Gulfshore Business Daily: March 18

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The Lee County Commission and Bonita Springs City Council met separately Tuesday morning to take proactive steps regarding the coronavirus pandemic. “The city of Bonita Springs has declared a local emergency. This will allow the city access to state and federal funding opportunities as they become available,” Mayor Peter Simmons said during a news conference following the meeting. Lee County officials also took action for fund reimbursement eligibility but plan to close some county services. Marco Island city officials took similar action Monday night and declared a state of emergency. Earlier Monday, Collier County and Naples declared states of emergency. Beginning March 18, Bonita’s recreation center and pool will be closed to the public and large events and mass gatherings will be discouraged, in accordance with the Center for Disease Control recommendations. “The City of Bonita Springs has postponed all special event permits for 30 days in the interest of preventing potential exposure to COVID-19. The situation will be assessed again as this 30-day period concludes,” Simmons said. 


Because congregating at bars and nightclubs could be problematic in spreading the coronavirus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is suspending the operation of these establishments statewide for 30 days. The governor also is requiring some restrictions on Florida restaurants. “In terms of restaurants, we are going to do similar to what California did where you have 50 percent capacity limitation. Seating needs to be staggered to assure that seated parties are separated by a distance of at least 6 feet, of course. You know this virus is transmitted when you are within 6 feet of somebody,” DeSantis said Tuesday during a news conference. Diners are being encouraged to use takeout and delivery services, he said. All bars on Fifth Avenue South in Naples will be closed but restaurants will remain open. All stores on Fifth that are open will also be following CDC best practices in terms of cleaning and customer traffic.


Due to the uncertainty caused by cases of COVID-19 in Southwest Florida, the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce has closed its office until March 31 and has postponed its annual meeting scheduled for April 14 at Sundial Beach Resort. Visitor inquiries and membership questions can be directed to (239) 472-1080 for personal assistance between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week. The following Lee Clerk of Court Suspended Services have also been suspended: Jury service has been canceled through March 27. Legal Aid appointments have been suspended until further notice. Passport services have been suspended until further notice. At the Bonita Springs Clerk’s Office, effective Friday, Clerks services will be suspended until further notice. The Be Your Own Detective seminar, scheduled for March 25, is canceled and will be rescheduled at a later date. The wedding room will be closed for ceremonies until further notice. Couples may still be married at the Clerk’s desk, but there will be no ceremonies held in the wedding room. Check for continued updates and online services. In addition, Naples Community Orchestra has canceled its final concerts of the season. The performances set for April 17 and 18, 2020 featuring violinist Stella Chen, are now scheduled to launch its next season in January 2021. To donate or exchange your tickets, you must email your request to Lee County libraries also closed on Wednesday. For updates, visit


The Lee Board of County Commissioners on March 17 voted to award a contract to Community Asphalt Corp. to perform milling and resurfacing of various arterial and collector roadways in Lee County. The $1.8 million contract is part of a total resurfacing budget of $10 million per year, which includes $5 million for Lehigh Acres, $4 million countywide resurfacing, and $1 million for Del Prado Boulevard. Work is scheduled to begin on this project in April. Funding is available in the Capital Improvement Program. Some of the roads to be milled and resurfaced include Corkscrew Road from Carter Road to Alico Road, South Point Boulevard from College Parkway to Cypress Lake Road, Orange River Boulevard from State Road 80 to Sabal Lane, and Corporation Circle. For more information about the Lee County Department of Transportation, visit


The ADDY Awards Gala was held on Feb. 29 at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport-Town Center. Nearly 150 people gathered to recognize the top submissions from the close to 200 projects entered into the American Advertising Awards competition. The American Advertising Federation–Southwest Florida chapter hosted MAD MEN & WOMEN – Legends of Advertising to honor the region’s top agencies, advertisers, producers, and independent professionals. The organization also saluted Southwest Florida’s Myra Janco Daniels. ADDY Awards were given to agencies and designers including Myra Janco Daniels Best of Show: Sherri Morrison Creative Design for client Naples Children & Education Foundation; People’s Choice Award: Priority Marketing for SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.; Best of Print Award: Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Judge’s Choice Award: Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Wilson Creative Group for Pete’s Pizzeria, and Wilson Creative Group for Wilson Creative Group; Best of Digital: Vectra Digital for Rosati’s Pizza; Best of Electronic Award: Priority Marketing for Captiva Cruises; Best of Public Service Award: Celsius Marketing | Interactive for Cape Coral Animal Shelter. Gold Awards went to Celsius Marketing | Interactive; Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Mnemonic Agency; Naples Zoo; Priority Marketing; Pushing the Envelope Inc.; Sherri Morrison Creative Design Group; Vectra Digital; and Wilson Creative Group. Silver Awards went to AAF-Southwest Florida; Celsius Marketing | Interactive; CONRIC PR & Marketing; Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Hodges University; House of Digital; Local Guides Inc.; Main Sail Video Productions Inc.; Naples Zoo; NOISE Inc.; Priority Marketing; Quenzel & Associates; Spiro & Associates; Waterman Broadcasting; and Wilson Creative Group. For more information, visit


The Wrench Group—a national business in home repair and maintenance services specializing in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, water, and electrical services—has acquired Florida Cool Inc. Florida Cool has been locally owned and operated by Tom Caprio since 1992. Florida Cool will be combining its operations with CoolToday, headquartered in Sarasota. CoolToday, serving Sarasota and the surrounding areas since 1963, was acquired by The Wrench Group in April 2019 and has quickly expanded its service offerings to the Tampa and St. Petersburg area. Jaimie DiDomenico serves as CoolToday president. DiDomenico and Caprio will be working together to combine brand names in the coming months. Caprio will continue to manage the Naples operation as market president. For more information, visit


Kitson & Partners, developers of Babcock Ranch, America’s first solar-powered town located just northeast of Fort Myers on Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31, has reported 604 new home contracts through the beginning of March. 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. Babcock Ranch was created by Kitson & Partners with respect for the natural environment and the philosophy that smart growth and sustainability work hand in hand. Half of the town’s 18,000-acre footprint is set aside as greenways, parks and expansive lakes, providing recreation and scenic backdrops for Babcock Ranch’s homes and the Founder’s Square downtown district. For more information, visit


Volunteers of America, the non-profit parent organization of Cape Coral’s Gulf Coast Village, has opened The Preserve, a three-story, 118,000-square-foot skilled nursing and assisted living community at the new Hope Preserve Campus in south Fort Myers. Located at 14750 Hope Center Loop, at the corner of Six Mile Cypress Parkway and Plantation Road, The Preserve offers 75 private skilled nursing suites for senior residents with specialized or advanced health care needs, as well as 21 boutique assisted living apartments and 17 memory support suites. The Preserve is the first building at the Hope Preserve Campus designed to include multiple facilities and organizations dedicated to care for seniors and for people with clinically complex illnesses.


Community Foundations of Collier County, SWFL launch Coronavirus relief funds

The Community Foundation of Collier County (CFCC) and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation (SWFLCF) have each activated emergency relief funds: CFCC’s Collier Comes Together Fund and SWFLCF’s Emergency Relief Fund to collect donations to aid in Coronavirus relief. The funds will complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address the outbreak as effectively as possible. Donations to this fund will help rapidly deploy resources to basic needs and healthcare nonprofit organizations to support their programs as well as their staff at the front lines of our community’s coronavirus outbreak. Donors are assured that help will reach its intended cause. As Community Foundations are 501(c)(3) charitable organization, donations are tax-deductible. To give to the funds, click here for Collier County, and here for Southwest Florida or text GIVESWFL to 444999.

Midwest Food Bank remains open amid COVID-19

As many institutions are suspending operations due to the COVID-19 virus, Midwest Food Bank (MFB) is continuing its general food procurement and distribution amid the COVID-19 virus. Anticipating additional strain on pantries by temporarily unemployed hourly workers, MFB hopes to be available to provide food to overburdened feeding programs. MFB is responding to requests for assistance from The Salvation Army. Three semi-trailer loads of family food boxes have been requested. MFB is a first responder for The Salvation Army and can have relief on the road within 24 hours of a request. Family food boxes contain enough shelf-stable food to feed a family of 4 for 4-5 days. MFB will communicate relief efforts and needs through its website and social media.

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