The Eagle has landed: Newspaper opens up new office during ‘After Five’

Lance Shearer

The Eagle has landed – on the roof. On Wednesday afternoon, the Marco Eagle hosted the Chamber of Commerce “After Five” get-together at their new offices, on the second floor of the Mutual of Omaha Bank building, San Marco Road.

Naples Daily News publisher Bill Barker speaks, thanking the Marco community. The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and the Marco Eagle held a reception and open house Wednesday afternoon to celebrate 50 years of the Eagle, and christen the paper's new office in the Mutual of Omaha Bank Building.

With sunny but breezy conditions, about 100 chamber members, Naples Daily News and Eagle staffers, and well-wishers gathered outside on Mutual of Omaha’s rooftop courtyard to christen the paper’s new offices and do a little networking.

The new office was necessary because Hurricane Irma ripped the roof off of the old office last September.

It was, literally, “drinks on the house,” as not only the heavy hors d’oeuvres from Pinchers, but alcoholic beverages were provided free of charge to attendees – who listened to the sounds of a jazz trio fronted by pianist Leonard Ferenz, who then turned over the microphone for a few words from Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce president Erik Condee and newspaper representatives.

Naples Daily News publisher Bill Barker thanked the Chamber for providing temporary office space to Eagle staffers after the storm.

“I want to thank the Chamber. You guys took us in after Irma, and we won’t ever forget that,” said Barker. “This is a special place, and we know that.”

Barker, who is also regional president for Gannett, parent company of the Eagle and the Daily News, lauded the partnership between the island and the newspaper, and extolled the business climate. He believes in the work of the Chamber, and is, in fact, the incoming chairman of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

“We build communities first and foremost, and Marco Island is one of the best markets we have as a company. The business community is the underpinning of any healthy community.

“You invest a dollar with us and we’re going to invest $1.50 back with you,” he said.

Eagle manager T.J. Boone thanked the Eagle staff, and the community for its support, and noted that March 2018 marks 50 years for the paper – and would have been 50 at the old office, had not the storm intervened.

Boone said that after seeing the extent of the damage, it was obvious that the newspaper would need a new office for the foreseeable future. Of course, the Eagle wasn't the only business trying to relocate after Irma; there were two other businesses just within its own building: Island Montessori Academy and Advanced Insurance Underwriters.

So with demand high and supply low, finding a new space was a challenge.

"There were multiple businesses that suffered damage and were looking for new locations on the island, and there was limited commercial space available," Boone said. "But being a community newspaper, a physical presence in the community is paramount, so I knew we needed to act quickly to ensure an on-island location."

Curator Austin Bell of the Marco Island Historical Society was on hand, displaying memorabilia from the early days of the Eagle, including a portrait of the founder, William Tamplin. He also had a copy of the paper’s first issue, but had to put it away when it kept threatening to blow off the roof.

Eagle staff writer Lisa Conley contributed to this report.