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1. Noontime Rotary announces first 3 recipients of Spirit of Marco Island Award

The Noontime Rotary Club of Marco Island recently announced that John DeRosa, Louise Russell and Bruce Graev were selected as the first three recipients of the 2017 Spirit of Marco Island Award.

John DeRosa is a warden with the Knights of Columbus, serves as a board member of the Kiwanis Club, Marco Island Police Foundation, Senior Softball league and past president of the Italian American Club.

Louise Russell is recognized for the countless hours that she commits to her work as the docent coordinator at the Marco Island Historical Museum. She also volunteers at the Bargain Basket, with her church and is a supporter of the Liberty Youth Ranch.

Bruce Graev, an active volunteer with Noontime Rotary is acknowledged for his years of service to the community through his volunteer and leadership positions with numerous organizations. He is the president of the Marco Island Historical Society; founding member, board member and vice president of the Cultural Alliance of Marco Island and Goodland and serves on the board of the Center for the Arts.

All of the recipients will be formally presented with their award Sunday, April 2, at Bistro Soleil Restaurant. Three additional recipients will be announced in the next few weeks.

For information and tickets, contact Al Diaz at 438-5285 or royalmarcoway@marcocable.com.

2. Florida universities swamped by students who need counseling

Florida's public universities are being swamped by college students who need counseling.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that students are waiting up to a month for appointments at short-staffed counseling centers.

Ten of Florida's 12 state universities fail to meet recommended staffing levels for counselors.

In Florida, over a six-year period, student counseling clients have jumped nearly 50 percent.

University of South Florida psychology professor Jonathan Rottenberg told the newspaper that if nothing is done “we're going to have something of a lost generation.”

The Florida Legislature last year rejected a request to provide more mental health money for universities. This year the state university system is asking for $14.5 million to hire 137 new staffers for counseling centers.

3. Court upholds settlement, backs Naples-area ranch on mining, number of new homes

An appeals court panel has ruled in favor of a ranch owner who had taken on environmentalists in a long-standing property rights lawsuit that had Collier County taxpayers on the hook for $92 million in damages.

Without comment, the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland filed an order last week upholding a settlement of the 2008 lawsuit.

In the suit, HHH Ranch owners contended new county growth rules violated their property rights by banning rock mining and cutting the number of homes that could be built on the 1,110-acre ranch. The ranch is in the North Belle Meade area north of Interstate 75 and east of Collier Boulevard.

The settlement, approved by Collier Circuit Judge Cynthia Pivacek last year, involves a land swap that environmental groups challenged as shortchanging endangered species such as the Florida panther and the red-cockaded woodpecker.

“We are disappointed in the ruling, but we will continue to be engaged in North Belle Meade discussions,” said Nancy Payton, field representative for the Florida Wildlife Federation.

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