,000 of the overall goal.

Historical Society seeks to bring Key Marco Cat home

Austin Bell, curator of the Marco Island Historical Museum, recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with a curator of the Smithsonian Institution to talk about bringing the Key Marco Cat back to the island for display at the museum.


Crime drop

Marco’s latest crime figures showed a 32 percent drop — from 181 reportable crimes to 132.

Nazi boxcar visits island

The World War II boxcar again visited Marco Island. It had previously been exhibited about two years earlier at the Charter Middle School.

Alley whoop

Attorney Craig Woodward’s notion of naming some of Marco’s alleys after local historical figures catches on. First up is one named for original island architect Herb Savage, 95, and still going strong at the time.

The new Marco fire rescue boat is put into service.

Boat of confidence

The Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department’s Boat 50 marked its first full year in service. Since acquisition, the vessel in the first year responded to more than 90 rescue calls of varying degrees of severity.

Arleen Soldano of Marco Island looks at names on the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Vietnam traveling wall visits

Islanders again flocked to the traveling wall exhibition, staged appropriately at Veterans Community Park.

Home prices on the up

Multiple Listing Service statistics for Marco Island-only property showed the median sale price of a single-family home was up 114 percent from this time the previous year – $1.07 million in January versus $500,000 in 2014.

Art of raising funds

Several hundred well-dressed art lovers turned out for the Marco Island Center for the Arts’ biggest fundraiser of the year, a gala masquerade ball at the Island Country Club. Jim and Allyson Richards chaired the benefit.

Gleam machines

Corvettes through the ages, classics like Duesenbergs and Packards, hot rods, surf wagons and vans, and one monstrous swamp buggy that looked like it had just come out of the box. This was the scene Marco Healthcare Center as record crowds viewed a record entry of show cars at the 11th annual Kiwanis Car Show.

Council OKs use of artificial turf

The city, following the lead of the planning board, voted to allow the installation of artificial turf in residential applications.

Feathered guests appear for Capri banquet

As in the past, one of the most cherished events of the year on the Isles of Capri was the annual Sweetheart Banquet held at Capri Christian Church to coincide with the love theme of Valentine’s Day.

City OKs Rose permit

for boat storage

Rose Marina took a step closer to starting construction on its $15 million facelift and modernization project after the city approved a temporary-use permit to allow the marina to store boats temporarily on several residential lots the corporation owns on Magnolia Court. Some local residents did object, however.

Capri triathlon off-beat

The first Isles of Capri Triathlon was like none other. Instead of the usual competition of running, cycling and swimming, the competitive events consisted of corn toss, ladder golf, and washer toss. It was by invitation only, and registrations were approved by the events originators and coordinators.

Rocky, a.k.a. John Ritchie, takes a break between rounds against an opponent known as Vlad the Invader, a.k.a Mr Putin, at theannual quirky Goodland boat parade.

‘Heroes’ define Goodland

boat parade

Rocky Balboa pounded the cardboard daylights out of a Putin-lookalike, an “American Sniper” brought on repeated rounds of cheers, and two live guitarists sent ripping riffs all over the town of Goodland. The occasion was the 19th annual Goodland Boat Parade, a tradition that has through the years committed the maritime fundraiser solely to benefit Avow Hospice.

Report: All bike vs. vehicle accidents happen in winter

A police report revealed there were 11 accidents between motorized vehicles and bicycles in 2014 – and every accident occurred between January and March, the island’s busy tourist season.

DAR honors Charter Middle School patriotic essay winners

Marco Island Charter Middle School students were honored at the Daughters of the Revolution chapter’s meeting. They were Kirra Polley, Ittay Cisneros and Brandon Johnson.

Dave Walsh anticipates a spoonful of one of the many soups on offer at a 'Souper Bowl' scholarship fundraiser at Mackle Park.

Slurp down for scholarships

Wild mushroom, lobster bisque, “loaded” potato and even chili were some of the soups on offer as more than 1,000 people enjoyed the annual Souper Bowl sup down at Mackle Park. The two-hour session featured assorted soups from assorted Marco restaurants, while the money came from selling bowls made by students at $10.

Deja vu all over again

Councilors voted to reconsider a recent vote to approve a $3.55 million special assessment for vacant lot owners in non-STRP (Septic Tank Replacement Program) districts. Each lot would be assessed $4,610 to cover the capital cost of the rebuilding and capacity improvements on the former wastewater treatment facility. Immediately after the previous vote on Jan. 26, council was flooded with calls and emails of complaint.

City Council hires new law firm

Council hired the law firm of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole Bierman & Popok from the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area with Alan Gabriel, a firm partner, assigned to the city.

City developer found dead

Area developer, and creator of the Esplanade and Cape Marco on Marco Island, is found dead in a garage in Naples. Foul play is ruled out.

Jack Antaramian was found dead in a home garage in Naples. Among the prolific area developer’s Marco projects have been The Esplanade, Cape Marco and the Marco Island Yacht Club.

Sail and Power Squadron

hosts annual fundraiser

It was smooth sailing for the squadron as members hosted their only fundraiser of the year with the annual wine and hors d’oeuvres party. More than 400 supporters came to support the group.


Business booming on Marco

Nothing seems to have cooled a banner year for island business. Four large-scale multi-million-dollar construction projects are underway on the island – a major upgrade on a busy bridge across Smokehouse Bay on Collier Boulevard; upgrades to the Marriott Hotel and separate additions to a Marriott timeshare, and a renovation of the Rose Marco River Marina.

Rotary honors 3 with Spirit awards

The Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island selected Carole Roberts and Neil and Rebecca Snyder as the first three recipients of the 2015 Spirit of Marco Island Award.

Cancer society raises $180,000 at weekend Imagination ball

The American Cancer Society’s Imagination Ball over the weekend surpassed expectations. “Preliminary reports show we exceeded our goal and raised $180,000,” said Heidi Berge, who helped publicize the ball.

Araba Shriners weave down the road during Marco's "other:" parade, St. Patrick's.

St. Patrick’s Day parade early

Sunday’s pre-St. Patrick’s Day parade on Marco Island brought out plenty o’spectators, most, of course, with some sort of green in their attire. The procession of floats and groups wound down Bald Eagle Drive from City Hall to Veterans Community Park.

Goodland festival draws throngs

Goodland was a sea of humanity as people descended on the village for an assortment of activities that included the now-regular Harbor Arts & Music Festival. Held at the Margood Harbor Park.

Island Pizza rolls to season title

The city’s adult softball league wound up its regular season with Island Pizza/NeNe Kitchen claiming its third consecutive regular season championship.

Deja vu, again

Councilors voted to exclude condominiums from the long-debated ordinance requiring property owners to register short-term rentals. The exclusion of condominiums came on the heels of a motion from councilman Larry Honig. The council chambers were packed with both condo and single-family-home property owners who oppose the new regulations.

Must-win game determines Marco Division champion

In a must-win game, Crazy Flamingo’s beat Joey’s Pizza 14-3 and earned the title of Marco Division champions with a record of 13-7, finishing one game ahead of CJ’s on the Bay and Mango’s in the senior softball league.

YMCA breaks ground on its long-awaited youth center

There was nothing but smiles and sunshine as the Greater Marco YMCA broke ground on its long-anticipated youth development center at the south side of its property on Sand Hill Street. Site is the former skateboard park.

Bridge project to be ready in fall

It is announced that the $8.25 million Smokehouse Bay bridge replacement project would be completed around the fall. Later, it stretches to some time around November.

San Marco Catholic Women casino night raises $3,500

About 120 people attended casino night at San Marco Catholic Church. The Council of Catholic Women’s two main fundraisers include the annual fashion show and casino night. All proceeds go toward youth ministries at San Marco Catholic Church, and also for youth scholarships.


Game for the ages marks senior softball championship clash

An exciting, close game between the Brewery and Nacho Mama’s marked the Island Division senior softball championship, while the Marco Division winner was also close, with Speakeasy edging Stonewalls.

Thousands gather for service

The Marco Easter Sunrise service on the beach attracts thousands.

Organizers estimate 10,000 people gathered on Marco Island Beach for the 27th annual Easter Sunrise Service. As many as 50 watercraft anchored offshore as the service began on the beach at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.

Tour de nixed

The originally planned Tour de Marco 5 was canceled for 2015, but Les Horwitz of Naples decided to stage it anyway as an underground unsponsored bike ride. Original sponsor was the Y.

Planning panel eyes sign restrictions

The Marco Island Planning Advisory Board held an in-depth discussion about regulating murals, signs and defacto advertising graphics on “wrapped” vehicles being placed close to the roadways or in swales.

Average home sale prices up

Marco Island-only real estate sales volume was up 24 percent for the first quarter of 2015 over the same period the previous year. Multiple Listing Service figures showed 2015 sales of $219.83 million compared to $177.26 million a year ago. Also for the period, fewer new single-family listings came on the market by 7.05 percent.

Outgoing city environmental specialist honored

The Friends of Tigertail board decided to present Nancy Richie, the city’s former environmental specialist, with a proclamation honoring her many years of service to the community.

Council passes sexual predator ordinance

City Council passed a tough new ordinance they envisaged would make Marco Island a less likely home for a registered sex offender or sexual predator. It also places the responsibility on a landlord to ensure a person seeking a lease or a short-term rental is not a sexual offender.

Tourist suffers shark bite injury

A German tourist bitten on the leg by a shark on the weekend was probably the victim of chance. Carsten Jessen, 63, was wading in about two feet of Gulf water off Residents’ Beach when he saw what he thought was a small dolphin swimming around him and his family. Shortly after that, he said he felt a searing pain, and on reaching the shoreline realized he’d been bitten.

Fisherman’s (true) tale

Some fishermen might be tempted to tell tall tales, but Steve Purcell had video proof of an exhilarating duel with a tarpon that towed him nearly a mile up the Marco River on his stand-up paddleboard.


Marco Marriott unveils upgrade

Biggest business news of the year is the unveiling of the Marco Island Marriott resort's expansion plans at more than $250 million. This is a rendering.

Officials unveiled details of a $250 million revamp to add nearly 100 guest rooms, double its meeting and event space to attract more exhibits and conferences - and pave the way for its conversion to an upscale JW Marriott-branded resort. When construction is complete in 2017, the hotel will become the only oceanfront JW Marriott in the continental USA.

Condos back in rental ordinance

The Marco Island City Council reconsidered its mid-March vote to exempt condominiums from its new rental ordinance – and voted to include condos. The move to require that condominiums fall under the same registration requirements as single-family homes passed 4-3.

Book tour brings Kidd to Naples

Best-selling author Sue Monk Kidd calls Marco Island home and Marco is where she does all of her writing. Kidd promoted her latest novel, “The Invention of Wings.”

Marco girl soccer team takes regional tournament

Young soccer-playing representatives of the Optimist Club of Marco Island won a tournament in Bonita Springs. Conditions were hot, which took a toll on the players, but they persevered and after a four-game stretch came out tops in the competition.

Clawson predicts Republican presidential victory

U.S. Rep Curt Clawson told Marco supporters he believes voters will elect a Republican as president in the 2016 election – provided the GOP hopefuls don’t wind up criticizing each other. He spoke at an informal gathering at Hideaway Beach Club.

Smokehouse Bridge southbound lanes set to reopen

With approaches paved, sidewalks in place and streetlights up, drivers had a taste of driving over (half) of the new bridge. The second span was due for completion some time in November after assorted delays.

Scores don life jackets to promote boat safety week

Part of the group of about 125 people gather on a dock at Rose Marina for Marco's record attempt contribution to the wearing of lifejackets at one time.

Boaters Jackey and Glenn Bray had more than a solid reason for turning out at Saturday’s lifejacket “Wear It” show of solidarity at Rose Marina. “We had a situation with a pre-teen boy who jumped in the water and got caught by the current,” said Jackey Bray. “He wasn’t wearing a lifejacket. We pulled him out, but he was very frightened. Now a he’s a teenager, and he knows about safety.”

Songs, salutes and spirit mark Marco’s Memorial Day

Songs, salutes and spirit were the main components of the annual tribute to America’s war dead held at Veterans Community Park. Marco was a link in the chain of national Memorial Day ceremonies around the nation, and most people wore at least one of the colors.

Patients, friends say ‘thanks’ to doctor

Tears and laughter filled the room at the Marco NCH Healthcare Center as Dr. Robert Folsom bid farewell to well more than 150 of his patients.

Chamber grants $20,000 in scholarships to local students

Smiles and the pledge of scholarship dollars abounded recently at the Chamber’s monthly After 5 networking get-together. Ten local high school seniors, seven from Lely High, two from St. John Neumann and one from the Marco Island Academy, stepped up to the podium at CJ’s on the Bay to be introduced by the Chamber panel of Dick Shanahan, Sandi Lazarus, Lisa Meurgue and Lori Wagor.


Merit and milestones

Marco graduates of Lely High School, Taylor Fetzer, Samantha Jennings and Sophi Popoff hold their certificates after graduation.
The Marco Island Academy graduates group together for a class photo.

Amid traditional pomp and ceremony, Marco Island senior high school students over the weekend bade their various schools goodbye, and their futures hello. The Marco Island Academy graduated its second class since the charter school’s inception in 2011, with 33 students shifting their tassels. Over at Lely High School, 40 Marco Island seniors did the same, 19 of them with extra pride because they had achieved summa cum laude passes.

Limited road repaving underway

Limited road repaving on Marco’s increasingly bumpy streets got underway, with about four miles planned in June, 18 miles in the next five years and 38 miles down the line.

Petitioners fighting rental law

Residents seeking to overturn the city’s recently approved rental ordinance anticipated delivering another batch of petitions to Collier County for signature certification. Soon afterward, Collier County Supervisor of Elections officials said unofficially the group seeking the repeal had collected more than enough signatures to force the city to take action.

Principal contribution

Long serving Tommie Barfield Elementary School principal Jory Westberry announces her retirement.

Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary School on Marco Island for the past 14 years, Jory Westberry, retires. Karey Stewart, will later step into her shoes.

Mission with a message

It might have been a low-key visit without civic receptions, drum rolls and red carpets, but that made no difference to former NFL players Jimmie Bell (Chargers) and Steve Grant (Colts). The twosome were on Marco to put some Y camp youngsters through their paces on the field, and at the same time imbue them with motivation by drawing parallels between sport and life itself.

Marco designer earns industry kudos

Marco resident Kira Krumm received recognition for a “dream room” designed on behalf of her company, Kira Krumm International Design. It happened at the Miromar Design Center’s recent 2015 luxury home design show.

Combined record

The Local Sail & Power Squadron revealed that Marco Islanders helped set a world record for the number of people wearing lifejackets at one time. Participants were from 274 sites around the world. Marco’s was at Rose Marina.

Dog lives another day

First responders rescued a 15-year-old drowning near-blind sheepdog belonging to resident John Harkless from a canal on the Isles of Capri. Arthur’s plight was noticed by construction workers, who called in the alert.

Chamber grants $20,000 in scholarships

Smiles and the pledge of scholarship dollars abounded recently at the Chamber’s monthly After 5 networking get-together. Ten local high school seniors, seven from Lely High, two from St. John Neumann and one from the Marco Island Academy, stepped up to the podium at CJ’s on the Bay to be introduced by the Chamber panel of Dick Shanahan, Sandi Lazarus, Lisa Meurgue and Lori Wagor.