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Missy Layfield - Editor
05/29/2014 at 2:22pm Delete

ISLAND KUDOS

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

The Beach Kiwanis for their donation to the Golisano Children’s Hospital and their ongoing support of Eagle Scout Javier Ramirez. Also for their ongoing efforts to help every child on Fort Myers Beach learn how to swim. They pay half the cost of swimming lessons at Beach Pool.

The generous advertisers of the Island Sand Paper for their support of the March Entertainment Magazine and Shrimp Guide, providing the means to support the Beach Lions charities.

The Town, its Anchorage Advisory Committee and Matanzas Inn for hosting a great Cruiser Appreciation Day. Our town’s mooring field brings a wide variety of people to our back bay for a day, a week or longer while they explore Southwest Florida.

All those beach-goers who give our shore nesting birds a wide berth during this nesting season on the south end near Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area.

Participants in the Fire House Flameout at Nervous Nellie’s held to support Lee County Fire Marshals efforts to educate and promote fire safety.

Everyone who cleans up the beach, whether it’s an organized event like the Great American Clean-up or just taking a bag along on your daily walk.

The sponsors and participants in the inaugural Beach Elementary 500, raising funds for our Beach School. A fun time for everyone!

Councilman Alan Mandel for his efforts to represent our Beach concerns in Tallahassee regarding water quality and a possible sales tax to help fund infrastructure for our visitor population.

The 8th Annual FMB Film Festival for bringing independent films and filmmakers to our Island and showcasing original films.

All the winners of the Chamber of Commerce’s Hospitality Hero Award, representing the best of our Island’s welcoming spirit.
05/22/2014 at 2:35pm Delete

Remember

Memorial Day is devoted to recognizing those who have given their lives in service to our country. Those who died on the battlefields of countless conflicts beginning in Concord, as our nation was first formed, all the way to the present and those who gave their lives this week in Afghanistan.

Often our Memorial Day recognition of those who died in our nation’s service is a somewhat sanitized version, evoking battles of long ago. It’s easier that way because it lacks the raw grief and loss that our families and communities experience when they lose a son or daughter to war.

We should never forget those who died for our country at Concord, Gettysburg, Antietam, Argonne, Normandy, Anzio, Khe Sanh, Tet, Fallujah, Basra, Kandahar, Kabul or any of the named and un-named battles that have claimed the lives of American service men and women. Each loss is our nation’s loss. Each families’ sacrifice our sacrifice.

Yet when that loss occurred decades ago, it’s difficult to appreciate the loss on a personal level. Standing in a cemetery, hearing taps and watching the U.S. flag being folded and handed to the soldier’s family is an unforgettable experience that makes Memorial Day real—makes each soldier’s sacrifice real, each families grief real. And that is what Memorial Day should be—a visceral appreciation for the sacrifice that is a young life cut short while serving our country.

In 2014, we are more likely to recognize the rites of a military funeral from a movie or TV show with a commercial break right afterwards. We are pretty much insulated from the realization that we are still fighting a war in Afghanistan and our soldiers are still dying there and losing a soldier creates grief that ripples through our families and communities forever, much longer than the next commercial break.

It’s the distance between American culture and its warriors who are fighting a battle in the name of America ...
05/15/2014 at 3:09pm Delete

State of the State

As the flurry of bills hits Governor Rick Scott’s desk, it’s hard to ignore the decisions that will affect us as he signs or vetoes the bills that the 2014 Legislature passed in their two-month session just completed.

Education bills were signed with great fanfare this week. It is an election year, so it wouldn’t be an overreaction if voters looked at just about everything done by anyone up for re-election as a possible campaign event. So, too with the signing of education bills by Governor Scott. Scott has completed a perfectly executed pirouette from his original stance of cutting funds for education to touting his support for education.

This week he signed three different bills, all aimed at relieving misgivings of the Florida version of Common Core standards. One requires school districts to institute a process to allow parents to object to textbooks and classroom materials. Another prohibits school districts from collecting biometric and other identifying information.

And for those who cannot bear to even hear the words "Common Core,” all references to "Common Core” standards have been removed from state law in another bill signed this week. While renamed the "Florida Standards,” the math, language arts and literacy standards are overwhelmingly consistent with Common Core standards, though Florida did add cursive writing and calculus standards. The standards outline what students should know at each grade level.

Something that will help everyone’s wallet: Scott signed a bill setting sales tax holidays for hurricane supplies (May 31-June 8) and energy efficient appliances (September 19-21) and school supplies (August 1-3).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been baffled at the excitement over sales tax holidays. It’s 6%. If a store announced a "6% off everything” sale, I doubt that shoppers would beat a path to their door. But set a sales tax holiday and it’s pandemonium. If it encourages people to prepare for a hurricane before we have a storm bearing down on us, it’s a good thing, but still, it’s only 6%.
05/08/2014 at 3:27pm Delete

State legislators finished their work in Tallahassee a week ago. As the dust settles, we’re all able to take a good look at what was accomplished by our elected representatives and what was not. You’ll find a short list of some winners and losers in the 2-month legislative roulette game played this spring on page 23.

After last summer’s Lake O polluted water dump, one of the most closely watched issues from our area was water quality and Everglades restoration. The Legislature, hearing the widespread cries from environmentalists and South Florida residents whose economy is dependent on clean water, more than doubled water funding to $169 million. They also approved $90 million for 2.6 miles of bridges for the Tamiami Trail that will allow water to flow under the road and into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

Florida finally has a parasailing law. It took four years, but the state with one of the largest number of commercial parasail operators in the country (about 120 in season) finally has some official regulations. Most notable among them is the requirement that parasail vessels have weather radar onboard and maintain a weather log. Parasailing is prohibited in winds over 20 mph or when wind gusts over 25 mph or when lightning is within 7 miles. Liability coverage is also required and rider safety briefings are mandatory. Responsible parasail operators have been following most of these guidelines and welcome this codification of safety practices.

The School Voucher program was expanded to include middle-class families. The program works by offering state tax credits to businesses that donate to the voucher program. Families then apply for vouchers that provide funding to private schools that their children attend. This seems to be the work-around created after a previous more direct voucher program was declared unconstitutional in 2006. An interesting hitch is that while public school students are required to take specific mandated standardized tests, this bill allows private schools to pick any standardized test, so long as the results are publicly reported.