■ BY SUE ERWIN
The Barrier Island Parks Society met on Monday, Nov. 13 for its annual board of directors meeting, and outgoing President Linden Hustedt announced that the new incoming president for the 2017-2018 season is John Rice. Krista Potthast-Haynes is the new vice president for the organization.
Hustedt thanked the new officers for stepping up and taking on the leadership roles. He also thanked outgoing board member David Ferrie for his service to the organization.
“This has been a wonderful experience for me, and I look forward to watching the group grow in the future,” Ferrie said.
BIPS Executive Director Sharon McKenzie introduced the 2017-2018 strategic plan.
She said the goal for the next few years is to inspire, enhance and preserve.
“We want to enhance our existing programs and services to reach more people, starting with our schools,” McKenzie said. “We want to inspire the next generation of stewards through alignment and integrations of BIPS programs in the tri-county school systems.”
McKenzie said four beach ambassadors have been trained to educate people about our beaches and to help collect data for BIPS.
The Gasparilla Island Lighthouse climbs have raised $6,000 over the past several months. Due to increased demand, more climbs have been added for this season.
Since parking for the climbs has become an issue, BIPS received permission from Lee County Parks and Recreation for guests to park at Wheeler Field, and then they can be shuttled via golf cart to the lighthouse.
The organization currently has 948 members.
Incoming President Rice said that membership is up by 35 percent this year, and it is expected to hit 1,000 by the end of the year.
Parks Manager Chad Lach said new sets of stairs are currently being installed at the boardwalks at Gasparilla Island State Park to replace those that were damaged during Hurricane Irma. He said Cayo Costa took the brunt of the storm, and the docks there have quite a bit of damage. Funding has been approved for the repairs, which hopefully could be completed by the end of the year.
Due to the hurricane, the Friends of Cayo Costa Day has been postponed until January 6, 2018.
Friends of Cayo Costa board member Elaine McClaughlin said there will be a film premier of Mullets and Mangroves II at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 at the IMAG History and Science Center in Ft. Myers. The film is about early pioneer fishing families in the area. The event is free, with pre-registration at www.theIMAG.org.
The 2018 Green Gala will be held on March 19. The theme of this year’s event is “Catch a Wave,” and the evening will feature music from the 1950s and 1960s. The event will be held at the Boca Bay Pass Club. Sponsors are needed.
The annual Lighting of the Lighthouse ceremony event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will be available, and live entertainment will be provided by Kenny Rose.