Gulfshore Business Daily: September 10

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Mercola solar panels
Lead Photo: Mercola is one of the largest in Cape Coral powered by solar energy. Details below.


Video courtesy of WINK News


Long-awaited benefits from the federal government, part of the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, started to hit bank accounts Tuesday. So far, FEMA has approved the State of Florida for only three payments of $300 to cover the first three weeks of August. People who earn less than $100 on unemployment don’t qualify for extra federal benefits from the LWA program, WINK News reports.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Gun retailers have nearly doubled sales in the first half of 2020. Shooting classes at gun ranges are booked, ammunition and guns are flying off the shelves. People want to protect themselves and, during an election year, new gun owners fear their Second Amendment rights could be taken away. As gun shops continue looking for supplies, the National Shooting Sports Foundation expects sales to remain high until November, WINK News reports.

The planned appearance of Joe V’s Farm Market in Cape Coral. (Credit: Handout. Sourced from WINK News)


A multimillion-dollar farmers market is coming to Cape Coral. Where most people see an empty lot on Pine Island Road, owner Lee Snyder sees endless possibilities. Snyder envisions Joe V’s Farm Market as a full-service farmers market open every day, all year. In addition to an enormous produce department, Snyder plans a meat department with steaks cut to any desired thickness, a bakery, homemade ice cream and 6,000-square-feet of wine, WINK News reports.


Since closing Aug. 9, The Founders Bistro will have a new chef and management team when the North Naples restaurant reopens Sept. 26. Chef Tony Newton and his wife, Kathy, have replaced Chef Don Splain and Axel Rios, who launched the chef-driven, farm-to-plate restaurant Feb. 21 just before the pandemic put the industry in a tailspin. The Newtons are best known locally as the couple who launched Fred’s Diner in Uptown Center in early 2008 and operated the local restaurant, eventually renamed Fred’s Food, Fun & Spirits, for more than eight years. Tony Newton also previously was executive chef at The Turtle Club restaurant at Vanderbilt Beach Resort. The Founders’ menu and concept are being overhauled but details have not been released yet. 


Healthy Lee Behavioral Health Coalition of SWFL, Kids’ Minds Matter, and community partners is inviting area teens and their families to the second annual “Normal is Overrated” virtual event, held from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 12 via the Zoom platform. “Normal is Overrated” is aimed at shining a light on the struggles of students with behavioral and mental health issues and to help them achieve greater acceptance in our community. The program features four local students who will share their first-hand experiences with behavioral and mental health issues, punctuated with live commentary on the additional toll misunderstanding and fear can have on those already struggling. There will also be an interactive and informative Q&A expert panel featuring Dr. Paul Simeone, Lee Health vice president and medical director of behavioral health; Sherry Wenzel from Lee County Schools; and Tesharia Folkes, medical social worker with Lee Health. The event is free, but tickets are required to reserve a spot. Click here to register.


Stevens Construction has completed PopStroke, a technology-infused golf entertainment concept merging TGR Design team’s first-ever 36-hole putting facility, coupled with outdoor dining. Stevens Construction built a 6,901-square-foot building, which includes an open-air restaurant and bar, commercial kitchen, restrooms, covered playground and lobby with a retail area and premium ice cream. The cornerstone of PopStroke is the two 18-hole putting courses designed by TGR Design, which provides options for golfers and non-golfers alike. Both courses include synthetic turfs, fairways, bunkers and rough. Located at 5551 Six Mile Commercial Court, PopStroke is opening its first location in Southwest Florida. The Stevens Construction team includes project manager, Mark Pelafas; superintendent, Dan Oak; and project administrator, Sue Ziegenfus. MHK Architecture & Planning is the architect of record. 


MK Architecture has announced the start of construction of Goodwill’s newest Southwest Florida facility, with 36,000 square feet of retail space to be located within Egret’s Crossing at the corner of Davis Boulevard and Santa Barbara Boulevard in Naples. Civil drawings were completed by Grady Minor, structural engineering was provided by JPI Structures Inc., and the Electrical drawings were completed by Pistocchi Engineering. MK Architecture’s client, Faller Development, selected GLR Inc. for the build phase of the project, which is anticipated to be completed by early spring 2021.

Mercola Solar Carport Plan


Natural health company Mercola recently completed a six-month-long project of installing 529 solar panels to its new rooftop. Installed by commercial solar contractor Advanced Green Technologies (AGT), these new panels will provide 210kw of energy, providing half of Mercola’s overall energy needs. The company is now one the largest in Cape Coral that’s powered by solar energy, according to a news release. “Now that we’ve fully utilized our rooftop space, we’re going to build carports in the parking lot to provide some shade and protection for our employees’ vehicles while also generating enough power that will get us to 100 percent of our energy requirements,” says Steve Rye, CEO of Mercola. Mercola’s solar carport will be finished by the end of this year.


Collier County School District sets up designated space for virtual teachers

Virtual teaching presents many challenges to teachers, so eCollier Academy is making some changes to make school easier. The plan is to make eCollier a much more long-term virtual learning option. The district has space at Calusa Park Elementary in East Naples devoted only to the eCollier Academy. It’s designed for staff to teach, plan and collaborate. The academy has 68 staff members and 1,244 students enrolled, WINK News reports.

Video courtesy of WINK News

Fort Myers to decide fate of 8,000-seat City of Palms Park

It once was the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. Now, the City of Fort Myers wants City of Palms Park torn down. The city wants to take possession of the ballpark back from Lee County, but only after the county tears it down. The park is owned by the county, even though the city is still paying off a $25 million bond on it. The 8,000-seat facility hasn’t been used for its intended purpose of hosting a Major League team for nearly a decade, WINK News reports

Healthcare Network to provide drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Golden Gate 

Healthcare Network will provide free drive-thru COVID-19 testing from 9-11 a.m. this Saturday at Healthcare Network’s Nichols Community Health Center, 12655 Collier Blvd., Golden Gate. Testing will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as supplies last, for all ages—including children—regardless of symptoms. A physician or provider referral is not required, and those receiving tests do not need to be patients of Healthcare Network. To ensure proper follow-up, a photo ID is required. Results are expected in 7-10 business days. This is drive-up testing offering only. For safety, walk-ups or cyclists cannot be accommodated. Drivers and others needing testing must wear masks and remain in their cars at all times. For information, call 239-658-3000 or visit

Jennifer Eno

Alzheimer’s Resource Center welcomes new staff members

Terri Czeczotka and Jennifer Eno have joined the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center. As operations manager, Czeczotka is responsible for the center’s business functions, including financial, human resource, and IT administration, as well as assisting with event planning, marketing and coordinating volunteers. She previously served as financial manager of F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva and has financial and human resource experience with the Montauk Fire District, Bridgehampton National Bank and Time Warner, all in New York. Czeczotka holds a master’s degree in business administration from Hofstra University. Eno serves as community and caregiver educator, providing information about the agency’s services and helping clients deal with the challenges presented by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health services administration from the University of Central Florida and served as a health and community development worker in the Peace Corps. She has nearly a decade of experience in senior healthcare, most recently with Cypress Point, a senior living community in Fort Myers.

Squires joins Gulf Coast Realty & Property Management as Realtor

Gulf Coast Realty & Property Management has added Christine Squires as a Realtor. Squires is a licensed real estate and rental expert with several years of industry experience. In her position with Gulf Coast Realty & Property Management, she will be responsible for assisting clients with home and rental purchases and sales, rental property marketing and management, and day-to-day property management. Squires holds a Florida Salesperson Real Estate License and is a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors. Southwest Florida has been her family’s second home since 1987. She is a graduate of John Carroll University in Ohio.


STARability Foundation announces co-chairs for 2021 fundraising event

STARability Foundation announces Jennifer Haire and Rochelle Shucart will lead the 2021 annual fundraising as event co-chairs. While the STAR Gala will return in 2022, the 2021 fundraising event will be held on Feb. 27 with a different format to accommodate smaller gatherings. The 2021 premier event, Dining for the Stars, will be a new virtual platform for raising funds. Haire is the managing director with Stofft Cooney Architects and has been very involved with the STARability Foundation for four years as a volunteer and member of the Gala committee for the past three. Shucart owns Rochelle Shucart Photography LLC and has been involved with the nonprofit organization for two years. For more information, visit

Foundation of Collier County Medical Society announces healthcare scholarship winners

The board of directors of the Foundation of Collier County Medical Society (FCCMS) has announced the winners of its 2020 Foundation Healthcare Scholarship awards: MaryJo Bekhash, Sydney Record, and Yesenia Stephens. Each student will receive a $4,000 scholarship. The final tally of 2020 scholarship awards given by the Foundation is now $22,000, which also includes the $10,000 award given to Lisvet Luceno, recipient of the Foundation’s 2020 Dr. William Lascheid Memorial Scholarship for Medical Students. The Foundation of CCMS healthcare scholarships are for students who are Florida residents enrolled or accepted into a healthcare degree program, with awards based on need, academic performance, and community involvement. The Foundation’s signature fundraiser, the Docs & Duffers Golf Tournament, helps raise funds for its scholarship program and local healthcare programs in need. For more information, visit

Hope Clubhouse to host mental health fundraising luncheon

Hope Clubhouse will host its annual mental health fundraising luncheon, “Faces of Hope: Celebrating 10 Years of Growing Hope,” from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 19. The event will occur both in-person at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and virtually via Zoom in a new hybrid fashion so as to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention safety guidelines. Funds raised at the event will aid Hope Clubhouse’s mission of providing a community of support for adults living with a mental illness and opportunities for paid employment and access to education, housing, and wellness. Tickets and sponsorships for the event are now available for purchase online here

State Farm awards grant to Habitat for Humanity of Collier County

State Farm has awarded Habitat for Humanity of Collier County a grant of $5,000 to go towards the construction of an affordable home for a Collier County family in need. State Farm supports the communities they serve through Good Neighbor Citizenship company grants and the State Farm Companies Foundation. The insurance provider has made a commitment to improving and maintaining the vitality of communities through their investment in organizations that support affordable housing, job training, neighborhood revitalization and more. As a top provider of affordable homes in Collier County, the local Habitat affiliate was chosen as the beneficiary of one of State Farm’s grants. The State Farm grant will support a portion of the construction costs of a new home for a family in the neighborhood of Vincent’s Acres, Habitat Collier’s newest subdivision in Naples.

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