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February 15 - February 21, 2018

From Island to Bay, News at Sea Level

Vol. 3 No. 21

A House subcommittee has

unanimously approved a proposal to

funnel 20 percent of annual affordable

housing trust fund revenues — more

than $62 million this year — into two

programs designed to expedite assis-

tance to those left homeless or in dam-

aged housing by a hurricane.

House Bill 987, sponsored by

Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte

Springs, was endorsed by the House

Transportation, Tourism, and Eco-

nomic Development Appropriations

Subcommittee Tuesday and will pro-

ceed next to the House Government

Accountability Committee.

A companion Senate bill, SB 1328,

sponsored by Sen. Keith Perry, R-

Gainesville, has passed through the

Senate Community Affairs Committee

and is awaiting a hearing before the

Senate Transportation, Tourism, and

Economic Development Appropria-

tions Subcommittee.

The bill would create a Hurricane

Housing Recovery Program and

Rental Recovery Loan Program and

allow both to tap into the state’s

William E. Sadowski Affordable

Housing Trust Fund for emergency

housing and repairs in hurricane re-

sponse efforts. According to the state’s

Department of Revenue, that would

equate to about $62.82 million in fis-

cal year 2018.

The bill also includes meas-

ures to “incentivize” investment in af-

fordable housing, including requiring

state and local governments, municipal

utilities and water districts to make

“surplus” land available for affordable

housing and requiring local govern-

ments to review afford-

able housing permit

Presidents’ Day is an Ameri-

can holiday celebrated on the third

Monday in February. Originally es-

tablished in 1885 in recognition of

President George Washington, it is

still officially called “Washington’s

Birthday” by the federal government.

Traditionally celebrated on February

22—Washington’s actual day of

birth—the holiday became popularly

known as Presidents’ Day after it was

moved as part of 1971’s Uniform

Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to

create more three-day weekends for

the nation’s workers. While several

states still have individual holidays

honoring the birthdays of Washington,

Abraham Lincoln and other figures,

Presidents’ Day is now popularly

viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S.

presidents past and present.



The story of Presidents’ Day

date begins in 1800. Following Presi-

dent George Washington’s death in

1799, his February 22 birthday be-

came a perennial day of remem-

brance. At the time, Washington was

venerated as the most important fig-

ure in American history, and events

like the 1832 centennial of his birth

and the start of construction of the

Washington Monument in 1848 were

cause for national celebration.

While Washington’s Birthday

was an unofficial observance for most

of the 1800s, it was not until the late

1870s that it became a federal holi-

day. Senator Steven Wallace Dorsey

of Arkansas was the first to propose

the measure, and in 1879 President

Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into

law. The holiday initially only applied

to the District of Columbia, but in

1885 it was expanded to the whole

country. At the time, Washington’s

Birthday joined four other nationally

recognized federal bank holidays—

Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, the

Fourth of July and Thanksgiving—

and was the first to celebrate the life

of an individual American. Martin

Luther King Jr. Day, signed into law

in 1983, would be the second.



The shift from Washington’s

Birthday to Presidents’

Last week we told you about

the State Fair that is running through

Feb 19th in Tampa, coming from the

midwest , I think everyone should

attend the state fair. We lived right

by the State fair when I was a kid so

we went every year. Here in Florida

we have the benefit of having lots of

county fairs, locally we have one

here in Lee and another in Collier

County a few weeks later, while

these fairs are fun to attend I still

think we all should go to our State

fair every few years or so because it

is so much more than the county

fairs that come to town,

The Lee County Fair begins

a few days after our State fair, start-

ing on the 22nd of February and run-

ning through March 3rd, Throughout

their 11 days, they have a great line

up of Livestock Shows and Auc-

tions, free entertainment, and

thrilling rides on the midway.

The Youth Chicken BBQ

Cook-Off Competition will be held

Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the

Yancey Pavilion, located on the Fair-

grounds at 3pm. There are three age di-

visions with awards in each division.

They ask that we all leave

our pets at home for the fair, and it’s

too hot to leave them in your vehi-




defined by the Americans with Dis-

ability Act are allowed on the facili-

ties. Emotional Support animals are

not allowed on the Fairgrounds.

In the Lee Civic Center

you'll find our Creative Living and

Home Arts Department, encompass-

ing competitive exhibits from our 6

County area

Also, in the Lee Civic Center

you'll find our Community Stage.

The Community Stage is home to

the Talent Shows, Beauty Competi-

tion, the 5th Grade Math Bee, many

school chorus and dance groups, as

well as local gospel groups, not to

mention booth competitions with the

Lee County Schools, and the 4H

Clubs. You'll find commercial ven-

dors, controlled temperatures and

room to let the little play in the corn

box while the parents sit for a


Saturday, March 3rd is 'Cele-

brate What Grows In Florida' Day,

celebrating Florida Agriculture and

Horticulture. There will be Master

Gardeners, workshops and displays

throughout the day.

Parking is always FREE at

the Lee County Fair, more info:


Lee County Fair


Florida House Bill Earmarks

Affordable Housing Funds

For Two Hurricane-Response Programs

Cont’d pg 5

On Tuesday morning, TPI

Hospitality’s application to rezone

more than 7 acres east of the bridge

went to a public hearing of the Fort

Myers Beach Local Planning

Agency. The Fort Myers Beach L PA

has approved TPI Hospitality’s pro-

posal to build a 290-room resort on

the island. Now that the at LPA has

recommended the proposal, the

Town Council will vote on it at a

later day.

Residents and meeting goers

were on both sides of the issue.

"I've been coming down here

all my life, now I'm 34 and am look-

ing to invest here but have been

holding back due to this lack of

progress, I don't understand why the

city would not want to renovate that

dilapidated eyesore of the beach, I

can remember when the area down

by SOB's and the old Snug Harbor

used to be the ugliest street on the Is-

land, since they renovated the area,

it's one of the nicest streets... now all

those empty buildings look like big

black eye to visitors, reminds me of

just after Hurricane Charley hit and

the Oil spill was off the

Proposed Fort Myers Beach Resort

Approved, Awaits Council Vote

Cont’d pg 9

Cont’d pg 3

Give contending con-

stituencies a piece of the pie and

maybe things will work out.

The Florida Senate is gam-

bling on that strategy as lawmak-

ers negotiate a renewed gaming

compact with the Seminole Tribe

of Florida and vie with powerful

forces lobbying to expand “desig-

nated player” card games


Problem is, unless all par-

ties agree, there is little time to ne-

Florida Lawmakers

Scurry to Renew Semi-

nole Gaming Compact

as Deadlines Near

Cont’d pg 3