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Gulfshore Business Daily: Sept. 30

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NCH SAYS UNVACCINATED EMPLOYEES HAVE ‘VOLUNTARILY RESIGNED’ AS OF TODAY 
Employees of NCH Healthcare System who have not complied with NCH’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement or otherwise have chosen not to be fully vaccinated will have “voluntarily resigned” as of today unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption, according to a letter Gulfshore Business received Wednesday from NCH. “All employees including prospective, newly hired, and/or onboarding employees, providers, contract staff, and volunteers must receive the COVID-19 vaccination, in full, by September 30, 2021, or within four weeks of their date of hire as a condition of employment, unless otherwise exempted from this policy by an approved accommodation (religious or medical exemption),” the letter states. 

 

Brandy Melville, Naples

BRANDY MELVILLE APPAREL BRAND LAUNCHES STORE ON FIFTH AVENUE SOUTH IN NAPLES 
Brandy Melville, a trendy Italian clothing and fashion accessories brand for teenage girls and young women, had a soft opening for its downtown Naples store last weekend, but its official opening is Saturday at 555 Fifth Ave. S., Unit 101. The store doesn’t have an exterior sign yet, but it moved into Provident Jewelry’s former space next to White House Black Market, a women’s clothing retailer headquartered at Chico’s FAS in Fort Myers. Provident consolidated its two jewelry stores on Fifth into a single store this year. The Brandy Melville apparel brand operates only one other Florida store, which opened two years ago in Miami Beach. More than a third of its nearly 100 locations are in the United States. Brandy Melville features clothing such as pants, jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses, skorts, sweatpants, sweaters, tops, tanks, T-shirts and hoodies, as well as accessories such as belts, necklaces, bracelets, charms, rings, caps, bags and backpacks. 

 

LOU’S TOTAL CAR CARE TO MOVE FORT MYERS GARAGE
Lou Moralez and his staff of nine employees have been working from the same, cramped and overheated Fort Myers garage for 18 years. In April 2022, that will change. Lou’s Total Car Care will move from its current location at 5050 S. Cleveland Ave., about a quarter of a mile north to 4531 S. Cleveland Ave., just north of a RaceTrac gas station and north of Page Field. But beyond a local small business getting bigger, the move illustrates how banks are seeking service-related businesses for loans. With retail shopping trends shifting to online, service-related businesses are filling the void. “They felt very confident that I could continue to prosper in the new location,” Moralez said. “This has been a three-year process, the planning and the permitting and everything.” The land will be leased from the Lee County Port Authority. The construction costs will be about $5 million, Moralez said. Live Oak Bank, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, first approached Moralez about building the expanded garage. Lou’s Total Car Care will move from a garage with 5,000 square feet and six vehicle bays to one with 12,000 square feet and 18 vehicle bays. For the full story, click here.

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE AFFECTING COLLIER AREA TRANSIT 
A shortage of bus drivers is taking a toll on drivers for Collier Area Transit (CAT), Collier County’s public transportation service. CAT has 50 bus drivers covering routes meant for 74 drivers. Drivers are leaving for higher-paying jobs, WINK News reports. “They’re at the brink of exhaustion,” says Kevin Smith, a representative for the Transport Workers Union of America, which represents the bus drivers. “Our drivers typically are behind the seat more than they should be.” The union wants the county to increase its transit budget so that MV Transportation, the Dallas-based contractor in charge of CAT, can offer more. Earlier this year, MV Transportation increased starting wages more than 20% and tripled its sign-on bonus from $500 to $1,500 in addition to raising the training wage for new recruits. “We are currently in discussions with Collier County Area Transit for additional wage adjustments,” the company reports. 

 

LEE HEALTH RESUMES ALL ELECTIVE SURGERIES AS COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS DECLINE 
Lee Health has resumed elective surgeries that require an overnight hospital stay. “We paused these surgeries on Aug. 4 for the safety of our community and to help preserve resources as we treated hundreds of patients for COVID-19,” says Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci “While the pandemic is still threatening our community, COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached a level where we can safely restart elective procedures. I thank all of our patients for their understanding as their non-life-threatening surgeries were temporarily delayed. The best thing our community can do to help prevent further COVID-19 surges is to get vaccinated today.” Lee Health offers free COVID-19 vaccines for anyone 12 and older at its community vaccination clinic inside Gulf Coast Medical Center, WINK News reports

 

INSPIRE RADIATION ONCOLOGY PRACTICE OPENS SECOND OFFICE IN NAPLES AREA 
Inspire Radiation Oncology, led by veteran board-certified radiation oncologist Bruce Nakfoor, M.D., has opened a second office in the Naples area. The new office at 15465 Tamiami Trail N. in North Naples and its original East Naples office at 8625 Collier Blvd., Suite 102, are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The doctors and nurses of the Inspire Oncology medical team will serve patients at both locations. This extension of their state-of-the-art facility to North Naples provides patients additional opportunities for more convenient scheduling and increased access to the latest radiation therapies and treatments. 

 

NAPLES FLATBREAD INSTALLS SELF-SERVICE TAP WALL AT MIROMAR OUTLETS 
Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar at Miromar Outlets in Estero recently installed a self-service tap wall, which provides an assortment of 54 beers, wines, ciders, spiked kombucha, mead, hard seltzers and even a nitro cold brew coffee. “Folks can pour as little or as much as they want and it’s charged by the ounce,” says Naples Flatbread founder Ralph Desiano. “It’s Lee County’s first self-service tap wall with this assortment of beverages.” The restaurant and bar is open daily at 10801 Corkscrew Road, Unit 520, on the eastern end of the regional outlet mall. 

 

After a little more than 10 years as the leader of Gulf Coast Humane Society, Executive Director Jennifer Galloway announced she was stepping down from her position Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. Credit: Gulf Coast Humane Society.

GULF COAST HUMANE SOCIETY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GALLOWAY STEPS DOWN 
After more than 10 years as the leader of Gulf Coast Humane Society, Executive Director Jennifer Galloway announced Monday she is stepping down from her position. Gary Willoughby will assume the role as executive director after he was selected following a nationwide search. Willoughby most recently served as the Erie County President and CEO of the SPCA in Buffalo, New York. Galloway plans to return as a member of the Gulf Coast Humane Society’s board of directors, WINK News reports

 

CANCER ALLIANCE NAPLES APPOINTS FELICIANO AS NEW CEO
Cancer Alliance Naples (CAN) has appointed Neftali Feliciano as the new CEO of the organization. Feliciano will succeed Kevin Dolan and has immediately assumed responsibilities. Feliciano previously served on CAN’s board of directors for two three-year terms and served on the executive committee as governance chair and treasurer. He resides in Fort Myers with his wife and their four children. He is a saxophonist, audio engineer and an active member of New Life Christian Church.  

 

FGCU ACADEMY RETURNS WITH IN-PERSON COURSES
FGCU Academy, Florida Gulf Coast University’s lifelong-learning program for Southwest Floridians, is celebrating the launch of in-person classes for the first time since January 2020. The FGCU Academy will return to downtown Fort Myers Oct. 15 at The Collaboratory. The Commons Club at The Brooks in Bonita Springs will also continue with in-person courses, which began this summer. For Charlotte County residents, classes return to Punta Gorda Nov. 2 at the Military Heritage Museum. Others will begin Nov. 3 at the Florida SouthWestern State College campus at 26300 Airport Road. Variety will continue to be the hallmark of programming. Courses ranging from “Apollo 14: 50th Anniversary & Review of the Apollo Program” to “Be Successful at Dating Later in Life” are among the in-person offerings in November. Register for in-person or online courses here.

 

COLLIER CAPITAL CLUB HOSTING BUSINESS NETWORKING AFTER HOURS EVENT 
Collier Capital Club is hosting a business networking after hours from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today (Sept. 30) at Collier Capital Club offices, 3200 Bailey Lane, Suite 275, North Naples. The event includes beverages and hors d’oeuvres. Advanced signup is required with a fee of $15 plus tax by clicking here

 

Caleb Stempel

STEMPEL JOINS SANIBEL CAPTIVA COMMUNITY BANK
Caleb Stempel has joined Sanibel Captiva Community Bank as an information technology assistant at its Operations Center, located at 9311 College Parkway in Fort Myers. His primary responsibility is to assist in the implementation, operation and maintenance of the bank’s computer and communication systems. He will also provide technology-related support for all bank employees. Prior to joining the bank, Stempel worked for the School District of Lee County as a network support specialist. He has more than 15 years of information technology experience working in various fields, including the medical, health and fitness industries. Stempel has a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems and cybersecurity from Columbia Southern University.

 

Monique Lopez

HENDERSON FRANKLIN WELCOMES LOPEZ TO TEAM
Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. has welcomed Monique Lopez as an associate in the tort and insurance litigation department. She will be based out of the firm’s Fort Myers office. With more than 20 years of experience in the legal industry, Lopez represents individuals and insurance carriers involved in civil litigation, with an emphasis on construction defects, personal injury and premises liability matters. She is fluent in English and Spanish and admitted to practice in all Florida state courts, as well as in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Before enrolling in Ave Maria School of Law, Lopez was a legal assistant in Henderson Franklin’s family law department. She received her undergraduate degrees from Florida Southwestern College, summa cum laude, and Florida Gulf Coast University, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude. She received her Juris Doctor from Ave Maria School of Law. 

 

CHARITABLE NOTES 
 

Michelle Thomas Team sponsoring cat adoption event in Naples area 
The Michelle Thomas Team of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty is sponsoring cat adoptions from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 1, at the PetSmart store in Tamiami Crossing retail center, 13100 Tamiami Trail E., East Naples. The local real estate team, partnering with the nonprofit group Camp Many Paws, is giving a gift basket with cat goodies and a gift card and paying for the sponsorship to help the cats find a home. This event will be on the first Friday of every month. 

 

Healthcare workers at Gulf Coast Medical Center were treated to a BBQ dinner on Labor Day, courtesy of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured.

Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner helps feed health care workers
Pop’z BBQ and Catering, and Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured offered health care workers at Gulf Coast Medical Center free barbeque in the hospital parking lot over the Labor Day weekend. Lee Health facilitated the event, where Pop’z BBQ served more than 200 Lee Health employees. “While most of us enjoyed the holiday with family and friends, our community health care workers continued to do their lifesaving work in the halls of our local hospitals and outpatient clinics,” said Attorney P.J. Scheiner. “It was our way of letting them know we’re thinking of them and to say thank you for the work they are doing to keep us all healthy and safe.”
 

Jennifer’s recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month with fundraiser
Jennifer’s women’s boutique is recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness month by hosting a fundraiser for Partners for Breast Cancer Care (PFBCC). Jennifer’s will sell paper bras benefiting PFBCC from Oct. 6-9. Shoppers can donate any amount and PFBCC will receive 100% of the donations. Shoppers who donate $20 or more will receive a $25 gift certificate from Jennifer’s for a future purchase. PFBCC is a local, nonprofit organization that pays for breast screening, diagnostic testing, surgery and treatment for low-income uninsured women and men of any age in Lee, Hendry, Glades, Collier and Charlotte. Clients are carefully screened for qualification and all funding stays in Southwest Florida.

 

Valerie’s House

Calusa Sportsman Foundation fishing tourney raises $120,000 for Valerie’s House
Hooked by the collective work of the Calusa Sportsman Foundation, anglers came together on Sept. 11 and raised $120,000 for Valerie’s House to help the nonprofit toward raising the necessary funds for a new forever home and continue its journey of helping children and families cope with the loss of a loved one. The Inshore Fishing Tournament attracted 191 anglers, 57 teams and 37 sponsors. During the virtual event, boaters could fish in various waterways, catch the required fish, measure and then submit their catches using an app. The donation was one of the largest ever for Valerie’s House and the new home, located near Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard in Fort Myers. Ground-breaking is scheduled for December. Valerie’s House is raising $3 million, with hopes of opening the new house in December 2022. 
 

VITA 2021

Volunteers needed for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program
The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee is seeking volunteer tax preparers, interpreters and greeters to help its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites during the 2021 tax season. With the support of trained, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers, VITA sites provide free tax preparation to individuals and families earning less than $66,000 per year throughout the five-county area of Lee, Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee and Charlotte Counties. Volunteers of all ages and levels of experience are welcome, though it is preferred that volunteers be comfortable working with a computer. There is a special need for bilingual Spanish speakers. Flexible hours are available January through April. Volunteers will receive specialized IRS-certified training. Experienced agents, certified financial planners, and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn continuing education credits when volunteering as a VITA tax preparer. Online orientations and training classes will be held for new volunteers in November. Small, in-person, social-distanced classes will be available as well. For tax professionals or experienced volunteers, an online training and certification tool is also available.

 

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