Lead Photo: Naples Senior Center gains approvals to build permanent home. Details below.
Video courtesy of WINK News
LEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT URGES STUDENTS IN ONLINE PROGRAM TO RETURN TO CAMPUS IN 2021
Seventy percent of students in the Lee Home Connect program are not meeting standards, so the Lee County school district is pushing for those students to go back to in-person learning to get their grades up. The district is calling all families of students in the program to encourage them to go back to brick-and-mortar classrooms at the start of 2021 for traditional face-to-face instruction, where they are more likely to be successful. That’s 16,000 students who have been flagged for not getting good enough grades or being absent for more than seven days. Parents can opt out of allowing their kids to return to the in-person classroom by signing a waiver. The deadline for parents of students in Lee County schools to change learning options is Dec. 13 for the next semester, WINK News reports.
CARIBBEAN ISLAND RESTAURANT LAUNCHES IN DOWNTOWN NAPLES
A new local restaurant serving oxtail, jerk chicken, mofongo and sugarcane juice opened in September in downtown Naples. Caribbean Island Restaurant launched in the Trinity Plaza space that most recently was The Magayon Filipino restaurant and also formerly home to Gallo Fina Café and Leoni’s Pizzeria. That’s the same retail strip at U.S. 41 and Third Avenue North with the longtime popular Grouper & Chips, Opa Greek Restaurant and the new Afsona Uzbek restaurant. Caribbean Island’s menu includes entrees with chicken (stew, jerk and curry), seafood (shrimp and fried or baked fish), pork (chicharrón and chops) and red meat (oxtail, goat stew, pepper steak and burgers). The new eatery also has some vegan offerings, plantain specialties such as mofongo and mangu, as well as soups, sides, appetizers, desserts and beverages, including fresh coconut water. Caribbean Island, 318 Ninth St N., is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily for dine-in, takeout or delivery, but closed Sundays. For more information call 239-300-4272 or go to caribbeanislandrestaurant.com.
BABCOCK RANCH REACHES SALES MILESTONE
Kitson & Partners announced Babcock Ranch has surpassed the 1,000 homes sold milestone, with 505 year-to-date contracts at America’s first solar-powered town located just northeast of Fort Myers on Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31. Encompassing 18,000 acres, with 19,500 planned residences and 6,000,000 square feet of commercial space, Babcock Ranch achieved another major milestone in 2020 when it was named to the RCLCO Real Estate Advisors’ Top 50 list for the first time, ranking 39th among the country’s top-selling master-planned communities. Construction continues at Crescent B Commons, the 82,640-square-foot Publix-anchored shopping center that broke ground this year at a new entrance to Babcock Ranch about one mile south of the signature Babcock Ranch bridge. Babcock Ranch began marketing new homes in 2017, with the first residents moving into the town in January 2018. Today, Babcock Ranch offers homes from nine homebuilders in seven neighborhoods.
NAPLES SENIOR CENTER GAINS APPROVALS TO BUILD PERMANENT HOME
Naples Senior Center on Tuesday obtained the necessary approvals from the Board of Collier County Commissioners to proceed with its new permanent home on Autumn Oaks Lane, just a block south of Immokalee Road. The Naples Senior Center is the only human services agency of its kind, providing one-stop-shop services addressing the emotional and social needs of seniors in Collier and southern Lee counties. Since opening its doors in January 2014, the organization has seen a surge in the depth and scope of need for comprehensive senior services in this region. The new Naples Senior Center will be centrally located to the largest concentration of members and will be easily accessible from other locations in Collier County. The site also will enable seniors to benefit from a natural setting that offers outdoor space for walking, quiet contemplation and low-impact exercise programs such as tai chi. The 30,000-square-foot facility will be funded through a capital campaign that was launched in 2019 and has been accelerated by a $5 million commitment from local philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker.
DEANGELIS DIAMOND EXPANDS TO ORLANDO
DeAngelis Diamond has expanded to Orlando, Florida. Since its inception in 1996, DeAngelis Diamond has grown from a single office headquartered in Naples to a six-office operation with locations throughout the southeast U.S. and extending to the Midwest. Its newest office in Orlando will be the company’s seventh location and first office in Central Florida. DeAngelis Diamond recently signed a lease for 4,100 square feet at 111 N. Orange Avenue in Downtown Orlando and will be fully renovating the space before moving in spring 2021. The company currently has more than $140 million under construction in Central Florida with another $100 million scheduled to break ground in the first quarter of 2021. TJ Sellers joins the DeAngelis Diamond team after working with national contractor Turner Construction, where he held various roles.
LEE HEALTH HOSPITALS EARN TOP HONORS
HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital have been named a “Top Teaching Hospital” and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida a “Top Children’s Hospital” by The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization focused on health care quality and safety. The Leapfrog Top Hospital award is widely acknowledged as one of the most competitive awards American hospitals can receive. More than 2,200 hospitals were considered for a Top Hospital Award, and Lee Health Hospitals are three of just 105 hospitals in the country to earn this recognition. The quality of patient care across many areas of hospital performance is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors. The rigorous standards are defined in each year’s Top Hospital Methodology. The Leapfrog Group issues its safety grades twice per year, and all Lee Health adult hospitals earned straight A’s on the 2020 spring report card. The fall 2020 report card will be issued Dec. 14.
LUMINARY HOTEL & CO. EARNS AAA AWARD
Luminary Hotel & Co. has officially received the Four Diamond Designation from AAA. Awarded to less than 6% of the more than 27,000 properties inspected and approved by AAA on an annual basis, this achievement ranks the September-opened Luminary Hotel & Co. among a select group of establishments. In January, AAA unveiled a contemporized version of its AAA Diamond Program, modernized to meet the needs of today’s travelers. A new Diamond designation reflecting AAA’s professional inspector reviews using updated guidelines sets the program apart from services that rely on unverified hotel and restaurant ratings. The full guidelines and requirements for hotels are available online.
IN THE KNOW
Preddy PR offering complimentary marketing consultations in Collier County
Beth Preddy, principal of Naples-based Preddy PR Inc., announces the marketing firm’s holiday gift of complimentary “Elevate Your Brand” marketing consultations for Collier County businesses. Beginning in January, the consultations will be limited to five businesses that apply by Dec. 31 through the firm’s website, PreddyPR.com, and complete the required information on the “Contact” page. Local businesses will learn marketing dos and don’ts and receive a checklist of strategies that form the foundation of an effective marketing program, Preddy said.
Alfieri joins Water Science Associates
Water Science Associates has named Mike Alfieri senior hydrogeologist for the hydrogeological consulting firm. Alfieri will join executive leaders Kirk Martin and Roger Copp in developing creative, sustainable and scientifically-based solutions to water resource challenges across Florida. In response to the growing hydrological needs throughout the Southwest area, Alfieri and Copp will also establish a Tampa-based office to expand support services for clients in the region. Alfieri is a nationally certified and registered hydrogeologist with more than 23 years of experience. Professionally licensed geologist in 13 states, Alfieri is an established subject-matter expert recognized in the U.S. federal court and state of Florida court systems, having been retained numerous times by legal counsel for various clients. He is currently a board member and past chair of the Florida Board of Professional Geologists and the chairman of ASTM Sub-Committee on well design, maintenance and construction. Alfieri is also a published author to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, and an academic textbook, The Karst Systems of Florida: Understanding Karst in a Geologically Young Terrain.
Goodlette named chairman of Naples Ethics Commission
Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. Attorney J. Dudley Goodlette was appointed to the Naples Ethics Commission by Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. At the inaugural meeting, Goodlette was also named chairman. Additional Ethics Commissioners include Laird Lile, John Thomas Cardillo, Susan Jones, and John Lehmann. The Ethics Commission, which was approved by over 70% of city voters in August 2020, has the authority and responsibility to develop and draft an amended Ethics Code, to advise the city council in all ethical matters, to recommend proposed ordinances or resolutions, and to provide training in state and local ethics to all persons covered by the Ethics Code.
More than $3.6M in mortgage, rental assistance distributed thanks to United Way
The United Way of Collier and the Keys has helped distribute more than $3.6 million to more than 610 Collier County households in CARES funding. Collier residents who qualify can receive up to $11,250 per household based on their specific documented needs. Accumulation of overdue payments must be due to the onset of COVID-19. The maximum for housing and utility is $10,000. Childcare assistance has a separate maximum award of $1,250. To date, $3,653,672 has been paid out to more than 610 Collier County households. Funding for this project comes from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act administered by the Collier County government. A portion of the funds was allocated to local governments to meet urgent financial needs within their communities. Funds can be used for past due rent, mortgage, utility bills, and childcare provided these expenses have not already been paid for by insurance or another federal assistance program.
Swinging With Purpose receives $1,800 year-end donation
Swinging With Purpose has received a donation of $1,800 from Pelican Lawn and Landscaping Co., which represents 2% of gross sales from 2020 new clients. The donation will help SWP fulfill 2021 grants for its 2021 beneficiaries, including Alliance for Period Supplies SWFL, LACES of Love, Family Initiative, FL Dreamcatchers, Premier Mobile Health Services, Ricky King Children’s Fund and Wellfit Girls. Swinging With Purpose (SWP) is a nonprofit organization that provides support to grassroots organizations serving women, girls and children in Southwest Florida. For more information on Swinging With Purpose or to access the grant application, visit swingingwithpurpose.org or email Diana Riley at Diana@swingingwithpurpose.org.
Naples Global Advisors supports NCH Center for Philanthropy
In keeping with the company’s annual holiday tradition of giving back to the local community, Naples Global Advisors has donated $4,000 to the NCH Center for Philanthropy for COVID-19 relief and support. Since the start of the pandemic, NCH has treated more than 1,400 patients through in-patient care and processed more than 43,000 specimens for testing. We are working diligently every day to contain and reduce the spread of this virus through community education, patient screening and patient care,” said Jim Mahon, chief development officer. “We are grateful for this donation as it will help us continue our life-saving efforts in fighting this virus.”
Miracles in Action launches Beyond Beads site to support artisans in Guatemala
Naples-based Miracles in Action has launched its beyond fair trade Beyond Beads shopping site just in time for holiday shopping. Customers can browse and shop online while supporting women artisans in remote Mayan villages of Guatemala. Miracles in Action, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 2004 as a response to the extreme poverty in Guatemala witnessed by its’ founders, Penny Rambacher and her mother, Noreen Rambacher. Over the past 15 years, Miracles in Action has built 57 schools in remote Guatemalan villages, provided clean water systems, funded family gardens, and provided women empowerment workshops. Today, the nonprofit organization focuses on supporting Guatemalan artisan women to operate their own home-based business earning a fair income. To shop, visit BeyondBeads.org.
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