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Category: Featured Articles

ESTERO’S super SUMMER READS

 
BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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With snowbirds fl ying north and sunlight hours stretching, the pace of life seems to slow in Southwest Florida this time of year, leaving time for leisurely reading. Several authors live among us in Estero, fi nding their inspiration amid palm trees swaying in the Gulf Coast breeze. Their writings are diverse — some whimsical, some suspenseful, some scholarly. There are memoirs, romantic trysts and even some serious stargazing. Before heading out to watch the sunset, grab a good read by one of Estero’s own published authors, and delve into the imaginations and experiences of your neighbors.

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Estero’sSiliconValley: SUNSET COAST TECHNOLOGY CONSORTIUM

 
BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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You’ve just created an innovative app. Now what? That’s the dilemma for Florida Gulf Coast University computer science major Daniel D’Amato. On his quest to bring his internet tech to market, D’Amato sought out Marc Farron, a consultant with the Florida Small Business Development Center at FGCU and president of the Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership (SWFRTP). Farron knew just where to take the young programmer: Estero’s Silicon Valley. Haven’t noticed it driving around town? Just look up the next time you’re strolling along Coconut Point’s Fashion Drive with an armful of shopping bags.

Located in a 1,200-square-foot offi ce above Brookstone, with a balcony overlooking the commerce and commotion of Coconut Point, three tech startups symbiotically coexist. Each serves the real estate industry in a unique way: REfi ndly helps brokers generate leads, manage customer relations and create websites with advanced content management; Agent Shield allows agents to market and sell new construction homes alongside resales; and Testimonial Tree helps real estate and other industry professionals market their businesses through testimonials on social media.

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ALGENOL OFFERS eco-friendly FILL-UPS

 
BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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One of the hottest biotech companies around the globe sits unassumingly on 30 acres at the back of a dead-end street off Alico Road. While locals may know little about the advanced science taking place behind the walls of Algenol, the Bioenergy Industry is taking notice. In November, Algenol was named No. 3 on Biofuels Digest’s “50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy” for 2014-15, the top American company to make the list. One month later, PLATTS Global Energy awarded Algenol its top honor as global leader in the Biofuel industry.

“I think we are the most successful, completely unknown company in America,” says Algenol CEO and founder Paul Woods. By the end of 2015, however, Southwest Floridians may be pumping Algenol fuel into their vehicles. In January, the company became the fi rst to receive approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to use its patented algae “bug” commercially, with the only approved pathway for turning algae into ethanol. “We conclusively proved our algae were safe, even if we had a hurricane and 100 percent of them were released into the environment,” Woods adds. Algenol’s success has been years in the making.

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THE art OF ESTERO

 
BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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During the lovely late winter days of Southwest Florida, opportunities abound for art enthusiasts. This month starts with the Bonita Springs National Art Festivals at Riverside Park, followed by the annual Coconut Point Art Festival the fi rst weekend of February. The westside parking field of Coconut Mall is transformed into a sprawling outdoor art gallery as 250 top artists from around the nation bring their works in varying mediums, including paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry and more.

This festival, organized by Howard Alan Events, includes a free art giveaway featuring the whimsical work of watercolor artist Anne Marie Solomon. Running Jan. 31-Feb. 1, the Bonita Springs National Art Festival not only kicks off the month, but returns on the weekend of March 14-15. This annual showcase of talent features more than 200 nationally and internationally acclaimed artists from 32 states, Canada and Europe. All proceeds from the festival support programming for the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs. As we celebrate the arts this month, Estero Lifestyle Magazine highlights the diverse works of several accomplished artists living, working and creating artistic masterpieces right in our community.

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Ghosts OF KORESHAN

 
BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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No longer Estero’s best kept secret, Koreshan State Historic Site bustles with activity each season, all with the goal of sharing the unique history of its early settlers and their contributions to local development and culture. “Estero is on the map because of the Koreshan settlement,” says Janet Murphy, committee chair for the park’s wildly popular Ghost Walk events. “I really believe they would be thrilled to know we are bringing their story to the greater community.” Ghost Walk has nothing to do with spirits and ghouls.

A cast of 23 actors and support crew of more than 40 bring “Master Koresh” Cyrus Teed and his followers to life during two consecutive weekends each year. About 560 visitors are expected to take the Ghost Walk and learn about Koreshan life by moonlight. The paths are given a mystical glow by lit luminaries as visitors move from scene to scene while listening in on Koreshan conversation.

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Estero Christmas

 
Y LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

PHOTOS: GREG COURY PHOTOGRAPHY

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Lights, sights and sounds of Christmas will abound onstage at Estero’s only community Christmas production. Each year, more than 100 volunteers from River of Life Assembly of God design, rehearse and produce the Estero Christmas Celebration as the church’s “gift to the community.”

“At River of Life Assembly of God, we love Christmas!” says Pastor Todd Weston. “We really do! We love the sights and sounds of Christmas. We love the music, the lights, the decorations and all of the fun traditions of the holiday season. But most of all we love the Christ of Christmas.” River of Life put on its first Estero Christmas Celebration in 2008, and the annual holiday event has grown in popularity and grandiosity each year. This year’s show will run four consecutive nights, Dec. 11-14, with matinee and evening performances on Saturday and Sunday.

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Rebuilding THE ’BLADES: FLORIDA EVERBLADES HUNGRY FOR PLAYOFFS

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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On the heels of an underachieving 2013-14 season, the Florida Everblades are bringing fresh talent to the ice.It’s a younger, hungrier team – a mix of players Coach Greg Poss believes are eager to prove themselves and won’t settle for less than their best.

No one on the 2014-15 roster was around when the Everblades captured the Kelly Cup in 2012. Only Head Coach Poss and General Manager Craig Brush tasted that victory. Members of the Kelly Cup Championship team have either moved on, or were let go after last season. “What I saw last year, mid-December after having a really good start, the intrinsic motivation of the players wasn’t the level we needed,” Poss says. “Instead of 100 percent, we were maybe 98 percent. The little edge was missing. The heart of the team wasn’t quite beating as we would like.” At the end of the season, the Blades had tallied more points than previous years, but still missed the playoffs.

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CITY’S OLDEST LAW FIRM CELEBRATES 90 YEARS

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

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Jim Franklin, Jr., and the venerable Fort Myers law fi rm bearing his family name were born just months apart in 1924. Smartly dressed and well- spoken, Franklin belies his age as he speaks in vivid detail about the events of his life, career and the business his father founded with Robert A. Henderson, Jr., 90 years ago this month. Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., is the oldest law fi rm in Southwest Florida. It opened in October 1924 when Jacksonville attorney James A. Franklin relocated his young family – including three-month-old James, Jr. – to Fort Myers to join established attorney Robert A. Henderson, Jr., in a partnership. They were later joined by attorneys P.E. Starnes and Parker Holt in 1942. All were Baptists and Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity brothers, spending the remainder of their careers in practice together.

Franklin moved his family of fi ve into a home on Royal
Palm Avenue. Henderson lived one block from the offi ce on First Street, in the same house in which he was born in 1892, remaining there his entire life. Although both men were civic-minded and shared many philosophical beliefs, the younger Franklin remembers the fi rm’s founders as a case of “opposites attract.” “R.A. Henderson and Jim Franklin were about as different as day and night, winter and summer,” Franklin Jr. says. “They were partners for so many years, totally adored each other, but were perfect opposites.” “Henderson was such a different individual – very reserved – he never raised his voice that I ever heard,” Franklin recalls.

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WAVE OF WORSHIP

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

cover-imgAs Living Waters Church surges into its new building at the former Albertsons grocery site in Estero this month, everything will be fresh and new. Although the church’s new site is less than eight miles from its former home on Bonita Beach Road, it is worlds apart in design. “We should have a pretty good vibe going on here,” says Lead Pastor Ed Ivie, a 40-something visionary with big plans for his growing congregation. Everything about the church and its accompanying preschool academy has been researched, reviewed and re- imagined during the building transition. From a new logo to a newly created superhero for the children’s ministry called Hydro, everything about this church is as fresh as the paint on the walls (fi ttingly, in a new, modern industrial palette).

“We were able to build a building that really fi t who we are,” Ivie explains. “I often say we were a Size 10 trying to wear a Size 8 shoe.” Living Waters is passing its more traditional church building on to the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, which has transformed it into a Performing Arts Center. “I think it’s a great fi t for them,” Ivie says. “It was great timing for them and great timing for us.” The auditorium at the old building seats 375, ideal for most of the art center’s performances. Living Waters’ new, state-of- the-art auditorium seats almost 800. “I think we will experience some good, dramatic growth at the beginning,” Ivie says, noting the location directly across the street from where Hertz is building its new global headquarters.

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STUDENT ATHLETES BUILDING EAGLES’ NATIONAL REPUTATION

 

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While basketball may have put Fort Myers on the map as Dunk City, Florida Gulf Coast University also boasts some amazing athletes in lesser promoted sports. Athletes like nationally ranked tennis player Jordi Vives, soccer star Tabby Tindell and super swimmer Kira Toussaint are setting records, strengthening the overall athletic program and bringing respect to this young university. Baseball players Mike Murray and Jake Noll were recently named Louisville Slugger All-Americans, following in the fame of FGCU alum and Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sales. A returning junior, Murray had arguably the greatest pitching season in program history with 13 wins. He was a National Player of the Year semifi nalist, was named the Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year and was the only player from the A-Sun to make it onto the 18-man College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year watch list. In his fi rst season with the Eagles, teammate Noll collected 101 hits and was named the Louisville Slugger National Freshman Player of the Year, as well as the A-Sun Freshman of the Year.

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Experience Estero: Historical Kayaking Along The Estero River

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

cover-imgShiny water beetles dance in the sunlight, skimming the water’s surface as my paddle slices through the Estero River. It’s a lovely Saturday morning, with a rustling breeze and plenty of sunshine, ideal for kayaking. The shoreline is lush with native and exotic vegetation, thanks to the Koreshan Unity, a religious sect which brought civilization – and exotic plants – to Estero in the 1890s. Above the spider-like root system of the mangroves, towering bamboo gives an eerily hollow clank with each gust of wind.

The occasional water bird greets us with curiosity, taking in our brightly colored kayaks and the awkward strokes of the novice paddlers among us. Estero River not only embodies nature and history, it’s an ideal place for
paddling newbies, with its narrow, tree-lined waterway. As we glide along the surface, breathing in nature, it’s hard to imagine we are helping to tear down invisible fences, which have existed for half a century between historical preservation groups.

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DISCOVERING MOUND KEY

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

cover-imgFrom the water, Mound Key looks like any other mangrove island in Estero Bay, yet hidden within the native vegetation is a little known piece of national history, with a 31-foot-high mound of shell and fi sh bones at the core. I recently joined archaeologist Theresa Schober on a boat tour to this historic island to learn more about the Calusa Indians who dwelt there for hundreds of years before an unwelcome visit from a famed Spanish conquistador named Juan Ponce de León in 1513. As Schober aims to prove in a documentary she is producing, Mound Key is “where the new and old worlds collided.”

The excursion launched from the West Bay dock on a clear Monday morning, with a group of 28 aboard Capt. JR Trepper’s Banana Bay Tour Company vessel.

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ART & NATURE AT FGCU

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

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Art, history and botany intermingle as the FLOR500 exhibition comes to Florida Gulf Coast University this month. This statewide collaborative project dreamed up by Miami artist and Florida International University professor Xavier Cortada seeks to commemorate Florida’s quincentennial by giving a glimpse of what the landscape looked like when Juan Ponce de León landed here in 1513, naming the land “La Florida,” from the Spanish word for “flower.”

“What he has developed is an environmental art project that spans the entire state,” says Region Seven curator Mary Voytek, an associate professor of sculpture at FGCU. Five hundred Florida artists were selected, including about 60 from Southwest Florida, each choosing to depict one of 500 native wildfl owers identified by a team of scientists. Historians also contributed to this massive participatory project by identifying 500 signifi cant fi gures in Florida history. Each will be honored with a new wildfl ower garden planted to help support Florida’s biodiversity.

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Priscila Navarro

 

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The daughter of two engineers, Navarro’s family moved to Lima so she could study at a pre-engineering high school for students gifted in mathematics. Although she graduated as valedictorian at age 15, Navarro had already decided her career would be in music. She had been studying for seven years under Lydia Hung, the former director of the National Conservatory in Lima. “She was looking for a safe, good place where Priscila could go to school,” Baron says of his first encounter with Hung.

Although Navarro was in Michigan at Interlochen Center for the Arts at the time, Baron quickly arranged for her to receive a full-ride scholarship to FGCU upon watching a video of her performances.

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Discovering Mound Key with Theresa Schober

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

content-img1The Marina on the Peninsula at Miromar Lakes opened with a nautical themed celebration Jan. 26, with Florida Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen and Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass christening the new water taxi, “La Dolce Vita,” along with Miromar Development Corporation CEO Margaret Antonier. After breaking a bottle of champagne on the bow, VIPs took a maiden voyage across the community’s 700-acre freshwater lake. Marina on the Peninsula is a festive gateway to two new neighborhoods within the Miromar Lakes development. It includes boat slips, bocce courts, fitness stations, a parterre garden and pavilions for entertaining.

A sculpture by nationally renowned artist Barton Rubenstein also was unveiled at the event. It’s a kinetic work called “Dare to Be,” which moves with the wind. Residents will enjoy paddling, sailing, social events and outdoor fi tness classes at the new marina.

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Art thou ready?

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

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Festival season is upon us in Southwest Florida, saturating the local landscape in style.

For two days at a time, art festivals pop up, inviting the community to appreciate and explore through multiple mediums. They offer an escape from the ordinary and a foray into the art world, without the pretentiousness of visiting a gallery. “At an art festival, you can walk up and meet the artist who created the work and feel very comfortable,” says Barry Witt, longtime organizer of the Bonita Springs National Art Festivals. “It’s a good experience. You start with an empty park or street, and for two days, it becomes a major, major event. If you come back on Monday, it’s gone.”

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Meet Your State Representative: Estero Resident Ray Rodrigues

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

DSC_0591Rep. Ray Rodrigues will play quarterback for the local bill giving Estero residents the right to vote on citihood.

He has long been a supporter of self governance and the people’s right to speak, which is why he authored a bill last session reinforcing Florida’s Sunshine laws. Rodrigues says he was outraged when the Florida Supreme Court let an appellate court decision in Escambia County stand which denied public input at a government meeting.

“I truly believe government is of the people, which is one of the reasons I’m carrying the bill for Estero’s incorporation,” he said.

 

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Meet District 78 Rep. Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

 

DSC_0207“Being a state legislator is not for sissies.” That’s what Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen has discovered since joining the Florida House of Representatives in 2012.

As the District 78 representative, Fitzenhagen represents a pocket of northeast Estero, including Miromar Outlets, Grandezza and Florida Gulf Coast University. She was a driving force in enticing Hertz to relocate its international headquarters to Southwest Florida, playing a key role in convincing fellow legislators to put state money on the table.

“I think my excitement came across,” Fitzenhagen said, flashing her famous smile. “I am thankful for the opportunity to build relationships with my colleagues and advocate on behalf of Southwest Florida because I’m very positive about our community.”

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Holiday Gift Guide

 

by Laura J. Cummings Gates

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20 Years Of Stan And Haney: Duo Hits 5,000th Show

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

DSC_0273When Stan Nawalaniec and Mark Haney first started working together, they were playing tunes from magnetic tape. The talk radio mavericks have laughed their way through early mornings, station format overhauls and monumental life changes.

The well-known duo met at a Melbourne, Fla., station in 1987, where they worked on separate shows. The stint was brief, as the station soon transitioned from Top 40 to Oldies, and they both found themselves out of work. The early ’90s not only brought the genesis of CDs, but also the emergence of radio’s corporate era, making longevity in the business scarce.

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Return to Prominence

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

cover-imgThe Promenade at Bonita Bay once was considered the place to shop with its unique assortment of boutiques and relaxing European style setting. Following the recession and what some say was mismanagement, a mass exodus took place a few years ago, leaving this once thriving marketplace a near ghost town. This fall, The Promenade begins its comeback as a defi nitive destination in Southwest Florida. The resurgence is anchored by Nonna DeRosa’s Gourmet Market and Restaurant.

DeRosa’s is targeted to open in December and will be an 18,000-square-foot, meandering, old-world style marketplace with multiple storefronts. The intertwined “shops” within DeRosa’s will include a deli, bakery, gelato and coffee bar, fresh market, butcher shop, seafood counter, pastaria, wine seller and gourmet gift basket center.

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Sweet Life

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

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Satisfying a sweet tooth is easy in Southwest Florida. Whether it’s cupcakes, donuts, truffl es, or pastries, you don’t have to drive far for gourmet treats.
Making tasty desserts takes much longer than eating them. Local bakers start working long before sunrise to produce fresh bread and cakes each morning. And that’s only half the job.
Here are the stories behind some artisans who decorate their treats with style, presenting desserts that are as lovely as they are tasty…

From Accounting to Cupcakes

Four years ago Grace Bolen left corporate life and entered the sweet life. She traded her briefcase for an apron and opened a cupcake shop in Naples. “I’ve always loved sweets,” she says. “I’m the kind of person who likes to check out the dessert menu before the regular menu and plan my meal around that.” Today, Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes has fi ve locations in Southwest Florida, including one at Coconut Point Mall. A sixth is opening this month in Milwaukee, the hometown of Bolen’s business partner, Shelly Stayer. Bolen’s background in fi nance and accounting helps with running the business, but when it comes to the creative side, Bolen is self-taught. “I’ve always been kind of a foodie,” she says. “I love to try different things.”

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New at FGCU

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

cover-imgBasketball made headlines last school year. So what’s in store this year?

Florida Gulf Coast University will welcome about 14,200 students to campus this month as fall classes resume at the growing university. FGCU is heading into its 17th year, and the university has logged much success in its short history. While the formerly double-digit growth rate is intentionally being slowed, student enrollment continues to rise each year, with an even greater bump expected in 2014 – spurred by the Eagles’ NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament success. “Whatever gets them to our front door is good,” says FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw. “When they come here, they will fi nd a very successful, comprehensive university with great academic programs, great athletic programs and student organizations.”

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FOR LOCALS ONLY:

 

By Laura J. Cummings Gates

cover-imgLast summer, Dawn Balliet’s family went on vacation – just 20 minutes from home. She didn’t have to endure the incessant, “Are we there yet?” chorus from her three young girls, and she could easily sneak away for a couple hours if work demanded it. Plus, the off-season rates on Little Hickory Beach were terrifi c. “We get it for cheaper, and it’s like a little mini vacation,” says Balliet, who owns a local Home Watch company. “We have the best beaches in the country, so why not just stay here?” Many locals choose to “staycation” in Southwest Florida, enjoying a relaxing change of scenery while taking advantage of the smaller crowds and lower rental rates of summer.

“The off-season rates are very appealing to vacationers who live in Florida and are looking to get away but still stay in paradise,” says local Realtor Kevin Yankow, who rented the summer retreat to Balliet. “Vacation spots like Sanibel and Captiva are a good place to visit while the traffi c to and from is lighter,” he adds. Balliet said her girls – ages 8, 5, and 3 – love to simply play in the sand. She’s planning to rent another place on the beach this summer, whether it’s for a long weekend or a full week. “You don’t have to deal with the crowds on the beach in the summer time,” she says.

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DEDICATED DADS

 

JACK MANCINI “MR. ESTERO”
cover-imageJack Mancini is known as “Mr. Estero” for listing the most homes for sale in Estero in 2012. While he’s proud of his status as the community’s top real estate agent, Jack also boasts some lesser-known accomplishments – such as his consistent ability to make 15 peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches a week. He’s the production department for school lunches around the Mancini home in Stoneybrook, where this dad of three girls is the lone male in the house. Even the pet turtle is a girl. It’s a stark contrast to his upbringing with two brothers. Not only does Jack now have a wife and three daughters, but his mother-in-law Joyce joined the household last September.

“She’s wonderful,” says Jack, who grew up with his maternal grandmother in the home. “She helps a lot with cooking, cleaning, the kids. I love it.

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Our Mother’s Home Mother of the Year: Susan Souza

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

cover-imgThe girls at Our Mother’s Home are tough – at least on the outside. They don’t open their hearts easily for fear of being hurt. Again. As expected, they were a bit standoffi sh when Susan Souza fi rst came to volunteer. Then they heard her story and realized she was once “one of us.” She, too, had been a teen mom, caught in a desperate and life-changing situation. The difference is, she didn’t get to keep her baby. The girls at Our Mother’s Home have an opportunity Susan did not have in 1968. They’re raising their babies themselves, with support from the staff at Our Mother’s Home.

Susan Souza was honored as the Our Mother’s Home
Mother of the Year during the Hearts of Love Gala in February. The Grandezza resident is an avid volunteer at the home, where she says the best thing she can do for the girls is simply love them.

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DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ

 

BY LAURA CUMMINGS GATES

cover-imgMIRACLE HOMECOMING: DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ TO MANAGE FT. MYERS MIRACLE WORLD SERIES WINNER & OLYMPIC MEDALIST COMES HOME FOR DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ, COMING BACK TO SOUTHWEST FLORIDA AS FIELD MANAGER FOR THE MINNESOTA TWINS’ CLASS A AFFILIATE, THE FORT MYERS MIRACLE, IS IN MANY WAYS A HOMECOMING – BRINGING HIM FULL CIRCLE TO THE PLACE WHERE HIS PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL CAREER BEGAN.

“It’s a gem to have him back,” says Andrew Seymour, General Manager of the Twins’ Fort Myers operations. Mientkiewicz joins Hitting Coach Jim Dwyer and Pitching Coach Ivan Arteaga. Dwyer is one of the many familiar faces, having been the Twins’ minor league rover back when Mientkiewicz fi rst joined the organization after being drafted in 1995 following a sensational season with Florida State University. The Seminoles earned their fi rst ACC Championship that year, and Mientkiewicz was named the ACC Atlantic I Regional MVP.

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LASTING LOVE

 

LOVE By Laura J. Cummings

cover-imgTo celebrate Valentine’s Day, we asked some of Estero’s most enduring lovebirds to share their stories of falling in love – and their secrets to maintaining ardor for one another through decades of marriage. Enjoy their tales of accidental dates, weathering tough times, and fi nding humor through life’s journey together.

Joe and Joni Pavich will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. They raised two boys while building a successful real estate business in Estero. Both sons, Joe, Jr., and Jason, are now Realtors in the family business. Joe Sr. and Joni consider their sons’ wives as their “daughters-in-love” and have been blessed with fi ve grandchildren. “Our lives revolve around our family,” Joni says. “They are our greatest gifts of all!”

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ESTERO BUSINESS OUTLOOK 2013

 

BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

coverCAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC MIGHT BE THE BEST WAY TO DESCRIBE THE MOOD OF BUSINESS EXECUTIVES IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA. WHILE ECONOMIC INDICATORS APPEAR TO MOVING IN A POSITIVE DIRECTION, RECOVERY HAS BEEN SLOW AND MANY REGULATORY UNCERTAINTIES LINGER.

A recent survey of Lee County executives found most believe economic conditions will improve this year. The Executive Business Climate Survey, conducted by Florida Gulf Coast University’s Regional Economic Research Institute (RERI) in partnership with the Horizon Council, showed local executives feel optimistic, but there remains uncertainty about the speed of economic recovery, said Dr. Gary Jackson, the Research Institute’s director.

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Local Malls Anticipate Robust Retail Season

 

By Laura J. Cummings

cont-imgSanta will be visiting all three of Estero’s major shopping centers this holiday season, promising presents to good boys and girls, as well as pets.

Local mall managers say they are encouraged by sales thus far in 2012, and they expect seasonal sales to be strong. Coconut Point, Miromar Outlets and Gulf Coast Town Center each have a full lineup of festivities planned throughout the months of November and December.

“The holidays are always a favorite time of year here at Coconut Point,” said Tara Beauchesne, director of marketing and business development. “This year, for the fi rst time ever, we are thrilled to be able to bring Santa Claus to the shopping center to meet with our young visitors, families and even furry friends to share the spirit and magic of the holiday season.”

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