As we get closer to rainy season, the fight over how to handle water discharges from Lake Okeechobee is intensifying!"
US Congressman Brian Mast, representing District 18, Florida's ‘upper’ east coast area, containing Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach, has sent a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers urging them to eliminate discharges to the Saint Lucy River, claiming there are models where this can be accomplished without causing harm to the environment and/or the west coast of Florida.
Lee County Officials quickly responded to rebuke the Congressman for his viewpoints, sending an email to everyone involved which among making many other great points....
stated:"This is not a complicated issue. Until the State and Federal governments are able to construct the major infrastructure projects that are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, there are only two major outlets for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee and the St. Lucie Rivers. Shutting down one outlet means higher discharges for the other. Despite any other narrative that has been widely disseminated, this is a fact. Shutting down releases to the St. Lucie River will turn what is now an intermittent high flow problem for the Caloosahatchee into a chronic one, causing permanent loss of critical estuarine habitats including oyster reefs, sea grass meadows and mangrove forests"
This is another reason why to join this campaign spearheaded by Fort Myers Beach Town Councilor Jim Atterholt, to write hand written letters to our government representative is so crucial! Especially now with this new development! Please mention they can't allow this to happen in your letter!
Anyone that was in this area during the summer of 2018 will never forget the devastating effects of Blue Green Algae and Red Tide that wreaked
financial and physical havoc on our residents, visitors and community.
If you are a resident of the State of Florida, a Snowbird or just someone who just likes to visit..... go to the new Facebook page: "Florida for Clean Water Advocacy Reserves." This page has been created for the sole purpose of having all these govt. contact information links in one location, on line, where all can easily access this contact info and also as a forum and sounding board for all people concerned about this matter to get together and organize this...Clean Water ‘Hand Written’ Letter campaign and beyond! go to: www.facebook.com/FloridaForCleanWater
Fort Myers Beach Town Councilor Atterholt, with the full support of FM Beach Town Council, has launched this initiative to encourage Town residents, Florida Residents and anyone that visits our shores to 'help in the fight to win the war for clean water' by sending handwritten notes to legislators in Florida and around the U.S.A. “Solutions to the water quality problems in Florida require a two-pronged approach involving both the federal government and the state of Florida,” said Councilor Atterholt. “Having been a legislator in Indiana and chief of staff for a governor, I know that elected officials rarely get handwritten notes. Receiving even a handful of letters on one topic from people who live in their district or state can really get their attention.”
Please write your State Representative, your State Senator and the Governor and ask them to keep up the fight for our clean water.
Here's how YOU can help:
Find your legislators' contact info at one of the links below:
All these links will be available in this same article on the new Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/FloridaForCleanWater in the first post listed!
Write your Senators and your Representatives a letter introducing yourself, let them know that you reside in their respective district/state. Make sure you include your home address where you permanently reside.
Water is our most important resource and the reason why we live here and the reason people come here. It’s why Florida is what it is!
Tell them in your own words why clean water is important to you. You may have environmental reasons, recreational reasons, personal health reasons or other reasons. Let your voice be heard!
It is key to let your elected official know why this issue is important to you. Tell them that the problems caused by red tide and blue-green algae must be solved because they impact our environment, our economy, and our health.
If you are a resident of Florida, write to your Florida State Representative, State Senator and Governor Desantis, He's already on our side and knows how precious clean water is to our state and is already fighting for this cause, your letter will give him more power to fight in Washington for our state. Please ask them to support and fully fund clean water programs for Florida and the Everglades.
The solutions to the water quality problems in Florida require a two-pronged approach involving both the federal government and the state of Florida.
So get all your friends from back home on board too, have them write their Representatives and Senators and our Governor DeSantis, let him know that clean water is essential for them to continue to visit here (most of us have come from another state anyway) Get all your friends that visit you on board too...
Get them all to go to the new facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FloridaForCleanWater and contact their representatives!
When you take the time to participate in this campaign we will have letters going to elected officials not just in Florida but to elected officials all over the country.
We have made good progress, they have heard us...... but we must continue to keep up the fight...
and we need YOUR HELP!
Especially now that the east coast is trying to make all discharges from Lake O come our way!
I had the opportunity to speak with Franco Russo of Two Meatballs Restaurant in Fort Myers and we got to talking about his dad.....Alfredo Russo....I had met him before but it surprised me to learn Franco was Alfredo's son, just never made the connection I guess.
I met Alfredo back in 2001, while working at the Island Sand Paper, met him at Junkanoos getting him to advertise in the "new" Beach paper.... and over the next 15 years we got to get to know each other better, I am proud to say I had the opportunity to know Alfredo. Whether at Junkanoos, the Fresh Catch or “The Ship” restaurant on Route 41in Bonita Springs: modeled after a 16th century Spanish Galleon and later,
The Sunset Beach Grill and The Playmore Tiki Bar...... Alfredo, has left his mark on South West Florida!
"The Ship" Restaurant & Tavern, in Bonita, I think was his coolest concept, I had eaten here a dozen times before I even met Alfredo
He had a heart of gold, he was well loved a
nd respected on Fort Myers Beach. One of his favorite quotes was... "In shallow men, the fish of little thoughts cause much commotion. In oceanic minds, the whales of inspiration make hardly a ruffle.” --Yukteswar Giri
By chance, I ran into Alfredo on a flight headed to Boston one day, 7 or 8 years ago, and we had a chance to chat a bit, Alfredo loved the beach and all its people, he really was a nice guy.
"Prior to my father passing away in 2016, he told me he wanted to retire and open a small Italian restaurant, just to keep himself busy. That always stuck with me" Franco said.
Fort Myers location
He continued... "Luigi (Franco's partner) and I looked at a few different locations but in 2018 when I caught wind that Two Meatballs was for sale, I jumped on the opportunity. I knew the place had been there for a long time and had a great reputation. When we took it over, we decided to keep everything the same, as if ownership didn’t even change hands."
With the pandemic, now being over a yearlong, I asked Franco how the restaurant was doing? "We've had it a little over 2 years now and even through all this Covid adversity, not only is the Fort Myers location going strong, but we recently opened our second location in Cape Coral, which is doing very well."
cape coral location
I asked him what was the best compliment he has received... "Every year we have a very close family friend come stay with us from Italy, his name is also Luigi but everyone calls him Billy, because as a baby, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, so everyone teased his parents that he looked American so they gave him an American nickname. One night we were sitting outside of Two Meatballs and he said to me in Italian"..... “it’s crazy, everyone leaves here with a bag of food and a smile on their face."
They even won Best of Cape Coral Award last year!
Later, I caught up with his partner Luigi, we talked about his experience, he said he had been in the restaurant business for 35 yrs, working for others and running his own businesses too. Then he went on to tell me how he met Alfredo some 25 yrs ago, at Anthony's On The Gulf, which is now The Fresh Catch Bistro. "I hit it off with Alfredo right away, we were buddies until his death and I miss him every day. As for Franco, I met him when he was a pre teen and now we work together at 2 meatballs ... you just never know." he said.
We talked a little more about family, I'm Italian too (The food here is amazing, and believe me, as an native Italian... I don't say that about most Italian restaurants) and know how important family is, he replied, "I am blessed with a loving and caring wife, a son and now a grandson, all healthy .... thank god"
So I asked him what makes 2 meatballs so special. "It's simple, quality food at affordable prices"
Zuppa di Pesce
"Our homemade sauces are unmatched and our signature dish, Zuppa di Pesce is to die for. "....."The Smiling faces of our customers tell me about their experience while here and when they come back, that lets me know we are doing it right." He added... "with my experienced staff, a good partner and my right hand man Sergio, I cannot miss."
Of course Franco is still owner of his dad's two beach restaurants, the Junkanoo and Fresh Catch, but his General Manager, Neal, Christine, the controller and Manager, Jerry have those restaurants handled....
I asked him about the future of 2 Meatballs..... "We will be continue to look for opportunities to grow the concept within 2021, having Luigi with me feels like a piece of my father is still here, they have very similar characters and even mannerisms, it is truly is blessing. I hope he’s proud up there!
2 Meatballs now has two locations, and are open from 11:00 AM - 9:30 PM
remember to tell them “Bobby sent me”
8880 Salrose Lane,
Fort Myers, Fl
1403 Cape Coral Pkwy
E, Cape Coral, Fl,
Bill Semmer and Joanne Semmer and San Carlos Island residents have won their appeal to the Bay Harbor Marina project.
We heard late yesterday afternoon as we were about to go to press with this current paper.
The Semmers, have homes near the Main Street development, they have opposed the project at numerous hearings. but the marina and housing project gained approval from the Lee County Board of County Commissioners in June last summer, by a vote of 4-1.
“We feel the Citizens of the San Carlos Island Community did not get a fair and just decision at the June 17th County Commissioners meeting regarding the land use change for (the) Bay Harbour Marina Village project,” Ms. Semmer stated.
The citizens weren't even given the proposed settlement document, which was discussed at the hearing, until after the hearing after a public records request
“We believe in the State of Florida legal system and look forward to a fair and honest hearing of all the facts by the State of Florida Division of Administrative Hearings Administrative Law Judge." she said at that time.
The Semmers are okay with the marina aspect of the business and have no objection to that, but not with the 100-foot tower and commercial space on the property currently housing Southern Comfort Storage, Ms. Semmer said. “The legally adopted procedures and rules of Lee County have been ignored in favor of the developer,” she had stated.
And now they won their appeal!
Action by Fort Myers Beach Town Council at its regular meeting on Monday, earlier this monts, involved enhancements of the Mooring Field, an upcoming traffic signal at Old San Carlos and Estero Boulevard, and appointments to two of the Town’s advisory boards, among other items.
Public comment was about Lee County’s plans for the Big Carlos Pass Bridge, consulting with FWC to find out if window tinting is an option for compliance with turtle lighting regulations, the ongoing dune walkover dispute, report from the Town Attorney that mask mandates have been ruled constitutional, conducting landscaper fertilizer training modeled after the City of Sanibel’s, joining with Lee County to receive FEMA funding to help pay utilities for lower income families that have been impacted by COVID, and confirmation that pan handling is illegal in the Town.
Council approved Resolution 21-02 to update the Matanzas Mooring Field Management Plan and add language about the expansion of the Mooring Field. These actions were necessary for the Town to complete the final steps in the permitting process with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the expansion. The Army Corps of Engineers has already approved the engineering permit.
This expansion has been in the planning stages since 2019, when it was first approved by Town Council. It encompasses the west side of Matanzas Pass Bridge and adds approximately 19 mooring systems. The added systems allow for accommodating vessels up to 80 feet, increasing the current vessel limit of 52 feet.
Related to Mooring Field, Town Councilors approved Resolution 21-04 authorizing the Town Manager or his designee to apply for and administer a grant from the Florida Boating Improvement Program (FBIP). If received, this grant would provide up to $200,000. A $100,000 match would be required by the Town, to be budgeted for in the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year’s cycle. The grant would be through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and could be available after October 1, 2021.
In other business, Council approved a contract of $75,572.82 for construction engineering inspection on the new traffic signal with AECOM Technical Services, Inc. This approval authorizes the Town Manager to execute contract documents from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). This is the Town’s first Local Agency Planning (LAP) project which provides reimbursement from FDOT for construction and construction engineering inspection.
Rebecca Guidry was appointed by Council to the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board (BORCAB). Council also appointed six members to the new Nuisance Abatement Board (NAB). NAB members appointed were Anita Cereceda, Charles Meador, Jr., Dawn Thomas, Jan Fleming, Monica Schmucker, and Tre Gillette. Schmucker was chosen as the chairperson.
Other agenda items:
• Recommendation to Lee County of two possible locations at Lynn Hall and Bowditch Point Parks for a scaled-down, single version of the original arches previously located on San Carlos Island;
• Acquisition of the Town’s pension and deferred compensation plans for employees by Envestnet Retirement Solutions, from Mass Mutual;
• Authorization of the Town’s voluntary, no-cost participation in the proposed Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact;
• Recap of the public hearing conducted by Lee County about plans for the Big Carlos Pass Bridge on the south end of Estero Island; Town Council decided not to join with the City of
Bonita Springs to advocate for an alternative to the proposed construction of a 60-foot bridge to replace the current bridge.
The next regularly scheduled Town Council meeting will be on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, at 9 a.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall, 2525 Estero Boulevard. (The President’s Day federal holiday is Monday, February 15.) In keeping with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19, Council meetings are social distanced with reduced audience capacity. Masks or other face-coverings are mandatory.
Council meetings are broadcast live on the Town’s YouTube channel and Comcast Channel 98.
Visit the Town’s website at www.fmbgov.com, click on the title Mayor and Council, then go to Meetings & Agendas. Agendas and minutes of meetings are also available at that link.
To find out when Council meetings are scheduled, visit the Town’s website, and scroll down the homepage to the calendar.
Keep up on meeting schedules by signing up to receive emails through the website’s Notify Me feature. Find that feature under the Popular Pages column on the homepage.
A couple days ago, I found myself humming along to a Supremes song.
Mary, back in the day of the Supremes
Then I did what everyone does today, in the age of the internet: I logged onto YouTube, found a music video and lost myself in some vintage footage of the 1960s supergroup performing some of their greatest hits.
Mary had a romance with Tom Jones for 2 years
It was a soulful trip down memory lane, and I lingered online for some time, soaking up images of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard performing much-loved, high-energy favorites such as "Stop! In the Name of Love" and "Baby Love."
Hours later, in an eerie stroke of coincidence, I learned that singer Mary Wilson had died that same day at age 76. Ms. Wilson was one of the group's original members, and the news sent chills down my spine. The timing was uncanny. It was the end of an era, and I felt deep sorrow.
For me, the news that we lost Mary was personal. Years ago, I had the rare opportunity to spend time with her when we connected by chance at the Harbor View Hotel in Martha's Vineyard where we were both staying. We spent an entire afternoon together and she regaled me with stories from her illustrious career in the entertainment business. We talked about collaboration on a TV show from her Las Vegas location, as well as politics, business and global traveling. We laughed, and we connected on a personal and spiritual level. Serendipity, perhaps. All I know is that it was unforgettable.
Mary was a warmhearted woman with an incredible soul and a magnetism that matched her amazing talent. The music she and her bandmates produced as The Supremes brought immeasurable joy to millions of people.
In the days since her passing, I have reflected on the lessons we can all learn from Mary Wilson's trailblazing life. And there are many.
Mary Wilson after she sang national anthem in Detroit april 4 2019
First of all, time is short. Never wait to cherish the people who make your life special. Too often, we fail to appreciate the people we admire and respect until they are gone, and then it is too late.
It is so essential that we celebrate and cherish the time we have with the unique people who make this world a more beautiful, happy and joyous place through their God-given talents. Music has the power to transcend and create connections between people and to lift us up in the times when we need it most.
When life seems grim and the future looks bleak, an inspiring lyric and a catchy tune is often all we need to turn things around. In our moments of greatest joy, we express happiness through the celebration of music, a universal language. Mary's passing reminded me of this.
Also, Mary's passing is a stark reminder that America's world influence is not solely derived from our democracy and national principles. Our global impact is also rooted in the sheer genius of our people. There is no country in the world that has our power to effect change and to impact lives through the creativity of entertainment.
As I reflect on Mary Wilson and the legacy of her amazing life, I am reminded that her talent, success and bold determination to blaze new paths are representative of those elements that make America truly special. This is a unique country where people of talent and brilliance can share their gifts with the world, not just with their immediate audience.
They can transcend borders and truly lift up people all across the world.
As we say goodbye to Mary, I will continue to celebrate her legacy of love, life and music. The memory of her joyful energy and that special day we shared long ago will always remain in my heart.
To celebrate and commemorate her astounding life, I encourage you to play one of her CDs or call up a song by The Supremes on YouTube. Take a moment to listen to this impactful, creative woman at work: It will bring a smile to your face as you escape into yesteryear.
Thank you, Mary, for the beautiful and everlasting gift of your musical genius. Your timeless legacy will live on forever.
Flippers on the Bay is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It has been named the “Best Waterfront Restaurant” on Ft. Myers Beach by USA Today and provides picturesque views of the Bay in an alfresco setting which allows you to watch the dolphins play while you enjoy incredable meals prepared by Chef Juan Cruz
and the Rum drinks and Martinis are our favorites!
The casual setting is the perfect backdrop to an American menu that surprises and delights the palate.
It's a little more upscale, and the food is supurb, the ambience is beautiful, and the service is unmatch in this area.
Tell them that Bobby, from the Sun Bay Paper recommended them highly!
Choice Market Food Bank is the only food pantry serving the families in need on Fort Myers Beach. This is your community food pantry and they are asking you to join them in their mission to feed those in need, especially now. Craig Nelms, (above and below) has been volunteering at the market for the past 11 years and has been running the market for the past 10 years... the whole time as a volunteer! Kudos bro!
Their annual fundraiser is going on now and they would like for you to join them in the fight against hunger.
One hundred percent of your tax deductible contribution will stay here on the beach and aids in their effort to feed the beach.
(L to R) Craig with volunteers Lee Gardner and Robert Walker
Craig wanted to make sure we mentioned another volunteer:
Mechell Player, who wasn’t available for the photo above, Thanks Mechell!
This year was extra busy at the Choice Market with more people and families in need of food and personal hygiene. It has taken a toll on the finances that are needed to keep the market going. Also, they had to buy up to 60% more items at retail price, leaving the market in dire need to replenish funds.
Their goal is to raise 8,000 dollars more to allow them to get through this year since Harry Chapin Food Bank has significantly less food this year to distribute to other smaller food banks .
Choice market feeds, on average 1083 mouths per month, which they told me, totals out to be over 100,000 pounds of food. And as you can imagine, due to the Covid Pandemic there is even a greater need in our community now.
Please consider a monetary donation to help feed your community. Checks should be made payable to 'Beach Baptist,' with a note in the memo line that reads “Choice Market Hunger Drive”.
Or if you want to donate any unopened, non perishable goods, such as Dried and Canned Beans, Nut Butters, Dried Fruits and Vegetables, Canned Fish or Poultry, Nuts and or Pumpkin Seed, Grains, Canned Vegetables and Fruits, Jerky, Granola Bars, Protein bars and Canned and/or Dried Soups are just a few good examples of non perishables they always can use too.
Again, your generosity will directly impact families on Fort Myers Beach.
They would like to thank you, in advance, for your generosity and partnering with Choice Market in the fight to help end hunger on our island.
The Market is in the back of Beach Baptist Church by the playground
130 Connecticut St, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931