Friday, January 28, 2022




Donna Fiala

A Public Hearing will be held on July 10 at the Capri Community Center (time is not certain at this time) to ask any questions regarding the future of the Isle of Capri Fire-Rescue Department. The final fire district vote will take place on August 26, and you will want to get all the information you need to prepare for the vote. Ask any questions and receive answers so that you will be comfortable with your decision when you vote. If you will be out of town and haven’t registered for an absentee ballot yet, please do so soon. This vote is a game changer, and you’ll want to be a part of it.

• You have probably heard about the Smallwood Store in Chokoloskee recently. This is one of the local historical buildings that still remain in our county. It’s more than 100 years old, and visitors and tourists still enjoy shopping and exploring there. There has been an old road leading to it that people have used all these years. A developer bought the property leading up to the store and then blocked the road off, thus no one could get to the store. Some could not even get to their nearby homes. The new owners were required to remove the fencing, but for many weeks beforehand, the store owners could not entertain any tourists nor sell any products. Once the fencing was taken down, the property was neglected and allowed to grow into disrepair.

On that property, by the way, is an old Indian mound with many artifacts that needed to be preserved. Before any debris or this historical material for preservation can be removed, an archaeologist must be present to observe and inspect. A county investigator observed the overgrown condition and notified the property owner’s representative to apply for a vegetation removal permit to clean up all the debris and overgrowth, but from what I’ve been advised, no archaeologist was present, and they completely graded the property including the Indian mound. Now all is lost. Many times over the years, developers have removed trees or mounds, and then paid a small fee when they were caught. Nothing replaces those Indian mounds or the history that has been destroyed. The people in Chokoloskee and Everglades City are sick about the loss of these artifacts from our past.

• How many of you have ever been to Copeland? It’s near Everglades City on Rt. 29 heading north from U.S. 41 E. Copeland happens to be in my Commission District. It only has about 87 homes but about 70 percent unemployment. They don’t even have postal delivery; they must drive to Everglades City for their mail. Many do not have a car, so they cannot even drive to find a job. I met with them recently, and they were so friendly and kind. Some of the ladies have lived there for more than 50 years. These ladies are really old timers, and as charming and delightful as they can be. One of the needs of this community is some sort of bus shelter for their kids who are waiting for a school bus. I have located a couple of older ones that were destined for the landfill, but two cement pads will need to be installed before the shelters can be fastened down. I really wish there were a church or organization that might help us pour the cement, pick these shelters up, deliver and install them. This is one community who could benefit from any little help that is given them. If you would like to find out a little more about this community and how you can help, just let me know. I’d be happy to connect you with the right people. They have a tiny but lovely Baptist Church where everyone can worship and where we meet to talk.

• Recently, the good folks at the FDOT were kind enough to ride with me along SR 951/Collier Boulevard to experience the pavement conditions for themselves. They are planning on resurfacing the northern section of the road during the expansion of the intersection, so I mentioned the “washboard” feeling when driving farther south. They got back to me recently to say that this older section of the road shows no raveling or pot holes, but they will keep their eye on this area. “At some point in the future, we’ll need to resurface this segment of SR 951, but we anticipate some years of service still in the existing pavement.” Some of you have mentioned this rolling ride, so I wanted you to know I followed up on it.

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