Gulfshore Business Daily: March 1

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Lead Photo: Study conducted by Audubon reveals canal operations are drying Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Details below. Photo by RJ Wiley
Video courtesy of WINK News

MORE FLORIDIANS WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR COVID-19 VACCINE SOON, GOVERNOR SAYS

More people will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced as the state will likely lower the age restrictions in March. DeSantis said he wants seniors 65 and older who want a vaccine to get the vaccine first, but he said he plans to lower the age to 60 some time this month. This comes after DeSantis’ earlier announcement that teachers and law enforcement officers would be able to get vaccinated at federal sites. Meanwhile, dozens of seniors in Lee County received their first dose last week after the weather-delayed vaccine shipments for a week, WINK News reports.

 

NCH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM ANNOUNCES STAFF PAY INCREASES, OTHER NEW BENEFITS

To show appreciation for its staff’s hard work and dedication during an unprecedented season, Naples-based NCH Healthcare System on Friday announced upgrades to its benefits and pay rate structure that take effect May 9 for existing employees and new hires. The upgrades include a 5% pay increase for all employees, excluding the executive team and NCH providers; no premiums for staff medical insurance; PTO cash out at 100%; and a free meal punch card for five free meals each month from NCH cafeterias. “NCH, like all health care systems across the nation, has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. We continue to strive to quickly fill vacancies to stabilize our staffing and are fortunate that we have been able to offer a variety of incentives to get us through this unprecedented time. For over a year, our staff has worked tirelessly through the challenges of the pandemic together,” NCH reports. 

 

FWC APPROVES BAN ON SELLING, KEEPING INVASIVE SPECIES AS PETS

In an attempt to save the state’s ecosystem, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last week banned 16 non-native reptiles, including some pythons and iguanas, from being sold and kept as pets. These invasive species are taking a toll on Southwest Florida’s environment, and the agency is trying to stop the damage those species are causing. The 16 reptiles include Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons, scrub pythons, Northern African pythons, Southern African Pythons, amethystine pythons, green anacondas, Nile monitor lizards, green iguanas and all species of tegus, WINK News reports.

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

CAPE CORAL GROWTH MOTIVATING CHANGES TO TRASH PICKUP DAYS

Changes are coming to trash pickup in Cape Coral because the city is growing so quickly. Some services are struggling to keep up because of all the construction, the traffic and the amount of people moving in. Trash pickup is changing starting today, as the pickup routes have become unbalanced, and resources are being reallocated. Cape Coral has created an interactive map where residents and business owners can type in an address to see the new trash pickup days. Waste Pro asks that bins be set out by 6 a.m. on trash days, WINK News reports.

 

LSI COMPANIES BROKERS 67 SEPARATE RESIDENTIAL LOTS IN CAPE CORAL

Fort Myers-based LSI Companies Inc. brokered 69 separate residential lots in Cape Coral for $806,805. The site was purchased by JHS Builders LLC from Builders Grade LLC, P. Nichols and Sons LLC, Sun Property Ventures LLC, Q. Smith Homes LLC and Hancock Builders LLC. The deal was brokered by Hunter Ward, CCIM; Justin Thibaut, CCIM; and Christi Pritchett of LSI Companies. 

 

RODES RESTAURANT RAZED TO MAKE WAY FOR FUTURE CABANA RESORT IN BONITA SPRINGS

The former Rodes Restaurant & Fish Market was demolished by Honc Destruction at the end of January to allow the development of Cabana Resort, a 25-acre proposed destination with a combination of public and private amenities on the north side of Bonita Beach Road from Luke Street to Meadowlark Lane. Bonita Village, a resort-style condominium on the northwest corner of that property, will be expanded and rebranded Cabana Resort, which will feature new amenities, including a food hall with multiple restaurants open to the public. The redevelopment also includes a seven-story, 110-unit luxury condominium complex and the addition of 7 acres of pools and water features, including a lazy river and a FlowRider surf machine. Cabana Resort plans also propose a performance lawn, a neighborhood park and a promenade. 

 

STUDY: CANAL OPERATIONS ARE DRYING CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY

A study conducted by Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples recently concluded that groundwater levels have dropped substantially over the past two decades primarily due to canals and weirs downstream of the Sanctuary. Lower water levels contribute directly to Wood Stork nesting failures and reduce the water recharge and wildfire protection benefits provided by the protected wetlands within the Sanctuary, according to the report. Over-drainage also contributes to poor downstream water quality and red tide events, the Sanctuary says. Last year, Sanctuary staff contracted Water Science Associates to conduct the modeling study with funding assistance from the South Florida Water Management District’s Big Cypress Basin. Next steps include further collaboration with the Big Cypress Basin, the South Florida Water Management District, local governments, and all Audubon’s landowning neighbors to ensure adequate flood protection while re-establishing wetland function, clean water supplies, favorable conditions for Wood Stork nesting, and wildfire resilience.

 

MEXICAN RESTAURANT IN EAST NAPLES LOOKING FOR NEW NAME

La Herradura Doble, a Mexican restaurant in East Naples, has come up with a creative idea to address an issue the restaurant at 3340 Tamiami Trail E. has faced since opening in September. “We keep hearing from locals that they have a hard time pronouncing our name of the restaurant and people get confused,” says co-owner Andres Pimentel. “Although a name change is not ideal, we thought we would make the best out of it and include our community in finding a new name.” On La Herradura’s Facebook page, the restaurant will accept name suggestions through March 31 in a contest where the winner will receive one year of free tacos and the restaurant will donate $1,000 to a local charity on behalf of the winner. By the way, La Herradura Doble is Spanish for double horseshoe.

 

MOTORISTS ADVISED TO BE AWARE OF DOUBLE HOME GAMES DURING SPRING TRAINING

Lee County’s Traffic Operations Center reminds motorists to be prepared for increased traffic near the stadiums at game time during spring training, especially when the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox take to their respective fields at the same time on the same day. Both stadiums will be operating at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing, but the proximity of the stadiums may result in increased traffic congestion. Most games start at 1:05 p.m. with peak traffic anticipated between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then again between 3:45 and 4:30 p.m. This year, motorists are advised to avoid the Daniels Parkway corridor on the afternoon of three specific dates: Friday, March 12, when the Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, and the Twins host the Atlanta Braves at CenturyLink Sports Complex,14100 Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Parkway; Tuesday, March 16, when the Twins host the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Red Sox will host the Braves; and Tuesday, March 30, when the Twins will host the Pirates and the Red Sox host the Braves. For more information about spring training in Lee County, click here.

 

TRI-TOWN CONSTRUCTION HIRES BOULANGER AS PROJECT COORDINATOR

Lizette Boulanger recently joined the project management team as project coordinator at Tri-Town Construction. Prior to joining Tri-Town, Boulanger earned her associate’s degree in construction management from Edison State College. As the liaison between the owners, architects and subcontractors, Boulanger’s duties include documenting all project correspondence, permitting and bidding projects and following up on pending tasks to make sure all projects run smoothly. Tri-Town focuses on new home, high-end and whole-home remodeling, commercial remodeling, roofing, and the company heavily practices sustainable construction by using Simple Green products, Energy Star products and zero VOC paint.

 

CHARITABLE NOTES

 

Adoption fees reduced in March at Lee County Animal Services

Adoption fees will be reduced the entire month of March at Lee County Domestic Animal Services. Adult dogs will be $40 and cats will be $20 with an approved application. Each adopted pet also will go home with a toy or treat. The month-long promotion will culminate with a video game-themed “Flip This Kennel” competition. The adoption center at Lee’s DAS, 5600 Banner Drive, Fort Myers, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To view pets available for adoption, click here.

 

Hooters donates time, money to Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida

Four Hooters Girls from the Fort Myers location volunteered to help package food at the Harry Chapin Food Bank on Thursday. In addition to volunteering, South Florida Hooters presented a donation of $2,000 to the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. “Giving back to our community is a priority, and helping with hunger relief is very important to us. It felt great to start our day volunteering at Harry Chapin Food Bank to provide assistance for those in need,” said David Thayer, special operations partner with South Florida Hooters, which also has partnered with the local food bank by participating in charity events.  

 

Foundation of Collier County Medical Society to host virtual ‘Wine & Whiskey Pull’ 

Registration is now open for the Foundation of Collier County Medical Society’s Virtual Wine & Whiskey Pull Fundraiser a charitable event open to the public held through April 6. Participants can win bottles of wine and/or whiskey while helping fund scholarships to future medical professionals and local healthcare programs in need. The Foundation awarded $22,000 in scholarships last year and applications for 2021 are due March 31. Registrants should enter by end of day on April 6 online here. Sponsorship details are also available on the registration website.

 

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