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Missy Layfield - Editor
06/27/2013 at 3:53pm Delete

By Islanders, For Islanders

Our three-year anniversary with the Island Sand Paper passed quietly last month. When we assumed stewardship of this community newspaper in May 2010, we told readers what they could expect from us, knowing that what we said would be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. We knew we'd have to prove that we meant what we said, that we would indeed walk the talk.

Three years ago, we fielded a lot of questions about how we planned to handle this treasured island resource called the Sand Paper. We learned early on that this was not just a business or just a newspaper. This was Islanders' community forum, a reflection of Islanders' interests, opinions and concerns.

When we began, we promised unbiased information. We feel strongly that it's not our job to tell Beach residents what to think. If we have an opinion, it will appear on the editorial page, not in story selection or how we write stories. We made the decision not to endorse candidates, rejecting the power of endorsement in favor of trusting our readers to make up their own minds on who should represent them. Our job is to provide readers with enough information to make the choice themselves. Some candidates utilized the opportunities we offered – some did not.

We promised responsibility and respect. Our responsibility is to report community news, to seek out the stories that Islanders want to read; to respect not only our readers but also the subjects of our stories.

We promised to support local business. We believe in the power of a community to support its businesses. We want to contribute to the success of the entire business community of Fort Myers Beach, not just our advertisers, but the whole island. We know that when one business succeeds, we all benefit. Sure we have a beautiful beach, but without the restaurants, bars and shops, how many people would spend their precious vacation time here? We want to support efforts by Islanders and businesses to work cooperatively. We've been supportive of several recent efforts to bring businesses and Islanders together, whether it's the weekend Times Square Sunset Parties or the Chamber’s new ‘Roxie’ information center or the Friends of the Arts Film Festival.
06/20/2013 at 2:59pm Delete

Summer Break

This year’s cycle of beach activity is feeling a bit different than the last few years. Have you noticed? There’s more foot traffic, more vehicle traffic, more seats filled in our favorite local watering holes this June than in recent years. These are all good signs that our beach economy is growing.

There was a time when many beach businesses closed entirely for the summer. While a handful still do close for a few weeks for vacation or renovation, most are open year-round these days.

Summer is a great time to visit the beach! Our trademark sun, sand and beach fun are all here without the crowds, so you can move around the beach easily; have a big patch of sand all to yourself. We have temperatures in the 90’s every day and some rain each afternoon. It’s summertime on the beach!

This is the time of year that many islanders start to think of visiting family and friends up north. We love our island, but a break for cooler weather can look pretty good about summertime. After months of hard work, some time off is good for us all. But time off need not involve travel. The economy and the hassles of travel can lead to a decision to stay in town for your vacation time. This concept is so popular, we have a new word to describe it: staycation. You can stay in your own community and enjoy the attractions and activities that you don't have time to enjoy when you're working. Sleep in your own bed every night, or check out a local hotel or give camping a try. Check out the water parks and pools in the area, take a kayak out on the back bay, try parasailing. People come to our area from all over the world to do these things. Most of us who live here, work so much that we don't have time to do the things that attract people to our island.

Maybe we should take some time this summer to try some of them out. The Island Sand Paper will be highlighting some of our local attractions over the summer to help you find fun things to do right in our own backyard-we start with Bowditch Point Park this week.
06/13/2013 at 3:35pm Delete

Long May It Wave

Today is Flag Day, a day set aside to commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 by the Second Continental Congress.

Our fledgling nation chose the banner that would represent our nation that day --13 red and white stripes for the 13 original colonies. White stars on a blue field, originally 13, now 50, representing states of the union.

For almost a hundred years, the flag was primarily a military emblem or a way to mark American territory or flown on the 4th of July. Then, in 1860, a Major Robert Anderson moved American troops into Fort Sumter in Charleston, defying the growing Confederacy and raised the U.S. Flag, certainly not the last time the flag has flown in defiance.The flag’s role in the fierce battles that followed Major Anderson’s surprising stand, led to wider recognition of the symbolic value of the American flag. Flags were mass-produced for the first time. Suddenly they flew from houses, stores and churches.

Flag Day had its beginnings in 1885 in a one-room schoolhouse in Waubeka, Wisconsin when a 19-year-old first-year teacher stuck a 38 star flag in an inkwell and told students to write an essay on what the flag meant to them. That teacher, Bernard Cigrand, sold books to earn money for dentistry school. Throughout his schooling and subsequent years of dental practice and teaching in Illinois, he devoted decades to his campaign to establish a day to honor the birth of the American flag. This son of Luxembourg immigrants was relentless in lobbying local and national leaders to recognize a Flag Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for observance of Flag Day. Finally in 1948, 17 years after Cigrand’s death, President Harry Truman signed a Congressional act into law designating June 14th as Flag Day.

The American flag is tied to our culture and raises strong emotions in most Americans. As a symbol of freedom and liberty it’s known throughout the world.

When Americans feel threatened or attacked or challenged, flags often come out of the closet and are flown as a symbol of solidarity. Remember the number of flags that flew in our towns and cities in the weeks after 9-11?
06/06/2013 at 3:55pm Delete

Island Kudos

We at the Sand Paper believe that it’s always a good idea to share good news. Every couple of months, we use this space to focus on all the good things happening in our community and the many people who make our island a better place to live. Kudos go out to…

Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve for their presentation of "Visions of the Future” including the naming of several trials and installation of a peace pole.

Lee County Natural Resources Department for coordinating the movement of directional buoys at Big Carlos Pass allowing boaters a clearer route into the pass.

Relay for Life teams who filled the beach at DiamondHead Resort raising money for the American Cancer Society.

The Film Festival Committee, Friends of the Arts and all the volunteers and attendees who supported the 7th Annual Film Festival held in late April.

Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation for their support of the Great American Cleanup. This group coordinates beach clean-ups on a regular basis, inspiring the rest of us.

Beach PTO volunteers and attendees of the PTO Golf Tournament and Cocktail Party/Silent Auction held each year to support all the good work this organization does for our Beach School kids. The funds raised support field trips, school supplies and many of the little extras that shrinking budgets don’t provide.

"Ding” Darling Tarpon Tournament organizers and anglers whose efforts support the Sanibel nature preserve and gather important tarpon DNA information. Held at Doc Ford’s Fort Myers Beach, this second year event drew 45 teams.

Chamber of Commerce for another spectacular Taste of the Beach, held this year on Old San Carlos Blvd.Local restaurateurs showcased their most tasty offerings for a record number of attendees.

The Lions, Chamber, FMB Foundation, FMB Art Association and Kiwanis for their annual efforts to award scholarships to area youth. It’s good to know that when our beach kids head away to school, they know that our area service groups care about them.