1. Splashdown at Marco Island Center for the Arts

To celebrate 50 Years of bringing art to Marco Island and beyond, the Center for the Arts has unveiled a one-of-a-kind time capsule that will launch voices from the community and around the world into the future.

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The center now home to a unique replica of the Friendship 7 capsule that first to orbited the earth in 1962. The Art Center capsule was designed to become a permanent art installation. The space/time capsule made entirely of steel and fabricated in a suburb of Philadelphia by Bosio Metal Specialists, Inc. with paint and art design by Tricked Out Custom Cycles and Wile-E-Designs.

The capsule was conceived and commissioned by Art Center Board President Jim Richards. Richards and his wife Allyson have underwritten the new art installation and vessel that will house contributions from visitors to the Art Center.

The capsule will capture stories and items that embody not only the spirit of community within Marco Island and Collier County but from all over the world via visitors to Southwest Florida. The capsule is part of the 50th Anniversary of Marco Island Center for the Arts and will serve as a way for members, residents, and visitors to honor the past, celebrate the present, and launch their voice into the future. 

The space/time capsule will be sealed in early 2021 and not reopened until the year 2070 when the Art Center celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

2. Elderly, halfhearted bank robber won’t be jailed

A 74-year-old Florida man whose halfhearted attempt at bank robbery was caused by depression after his wife’s death will not spend any time in jail, it was announced Friday.

Sandy Hawkins reached an agreement with Palm Beach County prosecutors where he will spend a year living at The Lord’s Place, a nonreligious residence for the homeless. If he stays out of trouble, the bank robbery charge will be dropped.

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“I will happily sign this,” Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen said, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Hawkins, unarmed, walked into a Wells Fargo branch in Boca Raton on Nov. 18 and demanded $1,100 from the teller. When she counted out $2,000, he told her it was too much and had her count out the right amount. He says he doesn’t know why he asked for that amount.

He then left the bank and the moneybag got caught in some bushes, so he left it. It was never recovered.

3. Collier Tourism sets new records in 2019

Collier County tourism research saw big increases in tourism visitation and spending during 2019.

Collier County tourism research shows 1.9 million visitors stayed at least one night in paid lodging in 2019, an increase of 5.8 percent over 2018. Those visitors also spent over $2.3 billion, an 8.1 percent increase for the economic impact to the county.

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Visitation, spending and other key tourism indicators were reported at the monthly Collier County Tourist Development Council meeting, based on this month’s report from

Tampa-based Research Data Services, Inc.

Highlights for 2019 compared to 2018 include:

  • Average occupancy in paid lodging rose 2.9 percent to 76.9 percent
  • Average daily rate in paid lodging increased 1.4 percent to $256.60
  • Revenue per available room grew 4.4 percent to $197.30
  • Direct hospitality and tourism jobs in Collier County topped 32,400, up 1,700 over 2018

The most recent tourist tax report, reflecting taxes paid by guests at hotels, short-term rentals and campgrounds in 2019, shows collections at $32.68 Million, up $4.1 million over 2018.

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