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Missy Layfield - Editor
12/27/2012 at 6:21pm Delete

Good News and Kudos

Here at the Sand Paper, we think it’s a good idea to search out and share good news especially as the year draws to a close. Every couple months, we use this space to focus on the good things happening in our community and the people who make our Island a better place to live. Kudos go out to…

The winners and all participants of Paint the Beach and Sand Sculpting. We thank them all for sharing their talents with all of us.

Joanne Semmer and Ostego Bay Foundation for leading workshops on waterfront interests including how the RESTORE Act will effect our bay.

Community choral groups who serenaded Islanders at the Community Christmas Celebration held at Santini Marina Plaza. The Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida, The Lehigh Children’s Choir and Three Oaks Middle School Choir and Orchestra were all wonderful!

Islanders who stepped up to help the schools in Long Beach, NY after hearing that they were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Long Beach is a barrier island, much like Fort Myers Beach. Thanks to Islander Corri Francisco who coordinated a local effort to help.

All Islanders who shopped local for their holiday gifts and will continue to support their neighbors by shopping local in the New Year.

Walt and Betty McCollum who came to the November Fire Board meeting to publicly thank Fort Myers Beach Fire District and Iona-McGregor Fire District staff Andres Vila, William Edge, Drew Herron, Peter Marrero, Cheryl Bauchert and Joel Guzman who provided emergency medical services to him in June, saving his life. A heartfelt "thank you” is golden.

12/20/2012 Delete

We Can Do Better

It’s been a week and the shock and horror of the Sandy Hook school deaths remains fresh for many people who have no personal connection other than being fellow human beings. The violent death of so many innocents is an assault on all we hold sacred - a violation of something so elemental - it takes our breath, our sleep, our peace.

And the horrific news just kept coming this week.

About the time we grasp that 20 kids were murdered, we learn that they were 6 and 7 year olds. As we catch our breath from that, we learn that the gunman shot them all multiple times. Then we learn that some of the kids were special needs students. And teachers sacrificed their lives to save kids.

Is there no end to the horror?

As the community gathered in prayer at the Catholic church last weekend, a phone call to the church threatened to finish the job started Friday. The church was emptied while parishioners watched SWAT teams clear the area.

Wouldn’t you be thinking you’d gone to sleep in Mayberry and woken up in hell if you lived in Newtown?

Meanwhile the reaction was predictable from some quarters.

The battle began immediately between those who would ban all guns and those who would arm kindergarten teachers. I don’t much care about that this week. There’s more than a little craziness to go around on both sides of that battle. And it seems obscene to be fighting that battle over the graves of 6 year olds right now. Sure, it’s an important issue, but for heaven’s sake, can we bury these children first?

Gun sales are up. We’re told that buyers are worried that new gun control laws will be passed after Sandy Hook.

12/13/2012 at 3:40pm Delete
A Day At The Beach

Soon our island will be receiving visitors for the Christmas vacation season. They’ll be treated to an island all dressed up for Christmas with lights and garland to go with the sun and beach and fun they came here for.

Many of those visitors are families. Our island is often described as a family island, the exact meaning of which is never described, leaving the precise definition up to each person.

My definition of a family island is one where all generations feel welcomed; where there are activities and events that appeal to all ages from kids to grandparents; where it’s safe to walk down the beach or the street at any hour of the day or night.

You may have a different definition and we invite you to send it to us here at the Sand Paper.

Some islanders maintain that a family island should not allow liquor to be served on the sand.Others insist that a family island should have limited alcohol sales hours. It seems that the concept of a family island primarily comes up when alcohol is involved.

Transforming our island into one that is truly family friendly will not be accomplished by alcohol restrictions, no matter how stringent they may be. We need a broader approach and a good imagination.

Imagine you are a young family. You bring your 3 and 5 year olds to visit, maybe staying with their grandparents, maybe renting a house or condo. The first day you slather on the sunscreen, gather up all the beach toys and walk down your street, wait to cross Estero, find a beach access and hit the sand. You’re feeling pretty lucky because you scored a place to stay that’s only a 10-15 minute walk to the beach. You’re golden!

12/06/2012 at 5:32pm Delete

Back To The Future

With an improving economy, some of our old challenges have reappeared.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s and even before that, growth in Southwest Florida was explosive. The demand for housing and commercial development came so fast and furious that planners, both government and private, struggled to keep up with it all.

Mistakes were made. Corners were cut. Roads went through some areas they shouldn’t have. Development was approved in some areas that might not have been approved had more time and careful attention been paid. In some ways it was the wild, wild west of the development world.

Those days could be characterized as a constant tug of war between developers and those concerned with uncontrolled growth, with the developers winning by a landslide, excuse the pun, in many cases.

The very existence of our Town of Fort Myers Beach can be traced, at least in part, to Lee County’s approval of some high-rise buildings on the beach that Islanders objected to.After several failed attempts at incorporation, that seemed to be the final straw and Islanders approved incorporation and hence self-determination in 1995.

Fast forward to 2012. We are coming out of a 5-year economic slump. There are lots of indicators, but the most telling is the resurrection of major development projects that have been sitting idle for years.

You’ll read about one of those on San Carlos Island in this week’s paper –Ebbtide. A Lee County Hearing Examiner hearing concluded this week with the airing of public comment on the project.