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Friday, April 23
Video courtesy of WINK News
NEW EYE INSTITUTE OPENING THIS FALL AT GOLISANO CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
A new eye institute for children with a staff of four doctors is scheduled to open this fall, doubling the exam space offered at Golisano Children’s Hospital. The building off Summerlin Road and San Carlos Boulevard will have narrow rooms specifically designed for eye exams and will significantly reduce families’ wait times to book appointments. The Southwest Florida Children’s Charities has committed $3.2 million to build the new eye institute, WINK News reports. This Saturday, the organization is hosting its annual fundraiser event, SWFL Wine & Food Fest, sponsored by Gulfshore Life magazine. To donate or to see auction lots open for bidding, click here.
Thursday, April 22
FLORIDA ONLINE SHOPPERS TO PAY MORE AS GOV. DESANTIS SIGNS ONLINE SALES TAX BILL INTO LAW
Get ready to pay more when shopping online. Gov. Ron DeSantis this week signed into law a plan to require out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians, with the estimated $1 billion a year in revenue going to curb a pair of taxes on Florida businesses. Florida business groups have lobbied for years to require out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales taxes, saying it is a matter of fairness. Retailers with a “physical presence” in Florida already are required to collect and remit sales taxes. Democrats argued that working Floridians will be hurt by the proposal because of “regressive” sales taxes. The final package was approved 27-12 by the Senate and 93-24 in the House, WINK News reports.
Wednesday, April 21
COLLIER COUNTY COMMISSIONER’S BUSINESS DEALS SPARK QUESTIONS OF CONFLICT
When William McDaniel ran for Collier County Commission in 2016, he was overcoming hard times, including unpaid tax liens, property foreclosures, and personal liability for millions in business loans. After taking office, his fortunes changed. He helped set up the sale of his business property to a developer planning the Immokalee Road Rural Village in north-central Collier. The deal erased his obligation to pay $42.7 million owed on two defaulted loans and gave the development crucial access to Immokalee Road. Some Collier County residents have questioned McDaniel’s interests in the transaction. He had a business relationship with the developer, recommended the developer as a buyer for his land and insisted that his personal responsibility for the defaulted loans be erased as part of the deal. Critics of the plan argue McDaniel’s connection to the deal serves at best as an example of a commissioner who is too cozy with developers; at worst, it serves as an example of a commissioner benefiting from a development project. McDaniel said he has no conflict. “There are rules and there are laws. I haven’t broken any rules or any laws.” To read the full Gulfshore Business report, click here.
Tuesday, April 20
LEE HEALTH COVID-19 VACCINE APPOINTMENTS NOW OPEN TO GENERAL PUBLIC
As of Monday, anyone 18 and over can sign up online to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at Lee Health by clicking here. You do not need to be a Lee Health patient to get the vaccine. All vaccines will be administered at Gulf Coast Medical Center. After signing up, you will be notified when the vaccine is available to you and given a choice of time slots of available appointments. If Lee Health has multiple brands of COVID-19 vaccines in stock, you will be able to select which vaccine you receive. Currently, Lee Health is offering the Moderna vaccine. All self-scheduling appointments must be made online. Lee Health asks you not to call its 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. Lee Health has been vaccinating its employees and medically vulnerable patients since December. This is the first time the health system has offered it to the general public. Per Florida guidelines, vaccine appointments are available for Florida residents only. A mask is required to enter any Lee Health facility. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, click here.
Monday, April 19
Video courtesy of WINK News
SWFL HIGH SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES PLAN IN-PERSON GRADUATIONS
Graduation time has arrived, but 2021 won’t see those drive-thru ceremonies from the beginning of the pandemic. Instead, school districts and universities in Southwest Florida will give their seniors their much-deserved diplomas in person. The Lee County School District says students will be given only two tickets for family members this year and the COVID-19 safety requirements may vary depending on the venue. This year will still be somewhat non-traditional at Florida Gulf Coast University, which is going to offer a hybrid commencement. Students will be able to walk across the stage to get their diplomas and take a photo, but they will have all of the speeches and formalities online, so students and their families won’t be sitting in an arena for three hours, as in a typical ceremony, WINK News reports.
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