Some things come as a surprise, and this is certainly one of them! Nick Casalanguida is leaving Collier County Government! He has worked for the county for over 15 years, and everyone seems to know him and his ability to lead a team to success, and we were all hoping he would be selected as the new County Manager to do the same for Collier County. Yes, he kept getting offers from major companies who offered major dollars from around the country—that’s how far his success has been noted—but he knew he was next to become County Manager, and had many plans to bring us to new heights when the County Manager, a 32-year employee, would retire.
At first, we all heard the County Manager was planning to leave at the end of September 2020, but then he decided to stay till the end of the year. Meanwhile, these companies upped the salary and benefits, but Nick still wanted to stay here. However, then the county manager decided he now wanted to stay till the end of April, and with that… Nick said he would leave and gave the County Manager notice that December 31st would be his last day with the County. There were hopes of seeing what Nick could do for the county, but now that hope no longer exists.
Nick had been the Deputy County Manager and had been training for the job for a number of years, so he was ready. No one else was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye, but now there is a clammer to figure out where to go from here. There was another employee who was about to move up the ladder, who is just great and organized and would be moving into a very important position, one that really needed him, and that is Public Services Division—a department that deals with all functions that deal directly with the public, like Parks, communications, libraries, museums, etc. That man is Dan Rodriguez, and he has done a fantastic job in solid waste and recycling. He runs a tight ship and we were really looking forward to his leadership in parks especially. Because the County Manager had no one in place to step into Nick’s shoes, he looked for the best person to place in the Deputy Manager’s position. If anyone can do it, Dan can step into those big shoes and carry the load; BUT what happens with the trickle-down effect? There are a number of people who have already left the county, and many more who are about to retire at the end of December. It’s going to be challenging over the next few months and then some. There are some BIG shoes to fill, and many important issues arising. All we can do on the outside is hope that the decision-makers can point us in the right direction.
*While we’re speaking of people leaving, the Naples Daily News has offered to buy out some of their long-standing employees’ contracts. One of those employees is Brent Batten, and he has taken the offer. I’ve known Brent since the late 80s when he was a Cub Reporter, and I have always admired his writing. He actually reports the story rather than create an image of what they want people to believe. I’ve loved his honest, straight forward writing, but also his sports and joking along the way. He doesn’t lean to a side to please the paper, but writes factually. It’s possible that isn’t what they want anymore, with the new ownership. Many, many people have canceled their subscriptions because of the leanings of the new owners. In fact, I’m guessing it is causing them financial woes because they don’t know their audience here in Collier very well. Before, we used to have both sides of an issue. Now there is only one side and they prefer to bury anything else. After 44 years of reading the NDN—before that the Collier County News, etc.—I called and canceled my subscription. It made me mad to blatantly eliminate one side of an issue. Most of the media is now being funded by… well, let me just say Brent will be missed. He is a great writer, and a dedicated husband and Dad who takes his son fishing and to baseball games, etc. Let’s hope Harriet Heithaus stays, along with a few other long-timers.
*Lastly, I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was filled with lots of love, great food, and happiness. My kids did the same thing they do every year, and those who have read my column after Thanksgiving know what’s coming up next. Yup, they brought down all my Christmas decorations and put them up around the outside of the house. It looks so cheerful and happy now. Three of my kids and a few of my grandkids and a few great-grandkids were all here with me for Thanksgiving. We are a wonderful time together! I had one son over from Ft. Lauderdale who stayed with me for a few days and fixed all kinds of things I can’t reach or repair or are too heavy. Thank heavens for wonderful children who are there for you when you need them. At Christmas, all five kids and their families will be here. Yup, lots of activity and noise, and love! Lots of Love!