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Issue 598 Delete 07/26/2012 at 4:07pm

MoorehavenWater Wars

Despite the onset of the summer afternoon rains, some parts of Florida are still officially suffering from the drought that has plagued our already over-taxed water supply since 2006, and water quality issues are still on the forefront of many folks' minds. Battles over who controls what flows down the Caloosahatchee into our back bay are being fought daily as politicians, businesses and environmentalists debate solutions, with the health of the river hanging in the balance.

Being surrounded by water, islanders will feel the direct effects of the decisions that are made so the Sand Paper continues to inform our readers of the latest news from the front lines of the ongoing water war.

Last Thursday, we attended a meeting of the Southwest Florida Watershed Council (SFWC) where former DEP Secretary Victoria Tschinkel talked about the latest news from Tallahassee...

Issue 597 Delete 07/19/2012 at 4:55pm
Bowditch Point, 1961Legends of the Beach
Roxie Smith and A.J. Bassett

In our inimitable Gulfside community, loosely comprised of two little islands linked by Matanzas Pass and 'the Back Bay', some families have roots that first sprouted here decades ago. For two, often three, and perhaps even four generations, they have helped establish and shape the way we function as a community. The example they set for others, in terms of taking personal responsibility for the greater good especially with regard to the environment, the children who live and play here, the health and safety of all islanders, and the pursuit of happiness, is stellar. Fireworks, parades, great shrimp, a wonderful historic cottage, a well-supported neighborhood school, our own library, a thriving Little League, accommodations for our tourists, preserved environments for our flora and fauna, popular eateries... the list goes on - these things have been accomplished in no small way through monumental and very successful voluntary efforts sustained generation after generation.

In last week's Sand Paper, you read about Fran Santini and Jean Matthew. This week, we chatted with Roxie Smith and AJ Bassett, whose families - like Fran's and Jean's - are part of the brick and mortar of our town, and who are still very active in community service and personal pursuits, in spite of some very daunting health issues that have cropped up from time to time in recent years.

Issue 596 Delete 07/12/2012 at 4:34pm

Fran's first sailboat.Living Legends of Fort Myers Beach

What is a legend? According to the New World Dictionary of the American Language, a legend is "a notable person whose deeds or exploits are much talked about in his (or her) own time” and "the stories told about the exploits of such a person”.

In this summer series, the Island Sand Paper will seek out some of our island's living legends, and have them talk a bit about themselves and their "exploits”. This week: Jean (Foster) Matthew and Fran Santini, arguably claiming some of the earliest ties to Fort Myers Beach among these notable islanders.

Fran Santini

Fran was born at the family farm in the Iona area of South Fort Myers in 1931. "Dad was farming and fishing at the time – his land went all the way to the river. But he liked fishing best, so we moved to Crescent Street here on the island in 1934 or '35 in a little house that is still standing (and is visible from the house in which Fran lives now).” Fran points out that Crescent Street didn't run in its current path in those early years, but actually ran on the canal side of the houses. There was a pond between Crescent and Old San Carlos that got filled in, and then the road got moved out to the other side of the houses. "My sister Blanche was born in 1929 on a houseboat anchored in the canal” near the Crescent Street home to which her family would eventually move.

Issue 595 Delete 07/05/2012 at 3:53pm

FMB Goes Wi-FiFort Myers Beach is Going Wireless

Local entrepreneur Jon Gentle has seen the future, and the future is Wi-Fi. This enterprising young businessman, along with his partner, Ivan Arbogast, is on a mission to bring Fort Myers Beach into the 21st century, one business at a time. His plan? Nothing short of making the entire island a free wireless area, something he says will appeal to and bring to the beach an entire generation of cash-spending 20 to 40 year-olds who live here year round - thus eliminating the decades long dependence on season and giving folks a new reason to want to come to our island.

"We're here to help businesses embrace technology to increase revenue for the local community both on and off the island," said Gentle, who recently opened his and Arbogast's business - NBS Technology - in Indian Creek Plaza by Valerie's. "I am here to tell you that the war is over and technology has won - we're just trying to help Fort Myers Beach catch up."