Saturday, January 30, 2010

New book celebrates Chapel By-The-Sea

Sandy McCartney Ehlers is pictured with her latest book, “An Old White Chapel Where God Lives,” a book containing photographs and stories about the Chapel By-The-Sea.

Every November, a tiny corner of Captiva Island comes back to life, revived by voices united in song and prayer.

This tiny corner is home to the Chapel By-The-Sea, a structure that has witnessed over 100 years of island history and welcomed hundreds, if not thousands of worshippers every Sunday from November to April.

After the last Chapel service in April of 2009, Sanibel resident and Chapel chronicler Sandy McCartney Ehlers - who has been a regular service attendee for four decades - sat around with some fellow congregants and listened to all of the stories they were telling about the Chapel.

"It was at that last service that we all sat around drinking champagne after lunch and everybody began telling these great stories - memories of their parents and their grandparents and things that have happened at the Chapel. A lot of the stories were very inspirational. I sat there and thought, 'Egads, this is great!'" Ehlers said, remembering that April afternoon.

The storytelling session inspired Ehlers to collect as many stories and photographs as she could and assemble them into a book that would preserve them forever. What resulted was Ehlers newest book, "An Old White Chapel Where God Lives," a full color publication with over 100 pages containing Chapel stories, poems, reflections and photographs.

In 2003, at the behest of her husband Tom - then president of the Chapel board - Ehlers wrote a book detailing the century-long presence of the Chapel called "In God's Time."

"Of course, I wrote that in 2003, but we had the hurricane in 2004 and three more ministers since that book was done - and they've all been really outstanding and great ministers - so I thought we needed a history of them and what they offered to the community," Ehlers said, noting that "In God's Time" was written in her own voice, from her point of view.

"But this new book is really the chapel's voice, not mine," Ehlers continued.

She said she sent out an email asking people for their various stories, photos and recollections about the chapel and over 50 people - members of what Ehlers refers to as the "Chapel family" - sent in their submissions.

"Books like this are a collaboration. I got stories from all over the country, some from Canada and some from Europe that showed these really insightful perspectives of people's spirituality. Some of them are even very funny. Like one called, 'I'm Calling to Tell You I Can't Marry You!'" Ehlers said with a laugh.

One of Ehlers favorite stories - though she loves them all - is called "The Bible Boat," a story written by Jim Moore of North Captiva from which the title of the book comes from.

"He sent me this piece and it blew me away because it just encompassed the really unique character of the kind of people that go to the Chapel. There are all kinds of people that go there and it's just so open to diversity," she said.

"Another one that explores the more spiritual side of the chapel is one that I wrote called 'The Palm Sunday Spirit Bird.' That one hits on more of the deeper, inspiring, more mystical aspects of the Chapel,"

She also recommends the reflections written by the Chapel's last three ministers - Bruce McLeod, Joyce Kelly and Bob Hansel.

Ehlers not only collected submissions - she organized them in a very special way.

"I wanted the book to begin with the feeling of morning and sunrise and end with sunset," Ehlers said, noting that she focused the layout of the book around the passage of time from the beginning to the end of chapel season, sunrise to sunset, birth to death.

But, "An Old White Chapel Where God Lives" isn't just a chronicle of the old island church - it's also a way for the Chapel to collect funds to be used in their mission work.

"One of my favorite bible verses that comes up at the chapel all the time is 'To whom much is given, much is expected,'" Ehlers said, noting how important mission work is to members of the chapel family.

The missions of the chapel are discussed in a piece submitted by Susan Stuart, Pat Boris and Jane Parker called "A Strong History of Giving."

Every year, the chapel's outreach and missions committee selects both local and international agencies that are dedicated to providing food, shelter, education and counseling to people in need.

The Chapel-by-the-Sea donates 50 percent of its annual earnings to these organizations, including Brightest Horizons in Fort Myers and two orphanages in Central America.

Most of the money raised from sales of "An Old White Chapel Where God Lives" will go to supporting these missions.

The book is also a testament to the Chapel.

"To me, the Chapel is sort of a church of the future. It's not bogged down in doctrine or arguments. It's simply a place to come and worship and to sing and to do good things. In the book, I try to capture the diversity, the non-judgmental attitude of the chapel and how welcoming it is.

"We define ourselves. There are many facets to the book and it's a mirror to the chapel. I've always believed that if you have something that's as precious as that place is, it needs to be mirrored back to the people that make it, and that helps sustain it and define it," Ehlers said.

"An Old White Chapel Where God Lives" costs $25 and can be purchased at McCarthy's Marina, the Sanibel Island Bookstore, Jensen's Marina and of course, on Sundays at the Chapel By-The-Sea.

Islanders mourn passing of iconic crocodile

Sanibel's most prominent reptile inhabitant, an 11-foot female American crocodile, passed away recently. Her body was discovered on Jan. 26 along SCCF's East River Trail.

Earlier this week, Sanibel truly lost one of its most prominent permanent citizens and icons of the island: the saltwater American crocodile - known to many as "Wilma" - who had inhabited the region for more than a quarter century.

Dee Serage-Century, Landscaping for Wildlife Educator at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), made the discovery on Jan. 26 during an afternoon stroll along the East River Trail, directly behind the SCCF Nature Center.

"It looked like she had come up onto the bank of the river... you could see the crawl marks behind her," Serage-Century said on Friday, her voice filled with emotion. "It was probably a combination of old age and the lengthy cold spell that did her in."

Staff members from SCCF and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge - where the crocodile had been most frequently spotted throughout her years - placed the reptile's body on a large plywood board and carried her to an eastern section of the preserve, where a vehicle transported her body to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Service's Forensics Lab.

"In her 25-years plus on Sanibel, she helped define our community as one dedicated to living with wildlife, even the big, beautiful, scary ones," added Serage-Century, who guessed the age of the reptile at between 40 and 60 years. "She was unique in her 11-foot length - large for a female - and the northernmost of her species in Florida."

Don Parsons, a field guide for Tarpon Bay Explorers, had witnessed Wilma's presence within the refuge for several years during his guided tours along Wildlife Drive.

"She had been a fixture at "Ding" Darling NWR since the 1980's," he said. "She was one of the more talked about animals that lived in Southwest Florida and will be missed by everyone that saw her."

In early November, Parsons e-mailed a trio of images of the lady croc to the Island Reporter, adding the following text:

"This morning, I came across the large crocodile that lives in this area. She was sunning herself along Wildlife Drive about 200 yards before the powerlines. Before today, I hadn't seen her for about 18 months, so this sighting was a highlight for me."

Paul Tritaik, manager of the refuge, made the following comments about her death.

"Her hide and tissue are being sent to the FWS Forensics Lab to analyze her body chemistry and DNA," he said. "We hope to salvage her skeleton for future educational purposes. She was an island icon and will be missed by all current and former refuge staff, volunteers and partners."

As news of Wilma's passing spread across the island, some of the more shaken mourners were the volunteers who would come across the famous crocodile, either at SCCF, the refuge or in their own backyards.

On Wednesday, Jeff Combs, volunteer coordinator at "Ding" Darling NWR, announced the somber news via e-mail.

"Yesterday afternoon, the American crocodile was found dead on a secluded spot on the bank of the Sanibel River. The refuge manager verified it was her. All of the refuge staff went out this morning and we moved her body. She was sitting on the bank with her mouth wide open, just like she did so many times on Wildlife Drive," he wrote. "It is more than likely cold stress. She had evidently been there for a while. This is of course a very sad event for the refuge and everyone on the island. She was very well known here and will be missed."

Combs also noted that he would send out a full report when the results of the necropsy come back.

Longtime islander Paul Reynolds, who called the crocodile "Sanibel's biggest celebrity," offered his thoughts on her passing.

"Refuge officials object to 'personalization' of wildlife, so they were never happy with the name 'Wilma' that some gave our only American crocodile. Don't doubt, though, that she was an individual of special privilege around this area," he wrote. "Word is she succumbed to the cold, since she was already north of her native climate. Those cold days were too much for her, and a Sanibel symbol is gone. You may be certain a huge number of volunteers and refuge officials mourn her passing as I do."

On Friday, Serage-Century announced that an informal memorial and remembrance ceremony will be held on the front porch at SCCF, located at 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road, on Thursday, Feb. 4 beginning at 3 p.m.
"We're going to toast her with Gatorade and share stories about her," said Serage-Century, who noted that a plaque will mark her final resting place along the trail. "She so defined us as a community and a lot of folks will be able to share their personal stories about her. Everyone loved her."

Without missing a beat, Serage-Century added with a smile, "I hope some people will wear their Crocs, too."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

White to debut newest novel, sign books at Doc Ford's

White to debut newest novel, sign books at Doc Ford's

Doc Ford's enthusiasts will be happy to hear that New York Times best-selling author, Randy Wayne White, will be signing copies of "Deep Shadow," the latest novel in the Doc Ford series at both Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grill and Doc Ford's Fort Myers Beach.

On Sunday, March 7 and Monday, March 8 the best-selling author and local favorite is scheduled for two appearances at Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grill, from noon to 2 p.m. and again from 4 to 6 p.m. The event will take place in the Dinkins Bay bungalow (named for one of the locales in White's writings) just off the porch and patio area.

The affable author will be on break between signings and if history repeats itself, fans will be taking that time to relax and enjoy the great food and rum drinks for which the establishment is known, while waiting for the next signing time.

On Saturday, March 27, White will be at Doc Ford's Fort Myers Beach signing from noon to 2 p.m. and again from 4 to 6 p.m. White has reminisced about his first book signing right near the Fort Myers Beach location when he prayed that people would show up. His prayers have certainly been answered as throngs of fans enjoy lining up for a signature, indulging in food and drinks while enjoying an all-round enjoyable experience.

Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grill is located at 975 Rabbit Road, at the corner of Rabbit Road and San-Cap Road on Sanibel Island. Call 472-8311 for more details.

Doc Ford's Fort Myers Beach is located at 708 Fisherman's Wharf, on the east side of the Fort Myers Beach Bridge. Their phone number is 765-9660.

 Visit for additional information.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Captiva Civic Association to feature Myra Roberts

Captiva Civic Association to feature Myra Roberts

Myra Roberts spent time on Captiva sketching and studying the Chapel By the Sea to complete this painting. The painting will be featured during an art show for Roberts work at the Captiva Civic Association in March.

The Captiva Civic Association will be featuring the works of popular islander artist Myra Roberts at an upcoming art show in March.

Captivans and visitors will have a chance on Thursday, March 18th to stroll down the gallery-like hall of the CCA and check out Roberts considerable collection. The CCA will be having a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The show will run until April 8th, said Sharon Brace, office manager for the CCA.

Roberts will also be featured during a library program at the Captiva Library at 4:30 p.m. on March 24.

Roberts works which chronicle life on both Sanibel and Captiva will be a welcome addition to the CCA. The Chapel By the Sea will be highlighted at the CCA show.

"I know her work is certainly popular with many of our members," Brace said. "It's really appropriate for our island setting."

The CCA is located 11550 Chapin Lane, Captiva.

Roberts said she is elated to get a chance to show her work at the CCA.

"It's a real honor to show my work in the same exhibit hall as Robert Rauschenberg," said Myra Roberts. "It's a perfect setting to have the show because of it being in the center of the island's history. The location is otherworldly I am definitely back in time when I go there."

Roberts said she spent weeks on Captiva sketching The Chapel By the Sea and looking at graves at the Captiva cemetery.

"I wanted to pay homage to the first families that came to Captiva such as the Brainerds and the Carters just to name a few," Roberts said.

She said she is in the process of painting two more Captiva-based pieces for the March show.

Roberts whose vintage-style work graces the Art in the Tree Tops Gallery on Sanibel, BIG ARTS on Sanibel, Lily's Jewelers and Arts for ACT in Fort Myers, has just released a book "Retro Images From The Florida Coast". Brian Johnson is the author of the book. Johnson and Roberts collaborated on the book during a series of interviews in 2009.

Roberts has been an artist for 30 years. Her work hangs in the home of many celebrities including the deceased art icon Robert Rauschenberg.

This book introduces Roberts detailed work and research of landmarks, places and famous personalities who came to Sanibel & Captiva, such as Anne Morrow Linbergh, J.N. "Ding" Darling and Thomas Edison. Historic places such as 'Tween Waters Inn, Jensen's Marina and Casa Ybel Resort can be found in the book.

To order a copy of her new book, visit or write to

There are limited edition hard copies signed by Roberts. Books will cost $65 per copy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Songwriters reunite at Jensens Marina for more musical magic

Musicians will perform Thursday evening, Jan. 21 at Doc Ford's

When you pass by Jensens Twin Palm Resort and Marina this month and hear the sounds of nimble fingers picking out an old country standard, if you're a local, you'll know that it's that time of year again - the time when a quartet of incredibly talented musicians make their way back to Captiva to reunite, catch up, compose and perform.

But aside from the weather and scenery, what draws these four men to Jensens Marina every January?

These accomplished singer/songwriters - Austin Church, Brent Moyer, Joe Sun and Ottar Johansen - have become a part of the extended Jensen family.

"It's magic. It really is. The Jensen brothers are some beautiful people we've become friends with," Moyer said.
And Moyer's fellow musicians agree.

"I would call the Jensens patrons of the arts and we feel like our gift is our music, so they continually invite us to come back and entertain their guests and them and to promote our music," Church said.

"It's a good creative atmosphere and we're able to come down, get together and do some writing," Moyer said, noting that his song "Flower of the Sea" was written in Cabin One at the resort.

"This place is conducive to writing. It makes me feel like writing when I get here, and I think primarily what we are is songwriters and you get in these beautiful cabins and it's just tranquil. I get that guitar out and just start strumming," Church said, noting that one of his most recent compositions, "The Wheelhouse," was inspired by the Jensens' wheelhouse. "And for me, it's also a chance to get the news from Nashville."

Church, who now resides in Cocoa Beach, Fla., says that the one thing that brought them all together - and introduced them to fellow musician Jimmy Jensen - was the Flora-Bama Songwriters' Festival in Pensacola.

"When I left Nashville in 1997, I got a call from Brent telling me to come on over to Captiva, because they were having a big Super Bowl party and they'd love to hear me pick and grin. They had a whole bunch of acts lined up and I was just delighted to come. The warmth and the exuberance and just downright love for humanity that is the Jensens just permeated the whole atmosphere and I've been hooked ever since," Church said.

"Brent and I first met Jimmy at the Flora-Bama Songwriters' Festival 15 years ago and he invited us down - and these brothers were so warm and welcoming and congenial and we've been coming down by invitation ever since. We've gotten to know so many people here throughout the years, some people come down just for this, and it's gotten to be a kind of family get-together. We just have such a great time here," Sun said.

But one particular member of the Jensen January family flies in from a place a lot farther than Cocoa Beach or Nashville.

"This gentleman is responsible for advancing country music in Norway more than anyone else in the history of the country," Sun said about his friend Johansen.

Johansen says he first heard country music on the radio when he was a young boy in Norway.

"We didn't know that was country music, we just knew it was something we liked. The first country act in Norway was Jim Reeves. In 1964 he filmed a legendary show in black and white. And he was so popular. He sold lots of records because what was playing on the radio at that time was philharmonic stuff - a lot of horns and folk music," Johansen said.

"I think more than anything it shows the popularity of not only American country music but music born in this country - the blues, country and rock'n'roll. All of that was more or less born here but sailors and the American G.I. helped to spread that music around the world," Sun said.

But all four men acknowledge that real American music was born out of immigrant instrumentations and traditions - for example, fiddles from Scandinavia and Ireland, mandolins from Poland and the spirituals sung by slaves.

In fact, Sun and Johansen are exploring this multicultural dynamic by forming their own band called The NorVille Group - a portmanteau of Norway and Nashville. They've already written a song called "Take Me Back."

And while these songwriters can agree that country music is a melting pot of traditions, there is another element that none of them can deny.

"Music is based on magic. That's what the Jensens have going here - magic," Sun said.

"That's why we come here," Moyer added.

"Magic is the word. Because when you ask some of the producers in Nashville, 'Well, what do we gotta do in here?' they'll say 'Get magic on tape! That's what you gotta do!'" Church said.

And every January, Church, Johansen, Moyer and Sun return, and will continue to return, to make more of that magical music - or musical magic!

To hear songs and learn more about them, visit,, and, or just swing by Jensens Twin Palms Resort and Marina, located at 15107 Captiva Drive - if you're lucky, they might just play you a tune!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Spa at ’Tween Waters hosts grand opening event

Last Thursday, The Spa at 'Tween Waters, located at the historic 'Tween Waters Inn, held their grand opening event to celebrate the official opening of the brand new spa facility.

Operated by owner Georgie Pailes, The Spa offers a full service salon featuring manicures, pedicures and hairstyling, four treatment rooms - including a couple's room and dry sauna - and a couple's Sundance Spa with ozone generator where no chemicals are used.

Within The Spa, which overlooks the property and tennis courts, is a fitness center open to guests, home to 900 square feet of aerobic and strength training equipment.

"At 'Tween Waters Inn, we believe that by enhancing The Spa, we're enhancing the overall guest experience at the resort," said 'Tween Waters general manager Jeff Shuff.

"We work hard every day to make sure our guests have the best opportunities on their vacation, and truly believe there's not another experience like one at 'Tween Waters Inn."

With natural bamboo embossed flooring and vaulted cypress ceilings, the facility at 'Tween Waters Inn offers 4,000-plus square feet of luxurious amenities.

Four specially crafted jetted pedicure stations fill the salon, while nail and hair stations have an air and water solutions bio hygienic ventilation system.

The Spa offers all hand made and individually packaged Farmhouse Fresh nail products, as well as OPI and CND nail lacquers.

Hair styling products include humidity resistant formulas and Vivitone Italian-made coloring products.

Wall-to-wall windows adorn the couple's treatment rooms. Future plans include a coffee and juice bar on the deck overlooking the pool.

Beyond massage, facial, nail and hair treatments, every guest of The Spa is greeted by a friendly staff and enjoys plush signature robes, Zendals sandals, shower facilities and light snacks. The staff includes a variety of licensed and well-trained individuals continuously attending classes to stay up to date with latest trends and techniques.

"We're a really unique spa," added Georgie Pailes, owner of The Spa at 'Tween Waters Inn. "The heart and soul that was put into this project shows in every treatment, every massage and every happy customer that walks out of here. It was a lot of hard work for everyone at the resort, but the results are breathtaking."
Packages are available for couples or wedding parties. Gift Certificates are also available.
To book an appointment, call 800-223-5865 ext. 390 or email
'Tween Waters Inn is located at 15951 Captiva Drive.
Source: Noise, Inc.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sanibel Health Club opens on Rabbit Road

Chamber of Commerce members and well wishers attended the ribbon-cutting celebration at Sanibel Health Club on Jan. 6.

The Sanibel Health Club had its official grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration on Jan. 6. The club has recently opened and is located on Rabbit Road, next to Doc Fords. The celebration consisted of many members of the Chamber of Commerce enjoying an evening with healthy snacks and tours of the gym and equipment.

Owner Tim Shevlin is excited about the opening. "Come check us out," he said. "All we ask is for you to stretch your limits and get in shape now. It's time to treat yourself better and learn more about how Sanibel Health Club can change your life today!"

There are discounts available for those who live and work on the island. Everyone is encouraged to check out the new state-of-the-art facility and stick to that New Year's resolution.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tomlinson offers tips for making donations to Haiti earthquake victims

The City of Sanibel's Police Chief, Bill Tomlinson, is advising the public to be cautious about the relief organizations that they choose to give donations for the victims of the recent Haitian earthquake. Donate to organizations you have previous experience and confidence.

He also offered the following suggestions:

Extensively research any charity or organization that you plan to donate to. Scammers seize on tragedies as opportunities to steal your money. Donate to well known organizations such as the Red Cross who have a history of disaster relief.

Check on a charity with the Attorney General's Office, Better Business Bureau, and your local consumer affairs agency.

Beware of unsolicited spam e-mails seeking funds for relief efforts, containing attachments, or promising to locate missing loved ones for a fee. These e-mails can spread viruses and should be immediately deleted.

Trust your instincts. If you are unsure about the charity or agency you are dealing with, untrusting of the person on the other end of the phone, or just uncomfortable with an organization, then don't make a donation. Common sense is your best weapon against a scammer.

Never send money to phone solicitors representing charities that you have never heard of. If you are making a phone donation, make the call yourself, and donate to a well-known relief agency. Use credit cards/checks instead of cash donations.

Never give any credit card or bank account information to unknown charities over the phone or to door-to-door solicitors.

When donating online, make sure the Web site is secure. For example, it should have a lock icon on it or a URL that begins with "https."

Donate to a charity that has a history of using a large portion of donations for relief efforts and not for its own operating costs. You can check legitimate charities on the Attorney General's Web site to see what percentage goes to relief victims.

Make sure the charity you are donating to is aware that you want your donation to go to a specific cause.

Do not donate to a charity that wants to send a courier to pick up the donation. This is a safe bet that the charity is a scam. This also presents a security risk to you at your home.

If you believe you are being scammed, call the Sanibel Police Department for an investigation at 472-3111.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Loretta Paganini to teach cooking at the Jacaranda

Loretta Paganini
Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 10 am A Tuscan Dinner Party

Menu: Grilled Tuna & Cannelini Bean Crostini, Fennel & Pecorino Salad, Tomato-Basil Soup, Pici Pasta with Meat Sauce, Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce, Green Bean & Tomato Salad, Pear Almond Tart

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010 10 am Sizzling Seafood

Menu: Scallop Saltimbocca with Prosciutto & Sage over Potato Pancakes, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Caesar Salad with Grilled Shrimp, Grouper wrapped in Banana Leaves, Spicy Clam Chowder with Garlic Crostini and Lemon Sorbet

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 10 am Caribbean Island Flavors

Menu: Virgin Pineapple-Mint Mojito, Jamaican Shrimp & Corn Fritters with Spicy Creole Tomato Sauce, Conch Chowder with Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce, Tropical Fruit & Vegetable Salad, Jerked Chicken Barbacoa, Coconut Rice Pilaf, Spice Cake with Banana Ice Cream

Thursday, Jan.28, 2010 10 am A Taste of Mediterranean

Menu: Roasted Red Pepper Tahini Dip on Freshly-Made Pita Bread, Greek Salad with Tomatoes, Feta Cheese & Kalamata Olives with Herb Vinaigrette, the best Eggplant Moussaka, Grilled Marinated Grouper on Lemon-Herb Risotto, Fig & Almond Cake with Orange Syrup & Greek Yogurt Cream

Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 10 am A Night in Key West

Menu: Artichoke Bruschetta, Crab & Corn Bisque with Homemade Crackers, Baby Greens with Walnuts & Strawberry Vinaigrette, Boursin-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Vegetable Ratatouille & Key Lime Tart

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 10 am The Italian Grill

Menu: Grilled Red Pepper, Eggplant & Zucchini Salad, Grilled Portobello & Flank Steak Wraps with Balsamic Dipping Sauce, Grilled Pizza Caprese with Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Basil, Barbeque Shrimp Spiedini over Pasta al Pesto, "Pollo alla Diavola" a delicious marinated Grilled Chicken, Grilled Plum & Peaches over Polenta Cake with Gelato

Reserve a copy of "Passion for Cooking" at 440-729-1110

Island foodies and cooking connoiseuers get your forks outand your appetites revved up. Renowned chef and cooking instructor Loretta Paganini will be teaching cooking classes at the Jacaranda Restaurant on Sanibel for the 13th Annual Tropical Cooking Extravaganza in Florida.

The popular chef will be joined by Tim McCoy to teach a week long series of classes.The classes will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday, Jan. 25-30, 2010.

Cost is $525 for six class series, or $95 per class.

For reservations call LPSC at 888-748-4063

The Jacaranda Restaurant is located at 1223 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. For more information, call 472-1771 or email

Meet Loretta Paganini

Loretta Paganini was born in Bologna, Italy.

She learned her culinary skills in the family "Pasticceria" from her mother, a renowned chef and television personality in Italy. In addition, Loretta studied at several cooking schools in Italy. Loretta has been certified by the International Association of Culinary Professionals and maintains membership in the IACP and the American Culinary Federation.

In 1989 she opened The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking (LPSC) in Chesterland, Ohio and brought culinary education to hundreds of recreational students. A culinary retail shop and bookstore are also located at the cooking school. In 2002 she opened a new cooking school at Fisher Foods in North Canton. Due to increased demand for qualified foodservice employees, Loretta Paganini introduced ICASI, the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute. In September 2002, ICASI received approval from the State Board of Proprietary Schools as being the first and only privately owned "professional culinary school" in Ohio. In 2004, Loretta purchased twelve and a half acres in Chesterland, Ohio and built on the site a 12,000 square foot culinary center with five professional kitchens, library, lecture hall, commissary kitchen and caf. In the fall of 2005, the school opened with one hundred students and a staff of thirty including fifteen chefs' instructors from all over the world. In the winter of 2007 the schools upscale restaurant "Sapore" (Tastes) opened its doors.

In 2000 Loretta established a European Center in Chiavari, Italy, which is situated on the Italian Riviera near Portofino and the "Cinque Terre". This purchase enables her to expand affiliations with some of the top European Culinary schools.

Loretta has had extensive television experience, most notably as the host of TLC the Discovery Channel "Simply Gourmet Show" a series of cooking shows, she started as a regular host chef on "The Morning Exchange" show a very successful daily show in Cleveland WEWS Tv and as co-producer and guest on WVIZ Channel 25 program "P is for Pasta", "E is for entertaining" and "H is for Health" and "P is for party" and recently as a guest on the PBS special C is for Cleveland Originals. Starting in January 2007 she became the regular weekly guest chef on WKYC Studio 3, "Good Company Show" and her recipes have been featured weekly by the Plain Dealer "" taste. Radio experiences include "Cleveland Cuisine"; "Memories from Italy" WJCU 88.7 FM and "La Cucina Italiana" weekly Italian Cooking radio show WJCU 88.7. She has her own video, "Pasta Pronto" and her first cookbook, "Bologna Mia" was published in August, 2000 and her second cookbook "Cooking Thyme" was published in 2007 and her new cookbook "A passion for Cooking" will be due in the spring. Since 1989 Loretta Paganini has been offering several successful Gastronomic tours of Italy and France.

(Anne W. Bellew, Ella Nayor and press reports contributed to this story.)

Sanibel woman says yes to junonia with diamond

Julia Dressler is overjoyed after finding out a junonia planted on the beach near the Sanibel Moorings by her sweetheart Michael Grey, contained a diamond ring inside along with a marriage proposal.

Julia Dressler always dreamed of finding a rare junonia shell.

And like most young women she also longed to find the man of her dreams.

She got both.On Thursday, Michael Grey got down on bended knee on East Gulf beach in front of the Sanibel Moorings and proposed to Dressler, his girlfriend of nearly two years.

For Dressler, 26, the cool, sunny day seemed like a fairy tale.

One minute she was sifting through the sand looking for shells with Grey and the next she was scooping up a junonia with the words printed in marker "Julie will you marry me".

A moment early her clever Casanova called her over to check out a shell he found. He picked up the brown mottled shell and gave it to Dressler.

Her mouth curled into an O and her face broke into a 100 watt smile at the sight of the round solitaire diamond ring placed inside the shell.

"He pulled it out and gave a cute speech," Dressler said. "People didn't realize what was going on."

The day before his marriage proposal, Grey bought a junonia at Showcase Shells and got prepared for the big moment.

"I had actually run through it a few times," he said with a chuckle.

Grey had decided to propose to Dressler in front of the Sanibel Moorings - where her parents Barry and Suzanne Dressler own a condo - because the vacation home and Sanibel mean a lot to her. She has been spending time with her family on Sanibel since she was 18-months-old.

The Pennsylvania-based couple who met through mutual friends are excited to be engaged.

"It was love at first sight," Dressler said as she flashed a shy smile at Grey. "He's even a rarer and more special find then my junonia."

Dressler's parents were in on the romantic surprise. They had mimosas waiting for the pair when they arrived off of the beach with the junonia and ring in Dressler's hand.

"We're just so delighted to have a son in our lives," Suzanne Dressler said.

Grey, a computer consultant, is relaxed after everything went as plan -including Dressler's response to the ring.
"I said yes," she said.
The couple plans to marry on Sanibel.
"It's a place that's near and dear to my heart," Dressler said.

Chamber gearing up for 2010 Retail Expo

BusinessChamber gearing up for 2010 Retail Expo

Bridgit Stone-Budd, Director of Marketing for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, is getting ready to stage the 2010 Community Fair & Retail Expo on Sunday, Jan. 24.

Community Fair & Retail Expo
Sunday, Jan. 24
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sanibel Community House
2173 Periwinkle Way
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce will host the 2010 Community Fair & Retail Expo on Sunday, Jan. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way.

"There will be things to do for all ages," said Bridgit Stone-Budd, Director of Marketing for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce. "There will be lots of fun stuff for the kids, games, raffle drawings and food and drink for everyone. And all of it is free!"

In addition to vendor booths found throughout the Community House complex, the event will offer live music - including The Sanibel School's Steel Drum Band - and entertainment, a bounce house and giant slide, a dunk tank and wine tastings.

Free food and refreshments will include coffee and bagels, hot dogs, peanuts, bottled water and more.

There will also be two spectacular raffle prizes given away, in addition to several door prizes and product giveaways provided by the vendors. The Royal Shell Companies has provided a giant flatscreen television as their grand prize, while Lily & Co. will give away some of their treasured island-inspired jewelry.

The first drawing of the day will be held at noon. The grand prize drawing will be held at 2 p.m., and the winner must be present to win.

Along with the event's platinum sponsor, The Royal Shell Companies, gold sponsors include Breeze Newspapers, Lily & Co., AmeriDry and and silver sponsors are John Grey Painting and The Coffee Bar @ Bailey's.

Participants already signed up for this year's expo include the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, 'Tween Waters Inn, Independent Beauty, Hillgate Communications, Hurricane Shutter Co., The Grog Shop, ABWA, Bailey's General Store, Heidrick & Co., Eagle Precision Auto, Billy's Rentals, Cartier Charter, Island Therapy, The Cedar Chest, Costco, FAFCO Solar, BB&T Bank, Island Book Nook, SCA, Stroemer & Co., Sanibel Sweet Treats, Tribeca Salon, Shiny Objects, Meardon Photography, The Bait Box and Tarpon Bay Explorers.

"We've had 100 percent retention at the expo because our businesses enjoy coming back every year," added Stone-Budd, who is producing the event for the third consecutive year. "I think that it's important for local businesses to get to know the products and services available from their fellow businesses here on the islands. And the fair is a great way for everybody to come out and mingle with their community."

For more information about the event, contact the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce at 472-1966 or visit

Singer and lead guitar player for Island Jazz, Gene Federico soothes the crowd with his crooning.

 "Q&A with musician and performer Gene Federico"

Singer and lead guitar player for Island Jazz, Gene Federico soothes the crowd with his crooning.

Gene Federico is an island musician who loves making people happy with his performances. He is a member of Island Jazz and can be found playing at BIG ARTS with the band on Sundays thorough the end of April. He also performs at many other island functions and locales.

Where did you spend your childhood?
I was born and raised in the Boston area.
What brought you to Sanibel?

About 20 years ago some friends of ours visited the island and upon their return to Boston, they couldn't say enough about Sanibel and it surroundings. Several months later, my wife Dottie and I vacationed here and knew immediately that one day this would be home.

What do you most appreciate about Sanibel?

The pleasant weather, the pristine beaches, the wildlife, the sunsets and the many friends we have made over the years.

What were you doing before you came to Sanibel?

My occupation has always been music related. I operated a retail music store that offered equipment, music lessons and repairs. During this time, I taught guitar & bass along with performing for various venues in the New England area. In the mid 90's, with a competent staff able to run the music shop, I branched out of New England and worked as a solo performer doing vocals, guitar & keyboards for both Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines - what a treat to be sailing around the Caribbean, especially in the winter!

Can you describe your experience as a band member and musician with Island jazz?

My fellow musicians are a great bunch of people to perform with! What is hard to comprehend by most people is that jazz musicians can usually gather together and start playing pretty much anything and sound like they have been playing together for years - without practicing! This surely holds true for Island Jazz which is comprised of talented musicians from all over the U.S.

What style of music do you perform?

That question requires an explanation along with the answer. I have been exposed to so many genres of music in my life that I can perform for many "musical tastes". Growing up in a big city like Boston there is much cultural and ethnic diversity. Like most young players, I played high school and Y.M.C.A. Dances, playing the pop music of the day, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys..etc..In my late teens I started playing with a "wedding/jazz" band and that led to my meeting many musicians. Baron Hugo, orchestra leader from the famous Totem Pole took me under his wing and gave me some playing dates and introduced me to other band leaders/agents in the area. I was pretty much off and running and playing several gigs a weekend, weddings, clubs, private functions, and getting paid!. From there I got involved with a "Latino" band that played for Latino communities in the Northeast. Among some of the acts that I worked with were, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Los Swing Boys & Sonora Mantacera. However, being young and not familiar with these acts, years past before I could appreciate the importance of their contributions to music. Musically I was all over the board and expanded further when I was recruited to play in an "Italian" band. This band, similar to the Latino band, played all over the Northeast and opened for some well know Italian acts, Peppino Di Capri, Gianni Morandi, Mina, etc.....With so much musical variety in my life, it was at this point that I decided to become a free-lance musician....basically being available to all without a commitment to none. In the late 80's, Harvey Robbins Productions contacted me to see if I was available to play some "Oldies" cruises out of Boston. It was then that I got a taste for playing cruise ships and the opportunity to work with entertainers like Levi Stubbs ( Four Tops), Gene Pitt (Jive Five) and Herb Reed ( Platters)...In fact a former student of mine is still playing for Herb Reed. In the mid 90's I contracted with Carnival Cruise Lines and added Island Music, Caribbean, Reggae and Jimmy Buffett selections to my repertoire. That in a nut shell gives you a brief understanding of how I came to have such a diverse repertoire, and the types of music I perform. My Web site has some samples of the various styles of music I perform.

What do you enjoy most about being a musician and performer?

Watching the smiles on people's faces as they are listening or dancing to the music, tapping their foot, singing along, applauding, or receiving a compliment. To have someone come up to you and say , "that was great", or "nice job", or "thanks for playing my request" makes it all worthwhile.

Do you have a favorite musician?

That's a difficult question since there are so many great musician/composers. I have favorites for various genres of music. The Gershwins, Cole Porter, Burt Bachrach, Carole King, Lennon and McCartney, Antonio Jobim, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Gibb Bros., A.L. Webber, Elton John, Brian Wilson, just a few that come to mind - all giants !

Any words of advice for aspiring

Do the basics, learn how to read music! Listen to a variety of music, don't limit yourself to one particular style, experiment, and of course PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! What is amazing is that with all the music that has ever been composed or played, it was all done with only 12 notes!!

What do you do when you are not playing music?

When I'm not practicing new material, I enjoy boating, golfing, swimming, fishing and biking.

What is your family life like?

Well, I'm married to the most wonderful and caring woman in the world. Dottie and I have two children, one of whom has made us grandparents for the second time.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That along with the many years of music studies, I hold a degree in Electrical Engineering from Franklin Institute of Technology, and a degree in Finance from Boston University.

What are your long/short term goals?

Long term, I would really like to finish an album I started several years ago. Short term, I want to keep playing music and having a fun time trying to make people happy.
Any words of wisdom for living a happy life?

Musically/artistically speaking - "Life is not a dress rehearsal, so make it your best and most memorable performance"!

BIG ARTS features classes and courses to keep islanders busy this season

Bea Pappas holds a popular watercolor painting class at BIG ARTS. This class participants are: Toby Lieberman, Lynn Quigley, Anita Marshall, John Crump, Rhoda Dickenson, teacher Bea Pappas, Pat Harig, Elaine Winer.

Whether you want to learn how to write a memoir to hand down to family members, paint a child's rocking chair or learn how to handle money in a challenging economy BIG ARTS can be considered a one-stop-shop for learning.

The non-profit agency is gearing up for the winter season with a palette of classes, workshops and programs to keep the community busy and enlightened.

"We invite everyone to immerse themselves in their favorite medium in a wonderfully unique environment," said Marina Dowling, BIG ARTS Workshop coordinator. "Many recent news stories from scientists report that continued learning is just what the brain needs to stay sharp over a lifetime. Our island setting is inspiring, the teachers are top professionals, and our students enjoy the supportive environment. We have workshops at all levels of skills taught by professional workshop instructors. The schedule of classes changes annually, to provide diverse, exciting choices."

Many of the courses and programs are unique and not the typical painting and learn how to operate the computer classes.

The programs are geared to the diverse interests of the community.

For instance, Kassia Sparks is teaching a class on how to make children's rocking chairs. Sparks, an interior designer who sells children furniture and exhibits her work, wanted to teach something that could be passed down to generations.

"It's for that special child in your life," Sparks said. "It's an heirloom."

The Painting-Child's Rocking Chair with Kassia Sparks is Saturday, Jan. 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

And for those who would like to preserve their life story to perhaps eventually pass down the family line or maybe even make it on the silver screen for countless eyes to see BIG ARTs is featuring a Memoir Writing class for Women.

In keeping with the times, BIG ARTS is offering a program about economics. During a recent chat with island residents on the street, more folks showed an interest in learning about how to make money or better understand the stock market in reaction to the recent recession that hit the U.S. Economic Policy Workshop with Lawrence Davidson begins Jan. 29, class runs Friday and Wednesdays, call BIG ARTS for more information.

Understanding and meeting the community's thirst for knowledge as well as intellectual and more light-hearted pursuits is BIG ARTS mission.

"It's all about meeting the community's needs," said Lee Ellen Harder, the executive director of BIG ARTS. "They (residents) want to be able to continue to learn. The desire to learn us lifelong until the very end."

Though the rough economy has been hard for BIG ARTS to maintain the attendance levels they have in previous year, staff are working hard to make it a successful season.

"We have been effected like everyone else," Harder said. "We're trying to be prudent in what we offer. We keep a constant eye on what's going on in the economy."

BIG ARTS staff put their collective heads together to spot trends, needs and of course listen to the public in order to see what courses and programs people will want to sign up for during season.

International/political issues, health and science, women's issues and topical issues such as the economy are what's important to people coming to the programs now, Harder said.

But islanders are not just coming to BIG ARTS to learn.

"They also want to have fun," Harder said. "They want to be entertained."

Here is a list of the current schedule of courses and programs at BIG ARTS.

Classes beginning the last week of January 2010 are:

Hand Drumming with Dennis Dial begins Jan. 19, meets Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

Memoir Writing for Women with Betty Sprague and Martha Soshnick begins Jan. 21, meets Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon

Take Photos You Can Be Proud of with Eric Orkin begins Jan. 22, meets Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon

Seven Classic Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant with Hal Cantor begins Jan. 22, meets Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon

Fine Silver Jewelry the Easy Way with Mary Ann Devos runs Saturday Jan. 23, and Sunday Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sailor's Valentine with Brandy Llewellyn begins Jan. 23, meets Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Papier-mch Sculpture with Jerry Churchill runs Saturday Jan. 23, and Sunday Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hand Drumming with Dennis Dial is Tuesday Jan. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Nature Printing: Flowers & Leaves on Fabric with Mona Gleitz is Thursday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Economic Policy Workshop with Lawrence Davidson begins Jan. 29, class runs Friday and Wednesdays, call BIG ARTS for more information.

Circle of Friends with Katie Gardenia runs Saturday Jan. 30, and Sunday Jan. 31, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Painting-Child's Rocking Chair with Kassia Sparks is Saturday, Jan. 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Painting & Drawing Open Studio begins Feb. 1, meets Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Drawing The Easy Way with Julie Siler Olander begins Feb. 1, meets Mondays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Watercolor to The Easy Way II with Julie Siler Olander begins Feb. 1, meets Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon

The Joy of Poetry with Joe Pacheco begins Feb. 1, meets Mondays from 9 to 11 a.m.

Adobe Photoshop for Beginners with Denny Souers begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Pilates Mat Class with Marsha Wagner begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m.

Collage: "Tiny Treasures" Greeting Cards & Artwork with Laraine Centineo begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Hand Drumming with Dennis Dial meets Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Painting with Hollis Jeffcoat begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Watercolors - Realism to Abstract with Anne Kittel begins Feb. 2, meets Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Art of Papermaking with Lynn Russell begins Feb. 3, meets Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Learning to See & Draw Through Old Master Drawings with Daphne Hammond begins Feb. 3, meets Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon

Interactive Art Appreciation with Don Maurer begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Introduction to Macintosh OS X with Dick Holmes begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Photography Intermediate with Denny Souers begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Wall Glazing & Frottage 101 with Michele Oppenberg begins Feb. 4, meets Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon

The History of Jazz - The Early Years with Jack Bailey begins Feb. 5, meets Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon

Building on the Four Cornerstones of Painting: Series 2 with Hollis Jeffcoat begins Feb. 5, meets Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Life Drawing - Open Studio Non Instructed with Carol Rosenberg begins Feb. 5, meets Fridays from 9:15 a.m. to noon and also Fridays from 12 to 2:45 p.m.

For further information about workshops at BIG ARTS; stop by BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road Sanibel; call 395-0900; e-mail; or log on to

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kay Casperson brings lifestyle spa and boutique to South Seas Island Resort

Kay Casperson, left, and managing director of Kay Casperson, Inc. Valerie Simpson are seen at the front desk of the brand new Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique in South Seas’ Chadwick’s Square.

Kay Casperson, a Sanibel resident, nationally recognized beauty and lifestyle author, speaker and media personality - just to name a few - has brought her philosophy of "Beauty Inside Out" to South Seas Island Resort as a lifestyle spa and boutique, located in Chadwick's Square.

Islanders may be familiar with the spa's former location on Sanibel, but as of Dec. 26, Casperson's premier Southwest Florida destination is South Seas.

Casperson's managing director Valerie Simpson explained how all of the spa employees are referred to as lifestyle consultants - not cosmetologists, technicians or hairstylists.

"This is a lifestyle for me. It's who I am," Casperson said.

Casperson says this spa was a major undertaking, and she couldn't have done it without her friend Simpson.

"We have a great energy together," Simpson said.

And energy seems to be a key word at the Kay Casperson spa - energies that are vibrant and joyous, soothing and relaxing, all at the same time.

A trip to the Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique, Simpson explained, isn't just a day of beauty - it's a way to relax and reclaim yourself, to make yourself feel beautiful from the inside out and change your life.

Casperson says she has spent 20 years consulting, teaching, training, researching and developing beauty products and has been associated with South Seas since the early 1990s.

"Launching the spa at this iconic resort has been a dream for quite some time. The South Seas brand and the service philosophy I embrace are in harmony. I am looking forward to a long and successful relationship," Casperson said.

According to South Seas director of communications and community relations Carolyn Hudson, the partnership with Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique fits squarely within South Seas' new positioning focused on family, nature and comfort.

The spa - an open, airy space with soothing light green walls and rich, dark wood floors - is designed to surround customers with a feeling of comfort and relaxation while simultaneously providing specialized attention that will not only cater to the individual but to wedding parties and special event groups.

And according to South Seas Island Resort managing director Rick Hayduk, the resort is glad to welcome Casperson into the South Seas family.

"South Seas is thrilled to open the Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique in addition to partnering with someone of Kay's talent and ties to the local community," Hayduk said in the release.

"Opening the spa speaks to the fact that South Seas is committed to continually enhancing the guest experience and providing additional reasons for locals to be drawn to the tip of Captiva for something they can't get anywhere else," Hayduk said.

Services at the Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique include manicures, pedicures, facials and massage.

The spa is also outfitted with a studio where classes such as yoga, Pilates and "zumba," a work-out based on Latin dance, will be held.

Private treatment rooms offering massage and facials are named after Captiva's unique natural wonders such as the "Starfish Circle," "Dolphin Drive" and "Pelican Place."

"The Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique is something that South Seas needs. We're an iconic destination and Hurricane Charley is in the past and we're moving on. We are poised to be the best we can be. We're so ready to get back into the hearts and minds of the community. This spa is going to do that for us," said Hudson.

"New things are happening that are bringing in great energy, not only among guests but employees too. The best is yet to come," Hudson said.

The Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa and Boutique is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Chadwick's Square.

For appointments, please call 239-777-6561.

Learn more about Casperson's products at

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New photography exhibit at 'Ding' showcases 'Life On The Refuge'

Terry Baldwin's exhibition of wildlife photographs will be on display at the 'Ding' Education Center through the end of February.
Now through the end of February, an exhibition of photographs taken by award-winning photographer Theresa Baldwin, entitled "Life On The Refuge," will be on display at the Education Center of the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

"Basically, it started as a hobby for me," said Baldwin, known as Terry to everybody at the refuge, where she leads birding tours and acts as a volunteer rover, providing on-site information to visitors passing through Wildlife Drive.

"When my husband and I bought a home here back in 1987, we used to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's here," she explained. "We also used to come down during the summer to check on things, and I would notice all the different species of birds who would be here at different times of the year."

Baldwin said that she enjoyed taking pictures of the birds, especially the ones who would be here year round, "because they let you get closer to them."

"The summer birds would be very tame," she said. "They look at you in the eye and appear to be quite calm around people. If you respect their presence, they'll respect your presence."

Terry and her husband, Mike, have been full-time residents of Sanibel for the past 12 years after being frequent visitors to the island since the mid-1980s. During that time, her love for capturing the beauty of the refuge's birds, reptiles and other creatures through her camera lens blossomed.

"I started out with a simple point-and-shoot camera, but every Christmas my photography gear has gotten better and better," said Baldwin, who specializes in blending several shots of a single or multiple species together in her photo montages she calls "Wildlife Windows."

"All of the photographs in this exhibit were taken in the past five years here at the refuge," she noted, adding that she uses digital photo equipment for all of her wildlife photography these days. "Over the years, you learn the habits of each of the birds and animals. That way you can kinda get you camera set up and be ready for the right moment. Still, a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time."

Baldwin is an active member of the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, serves as secretary of its Board of Directors and helps coordinate its annual photography contest.

In addition, Terry holds a doctorate in nutrition education from the University of Cincinnati, where she served as adjunct faculty prior to moving to Sanibel.

"Since my background is in education, I like my photographs to tell a story," she added.

Also through the end of March, Baldwin will present a program on nature photography at the refuge Education Center every Tuesday starting at 2 p.m.

For additional information about the exhibit, visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge six days a week (closed on Friday) from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during January and February. Their Web site is located at

Free Island Jazz Concerts return to BIG ARTS for fun-filled season

The Island Jazz band plays every Sunday at a free concert and draw a nice crowd of people who bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the concert in the beautiful Big Arts setting. Pictured from left, John Schiedo (alto sax), Harry Reiner (music director and trumpet player), Gene Federico (vocals and guitar), Thomas 'Tommy D' DeQuinzio (clarinet), Tom Cooley (drums), Louis Pradt (litany flute), Bill Johns (bass), Art Pendleton (piano). Not pictured, Babe VanDerVelt (tenor sax), Art Fuller (tenor sax), and Rusty Kupsaw (string bass). To learn more about Island Jazz and their performance schedule see pages 12 and 13.

Free Island Jazz Concerts

Sundays: Jan. 17, and 24; Feb. 7, 14, 21, and 28; March 7 and 28; and April 4, 11, 18, and 25. All concerts begin at 3 p.m.

Boler Garden at BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel

Sanibel and Captiva are world-recognized for long stretches of pristine beaches and its quaint island ways of life.

But there is another hidden gem in the islands' treasure chest of features and highlights - Island Jazz.

Island Jazz is a band of local musicians - many of whom are career performers - that give free performances on Sundays at BIG ARTS every season.

Free Island Jazz Concerts as it is known began last Sunday and will continue through the end of April at the Boler Garden at BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.

Plenty of free parking is available, but it is recommended that attendees bring beach chairs, as seating is limited.

Island Jazz will be performing the following Sundays: Jan. 17, and 24; Feb. 7, 14, 21, and 28; March 7 and 28; and April 4, 11, 18, and 25. All concerts begin at 3 p.m. in the Boler Garden. In case of rain, the concert will move to the covered verandah.

Band members are elated at the start of their season which began last Sunday under chilly skies.

The band's vocalist, Sally-Jane Heit said she is excited after last Sunday's well-attended performance.

"We went for the moon," she said. "We had solid playing for an hour and a half."

Heit said that despite a bout of cold weather, fans stayed in their seats mesmerized and enchanted by the performance. The audience's commitment pushed the band even further to perform their hearts out.

This included Harry Reiner adding some island-related lyrics to some songs, Heit said.

"The audience joined right in," she said. "When it starts up like this you just got to keep going up. It's a match between the fans and the musicians."

But its this connection between the seasoned musicians and their fans that keeps them coming back.

"Our mission - as always is to bring the gift of music to the islands," said Tom Cooley, Island Jazz's drummer and one of the band's founders.

Cooley said Island Jazz is in its fourth season. The last three years have been spent at BIG ARTS - the first the Community House.

The free Island Jazz concerts have become a household event to many residents and visitors.

There are about a dozen musicians in the group - eight whom perform regularly, cooley said,

"We have become part of the island," Cooley said. "It's a community thing to do."

During the concerts, folks gather around in lawn chairs and in many cases join in the soul-touching jazz music.

Mayor Mick Denham looks forward to attending the Sunday concerts.

"They play with a lot of enthusiasm," Mayor Denham said.

Every performance is novel and different.

"When you come to Island Jazz you don't know what's going to happen," Heit said.

Much to the audience's delight, there is often improvisation during the performances.

"We're constantly adding new material," said Gene Federico, Island Jazz's guitarist.

And though all of the band's members are well-seasoned and not at the start of their careers, there momentum as a band continues to grow.

"It is a such a heart and soul-felt blending of talent and commitment at a stage in life when most people burrow down," Heit said. "These guys are just dynamic artists."
Federico who said he has been a musician since the age of 12 said he sees the band's number of fans growing from on and off the island.
"What I really enjoy is the response we get," Federico said.

The band's has caught the eye of numerous organizations and entities on and around the islands, including The Community House where they - in addition to BIG ARTS - will be performing this season.

In addition to the band's regular Sunday concerts, the Island Jazz Dance Band will play dance-style music from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on the following Monday nights at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way: Jan. 11, 18, 25; Feb. 8, 22; and March 15 and 29. Tickets are $5 at the door.

On Jan. 11, guests can come early and enjoy an inexpensive fish-fry meal and then listen and dance to the music of Harry Reiner on trumpet, Gene Federico on guitar and vocals, Tommy D on clarinet, Tom Cooley on drums, and other Island Jazz regulars joined by special guests throughout the season. Drinks will be available for purchase at reasonable prices throughout the evening, according to a press report.

And though the band is adding another venue and different style of music on their schedule, the members are not frazzled.
"As the music changes we change," Heit said.
The band seems to take strength from their expanded performances and changes.
"You kind of grow together," Federico said.
For more information, call Tom or Barbara Cooley at 472-8568.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tarpon Bay Explorers offers scholarships for environmental studies

Tarpon Bay Explorers takes environmental education a step beyond tram tours with its generous scholarship program.

Tarpon Bay Explorers Scholarship for Environmental Studies for the fourth consecutive year will award $1,000 to each of one or more local high school seniors or college students in April, reports Doris Hardy, chair of the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) Education Committee.

Applicants must live in Lee, Charlotte or Collier County and intend to pursue an education in science, biology, environmental studies or wildlife conservation. Funds may be used for tuition, books, supplies, equipment and technical materials at a qualifying institution of higher learning.

Applications are due by March 31, 2010.
"We are extremely grateful to Winston Spurgeon and Wendy Erler-Schnapp, owners of Tarpon Bay Explorers, for this generous contribution to the future of environmental education and our youth," said Hardy. "It fits well with our mission to further the refuge's conservation education value."

Tarpon Bay Explorers, the official recreational concession for J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, offers refuge visitors kayak rentals and tours, Wildlife Drive tram tours, nature boating cruises, educational Deck Talks and other opportunities to learn more about local wildlife and its habitat.

"Our Tarpon Bay Explorer naturalists are a team of environmental educators. Many of these talented individuals would not have had the opportunity to complete environmental studies or other related programs if it weren't for grants and scholarships from members of the business community," said Erler-Schnapp. "Therefore, we understand the value of educating these young people and are glad to contribute. We are fortunate to be able to offer these scholarships."

DDWS -- a non-profit, friends-of-the-refuge organization that supports the Education Center, "Ding" Darling Days, and other educational programs at the refuge will administer the Tarpon Bay Explorers scholarships.

For information on underwriting additional scholarships or applying for scholarships, please contact Hardy at or 472-1100 ext. 233, or Toni Westland at or 472-1100 ext. 236.

Applicants can also download and print scholarship applications and information from Click on the applicable link on the bottom right-hand side under the "Inside the Society."