Friday, September 21, 2018

Beautiful Fort Myers Beach Sunsets...


Naples Botanical Garden creating new art exhibit, fall walk for visitors this season

Summer is a time of renewal, and Naples Botanical Garden is growing and changing to prepare for the region's busy winter season. 
On a balmy Wednesday, the garden was quiet, not one visitor in sight. If you stayed still and listened closely, you could almost hear the buzzing of bees and the flapping of butterfly wings.
And the sound of garden shears and leaf blowers. 
That's because the garden is closed Sept. 17 through Sept. 30 for annual maintenance, which means new attractions for the themed gardens. 
"This is the time of the year when we don't have as many visitors so it's a good time to do this," said Liz Chehayl, Brian Holley curator of collections, as she walked the grounds, where dozens of staff members and volunteers planted new flowers. 
For two weeks, they will plant and label new trees and flowers, replant large palms and install art pieces for a new exhibit. 
Naples Botanical Garden reopens Oct. 1. Here's what new things you can expect to see this season. 

New glass art exhibit

Starting Oct. 1, the garden will feature a new exhibit, Reflections on Glass: Fräbel in the Garden from German artist Hans Godo Fräbel, who lives in Atlanta.
About 13 pieces of his collection — glass sculptures in the shape of playful figures and botanical pieces and installations — will be placed over bodies of water across the garden and displayed until March 31.
The art exhibit is included with regular admission. 
The East Naples attraction is closed Sept. 17-30. The garden reopens Oct. 1 with several new features, upgrades. Ashley Collins,; 239-213-6029

Get up close and personal with butterflies

A screened butterfly house already brings visitors close to the colorful creatures. But the popular attraction inside The Vicky C. and David Byron Smith Children's Garden is getting a much needed face lift, said Nick Ewy, associate director of horticulture.
A wider pathway unobstructed by vegetation.
"We really want to open the space up so visitors can see the butterflies," Ewy said.
Plenty of vegetation, particularly nectar plants, will still fill  the garden, but strategically placed off the pathway. 
And small hills will dot the updated landscape. 
The purpose of the garden, said Liz Chehayl, is to keep their butterflies healthy. 
"We don't focus on breeding butterflies in here. We focus on letting the butterflies thrive so they're feeding on the plants, not laying eggs," she said.

Inaugural fall event

The tropical garden will transform into an autumnal paradise for the inaugural Fall Walk in the Garden.
Take a stroll in the garden lit up with orange lights, dance to music, find the perfect pumpkin in a patch and enjoy seasonal treats. 
Tickets will be available beginning Oct. 2. The three day event runs 6- 9 p.m., Oct. 26-28.

Large palms, redesigned pathways, other new features

To upgrade the walking experience, staff is redesigning several pathways during the two-week closure, Chehayl said. 
 Workers will modify the entry way to The Kathleen and Scott Kapnick Brazilian garden. The original pathway to the garden was split into a couple of different routes, confusing visitors, she said, so they're building a wide path that'll lead straight to it.
Also, a wooden dock near the attraction's main entrance is under renovation, including a large water feature at the Scott Florida Garden, which offers guests plenty of water views. 
Botanical staff estimates 40 palm trees will be transplanted before Oct. 1. The move isn't just for aesthetic purposes; it's also to ensure trees continue growing healthy and strong.  
While all these projects will be complete before reopening day, Ewy said their work is never truly done.
"We're constantly evolving and changing," he said about his staff and the garden. "Us outdoor people, we're all plant nerds. We love plants and it's our hobby to collect and grow plants and we do it for a living, so it's awesome."

Friday, September 14, 2018

Things to do in Cape Coral, Fort Myers area:

Things to do in Cape Coral, Fort Myers area: Cuban-themed play 'Anna in the Tropics,' etc.

  • Eve to Adam: New York hard rockers best known for the top 20 mainstream rock song “Immortal.” Plus opening acts Crow Fly and Jimi Dred. 6 p.m. Free.  South Street City Oven and Grill, 1410 Pine Ridge Road, Naples. 435-9333 or
  • “Anna in the Tropics”: The Southwest Florida premiere of Nilo Cruz’s play set in a small cigar factory in 1929 Ybor City, Tampa. Cuban-American workers hand-roll tobacco leaves while a “lector” entertains them by reading newspapers, poetry and novels. Then a new employee starts reading them “Anna Karenina,” instead, and sets into motion the events of this passionate, Pulitzer Prize-winning story. The play is presented as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Sept. 14-30. $28. The Laboratory Theater of Florida, 1634 Woodford Ave., downtown Fort Myers. 218-0481 or
  • “The Art of Peter Greenaway & Jack Kerouac” exhibit: Rauschenberg Gallery follows up its recent “Jack Kerouac & Ed Ruscha: On the Road” exhibit with this new show featuring 50 of Kerouac’s paintings and works on paper, plus British filmmaker Peter Greenway’s drawings inspired by the classic Kerouac book “On the Road.” Sept. 14-Dec. 8. Free admission. Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College, 8099 College Parkway S.W., Building L, south Fort Myers. 489-9313 or
  • “Comedy for a Cause”: Local celebrities perform improv comedy in this sixth annual show benefiting The Charlotte Players. 6-10 p.m. $85. Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda. 941-255-1022 or
  • Staged Readings: The first in a series of staged readings with actors performing short stories, essays, plays, speeches and more. 7:30 p.m. $20. Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. 495-8989 or
  • World premiere of “Refugee”: Bestselling author Alan Gratz and Broadway playwright Eric Coble visit Florida Rep for the world premiere of “Refugee” and an after-show discussion. This is a one-night-only performance. Commissioned by Florida Rep, the play follows three refugees fleeing violence at home in hopes of finding a better life in America. Coble adapted Gratz’s book after being approached by the show’s director, Kody C. Jones. The play stars six Florida Rep performance interns. 6 p.m. $10. Florida Repertory Theatre, 2267 Bay St., downtown Fort Myers. 332-4488 or
  • End of Summer Bash: Psychedelic/stoner metal act Psychic Dose performs at this all-ages show. 8 p.m. to midnight. Free. Beach Records, 16120 San Carlos Blvd., Unit 10, south Fort Myers. 878-7806 or
  • SummerJazz on the Gulf: The 33rd-annual outdoor concert series holds its last show of the summer with Fort Lauderdale band Motown, Philly soul, reggae and rock band Pocket Change. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Free. Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples. 261-2222 or
  • 2018 Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk: This national fundraising run/walk was created to honor the life and death of New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, who died during 9/11 after strapping on his gear and running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers. There will be a 3.1-mile course and also a 1-mile memorial walk. 7:30 a.m. Registration is $20-$25. Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, south Fort Myers.
  • Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Trolley: Ride trolleys throughout the South Cape and stop at 11 different places for specialty drinks at this St. Patrick’s Day-themed event. 7-11 p.m. Tickets are $10 plus $2.50 per drink. Designated-driver tickets are $20. Check-in happens at Big John's Plaza and in front of Dixie Roadhouse, downtown Cape Coral.
  • Tiki Festival: This tropical-themed event includes vendors, crafts, horseshoes, cornhole, barbecue, live music, food, drinks and more. Tropical attire is encouraged. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Moose Lodge 2199, 155 Santa Barbara Blvd. N., Cape Coral. 458-8708 or
  • Bluegrass in the Theater: Join fellow acoustic-music lovers in the Foulds Theatre for three hours of live music by bands from Southwest Florida and beyond. The September lineup features Friends of Gerald, Southwind and The Other Guys. Presented in partnership with the Acoustic Music Society of Southwest Florida. 2 p.m. $15.  Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. 939-2787 or
  • “The Wizard of Oz”: Last chance to see the stage musical based on the beloved 1939 movie about Dorothy, her little dog and her magical adventures in the merry old land of Oz. Sept. 7-16. $21. Cultural Park Theater, 528 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral. 772-5862 or
  • CMR Talent Search: Southwest Florida independent label Creative Minds Records holds a public talent search for local singers and vocal groups. It’s free to enter but all entries must be submitted by midnight Sept. 8. The live competition is open to the public. 7-10 p.m. Admission is $10. The event benefits the Tabarrini Foundation, which gives local kids musical instruments and lessons. Broadway Palm dinner theater, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers.
  • Bike Night at Shell Factory: This motorcycle-themed event includes live music, barbecue, drinks, biker jewelry and more. Takes place 5-10 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Free admission. The Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. 995-2141 or
  • Comedian Rob Little: The stand-up comic has appeared in national television commercials and on such shows as Comedy Central’s “Distraction,” FOX News and SiTV’s “Latino Laugh Festival.” Matt Price opens. Sept. 20-22. $20-$25. Laugh In Comedy Café, 8595 College Parkway, Unit 270, south Fort Myers. 479-5233 or
  •  Island Hopper Songwriter Fest: Midland and Locash headline the fifth annual music festival. The sprawling Island Hopper takes place Sept. 21-30 at venues throughout Lee County. The lineup includes songwriters Earl Bud Lee (Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places”), Dylan Altman (Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”), Lee Thomas Miller (Chris Stapleton’s “Whiskey and You”) and Wendell Mobley (Kenny Chesney’s “There Goes My Life”). Most events are free, but tickets for Midland and Locash are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. The shows take place at various venues in Lee County.
  • Ink Life Tour: The Fort Myers music and tattoo fest moves north to Punta Gorda for three days of tattoo artists, vendors and live bands (including Friday headliner Matisyahu and Saturday headliner Filter). Noon to about 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to about 8 p.m. Sunday. $20-$25 per day, $40 for a weekend pass (including concerts). Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda. (941) 833-5444 or
  • “Becoming Doctor Ruth”: A heartfelt, funny one-woman show based on the life of famous sex therapist  Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Written by Mark St. Germain, the playwright behind Florida Rep’s "Best of Enemies” and "George Washington's Teeth.” Sept. 21-Oct. 21 in the ArtStage Studio Theatre. Tickets are $45-$55. Florida Repertory Theatre, 2267 Bay St., downtown Fort Myers. 332-4488 or
  • Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party: This touring, kid-friendly show features ice skaters portraying popular Disney characters. Sept. 21-23. $20-$100. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero.  948-7825 or
  • Music Walk: Downtown Fort Myers comes alive with music at this monthly celebration with bands in the streets and inside the bars and venues. 6-10 p.m. Music Walk takes place on the third Friday of every month. Free. Downtown Fort Myers.
  • Blackwater Country Jam: New country-music fest featuring headliner Jerrod Niemann, plus Runaway June, Jacob Bryant, Taylor Phillips, Meghan Patrick, JB Crockett and the Cody Williams Band. 1-10 p.m. $35 ($75 for VIP). Laishley Park, 100 Nesbit St., downtown Punta Gorda.
  • Albert Castiglia: The bluesman and his South Florida band play what he calls “red-raw, sweat-and-hair blues that gives it to you straight.”  8 p.m. $20-$30. Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. 495-8989 or

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Time to act is now

August 29, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander
To the editor:
Dr. Michael Crosby, president and chief executive officer of the Mote Marine Laboratories - a biblical mote in your eye? - describes red tide as a long standing natural phenomenon and not necessarily related to agricultural fertilizer. This is only a part of the story.
Long before Europeans set eyes on Florida's southwest coast, there were thousands of bird rookeries. Bird guano fertilized red tide. Condominiums and luxury resorts have replaced the rookeries, but the crap, corruption and toxic chemicals that runs off fields, pastures, golf courses and residential developments is now the stimulus for red tide. Like many others, Dr. Crosby coyly uses the word "nutrients" instead of fertilizer. Beware, reader - always ask who finances scientific activities. Grant money from the government or industry can influence "scientific" results.
It is time for the captains, mayors, commissioners, scientists and the professional environmentalists to stop whining and start a boycott of Florida agricultural products. Even if the boycott didn't work, the publicity might shame the politicians and Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam into enacting a state-wide ban on fertilizers until agriculture, the golf courses and developers build artificial wetlands to catch the runoff. Stop the excuses that it is "a problem," "difficult" and "it will take a long time." Put enough pressure on the politicians. If they stop holding out their hands for money from the sugar daddies, they could enact the legislation tomorrow. Don't let them wait for more decades. A bulldozer can scrape out a shallow holding pond, planted with native vegetation in a few days.
Septic tanks that leak into our waterways are another stimulus for green algae and red tide. If cities, like Captiva, refuse to develop systems for the disposal of sewage then force their citizens to install composting or incinerator toilets instead of passing their excrement into our waterways.
Get 'er done now, not in the next century.
John Raffensperger

Call me with any questions at (239) 560-1574 or Email me at:

There Are Tax Benefits With Home Ownership

There Are Tax Benefits With Home Ownership
Homeownership has always been the "great American dream". And Congress -- with one exception -- did not take it away when it passed the tax reform bill last December.
To foster and encourage this dream, Congress has consistently enacted -- or preserved -- tax legislation which favors homeowners. Indeed, much has been written that our tax laws discriminate against renters, by giving unfair and unequal tax benefits to those who own homes.
Every four years, some candidate for high political office tries to focus our attention on equalizing the tax laws, and repealing the homeowner benefits, but these arguments have consistently fallen on deaf ears.
For those of us who own homes, here is a list of the itemized tax deductions available to the average homeowner. Every year, you are permitted to deduct the following expenses:
Taxes. Real property taxes, both state and local, can be deducted. The one exception referenced above: tax filers can deduct on Schedule A any combination of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes but only up to a total of $10,000. Interestingly, married couples who file their own separate tax return can only deduct up to $5000.
However, it should be noted that real estate taxes are only deductible in the year they are actually paid to the government. Thus, if in year 2018, your lender held in escrow moneys for taxes due in 2019, you cannot take a deduction for these taxes when you file your 2018 tax return.
.Mortgage lenders are required to send an annual statement to borrowers by the end of January of each year, reflecting the amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes the homeowner paid during the previous year.
Mortgage Interest. Interest on mortgage loans on a first or second home is fully deductible, subject to the following limitations: acquisition loans up to $1 million, and home equity loans up to $100,000. If you are married, but file separately, these limits are split in half. But note that for new loans taken out after December 14, 2017, the limit on deductible mortgage debt is reduced to $750,000. Loans in existence prior to that date are grandfathered.
You must understand the concept of an acquisition loan. To qualify for such a loan, you must buy, construct or substantially improve your home. If you refinance for more than the outstanding indebtedness, the excess amount does not qualify as an acquisition loan unless you use all of the excess to improve your home. However, any other excess may qualify as a home equity loan.
Let us look at this example: Several years ago, you purchased your house for $150,000 and obtained a mortgage in the amount of $100,000. Last year, your mortgage indebtedness had been reduced to $95,000, but your house was worth $300,000.
Because rates were low last year, you refinanced and were able to get a new mortgage of $175,000. Your acquisition indebtedness is $95,000. The additional $80,000 that you took out of your equity does not qualify as acquisition indebtedness, but since it is under $100,000, it qualifies as a home equity loan.
Several years ago, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that one does not have to take out a separate home equity loan to qualify for this aspect of the tax deduction. However, if you had borrowed $200,000, you would only be able to deduct interest on $195,000 of your loan -- the $95,000 acquisition indebtedness, plus the $100,000 home equity.
One more caveat: the proceeds of a second mortgage -- or a home equity loan -- are still deductible but only if the money is used to substantially improve the property.
The remaining interest is treated as personal interest, and is not deductible.
Points. Because mortgage rates are still considerably low, not too many borrowers are paying points. When you obtain a mortgage loan, in order to get a lower rate mortgage, you would pay one or more points. Whether referred to as "loan origination fees," "premium charges," or "discounts," these are still points. Each point is one percent of the amount borrowed; if you obtain a loan of $170,000, each point will cost you $1,700. And the interest rate on your loan will be lowered.
The IRS has also ruled that even if points are paid by sellers, they are still deductible by the homebuyer. Points paid to a lender when you refinance your current mortgage are not fully deductible in the year they are paid; you have to allocate the amount over the life of the loan. For example, you paid $1700 in points for a 30 year loan. Each year you are permitted to deduct only $56.66 ($1700 divided by 30); however, when you pay off this new loan, any remaining portion of the points you have not deducted are then deductible in full.
Needless to say, if you have any questions about these tax benefits, discuss them with your financial and legal advisors.

Housing Market In South Florida Ripe For The Picking

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