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Video courtesy of WINK News
SWFL TOURISM CONTINUES TO CLIMB DESPITE COVID-19 CASES
Southwest Florida tourism is booming despite the spike in COVID-19 cases that the state recently experienced. Lee and Collier counties continue to have a record-breaking year for tourism. Brian Hamman, Lee County commissioner and chair of the Tourist Development Council, said most hotels in the area are booked. “We anticipate our August tourism numbers to be the best August that we have ever had in the history tracking Lee County tourist numbers,” Hamman says. “In fact, every month this year has been better than it was even in 2019.” In July, Southwest Florida International Airport had more than 7,000 incoming and departing flights, a 51% increase compared to July of last year, WINK News reports.
OAKES NAMED CHEF DE CUISINE AT 2022 NAPLES WINTER WINE FESTIVAL
James Beard Foundation Award winner Nancy Oakes, executive chef/owner of Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco, will be honored as chef de cuisine at the 22nd annual Naples Winter Wine Festival on Jan. 28-30, announced the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), founders of the local event. As the festival’s chef de cuisine, Oakes will be recognized for her pioneering culinary career and innovation in the food and wine industry. She joins an impressive line-up of the world’s most acclaimed vintners, chefs and master sommeliers hailing from more than seven different countries, setting the stage for a weekend of one-of-a-kind wine and culinary experiences.
LEE COMMISSIONERS VOTE TO ACQUIRE 22 ACRES IN CAPE CORAL FOR CONSERVATION 20/20
Lee County commissioners voted Tuesday to acquire about 22 acres of Conservation 20/20 land in Cape Coral for nearly $1.5 million. The property near county-owned Judd Community Park is south of Pine Island Road and a quarter-mile west of U.S. 41. Yellow Fever and Hancock creeks converge on the west boundary of the property, which includes both upland and wetland plant communities. The Conservation 20/20 Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee voted in July to forward this purchase agreement for board consideration. There are about 31,340 acres within Conservation 20/20, Lee County’s land acquisition and management program, which helps the county protect drinking water, enhance water quality, provide nature-based recreational opportunities, protect areas from flooding and provide wildlife habitat.
LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS HIRING MORE BUS DRIVERS
The Lee County school district has immediate openings for bus drivers. Necessary job qualifications include five years of driving experience and a satisfactory driving record. The district offers a beginning hourly rate of $16.32 and a benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, life insurance, flexible spending account, retirement contributions, paid sick time, holidays and tuition and subject area exam reimbursement. For more information, click here.
ER, URGENT CARE CLINIC COMING TO CAPE CORAL
A new emergency room/urgent care clinic is being built at the southwest corner of Pine Island Road and SW Third Place in Cape Coral. The same group that owns Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Punta Gorda is developing it. Hal Arkin, a commercial real estate broker with RE/MAX, needed more than a decade to acquire the different parcels. He sold the 12.7 acres for $7.3 million in December 2019. There will be a 10,850 square-foot freestanding emergency room with 11 examining rooms, Arkin said. The clinic will have about 40 employees, and PHM Group is managing construction, he said. For the full story, click here.
FIRST WATCH OPENS SIXTH RESTAURANT IN COLLIER COUNTY
First Watch opened Labor Day in Sprouts-anchored Logan Landings in North Naples. The new 3,754-square-foot breakfast-lunch venue features an indoor/outdoor bar and a patio next to a water feature shared with Oak & Stone restaurant and bar on the southeast corner of Logan Boulevard and Immokalee Road. It’s the casual dining chain’s sixth location in Collier County. First Watch, 2260 Logan Blvd., is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
HOBBY LOBBY TO OPEN FOURTH SOUTHWEST FLORIDA LOCATION
Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based hobby store with more than 950 locations nationwide, is planning to add its fourth Southwest Florida location. Cape Coral’s Coralwood Mall, in need of new life after the departure of anchor tenant J.C. Penney last year from a 50,000-square-foot space, will be getting the new hobby store, according to Cape Coral city records. Hobby Lobby already has locations in Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples.
GUSTITOS BAKERY-CAFE PERMANENTLY CLOSES IN NORTH NAPLES
Gustitos Peruvian Bakery & Cafe permanently closed last week after operating for nearly a decade in Bed Bath & Beyond Plaza in North Naples. The family business at 5417 Airport-Pulling Road was known for its Peruvian-style empanadas, sandwiches and pastries, as well as made-to-order custom cakes. The local bakery was launched in 2012 by the Torres-Giusti family of Naples and operated by co-owners and brothers Gonzalo and Rodrigo Torres.
AAA: LABOR DAY GAS PRICES WERE THE HIGHEST IN SEVEN YEARS
Holiday travelers found the most expensive Labor Day gas prices in seven years, AAA reports. Prices at the pump are now averaging $3.02 per gallon in Florida. That’s 83 cents more than last year’s holiday, and 58 cents more than what drivers paid during the 2019 holiday weekend. Florida’s gas price average shot up 8 cents last week after Hurricane Ida’s impact on the gulf coast left nine crude oil refineries offline. This resulted in an outage of about 13% of total U.S. refining capacity. Punta Gorda and Fort Myers-Cape Coral are currently among the least expensive metro markets for gas, at $2.96 and $2.99 per gallon, respectively.
GARDNER ORTHOPEDICS WELCOMES HODGE TO PRACTICE
Gardner Orthopedics has welcomed Daniel J. Harmon, D.O. to its practice. Harmon is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult reconstruction of the hip and knee, including revision joint replacement. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from John Carroll University before attending medical school at LECOM in Erie, Pennsylvania. Harmon completed an orthopedic surgery internship and residency at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation/South Pointe Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. During residency, he served as an assistant clinical professor for Ohio University College of Medicine. He completed his fellowship in adult reconstruction of the hip and knee at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Four Florida Hotels raise more than $7,000 for Hurricane Ida
Four Florida rooftop bars on Sept. 2 held a “Raise the Roof for Hurricane Ida Relief” event, raising more than $7,000 for the American Red Cross. Beacon Social Drinkery at the Luminary Hotel & Co. in Fort Myers, a Mainsail Lodging & Development property, was one of those locations, donating half of the evening’s sales to directly support those impacted by the storm. “It came together fast, but we wanted to give our guests and neighbors a way to quickly and directly help those affected by Hurricane Ida,” said Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Lodging & Development. “It was great to see so many come out at our four hotel rooftop bars to support the cause, with some guests making private donations, including one $1,000 donation from another local business.”
Preferred Travel of Naples to sponsor two TSA Pre-check mobile enrollment events
Preferred Travel of Naples will be offering two TSA Pre-check mobile enrollment events this month. The TSA Pre-check mobile enrollment vehicle will be at Preferred Travel’s Naples office at 5801 Pelican Bay Blvd. from Monday, Sept. 20 through Sept. 24. The TSA bus will be parked at the east end of the parking lot. The second event will be held at Preferred Travel’s Bonita Springs office at 3960 Via Del Rey from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1. Hours and days for appointments at both locations will be Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m., and Friday hours will be 9 a.m. to noon only. To participate in this event, individuals must go online and start the application process. Appointments are required for the TSA mobile bus pre-check. To complete the application process, documentation proving identity and citizenship is required; the application cost is $85 per person and is valid for five years. Appointments are made online and are limited to a first-come, first-serve basis.