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Gulfshore Business Daily: May 7

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Attorney General Ashley Moody, R-Fla. - Photo by AP, via WINK News

Attorney General Ashley Moody, R-Fla. – Photo by AP, via WINK News

FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE REFUNDS NEARLY $350,000 IN OVERCHARGED PRODUCTS

The Florida Attorney General’s office issued nearly $350,000 in refunds after many were overcharged for essential, high-demand products during the pandemic. New numbers show the state’s price-gouging hotline was contacted 4,200 times since Florida declared a state of emergency in mid-March. Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office issued 70 subpoenas for price gouging on high-demand goods—like masks, cleaning supplies, personal protection equipment and COVID-19 test kits. Anyone who violates Florida’s price-gouging law faces a penalty of $1,000 per violation and up to $25,000 per day. To report price gouging, go to price gouging hotline hereFor more details, visit WINK News.
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

LEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT FACES BIG BUDGET SHORTFALL AMID PANDEMIC

Lee County schools are facing a big budget shortfall, although it’s hard to quantify the financial impact COVID-19 will have on schools until the governor’s office releases new budget projections. In the meantime, Lee County school officials are being proactive to find out how that will impact students and teachers in the coming year. Ami Desomaur, the district’s chief financial officer, and her staff have created five scenarios ranging in a budget shortfall from $20 million all the way to $143 million. All of them call for a cut in per-student spending. Cutting spending on students is another way of saying cutting spending on teachers and staff, where the district normally spends 70% of its budget. Story reported by WINK News.
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

CITY OF NAPLES STRATEGIZING HOW TO STAGE SUMMER ACTIVITIES

Naples is trying to figure out what signature summer activities, such as Fourth of July events, will look like in the age of the coronavirus. Typically, you would see people packing the city’s streets and beaches for the annual Fourth of July parade and fireworks. While it is nearly two months away, the city is strategizing how it can pull off celebrations while also keeping everyone’s health and safety a priority. If the holiday events are canceled before May 19, it would save the city about $95,000, so officials need to reach a decision relatively soon. The city also is considering canceling summer camps or reducing the number of kids participating to enforce social distancing. Story reported by WINK News.
 

MEDICAL CENTERS REOPEN FOR SERVICES

Collins Vision has fully reopened and is seeing patients for all services, adhering to all guidelines set forth by local, state and federal governments. Through September, a percentage of every LASIK or refractive cataract surgery performed at Collins Vision will be donated to the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties to help those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. To schedule a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Michael J. Collins, founder and medical director of Collins Vision, click here. Initial consultations can be performed in person at the Collins Vision offices or virtually. Florida Skin Center, in accordance with state and federal guidelines, is now accepting appointments and providing elective procedures. Performed by a doctor or physician assistant, new and existing patients can receive cosmetic injectable and laser treatments, skin-rejuvenating and wrinkle reduction systems, removal of benign lesions, PRP therapies and more. Florida Skin Center has also reinstated its free skin check campaign which provided 1,804 screenings in the 2018-2019 program year. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (239) 231-1465 or visit floridaskincenter.com.
 

RESTAURANTS, HOTELS PLAN TO REOPEN

Angelina’s Ristorante will reopen today, operating in compliance with the governor’s 25% capacity rule. A carry-out menu is still available here. Inn on Fifth & Club Level Suites in downtown Naples has announced a reopening date of May 15. Temporarily closed on April 1, the hotel’s “soft” opening will make available roughly 25% of the hotel’s 119 guest rooms and suites. The hotel has introduced a new program of cleaning protocols and safety guidelines in every department designed to protect the health and well-being of guests and staff. The hotel has created special packages and offers to welcome back nearby guests. The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has a target reopening date of May 15.
 

VILLAGE OF ESTERO EXPANDS OUTDOOR DINING OPTIONS

The Village of Estero has a temporary policy for outdoor dining for restaurants to accommodate local business owners and assist with compliance under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-112 issued on April 29. This will help businesses maintain social distancing within restaurant capacity limits under the executive order. Restaurants will have the ability to expand outdoor seating areas into parking lots and other areas, with no permit or fee is required. All temporary outdoor dining areas must allow for fire department access and comply with the Americans with Disability Act provisions. In addition, applicants shall comply with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco rules and regulations. Businesses must notify the Village prior to placement of additional seating. For more information, contact Maryann Devanas at devanas@estero-fl.gov.
 

IN THE KNOW

Emmanuel Community Park Farmers Market starts today

Emmanuel Community Park is teaming up with Eldredge’s Produce to provide a weekly curbside Farmers Market at 2770 Oil Well Road in Naples, west of Everglades Boulevard. The goal is to bring fresh produce to the community close to the park. The Farmers Market will be held each Thursday starting today. Orders will need to be placed online by 4 p.m. Wednesday in order to be available for pick up on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Emmanuel Community Park.  To place an order and pay online, visit Eldredge’s website. Customers will drive up to the curb by the soccer field and stop for assistance.  Orders will be confirmed and then placed in the trunk of the customers’ cars. For safety, all deliveries will be pre-packed and delivered on the designated day for the community and placed in a bag with the buyers’ name on it. For more information contact Emmanuel Community Park at management@emmanuelpark.org or 239-352-0118.
 

Florida jury trials suspended until July due to coronavirus

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an order this week suspending jury trials through July 2 and directing courts to hold other types of proceedings by telephone or video conference. Trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at courthouses, Canady had earlier suspended jury trials, jury selection and grand-jury proceedings through May 29. Along with extending the suspension, Canady’s order directed that proceedings such as non-jury trials, motion hearings, juvenile-delinquency hearings and hearings in non-criminal traffic infraction cases be held by telephone or videoconference. The Supreme Court on Wednesday held oral arguments by video conference for the first time. See more information in this story at WINKNews.com.
 

Renew vehicle registrations during Single Payment Saturdays

To make it easier for Lee County residents to renew vehicle registrations, the Lee County Tax Collector  is creating two special “Single Payment Saturdays” on May 16 and May 23, only for vehicle registration renewals at select service centers. The Single Payment Saturdays will be from 9 a.m. to noon at service centers located in downtown Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers and South Fort Myers. No appointments are necessary, and transactions will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Those wanting more information about these select days can go to leetc.com/Saturday.
 

Lee County announces dates for in-person high school graduation ceremonies

The Lee County school district has announced its dates for in-person high school graduation ceremonies. The district announced in April that it was planning two ceremonies for each high school – virtual commencements to take place in June and traditional ceremonies to take place in July if CDC guidelines permit. Each of the district’s 13 traditional high schools with a senior class is working on putting together a virtual graduation ceremony that will be on YouTube from June 19 to 21. The schedule for those ceremonies is still being worked out. The district announced Tuesday it has secured venues for a traditional graduation ceremony for each school in late July. For each school’s scheduled date, time and venue, see the WINK News story.
 

Village School of Naples Caravan celebrates first-ever graduating senior class

The Village School of Naples celebrated the Class of 2020, it’s first-ever graduating class of seniors, with a special delivery of caps and gowns to each senior at their homes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school is closed and delivering education via a distance learning plan until the end of the academic year. Dennis Chapman, head of school for The Village School, and Jason St. Amand, upper school principal, led a caravan in the school’s bus followed by several faculty and staff members. They delivered caps, gowns and gift baskets containing gift cards. Originally scheduled for May 30, the ceremony will now take place on June 20 and will adhere to all recommended social distancing guidelines and other health precautions. The current graduating Class of 2020 includes 12 students.
 

CHARITABLE NOTES

IMA Creative, Cappelli’s Kitchen team up to donate dinners to Justin’s Place residents

IMA Creative, a Naples-based agency, and Cappelli’s Kitchen, a Naples-based meal delivery service, are teaming up to donate and serve dinners at Justin’s Place each Saturday through the month of May. Justin’s Place at St. Matthew’s House provides long-term, residential recovery for individuals combatting drug and alcohol abuse. St. Matthew’s House programs include emergency and transitional housing, housing more than 400 people daily, and providing meals to more than 600. The addition of residential housing for those battling substance abuse and addiction was identified in 2010 as helping to mitigate one of the leading causes of homelessness and poverty among shelter residents.
 

Norman Love Confections, FineMark National Bank & Trust partner with Frontline Foods Southwest Florida to honor nurses 

In partnership with Frontline Foods Southwest Florida, Norman Love Confections and FineMark National Bank & Trust are gifting a four-piece box of artisan chocolates from Norman Love Confections to 4,500 nurses at Lee Health during National Nurses Week, which is May 6-12. In partnership with World Central Kitchen, a tax-exempt, registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Frontline Foods donates healthy meals to frontline workers in these unprecedented times by partnering with local restaurants that have been deeply affected by COVID-19. The Frontline Foods is a grassroots organization with more than 50 local chapters that have delivered more than 275,000 meals to over 350 frontline teams across the country. Locally, Frontline Foods SWFL accepts monetary donations online at FrontlineFoods.org/SWFL. All donations are tax deductible. For questions, please email SWFL@FrontlineFoods.org.
 

Dahlmann Properties pays hospitality employees wages through June 1

In the wake of communities closing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 171 employees in the hospitality division of Dahlmann Properties who found themselves facing full or partial unemployment were informed that their salary and benefits will continue to be paid at the same level as usual through the beginning of June. Family-owned and operated Dahlmann Properties has over 20 assets in the hospitality, retail, residential and commercial property industries, including on Sanibel Island. Its operations at The Inns of Sanibel were suspended March 30, and staff at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club in Sanibel continued to work at reduced hours while receiving compensation for full-time work. Employees at the affected properties received a letter from Andy Dahlmann, president of Dahlmann Hotel and Resort Properties, stating the company will continue to pay them 100% of their wages and health insurance up to June 1.
 

Hilton Naples Recognized with 2020 AAA Best of Housekeeping Designation

Hilton Naples has received a 2020 “Best of Housekeeping” designation from the American Automobile Association (AAA). The award is earned by only the top 20 percent of all AAA inspected member hotels. It signifies that the hotel’s cleanliness inspection scores significantly surpassed AAA’s rigid requirements. Hilton Naples participates in the Hilton brand’s new CleanStay with Lysol protection program designed to deliver an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection in Hilton properties worldwide. In a first for the hospitality business, according to a press release, Hilton is collaborating with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, and consulting with the Mayo Clinic to develop elevated processes and team-member training to help Hilton guests enjoy cleaner and safer stays.

 

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