As many of you know, I spend a lot of time on Marco Island, so I go back and forth many times a week. Last week was especially busy, with 2 and 3 trips a day because so many things are going on there and I don’t want to miss a thing! Well, after seeing the same things along the way each day, I decided to check out gasoline prices as a pass-time one day. It’s quite amazing, especially if you’re living on a limited budget. With four giant new WaWa’s in this area, plus four giant new Race Trac’s in the same area, plus the regular assortment of fueling stations, and a Murphy Oil thrown in—they and WaWa always seem to have low prices—except for one little place on U. S. 41E across from Treviso Bay, which is a bright and shiny car wash and a convenience store, and they have the lowest prices of all, many times between 7 and 10 cents cheaper than anyone else! Today the cheapest price was at WaWa and Murphy Oil at $2.24, but the car wash gas station was $2.14! We have quite a few new car washes as well. Just to let you know, watch and look around while doing a lot of driving. Yes, I put hundreds of miles on my car every week, but this old bird—that’s the car I’m speaking about—just keeps rolling along. I think the next trip I’ll count all the new Dentist’s offices that have been built recently. Sure seems like a lot of them.
- I wrote about the Old K-Mart building finally being fixed up and divided into a few shops: Burlington Coat Factory, Home Goods, a Planet Fitness Center, and now I think they are trying to seal a deal with a restaurant. I’m sure that the shopping center will be happy to greet their new neighbors. It was looking a little tired over there. The Brook’s Burgers sure seems happy though! Their burgers are so… good.
- Did you notice the owners of the “Skeleton Building” are finally fixing that place up? What an albatross that place has been for 10 long years! Well, don’t get too excited though. It looks like it will become a Distribution Center for something like FedEx, or that type of company. Nothing for us to enjoy or shop in, but at least it looks better than what was there. And hopefully, it brings new business to this area. We can all see the efforts to revitalize our area and bring new business and jobs to this area so our residents can stay right here closer to home and not have to travel so far to work. We have 52% of all the workforce housing right here, so no matter who opens their store, they’ll have a workforce waiting to work closer to home.
- I talked about the need for a few more restaurants in this area and forgot to mention one name that some people stressed: That’s Bob Evan’s Farm Restaurant, and one lady told me her husband would eat there every day if we have one at this end of town. So, let’s see if someone from Bob Evan’s Restaurant Corporation is reading this column. All they need to do is see the successful restaurants here and they would move forward!
- Last week there was a concert and picnic at Sugden Park, and it was pouring rain, so the attendance was very low… but the Ben Allen Band played on and on and never skipped a beat; rain or no rain, and they were wonderful! Our East Naples Kiwanis Club was there to serve beer and soft drinks, so they entertained us, and we loved every minute of it! Come to think of it, the very first time I ever heard the Ben Allen Band play was in the rain at the FL. Sports Park! That was a while back, but they were there and never stopped playing. Recently at the Mullet Festival in Goodland, they played their hearts out at Stan’s, and the people responded with great enthusiasm. It was said it was the largest crowd ever seen at the Mullet Festival. And the Ben Allen Band never stopped, even for a break! I don’t know how they do it, but they sure are great.
- I went to an event on Marco Island last week hosted by a lovely group of ladies from an organization with the initials: PEO. I’m guessing that means Philanthropic Education Organization, made up of a number of sororities of very talented women. Each group—which included a table from Goodland, and another from Fiddler’s Creek and I believe some were from the Isles of Capri as well, among the ladies there from PEO—decorated their table with original ideas, and their own furnishings that were so brilliant and outstanding; I can hardly express how much fun and enjoyment everyone had. Many wore costumes to celebrate their table creativity! We laughed and enjoyed each other plus the terrific food, until they almost had to sweep us out of the place. In case you want to learn more about PEO, call Mariam Harris at 239-595-0202.
- Shortly you’ll be seeing a white Carrara abstract marble sculpture arrive and then be placed in the middle of the 951 corridor just north of U. S. 41 East. It will be the first piece of Public Art the county has encouraged, and the artist is the world-renowned Marton Varo, the same sculptor who carved the Ascension at Ava Maria a few years back and also the lovely white marble angels’ artwork at the NCH outdoor Garden. You might notice in the 951 median there will be people assembling all week and placing items and lighting, etc. Thanks to the developers of Lely Resort, Fiddler’s Creek, Hacienda Lakes, Collier Enterprises, Winding Cypress/Pulte Development and more, we will be able to look at this piece of abstract art for many years to come, and not a cent of your tax dollars was spent for this artwork. It will be lighted and landscaped. The unveiling will be held on February 21st at 11 AM for all to see. If you’re in the area, stop at the shopping center across from the location to see how they will guide you there and seat people.
- My Dentist, Dr. David Clary, e-mailed me to tell me that a local lady whose parents live right here, has just won the Miss Florida Contest, and will now go on to compete in other contests. Hopefully, she competes and wins the Miss USA contest, but I shouldn’t hope that far out. Meanwhile, my dentist suggested he could arrange to have Miss Florida come to our Commission meeting this Tuesday, February 11th, although you’ll read this afterward.
- Just in case you’ve never seen a Water Treatment Plant, we had a tour of one and I’m going to include a couple pictures for you to enjoy. It was completely sold out before the day ended, so we reached out to the County Water Department who allowed us to have an extra tour for those who couldn’t get on the first one—and there were still more who wanted to see it, by the way. Our next tour will be the Extension Service, the department who helps with plants and insects and bugs, and soil and vegetables and growing. We will have two more tours: one at the Landfill and one at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. That will be it for us for this year. Mike, my trusty assistant, has all the information when you call. You know the number: 239-252-8601.
- Last, but certainly not least, I was invited to join some Hungarian people at a restaurant way up in the north end of town called the Black Forest. This was a marvelous German Restaurant with tremendous German and Hungarian food. I had no idea they even existed, but then again, I seldom get up that way. The owner was your friend as soon as you walked in the door; and a fun guy with exceptional food. They had Schnitzel’s, Hungarian Beef Goulash, Rainbow Trout, Bavarian Sausage Platter, Sauerbraten, Potato Pancakes, many seafood selections, and a plethora of other selections on their menu. For us down at this end of town, it’s a long drive, but well worth it! Their address is 2366 Immokalee Rd in the Green Tree Plaza, and you must make reservations! Call 239-592-4784 or visit www.blackforestnaples.com.