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Issue 585 Delete 04/26/2012 at 4:48pm

County Commissioner Ray JudahJudah on Seafarers

Many of our readers have been wondering what is going on with the site where Seafarer's Mall used to sit. Most are aware that, a couple of years ago, the County Commission used Tourist Development Council (TDC) money to purchase both that property and the land that is now Crescent Beach Family Park and that the county decided to tear down the Mall building with the idea of turning the site into a parking lot. Since then nothing has happened and that has a lot of folks wondering why. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Sand Paper was invited to sit down with Commissioner Ray Judah, who explained the county's plans for the property both now and in the future.

"I want to alleviate everyone's concerns that this property will add to the traffic problem on Estero," Judah began. "And, first and foremost, I want to say that we plan to discuss all of this work with the Town Council as well as the local merchants in the area and get their input before we do anything."

Judah then gave a brief background of how the county had gained ownership of the site, explaining that, when they initially approached the seller about acquiring the beach property they were informed that the two properties were a package deal and that the county must buy them both.

Issue 584 Delete 04/19/2012 at 4:51pm
Fort Myers Beach Film FestivalLights! Camera! Action!
Stars Align for Film Festival

As the buzz of the season winds down to a close, the buzz about the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival is kicking into high gear. With less than one week before the first film is shown, organizers of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival learned that yet another World Premiere film will flicker across the screens at Beach Theater next weekend – 'Crackers'. Directed by Gregory Principato, 'Crackers' stars Film Coordinator Elizabeth D'Onofrio's brother, Vincent – who will hopefully make an appearance at this year's festival. The film will screen on the same ticket as a film that Elizabeth has a big role in, 'Slice' – so folks can see both films on Saturday at 9pm.

The Sand Paper also spoke with the director of another World Premiere film, 'The Descending' – Kyle Thompson - who actually lived on our island as a child, and he told us a little bit about how he got into filmmaking.

"My dad still lives in Fort Myers, and my brother was born there,” Kyle said. "When my folks got divorced we moved up north, where I went to a performing arts high school in New Jersey.”

Issue 583 Delete 04/12/2012 at 4:29pm
Caloosahatchee AlgaeRiver Remains in Peril
as Drought Continues

As the drought continues into it's fifth year, Florida enters the peak of dry season (April and May) with water levels at Lake Okeechobee about 2 feet below normal, prompting the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) governing board to once again vote to stop releasing needed beneficial releases to the Caloosahatchee River – despite putting no restrictions on lake water use by the agricultural industry. Since a similar decision made by the board last year resulted in destructive toxic algae blooms that occurred when all releases were cut off, this has local officials and environmental leaders up in arms.

"The public policy in regards to water management is not reality and the thresholds need to be corrected,” said Rae Ann Wessel, Director of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Association (SCCA) and a 20-year veteran of the water quality drama that is played out every year between local interests, the agriculture industry, the Army Corps of Engineers and the SFWMD.

Issue 582 Delete 04/05/2012 at 4:43pm

Easter Egg HuntCelebrate Easter!

Easter weekend means family fun for guests and residents alike on Fort Myers Beach. From Vespers to egg hunts to sunrise services, there's something for everyone on our crescent island.

The Island Sand Paper asked kids on the beach what their plans were for the weekend and what they were looking forward to the most. Mallie Critser, a junior beach resident and preacher's kid, said, "I plan to eat—we're having a family dinner—and spend time with my family. I'm looking most forward to Easter Service (at Beach Baptist) and family time.”

"We have a four-day weekend with no school and I get to hang with friends and family,” added Critser's older brother Shawn Taylor.