What a new way to start a new year – with wind forces like we’ve never seen in January! AND with gasoline prices we haven’t seen in years…on Saturday we had $1.75 along the Collier Boulevard/951 corridor. One of the same gas stations about two miles away had prices at $1.85 on U.S. 41 E, and further on down the prices continued to climb. This is a good place to be when buying gasoline, that’s for sure. It will be interesting to see how the prices will run when the WaWa gas station is built at Price Street an U.S. 41 E.! This is the first time a price war on fuel has ever been this close to our county, if memory holds true.
*The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary held their 49th Annual Change of Watch event this past week, with Walter Jaskiewicz, PDCO 7th District USCGA as the master of ceremonies. The audience was filled with dedicated flotilla members who watched FC Keith Wohltman and VFC Doug Bartlett take their oath of office. It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by all at the Marco Island Yacht Club. Mike and Mike and Marion Harris were my table “dates.” It would be terrific if I could mention all of the dedicated people in the audience such as Doug Johnson, Robert Witte, Tammy Ludwig, Police Chief Al Schettino, City Manager Roger Hernstadt, etc., but if I did I would miss so many more, so I’ll leave it at that.
*The new Lucky’s Market has opened on U.S. 41 E. in the Towne Centre Shopping Center, near the movie theater. I couldn’t wait to see this new market that carries organic and naturally grown produce, grass fed beef, free-range poultry, etc. I figured the prices had to be high, but I was definitely mistaken! People marveled over the fair pricing for the high quality food they were purchasing. If you happen to be driving along Tamiami Trail E., stop by and taste some of the things they prepare in their kitchen for a light meal during your busy day. I bet you’ll find government employees taking their lunch break there as well. They combined a number of stores into one and changed the façade completely. Oh, the fresh squeezed juices are the best!
*You’ve read about the fire consolidation being discussed recently. Mainly they are referring to the North Collier Fire and Rescue and the Greater Naples Fire and Rescue, who have already consolidated six fire departments into two departments. Now the talk is to consolidate them into one, but right now there is no talk of consolidating the City of Marco, or the City of Naples, or the Immokalee Fire Department into this larger consolidation. How will it end up? No one wants to lose their hold on their district, so it will be a rocky road for sure. And as residents, we don’t want to lose our personal involvement with our own fire departments. Once that happens, it takes on a different hue all together. The East Naples Fire Department had always been involved in civic organizations and clubs and had taken a personal interest in the neighborhoods. They were a proud group of people who loved their community. When consolidation took place, they lost their main office fire station, which moved to Golden Gate, the fire chief moved to Golden Gate, the colors of the trucks changed from green to Golden Gate red, and the people no longer felt like they had their own fire department. For some it was a very tough pill to swallow. The same holds true for Isles of Capri, but they also could read the writing on the wall and acquiesced. Hopefully the personal touch will return to their respective communities so they can again reach out to the citizens and let them know they care and are a part of the fabric of the community. That is probably why the cities will hold off from consolidation for as long as they can. The bright spot is that Chief Kingman Schuldt seems to be working to restore that community feeling, plus he attends lots of community meetings, and hopefully he encourages his firefighters to do the same. The firefighters in Isles are happy and the Ochopee guys seem to be on board also. They all like the personal touch and are working towards keeping it no matter the consolidation…least that’s what I hear from them.
*A good news item to broadcast is that the new Observation Tower at Tigertail Beach is now open for our enjoyment. It’s a good time to see for yourself what it looks like, and while you’re at it, stop by to see Tony Smith at the concession stand and enjoy his famous hamburgers and drinks.
*There’s no place like Stan’s in Goodland, that’s for sure! People dance, sing, enjoy the music, and just have a great time without having to dress for dinner. The Ben Allen Band was at their finest and the audience let them know they loved the music. Stan’s son Steve is running the place just as his dad did, and people just flock to enjoy being in “Old Florida Goodland,” letting their hair down and wearing crazy hats. Even the kids like to dance. Sundays, of course, are the big draw, but they are open during the rest of the week except Mondays, although it’s a little quieter and less laid back.