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Issue 668 Delete 11/27/2013 at 2:20pm

Gretchen JohnsonIsland Neighbor: Gretchen Johnson

It is always interesting to look at the life behind the artist, in hopes that you might discover what inspires them, what informs their creations. For local painter Gretchen Johnson, it is a compendium of everyday occurrences, familiar icons of beach and family life, and a lifetime of positive feedback from relatives and friends that fires up her imagination.

At the tender age of 87, California native Gretchen trolls her memories with a chuckle, trying to pinpoint when it was in her life that she first started painting. "I guess it was when I was in high school. I took a class with a gentleman who taught oil painting.

Issue 667 Delete 11/21/2013 at 6:24pm

Happy ThanksgivingBeach Kids Share Thanksgiving Thoughts

The Thanksgiving Holiday is all about family, food and sharing a meal of thanks with those we love. Those traditions certainly aren’t lost on the island’s elementary students or the faculty and staff at their school.

Every year, Principal Larry Wood and his team at Fort Myers Beach Elementary celebrate the holiday early with a special Thanksgiving lunch, inviting the parents and family to join students at the lunch table. This year, the Island Sand Paper caught up with the students and their families during two busy lunch periods on Wednesday. We asked the students what they were most thankful for. As a follow-up question, for those who were having difficulty answering, we asked their favorite part of Thanksgiving.

Issue 666 Delete 11/14/2013 at 5:25pm

Sand Sculpting Championships ReturnSand Sculpting Championships Return

Next weekend marks the beginning of the 27th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championships here on Fort Myers Beach. Starting November 22 and running through December 1, the 10-day festival is packed with events to keep you coming back for more. The American Championships is the largest sand sculpting event in Florida and one of the largest in the world. It is also the longest running. Quite a distinction for our island community. There is a lot of preparation, planning and cooperation that goes on between various businesses and organizations here on the beach to make the American Championships not only one of the largest but also one of the most exciting.

Issue 665 Delete 11/07/2013 at 3:02pm

Retired Chief Petty Officer Russ WinsettVeteran’s Day Spotlight
A Day That Will Live in Infamy

In honor of Veteran's Day this year, the Sand Paper was fortunate enough to interview a man who spent 20 years in service to his country - most of it after he survived one of the worst attacks in this nation's history, Pearl Harbor. Retired Chief Petty Officer Russ Winsett was just 21 years old and only a year and a half into his enlistment when the U.S. was thrust into the brutality of World War II, but he remembers it like it was yesterday.

"I was born on March 4, 1920 in Hamilton, Alabama, to a family of farmers,” the spry 93-year-old told us from his home in Bonita Springs.