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Missy Layfield - Editor
5 days ago, 09/25/2014 at 4:37pm Delete

End of Summer

This is the last weekend in September. We should have a name for this -- some way of marking the end of the slowest month of the year for most of our Island businesses and residents. Not that it’s been as slow as some recent Septembers, it’s still the month when we see the fewest visitors and least traffic on the boulevard.

Other parts of the country mark the changing of the seasons with colorful leaf shows or combines churning through cornstalks, Harvest festivals and such.

Here on the beach, we mark September as the month when we can start to think about opening up our windows because the humidity is finally easing up even though it’s still full-on summer as far as temperatures are concerned. September means vacation month for many, prep season for others. There are fewer visitors here; traffic is as slow as it will be all year. For those reading this up north, who have never been here other than during season, there are no traffic jams in September. Drivers can easily turn left from anywhere on Estero. If traffic stalls, it’s only because the school bus or trolley has stopped. September is a beautiful month.

October is another nearly perfect month. While the few businesses that closed for a break begin to reopen after renovation, cleaning or vacation, most everyone begins to see an uptick in customers and visitors - the lifeblood of every business and resident employed by a beach business.

We will barely be out of September when Islanders will notice that the sleepy season is over. Traditionally October remains part of the slower summer season and that’s why there are two major events planned for our community next month – both designed to bring visitors to our shores during a slow time of season.

The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest kicks off this weekend in Captiva, bringing a number of successful songwriters to intimate venues to perform their own songs. Brought to the islands by BMI, iHeart Radio and Cat Country, this totally new event shifts to Fort Myers Beach the following weekend, October 2-5.
2 weeks ago, 09/18/2014 at 6:16pm Delete

Island Kudos

The Sand Paper family is committed to sharing the good news about our community. We use this space regularly to focus on all the good things happening and the many great people who make our Island a better place to live, work and play. Kudos to…

Evelyn Wicks who has guided the finances at Town Hall for 8 years. Winning multiple awards along the way, she has been a steady "guiding light” for Town staff and council.

Keith Laakkonen for his tireless work as the Town’s Environmental Sciences Coordinator, monitoring our beach environment. And congrats on being the 2014 winner of the Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association Environmental Award.

All beachfront property owners, renters and visitors who are mindful of protecting our nesting turtle population and turn off lights or use special lights, remove furniture and don’t leave holes on the beach. We’re still in peak hatching season-let’s make our beach safe for turtles!

American Legion Post 274 and Estero Island Medical Care for organizing a Veterans Health Fair last month, gathering a variety of health care providers in one spot to screen veterans for health issues.

Soccer coaches, players, officials and parents as the season gets off to a big start.

Organizers, sponsors and participants in both Spirit of ’45 celebration events held last month to mark the end of WWII. The solemn pageantry and heartfelt gratitude shown at these events are much appreciated by our WWII veterans.

Teen Challenge International, those folks who wash cars at Beach Baptist on Fridays and Saturdays, on the opening of their new Thrift Store on San Carlos Blvd. This non-profit offers life-changing faith-based recovery programs for both men and women of all ages.

Bibliophile Shirley Semmer for her donation of a sizeable collection of books, many first edition or signed, to the Beach Lions Club to support their charitable efforts.
3 weeks ago, 09/11/2014 at 4:44pm Delete

9/11 Reflections

Many of us have spent some time reflecting on 9/11 this week. Both the events of that terrible day and all that has happened since.

Prior to that day, most Americans could not conceive of our country being attacked. If we thought of it at all, we envisioned a military attack and what country would be so foolish to attack the U.S. military on U.S. soil? Ridiculous!

Then on September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked the United States by hijacking four commercial airliners. They flew one into the World Trade Center (WTC) North Tower, another into the South Tower, both of which would eventually collapse. The third airliner was flown into the Pentagon and the fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania, on its way to an unknown target.

While stunned Americans tried to make sense of the attack, the death toll mounted. In total 2977 from over 90 countries died in the attacks. Over 1100 of them have never had any remains identified, that’s how devastating the attacks were. More died from illness brought on by the toxic environment endured by those who searched for survivors and victims.

Our world was rocked when it wasn’t our military that was attacked, it was us – civilians – doing nothing more than flying to see family or going to work in Manhattan or just taking an elevator to the top of the World Trade Center for the spectacular view. Regular people going about their lives. Why would any of them fear that they would be attacked on a sunny weekday morning?

Just as some Americans were absorbing the shock of the attack that morning, the two skyscrapers collapsed. The blows that morning came one right after another, with little time to mentally process what we were all watching on TV. And we were all glued to our televisions that day and for many days afterward, hungry for news, explanations, answers.

While 3,000 is a huge number of casualties, it could have been so much worse. There were over 17,000 people in the World Trade Center that day. The fact that more did not die is amazing.
4 weeks ago, 09/04/2014 at 5:01pm Delete

Schools

Well, this school year certainly started off with a bang! Here on the Island, our spectacular Beach Elementary School is off to a running start with new programs like the Exploration Station and the WIN program. And it’s great to see a healthy PTO planning for a busy year also!

Our school, however, does not exist in a vacuum, we are part of the Lee County School District and they have started the school year off in some rough water as the School Board voted last week to totally opt out of all state-mandated standardized testing before rescinding that vote this week.

For a few days we were the envy of every frustrated school board in the country, until the board looked at what their vote meant to 58,000 Lee students. Even so, it was a clarion call on standardized testing at the local level. Now that we have the spotlight on testing, let’s do some good with it!

For most of our lives, there has been some sort of standardized testing – a way to measure how your student or class or school was doing compared to other students, classes or schools – a way to identify areas where a student needed help. While I don’t think any of us would honestly say we love being tested, many would acknowledge that standardized testing might serve a useful purpose if used sparingly and appropriately.

The problem is how many standardized tests should students be required to take? And which students should be exempt from them?

The demands for testing have grown dramatically in the past decade.Seemingly since it became politically expedient for political hacks to blame schools and teachers for a variety of societal ills and demand that teachers be held accountable! And the way to do that was to tie their pay into the progress of their students. Well, you can’t measure student progress without tests – lots and lots of tests.

I’m sure there are lazy teachers out there somewhere. Every profession has slackers, whether it be doctors, custodians or teachers. But teaching is a demanding profession. Every teacher I’ve even known is a teacher 24/7; 365 days a year. They’re working on class work or planning on what they’ll do for the next science lesson or trying to figure out how they can help a student from a troubled home. If you work in a retail store, when you punch out, you’re done physically and mentally and probably don’t give your job much thought until your next shift. Not so teachers.

As the required testing has increased, the time to actually teach has decreased. There are only so many hours in a school day or a school year.