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Kudos

Kudos seem inadequate recognition for the nearly 30 years of service by outgoing Mayor Bill Barnett.

Mayor Bill, as he was affectionately known, was the face of not just Naples but all of Collier County in good times and bad, booms and busts, hurricanes and sunny days.

Barnett reveled in the ceremonial aspects of the job, cutting ribbons, speaking to schools and groups and overseeing more charity auctions than you could shake a gavel at.

But when needed, he could handle the policy and politics of the position as well.

We recall the bitter fight over the overpass that carries Golden Gate Parkway over Airport-Pulling Road.

While now a convenient fact of life taken for granted by motorists, it split the community, with folks in the city of Naples generally opposed and those in the unincorporated county generally favoring it.

Barnett, who initially opposed the project, saw the light and was able to convince a majority of council to go along, dropping threats of lawsuits and clearing the way for the 2007 opening.

That’s just one instance among many in which Barnett was able to smooth over relations between the city and county, which at times have been contentious.

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Voters in March selected Teresa Heitmann over Barnett, who was seeking a fifth, and he says final, term as mayor to go along with 12 years on the City Council.

It was a clear message that voters aren’t happy with the direction of the city, particularly when it comes to redevelopment.

Heitmann and three new council members joining her are certainly cognizant of that and will govern accordingly.

Even so, we can’t help but believe that things aren’t all bad in Naples.

It routinely shows up on national lists like healthiest, happiest, best place to retire, etc.

At least part of that standing has to be attributed to the work of Mayor Bill over many years.

And who knows, he may just show up at a ribbon cutting or charity auction as Citizen Bill.

Kudos

Kudos as well to outgoing City Council members Reg Buxton, Michelle McLeod and Ellen Seigel.

They too were on the losing end of a referendum on growth and redevelopment but while in office made significant contributions to city successes like Baker Park, the remade City Dock and the new fire department headquarters.

Running for office and serving in an often thankless job takes mettle and Naples is fortunate to have a pool of talented people willing to take on the task.

Kick

A kick to hit and run drivers.

Hit and run driving, being involved in a car accident and then leaving the scene without stopping to identify yourself or render aid to anyone who might need assistance, is on the rise in Lee County, according to Brian Raimondo of the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition.

The coalition is a collaborative effort with the goal of facilitating its partners’ work and acting as a catalyst for injury prevention initiatives.  Its mission is to prevent injury, disability, and death through advocacy, education, legislation, and partnerships.

Member agencies include area law enforcement, fire departments hospitals and the Red Cross.

For more information about the coalition and its work, visit its web site or contact Raimondo at ipcleecounty@gmail.com or 239-330-2240.

(Brent Batten wrote this for the Naples Daily News editorial board.)

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