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Missy Layfield - Editor
05/31/2012 at 3:57pm Delete

June brings a wave of new beginnings to the Beach.

We sit at the beginning of hurricane season, hoping for an uneventful year. It seems that if you’re one of the cool kids, you don’t worry much about hurricanes. Studies show that those at the most risk tend to minimize that risk. If you’re 19 and deep into the age of invincibility, that’s ok. But most of us are way past that and should know better. It’s human nature to forget the terrible stuff. Hurricanes certainly fall into that category.

Charley dealt the island a glancing blow in 2004, reserving its peak winds for Captiva and a narrow band around the eye. Yet Charley did an immense amount of damage here. Buildings were destroyed, streets torn up and a 9-foot storm surge flooded much of the island. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to ponder what kind of damage a direct hit by a slow moving Cat 5 storm with a 20ft wall of water would do.

Be prepared. Have a plan. Be ready.

The experts all say the same thing. Once you’re prepared, you can go back to being cool.

Fort Myers Beach Public Works Director said it best, "I’m brave, but I’m not stupid,” referring to evacuation orders.

Let’s all be brave and smart this year. And ready for whatever comes our way.

We are well into the beginning of turtle nesting season, with a flurry of nesting going on along our beaches.

05/24/2012 at 3:38pm Delete

Memorial Day-a day of reflection and remembrance.

Our country is at war.

Somewhere in the world today:

An Army Private is carefully walking a perimeter while his company rests for their next mission.

An Airman is prepping a load of supplies to be dropped for remote troops in Afghanistan.

A Navy pilot is landing on a rolling aircraft carrier off a foreign coast.

A Coast Guardsman is approaching a suspicious boat in perilous waters.

A Marine is driving down a desolate road in Afghanistan wondering if there’s an IED buried up ahead.

This Memorial Day we are called to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They went to war for us and never returned to pick up the lives they put on hold, the dreams that will never come true and the families that are forced to find a way to go on without them.

As a country, we honor our war dead on Memorial Day. There will be ceremonies in cemeteries all across our great country this weekend. Flags will be placed at graves. Taps will be played. Gray heads will bow and remember those who died at Normandy, Bataan and Vinh Huy.

I would ask that we also remember the members of our military who return. One of the best ways to honor those who have given their lives may be to properly honor those who return. More than a hearty Thank You, more than a round of applause at a concert, more than the GI Bill.

05/17/2012 at 3:15pm Delete

Here at the Sand Paper, we like to take the time every couple months to recognize some of the Islanders whose efforts make our Island a better place for all of us. Kudos go out to….

A.J. Bassett and all the long time Estero Island residents who share their time and experiences with the rest of us, giving us a glimpse of what life was like on the island in years past.

The FMB Chamber Foundation, Bay Oaks, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and all the volunteers who make the Easter Egg Hunt a delight for our little ones each year.

The walkers, donors and organizers of the Beach’s Relay for Life which raised over $92,000, way over their goal.

Keith Laakkonen, the Town of Fort Myers Beach, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Lee County and local volunteers who mark off and post bird nesting areas in the Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area on the south end of the beach.

Town and County officials who recently celebrated the official completion of the North End Renourishment. The new beach gives not only a wide place to play but also protection from storms.

The local volunteers who brought the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival back to life. Dozens of Islanders stepped up to review films, take tickets, shepherd visiting filmmakers, teach families how to make films or any of the myriad tasks that come with an event of this size and scope. The event was a success on all levels-let’s do it again next year!

05/10/2012 at 3:46pm Delete

Should the Town order a referendum on the Consumption on Premise (COP) in the Environmentally Critical (EC) zone?

The LPA has been looking at this issue for the last four years. Town staff has expended thousands of hours of research on the issue. Town Council has held two Public Hearings already and devoted several more hours to discussion. A COP task force has been formed to gather further information.

And now there are calls for a referendum.

Usually, you hear calls for a referendum from those who feel they are not being heard and who are absolutely convinced that they are in the majority and will prevail if only everyone were given the opportunity to vote.

Referendums can be problematic. They need high voter turnout to be effective and truly representative of the will of the people, not just the group that calls for the referendum. Unless they are offered during a scheduled election, getting people to vote is a challenge. We struggle to get people to go to the polls when it’s a general election. Hold it after the general election this November and you’ll be dealing with voter fatigue.

When should we hold this referendum? Summer? Do that and risk disenfranchising those who travel during the summer. Winter? You may be accused of trying to stack the ballot box with the votes of part time visitors swayed to change their voter registration so they can have a voice on this issue.