Friday, 01 June 2007 01:00
After more than half a century the Admiral Lehigh golf course is closed and the resort will soon face a wrecking ball…but first people will get a chance to bid on its contents.
The City of Lehigh Acres literally grew up around the hotel and golf course. Potential real estate buyers from around the world stayed at the hotel in the 1950’s and 60’s while shopping for a new place to call home in sunny Florida.
Jim Davis is one of two auctioneers who’ll be calling the 3-day sale. He says he expects the event to draw a big crowd.
“People love it. People come for entertainment, honestly they do. And they’ll buy the strangest things, but they love it. And we have a crowd that follows us for our home auctions that we have at houses for estate sales, we’ll see the same people over and over again.”
The course’s cart barn has been converted into a giant storage shed filled with…well, lots of hotel stuff. TV’s and coffee pots by the score are lined up next to stacks of dozens of the same framed golf prints awaiting new homes.
The future of the land the golf course and hotel sit on is uncertain. There’s an effort to keep some or all of it as green space, but it is worth much more if developed.
The auction kicks off at 10 am Friday and continues over the weekend.
Friday, 01 June 2007 01:00
The Chair of the Florida Democratic Party was in Southwest Florida Thursday.
Former Congresswoman Karen Thurman attended a reception in Naples in afternoon and met with Democrats at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Ft. Myers Thursday evening. Thurman says after losing ground to the GOP in the Sunshine State following the 1994 election – Democrats are on the comeback trail – as demonstrated last November.
“Most importantly because we kept Senator Nelson, we were able to pick up a cabinet seat with Alex Sink, we were able to pick up two – we think three congressional seats, and we actually flipped seven republican state house seats and took them away from Republicans and made them Democratic”
Southwest Florida has been considered a Republican stronghold for years….attracting high profile members of the GOP and hosting many highly successful fundraising events. But Thurman says the Democratic Party is now poised to pay more attention to this area of the state – and take advantage of a shift in voter attitudes and allegiance.
Friday, 01 June 2007 01:00
Drug abuse and treatment professionals from around Florida will converge on downtown Fort Myers Monday (today) for a conference on addictive disorders.
Roughly 600 professionals from around the Sunshine State will choose from among 27 workshops throughout the day on topics such as interventions, gambling, and what’s being called “the graying of addiction”.
Executive Director of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida – Keral Kronseder-Vogt - says elders with addiction problems often aren’t identified because people tend to misinterpret symptoms.
“We tend not to see problems which initially seem like they are physical, which actually are related to a misuse of alcohol and medication. It’s a very important issue, and considering our population in SWFL, which is heavy on our elders, a topic that definitely needs attention.”
Kronseder-Vogt says while it’s a growing issue among seniors, prescription drug abuse is rising even faster among kids.
The conference gets underway Monday morning at 8 am at Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers. The public is invited.
Southwest Florida teens consistently rank near the top of the list when it comes to underage drinking rates in the Sunshine State.
Ways to combat that trend will be one of many topics presented Monday at the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida’s 6th annual Conference on Addictive Disorders.
The Coalition’s Executive Director – Keral Kronseder-Vogt – says in the past underage drinking was often seen as a rite of passage, but it’s a lot more dangerous than previously thought.
“We know that if adolescents drink it’s not just that they have great danger of being in an accident and killing themselves and other. What recent research has indicated is that there is enormous, longstanding and perhaps permanent brain damage done to areas of the brain which determine the personality. Which determine our ability to make logical, reasoned decisions.”
Kronseder-Vogt says she expects rising underage drinking rates and the rise of methamphetamine addiction to be hot topics at the conference, as well as- at the other end of the spectrum - the so-called ‘graying of addiction’.
And she says while it is a professional addictions conference at Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers, anyone can attend. Information is on line at www.DRUGSWFL.org.
Thursday, 31 May 2007 01:00
Hurricane season starts Friday. Officials are getting ready - and asking residents to do the same.
If and when another storm comes through southwest Florida, thousands of residents may need temporary shelter. That’s where the American Red Cross comes in. Executive Director for the Red Cross in Lee County Heidi Ruster says one of the challenges is providing shelter for people with special needs.
"It’s very important that you work with your doctor and determine is there a need for you to be in a special needs shelter. Is there care requirements of having a medical personnel available that would have to sign for you to be in that special needs shelter."
Another challenge people face is what to do with their pets. Lee County Animal Service’s Ria Brown says pet owners need to have a plan.
"We want to encourage people, first of all not to rely on somebody else and to make sure that you know you have a plan for your pet and to take those steps for yourself"
For information on Red Cross shelters visit the Red Cross website. For information about pet shelters go to the Lee County Animal Services website.
Thursday, 31 May 2007 01:00
Florida Democratic U-S Senator Bill Nelson is travelling in Africa this week. Nelson says the trip is an effort to bring more attention to the problems of Darfur.
Senator Nelson visited Chad Thursday – getting there via Kenya and Uganda after being denied access to Sudanese air space. Nelson was accompanied by the U-S ambassador to Chad, Mark Wohl. The two visited a camp in Chad occupied by Sudanese refugees from Darfur. Earlier this week President Bush ordered sanctions on Sudan for the genocide occurring in Darfur. Nelson, speaking from Chad, says the president has the right idea but needs to do more to help end the violence.
“This effort should have been made two years ago. This slaughter has been going on for four years. I think the president has made a statement in the right direction. And it is my hope that he will put the full weight of the white house behind this effort in the remaining year that he has.”
Nelson says he wants to see a U-N force of at least 20-to-25 thousand troops in the area. He did say that some of those troops could be American. He says they could include pilots enforcing a no-fly-zone.
U-S Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida wants America to do more to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The senator was travelling with American ambassador to Chad, Mark Wohl, visiting refugee camps in the area. Wohl says the U-S is working with the U-N and the African union to try and find peace.
“We’re working constantly in the United Nations with our international partners to build up an international commitment to do whatever is possible to bring peace to Darfur and on the Chad Sudan border.”
Nelson says there has to be a U-N force in the region. But it all starts with leadership from the United States, which could mean some U-S troops. Earlier this week President Bush announced sanctions on the Sudanese government. Nelson also says Russia and China need to stop helping the Sudanese government and do the right thing.
Thursday, 31 May 2007 01:00
Members of Southwest Florida’s state legislative delegation were guests at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Ft. Myers Wednesday.
Lawmakers briefed business leaders on what to expect from the upcoming special legislative session – aimed at reducing Floridian’s property tax burdens. Republican State Senator Burt Saunders says whatever the outcome, he thinks the state’s Save our Homes Amendment – which limits property tax increases on homesteaded properties – is here to stay.
“now that we are there however, Save our Homes is a permanent part of the Florida Constitution, I don’t believe that homesteaded property owners are going to do anything to change the constitutional amendment – it would require 60 vote of electorate to change that – and most people who vote are homesteaded property owners – so that’s not going to change.”
Saunders says therefore lawmakers have to work around the law. And that in the upcoming special session they need to find a way to make the system fairer for all ad valorem tax payers, business owners, second home owners and renters. The special session begins June 12th.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 01:00
Commuters in southwest Florida are dealing with more than crowded roadways these days. The biannual love bug infestation has been added to the equation.
A thirty minute commute on I-75 leaves cars splattered with love bug guts, and carwashes are doing a brisk business. That’s because love bugs not only blur windshields but can also corrode paint. But it’s not because they’re bodies are acidic. That’s according the author of “Living with Lovebugs” and director of the integrated pest management program at the University of Florida Dr. Norm Leppla.
“they are actually neutral until they get baked onto your car and then they turn acidic and penetrate the paint – so the way to protect your car is to keep a good coat of car wax on the front of it and get those love bugs off as soon as you can…if you do that you don’t have damage to the car.”
Love bugs are an alien invasive species which made their way to Florida from Central America around 1950...their present range is all the way north to South Carolina. Leppla says he believes environmental pathogens keep their population naturally in check in their traditional range, but that those checks are not present here in Southwest Florida.
And he says there’s very little research being done into ways to control the amorous bugs bi-annual love fest.
“it’s done as a hobby or a sidelight because we’d like to help, there’s no funding for it and its not a major part of our work…7:30 we put our energy into things that are a concern to public health and to agriculture and things that will be harmful and we put a low priority on nuisances even though they can be quite a pain in the neck…”
The good news – says Leppla…the current infestation is beginning to wane. The bad news – they’ll be back like clockwork in September or October.
Monday, 28 May 2007 01:00
MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS
The Veterans Council of Collier County is holding a ceremony at 9:30 am Monday at Naples Memorial Funeral Home and Cemetery at 525 111th Avenue in North Naples. 239-298-7935.
The Lexington Country Club Veterans Association is celebrating at 10:30 am Monday at 16225 Willow Crest Way. 239-437-1442.
American Legion Post 323 and VFW Post 4174 will have a service at 11 am Monday at Lee Memorial Park on State Road 82.
A field of nearly 3500 white crosses will be erected starting at 7 am Monday on the beach at Naples Pier at 12th Avenue South. Called Arlington South, the memorial remembers the soldiers killed in Iraq. At noon, taps will be played, and the soldiers’ names and ages will be read. 239-649-6863
The Memorial Day ceremony in Bonita Springs starts at 9 am Monday at Riverside Park. 239-949-6262.
American Legion Post 103 in Punta Gorda, and VFW Post 5690 in Port Charlotte, will hold a Memorial Day ceremony at Restlawn Memorial Gardens at 11 am Monday at 1380 Forrest Nelson Boulevard in Port Charlotte. 941-639-6337.
American Legion Post 110 in Port Charlotte is holding a ceremony and parade Monday in front of the post at 3152 Harbor Boulevard at 10 am. 941-629-7446.
American Legion Post 254 in North Port, and North Port VFW Post 8203’s Memorial Day service is at 11 am Monday at Memorial Park at U.S. 41 and Biscayne Drive with the North Port. 941-423-7311.
American Legion Post 159 in Venice will hold a Memorial Day service at 10 am today at the post at 1770 E. Venice Ave. 941-485-4748 or 941-484-8118.
The DeSoto County Veterans Service will hold a Memorial Day commemoration service to honor DeSoto County's fallen soldiers at 11 am at the DeSoto County Courthouse Veterans' Memorial in Arcadia. 863-993-4858.
Clyde Lassen VFW Post 10178 in Englewood is holding a service at 9 am at Gulf Pines Memorial Park on 2401 Englewood Road. 941-474-7516.
Thursday, 24 May 2007 01:00
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is preparing a legal challenge against Florida Power & Light’s proposed coal fueled power plant in Glades County.
Conservancy President – Andrew McElwaine – says they’re specifically appealing Glades County’s determination that the massive plant is consistent with growth management plans. And he says while he recognizes the state’s growing energy demands, this plant is not a proper solution…
“Now a smaller plant that represented the best technology like an integrated combined cycle plant I think we’d be open to discussing that with Florida Power & Light. But no this plant. This plant is really above and beyond what is appropriate for that landscape.”
FPL calls the proposed plant -quote “clean coal technology” – because it would burn powdered coal at super-high temperatures.
McElwaine says no matter what you call it…the plant would still emit nearly 200 pounds of mercury a year, in an environmentally sensitive area that’s already under mercury advisories. Glades commissioners…and many residents…support the plant – pointing to the economic benefit it would bring to the rural county.
A state administrative judge will be in Moore Haven beginning June 5th to hear from challengers and defenders of the proposed plant, which would sit about 5 miles from the small, rural town on the edge of Lake Okeechobee.
The massive coal burning power plant proposed by Florida Power & Light for rural Glades County continues to draw fire from environmental groups.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida says the plant is inconsistent with state and local growth management plans – and will be among the challengers at an administrative hearing set to begin June 5th in Moore Haven.
Conservancy President - Andrew McElwaine – says FPL’s proposal is the wrong choice.
“Glades County wants the power plant and I understand why, and we’re not against a power plant per se…we are against a 1.9 gigawatt pulverized coal plant that is not the latest technology.”
Called clean-burning by FPL…the plant would burn powdered coal at extremely high temperatures. It would be the biggest of its kind in the U-S.
McElwaine says clean-burning or not, it would still add roughly 200 pounds of mercury a year to a local ecosystem that’s already under mercury advisories.
In addition to the administrative hearing next month in Moore Haven the project also awaits sanction from the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. Governor Charlie Crist and his cabinet have the final say on the matter.
Thursday, 24 May 2007 01:00
The on-going drought is taking its’ toll on Florida, especially Lake Okeechobee. But Water Management officials say there is a silver lining in this dark cloud.
The water level in Lake Okeechobee is at an all time low due to the drought. Areas that are normally three or four feet below water are now bone dry. South Florida Water Management District officials are taking advantage of this. Water managers along with the Environmental Protection Agency, are removing muck. That’s nutrient rich soil that has settled on the lake bed with disastrous consequences. It kills fish and underwater vegetation. There are six sites around the lake where workers are removing muck before the water levels come back up. Spokesman Randy Smith says the process shouldn’t take too long to finish.
“It’s a massive project but it goes relatively fast with the heavy equipment. We think a couple of months of work and we will complete this phase of restoring the lake bottom to its’ natural state."
Michael Shellen is a resident of the lakeside town of Buckhead and fisherman. He says this is a great project that will help the area.
“When they’re done the water will come back up…the natural plants that are supposed to be growing in this lake will come back…the fish will come back…the fishing is still terrific in this lake."
This phase of the clean up will pick up more than 500-thousand cubic yards of muck…enough to fill Joe Robby stadium. The cost is around eleven million dollars.