Gulfshore Business Daily: May 4

Lead Photo: Darlyne Franklin, Gerrie Benzing, Peggy Monson, Paulette Oliva, Darlene Miller, and Jackie Weiner. Calendar raises $100k for food security in SWFL. Details below.



Anyone over the age of 16 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Lee Health, as of April 30. The vaccination clinic is open to the community; you do not need to be a Lee Health patient to get the vaccine. Lee Health recently received a shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is approved for use in those 16 years old and above. You can schedule your appointment by visiting here. A parent or authorized guardian must accompany a minor for vaccination. All self-scheduling appointments must be made online, and Lee Health asks that you not call the hospitals or physician offices to inquire about vaccine appointments as it overwhelms the phone system and keeps others from reaching the health system for their care. A mask is required to enter any Lee Health facility.



Gannett Co. has shuttered its printing press in Sarasota and, effective Monday, relocated production for The News-Press and Naples Daily News to Stuart on Florida’s east coast, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Sunday. Production of the Sarasota paper also was relocated after its final press run Sunday night, resulting in the elimination of all 95 press jobs there. “Cost-cutting decisions by the company led to the decision to consolidate printing press operations in the state,” the newspaper reports. In February 2020, Gannett relocated the printing of its Fort Myers and Naples newspapers to Sarasota when it closed its Naples production plant, subsequently selling its Naples office building to NCH Healthcare System in December. Stuart is 180 miles away and nearly a three-hour drive to Naples.


Video courtesy of WINK News


A hotel building boom is underway in downtown Fort Myers. Following the launch of the Luminary Hotel last fall, three more hotels are on the way. A new hotel is targeted for completion next year on an empty lot at the intersection of First Street and Jackson Street. The AC Marriott is in the financing stages but has been given zoning approval to build an eight-story, 132-room hotel. Two other hotels, a Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn, are further along. Five Place LLC, the group behind the Marriott’s construction, is hoping to strike a deal with the city. They want to lease 60 parking spaces in the Main Street garage near the proposed site for hotel staff and guests. The group would pay the city a rental fee of $55 per space a month for the first five years of their 40-year proposal, WINK News reports.


Video courtesy of WINK News


With the opening of the remodeled Caloosa Sound Convention Center & Amphitheater in downtown Fort Myers, Mayor Kevin Anderson expects the former Harborside Event Center to get a lot more use. The rebranded center and the Luminary Hotel have already brought people to Fort Myers. The next big event is the River District Rumble Cheer & Dance Competition planned for May 22. “That’s all good news for downtown because not only does it mean hotel nights, it means people eating at our local restaurants, spending money in our community. But, also it introduces Fort Myers to people who may have never been here,” Anderson says. Events at the downtown center are expected to boost the local economy, welcome news to businesses that have struggled during the pandemic, WINK News reports.



Naples-based MWM Investment Consulting has been acquired by Cleveland-based MAI Capital Management, a registered investment adviser serving the needs of wealthy individuals, families and business owners. The acquisition will expand the MWM team’s reach, allowing it to offer additional services and solutions for clients in Southwest Florida. “MAI and MWM Investment Consulting share the philosophy of helping clients reach their financial goals through innovative and personalized service. We are pleased to announce our partnership, driving forward with the same client-first culture and commitment to financial planning and investment management,” MAI announced. 



Suffolk recently completed construction of the School District of Lee County’s newest school, Gateway High School. Located near the intersection of State Road 82 and Griffin Drive, the three-story Gateway High School sits on 55.6 acres, totals approximately 300,000 square feet and will accommodate more than 2,000 students. Suffolk provided preconstruction and construction management services for the project. Construction began in September 2019. In addition to Cambridge AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education), Advanced Placement and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) curriculum options, students can sign up for one of the school’s four career academies that include programs that offer job training for cybersecurity, the medical field, veterinarian services and carpentry. In addition to classrooms, academies and administrative areas, the school includes a media center, gymnasium, cafeteria, weight room, locker rooms, field house and theater. As part of the extensive preconstruction process, Suffolk implemented a 3D modeling effort alongside the district, design team, and key trade partners. Suffolk previously worked with the Lee County School District on multiple projects, including the rebuild of Dunbar High School.



Hole Montes has completed construction engineering and inspection services on a new $10.6 million wastewater pump station that doubles the plant’s daily processing capabilities. Master Pump Station 306 replaced a 35-year-old facility that had aging mechanical and electrical components, the company says. Located at 3935 Thomasson Lane in Naples, Master Pump Station 306 can process 15.8 million gallons per day compared to the previous capacity of 7.5 million gallons, according to Hole Montes. Master Pump Station 306 contains three electric chopper pumps and three diesel in-line booster pumps inside a two-story building. The project eliminates the need for a wet well outdoors because wastewater is continuously pumped through the system into the South County Water Reclamation Facility. Hole Montes’ project team was led by senior project manager David W. Schmitt and inspector Mike Roddis. Project partners included PWC Joint Venture as project contractor and AECOM as consultant engineer. The project was a major initiative of the Collier County Water-Sewer District.



Vibe Yoga, a new yoga studio at 13461 Parker Commons Blvd, Suite 204, Fort Myers, opened Monday. Vibe Yoga will offer more than 20 classes weekly, including restorative, gentle, chair, all levels, power, hot power, yin, kids, teens, advanced, sports teams, trauma-informed, and personal one-on-one sessions. Classes are also offered for veterans and first responders. In addition to yoga movement classes (asanas), Vibe Yoga will also offer iRest Yoga Nidra, yoga book club, workshops, and off-site stand-up paddleboarding yoga at a variety of Southwest Florida locations. Preregistration is required through the website or via the Mindbody App. Lindsay Smith is the founder of Vibe Yoga. 



Heatherwood Construction has begun work on an automotive/tire store for Rick Johnson Development, located on Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers. This will be the fifth facility that Heatherwood has built for the Rick Johnson team. Brian Blackwell will lead the project team as project manager. Levi Whiteleather, superintendent, will oversee the daily operations. The project engineer is Boral Engineering & Design. GOIA Architecture designed the project. Walter Crawford is president of Heatherwood Construction.



The Charlotte County Airport Authority (CCAA) announces that Gary E. Duncan has joined the Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) as its director of airport operations/projects. Duncan will work under CEO James W. Parish and COO Ron Mallard and oversee PGD’s Bailey Terminal operations, facilities, fixed-base operator, and airside operations. Gary will also assist with air service development and marketing, vendor relations, grants and special projects. Duncan most recently served as the deputy executive director, aviation for the Lee County Port Authority, where he managed operations at both Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and Page Field (FMY). Duncan also served as the general aviation manager of the Jacksonville Port Authority. Duncan is a U.S. Navy veteran who served at Cecil Field as an aviation electrician and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in aviation management from Southern Illinois University. He is active in the American Association of Airport Executives, Airports Council International and Florida Airports Council.


Andy Wood


The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce has hired Andy Wood as director of sales. In his new role, Wood will oversee all sales operations for the chamber. Prior to joining the chamber staff, Wood worked with the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, a Minor League Baseball affiliate team of the Minnesota Twins, where he rose from sales manager to assistant general manager during his tenure. He previously held sales management positions for Minor League Baseball teams, including the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Tri-City Dust Devils, affiliated with the San Diego Padres, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies. Wood had been a member of the chamber’s ambassadors committee and advancing professionals’ group, Leadership NEXT. Born in Ohio, he attended Kent State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sports administration. 


Brian Farrar


The Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. board of directors has re-elected Brian Farrar as president, Vincent Marchesani as vice president and Paul Attwood as secretary. Bob Bachman was elected treasurer for the 2021 term. BSU members elect nine directors to the board to govern the utility. Other board members are Mike Malloy, Richard Garner, Lawrence Kosilla, James Murphy and Ben Nelson. Bonita Springs Utilities Inc. is a not-for-profit water and wastewater utility cooperative founded by local citizens in 1970. The member-owned utility provides service in the City of Bonita Springs, the Village of Estero and unincorporated south Lee County. 




NCH receives $5.7 million gift for women and children to receive care closer to home

The Bill and Julia Van Domelen Foundation has awarded NCH Healthcare System a gift of $5.7 million. The funds will support the recruitment and hiring of high-priority staff positions to enhance patient care. NCH will have the opportunity to train operating room teams, emergency department (ED) healthcare workers, and inpatient staff. The funds will also help raise the quality of care for NCH’s tiniest patients by elevating its current neonatal program to a level III NICU. These resources will also be used for expanding the fetal maternal medicine program and provide care that will aid soon-to-be mothers with high-risk pregnancies. Further expansion of pediatric surgery and anesthesiology is also part of the plan and growth in pediatric imaging. Additionally, a portion of the gift will help pediatric ED patients by creating more comfortable environments for children and teens with emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges.


Bryce Alexander, Kristen Coury, and Patty Baker smile while signing autographs

Collier County’s Calendar Girls raise $100K

The “Collier Calendar Girls” calendar launched late last year has raised over $54,000 in sales to fight food insecurity in Collier County, The Naples Players announced. At the opening night celebration for the production of Calendar Girls, a surprise announcement from Brenda Melton, founder of the Celebrity Martini Glass Auction (CMGA), raised the total to more than $100,000. Having canceled last year’s CMGA event, CMGA’s sponsors chose to reallocate their sponsorship funds to support the mission of the Collier Calendar Girls instead. Distributed and collected by the Community Foundation of Collier County, $50,000 of the funds raised have been earmarked for The Naples Senior Center’s food security program, the rest going to other food banks throughout Collier County. Eileen Connolly-Keesler, CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County, also presented The Naples Players with a $10,000 check for its role in supporting the community during COVID19. Calendar Girls is sponsored by Naples Senior Center and runs until May 23 but is sold out. The “Collier Calendar Girls” calendar is still for sale to raise funds to combat food insecurity and can be purchased for a suggested donation of $25 here.


MNMW and United Way

MNMW hosts record-breaking Shred Day event to benefit United Way

Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co. P.A. (MNMW) hosted a record-breaking fundraiser with its fifth Community Shred Day to benefit the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties. The firm partnered with Secure Shredding Inc. to host the free annual event. More than 130 cars stopped by during the three-hour event, and more than $1,400 was raised for the United Way. Additionally, visitors donated canned/non-perishable goods, new/gently used clothing, and other items to help those in need.


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