January• After 13 years of owning and managing Fugate’s, Nancy Blank and Toby Wiener stepped down. The store was purchased by Scott and Jennifer Allen of Orlando.• Nancy Lyons, Patrick Carey, Alice Gorman, Charlie Tyler, Michele Strauss and Reyn Guyer all participated in the Royal Palm Players’ “Poetry Night,” held at The Temptation.• Tuna Tacos and Duck Sliders, not to mention the Lamb Lollies, were on the menu for the annual “Taste of Boca.”• Michael Saunders, a real estate company in the area for 35 years, opened an office in Boca Grande.• Talks of changing the name of Cayo Costa was squashed.• Chef Gene Marra’s mango wine was a big hit all over town.View More images >>• “Gangster Apparel,” starring Charlie Tyler and Gary Grossman was performed by the Royal Palm Players.• The Friends of the Boca Grande Community Center celebrated 25 years of community service at the center.• The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority finalized plans for sidewalks for Cole Island. • Ed Reefe, Julius Frager, Pete Saeger and Patrick Bell were named as advisory board members to the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority.• Winners of the Lee County Parks and Recreation Winter Youth Fishing Tournament were Joshua Sutcliffe, Ben and Bryan Schwertman, Anna Harrison, John Parent, Brady Bowe, Colin Dow and Kayla Vaughn.Obituaries: Gladys Gaines Black; Marjorie A. Wyrick; Thomas P. Milligan; Barbara Murphy.
February• Midge Mason, the director of the Boca Grande Art Alliance, declared she was retiring from the position.• Darrell Polk was featured in a Boca Grande Historical Society “History Byte.” He discussed times on the island such as World War II, when every available home and bed was taken up by a U.S. soldier, and when the volunteer fire department risked life and limb to keep people and property safe.• Boca Grande residents Jim and Joan Ardrey left Egypt unscathed just hours after the Tahrir Square protests. They came home with quite a tale to tell.• The “Whodunnit?” parade came to town and The Island School got jiggy with it at their annual dance.• The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed its new executive director, Lew Hastings.• The annual “Taste of Boca” took place, and while the weather varied from windy to stormy the victual fans’ spirits were not dampened.• Ann Lee, Patty Hayes, Shaena Keefe and Shannon Coe were the winners of the Women’s Open Doubles in the Gasparilla Island Tennis Tournament. • History Bytes, sponsored by the Boca Grande Historical Society, featured speakers Capt. Dumplin’ Wheeler and Jackie Sullivan. While Dumplin’ was stifled more than once from telling a particularly saucy tale (by his wife, Dee), the crowd was entertained with other stories such as when the “boys” would run away for days at a time, playing on crashed World War II planes at the south end of the island and dancing the night away at local juke joints.• Scott Ittersagen won the Pigskin Pick’em League for the football season.• The Royal Palm Players performed “Snapshots,” featuring Michele Neitzel, Libbi Bergman and Sally Johnson.• The short-lived island bakery CaffeBoca opened their doors.• The Royal Palm Players rendition of “Frankly Scarlett, You’re Dead” was a big hit with 3rd Street diners.Obituaries: Walter “Mike” Michael; Richard M. Larson; James G. Webb; Charles Rockwell; Steve Everist
March• The Bennett family took a prize for the “Most Creative” float in the annual Bike Parade. The “Best Group” award went to the Munchkin Program, “Most Original” went to the Kendle family, and the award for “Best Presentation of a Theme” went to the Hugh-Plumb families. The “Best Bike” award went to Pierce Washburn, and the “Most Entertaining” award was given to the Ghriskey family. “Best of Show” was taken by Larry and Kitty Jenkins. • One man died and two others were rescued after a fishing trip turned disastrous in Boca Grande Pass. • The Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association announced they would be paying for extra patrols on the bike path during the busiest months of the year. • The Barrier Island Parks Society held their annual Green Gala. The theme for 2011 was “Viva Las Vegas!” • Palm Avenue business owners were still doing battle with CenturyLink and, more aptly, bird poo. The debate, which started about seven years ago, focused around the excessive amount of bird waste falling from the large telecommunications tower behind the fire station. After repeated attempts to appeal to CenturyLink executives, business owner Len Tatko went to local news stations to try and get some response to his pleas.None came, and the battle is still being waged.• “A Bench in the Sun” was performed by Royal Palm Players’ Jim Grace, Margaret Bush and Charlie Tyler.• The numbers were in for the 2011 “Taste of Boca,” and more than $35,000 was raised.• The Boca Grande Masters Art Festival was held, as was the annual United Methodist Women’s Strawberry Festival.Obituaries: Joseph “Buzz” C. Mendel; Eugene “Gene” W. McCall.
April• It was an egg-eating extravaganza at 3rd Street Cafe, as Boca Grande firefighters Lt. Mike D’Angelo, Lt. Lee Cooper, Firefighter Dave LeClerq and Firefighter Damon challenged Ed Gillam and Tipton Blish. In the end, Lt. D’Angelo took the prize hands-down with 15 eggs eaten. In the juvenile division Grant Reecher took the title with six eggs eaten.• Six people were rescued from a sinking boat in Boca Grande Pass. The 27-foot boat was found in the water off the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, and its occupants were found floating nearby, unharmed.• At the annual Royal Palm Players ANNA Awards Margaret Bush was honored as best actress, Jim Grace was named best actor, Ann Fletcher was named all-time favorite female actor, and Charlie Tyler was named all-time favorite male actor.• New doctors Nancy Blackstone, Dr. Gregory Lomas and Cheech Hill were introduced at the Boca Grande Health Clinic.• Island resident George Melissas alleged that a USDA iguana hunter was responsible for hitting the side of his pickup truck with his family inside, while it sat in his own driveway. No charges were ever filed.• Members from every department within the Lee County Sheriff’s Office met at Wheeler Field for a public demonstration. Sgt. Jeff Corkhill took a dog attack like a pro, and Beacon editor Marcy Shortuse took a five-second tasing.• Sheriff’s deputies arrested two men in connection with stolen golf carts on the island. Andrew James Zappia and Cedric D’Aris Campbell were taken into custody on charges of burglary to an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft.• “Bad Tomatoes” hit the RPP stage and “Mariana’s Letters” was at the Johann Fust Community Library.• The Boca Grande Dog Show was held, and the 2011 “Boca Bowser” title was given to Tonka, a Bouvier des Flandres owned by the Cory family. Mike Giobbe and Hudson took a prize in the “Owner-Dog Look-a-Like” category. Patti Rappaport and Cooper took a prize, as well as Barbara Edgerton’s great dane puppy, Walter.• Marta Howell, the director of the Friends of Boca Grande program, raised more than $54,000 in response to a faulty sound and video system in the Community Center auditorium.Obituaries: Michael M. Ingram; Mary Ann Sanderson; James G. Lane; Eric S. David; Bradley Gayle Brown III.
May• Island resident Mike Giobbe received a silver and a bronze medal at the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Hawaii. He competed against 900 other veterans for the prizes, and his events were shot put and discus.• Lisa Umberger and Dwight Arundale were married at Lisa’s family home in Boca Grande.• Riley Mizell, Sara Bennett, Grayson Davis and Rogan Davis took first place aboard the Savannah in the Kids’ Classic Tournament. and Team Mathis Farms aboard Capt. Charlie Coleman’s Casuarina took second. Capt. Willie Mills’ team aboard the Tracy Lynn took third.• Capt. Sandy Melvin’s team aboard the Boca Blue took first place in the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Tournament, taking home a check for a little more than $17,000. Capt. Charlie Coleman’s team on the Casuarina had eight releases for second place, and third place was awarded to the team aboard the Chris Rip with Capt. Lamar Joiner Jr.• The Sportsman Challenge Tournament was taken by Capt. Willie Mills aboard the Tracy Lynn. He got a $7,200 purse. Second place went to Capt. Frank Davis aboard the Native.• Bob Barker Robertson passed away at age 11. He was the puppy of Sarge and Colleen Burri’s Ace, and was a handsome boy.• A new palm popped up on Park Avenue near The Temp. The old coconut palm that used to stand in its place was too damaged by several cold months of weather, after residing there for 50 years. The Planter’s Garden Club made sure all was put right and replaced the tree with a slightly-curved Maypan palm.• The old fishing boat Timbo burned in the Boca Grande Pass and was completely destroyed. Owned by Capt. Lamar Joiner Jr., the boat was built by the Knight Brothers in the 1960s, and was named for its original captain, Bo Smith, and his son, Tim.• There were Shark Men in the Pass. A 126-foot Bering Sea crabber, the MV Ocean, began a few months stay as it housed the cast of “Shark Men,” a National Geographic television show.• The relationship between the Boca Grande Community Planning Panel and the Charlotte County portion of the island was at its end. The “sunsetting” took place due to a clause in the original agreement that if the committee did not have business with the county for three years, the agreement would be terminated.• No tarpon were caught at the 2011 Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament. • Pamela Pike was named as the new director to the Boca Grande Art Alliance.• Winners of the Lee County Parks & Recreation Summer Youth Fishing Tournament were Kylie Robbins, Joshua Sutcliffe, Will Harvey, Daniel McCarthy, Daniel Summers, John Bixby, Nathan Supplee and Rena Viele.• Henry “Hank” Browne stepped down from his position as chairman of the Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board, as he was moving out of Lee County.• The 2011 American Cancer Society Relay for Life raised more than $57,000 for cancer research. The Hudson’s Grocery team raised more than $15,000, and the Italiano Insurance team raised a total of $10,000.• The eighth annual Pirate Coast Chili Cook-off and Vintage Beachwear Fashion Show was held at the Crowninshield House. Tracy Bowe came in first place with her chili, while Chad Lach took second. Tracy claimed that local honey was her secret ingredient. More than $2,500 was raised for the Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum.• Anyone remember the owls that inhabited Gilchrist Avenue?Obituaries: Donald R. Buerschinger.
June• Blaze won again in the “Howl at the Moon” tarpon tournament. Capt. Waylon Mills and his team including his wife, Angie Mills, and Sally Joiner, took the win on his birthday. Angler Tiki Serralles on the Lucky Lady with Capt. Lamar Joiner Jr. took second place, and Capt. Willie Mills and his team aboard the Tracy Lynn took third.• The island lost Wildman Joe Sturgess, who passed away at his home on June 12. He was a simple man who loved the outdoors, being barefoot, bicycling and hanging out at Whidden’s. • A Lakeland fisherman swore he saw an orange tarpon out in the Pass. • Capt. Sandy Melvin took first place in the “Howl at the Moon: Ladies Night Out” Tournament. His team consisted of Robin Melvin, Melina Chaplin and Kammie and Laura Show. Second place went to Capt. Tater Spinks aboard the Anejo and Capt. Waylon Mills’ team took third.• The Boca Grande Classic Tarpon Tournament found Capt. Waylon Mills in first place, Capt. Lamar Joiner Sr. in second and Capt. Willie Mills in third place.• Tallulah Newlin and Tyler Marsden were the only two in the graduating class of 2011 from The Island School.• Christine Oriold was sentenced to six months in jail for taking as much as $100,000 from her previous place of employment, Ariel, Ltd.• Sheriff’s deputies were asking anglers to take their gear inside at night, as a rash of burglaries from boats in Cape Haze, Little Gasparilla and Gasparilla Island had them hopping.• Alex Roman took several awards in science in a regional homeschooling competition. He received a full-ride scholarship to Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers for his efforts.• One person died and another was hospitalized after swimming in Boca waters over Memorial Day. Yuri Fedarkov of North Port died after he was swept into the Gulf of Mexico by a strong current. A second man was pulled from the waters near the Range Light Beach and was hospitalized.• The tarpon in front of Gasparilla Properties was stolen and never recovered.• Obituaries: Joseph R. Sturgess III; Elmer W. Cullers Jr.; Elinor Fugate Butler.
July• Island trapper George Cera was hired by the Lee County “iguana panel” to continue his services as an iguana eradicator. • The Boca Grande Kids Reunion was held again, this time at Miller’s Dockside. More than 150 island “hometowners” attended.• It was announced that the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce would team up with the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association to hold the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament.• Zoey Mills, daughter of Capt. Waylon and Angie Mills, took a first place prize in the Lee County Parks and Recreation summer camp drawing contest for her age group, which consisted of around 300 children.• Phase Two of the Boca Grande Friendship Village, coordinated by “Food for the Poor,” began. Many islanders are involved in the project, which is literally creating a village of houses, a school and farm buildings in Pierre Payan, Haiti.• It was decided that Ladies Day wouldn’t be on Mother’s Day anymore. The 20-year tradition was voted down due to a lack of fish at that particular time.• Coyotes and erosion were proving to be a problem with island sea turtle nests. More than 12 nests were predated by the canine marauders, and high winds and storms brought massive erosion to local beaches.• Peter and Nancy Sholley celebrated their 60th anniversary on July 8.• Have you seen the jaguarundi? It was a question being asked around the island, as several residents and guests thought they saw one (or more) of the elusive mammal that looks like a cross between a Scottish fold cat, a bobcat and a house cat.• Andrew Sanger took first place in the 27th annual BoMo Tournament. His captain was Capt. Willie Mills aboard the Tracy Lynn. Brandon Darna got second and Effie Joiner took third.• Islander Edward Farrow died from a fall that occurred in the Courtyard Plaza parking lot.• Kylie Robbins got an awesome birthday surprise when she met Nolan Sotillo, the young star of a Disney movie called “Prom.” The two met while Kylie was at a summer camp destination.• Dusty Hopkins (owner of the Boca Beacon) and Cheryl were married.• The Boca Beacon staff took 12 awards at the Florida Press Association Convention. We got four first place, four second and four third places.• The island’s brand-new turtle crossing signs were stolen. Twice.• More than 100 members of the Florida Lighthouse Association attended a meeting on the island and visited the Gasparilla Island Range Light.Obituaries: Edward Winsor Farrow; Sandra Perrine Elliott Thomson.
August• The Charlotte County Health Department said they would cut back testing at island beaches from weekly to bi-weekly. They also said they would be cutting down on the number of bacteria they were testing for, from three to one.• The island mourned the loss of Mona Amen, who passed away on August 21. Mona became “famous” for her cooking skills with families such as the Engelhard family of New Jersey. She was loved by everyone, from her family on the island to politicians and celebrities known world-wide.• The pink pump at Hudson’s went away for maintenance. It returned a few weeks later.• Fire gutted the interior of the guest house at a residence on 18th Street owned by Michael and Cory Moffat.• Jill Chatham was spotted on the “Today” show, standing behind Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie.• The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority decided to more prominently post signs at the toll booths that clearly explained to everyone passing through that they were on surveillance camera.• One person was rescued by Lee County authorities from a swift current off the south end of the island, after her inner tube took her away.• Kaitlyn Griffith, daughter of James and Christine Griffith, was chosen to participate in the third Tunza North America Youth Network Conference. She was one of 15 youth chosen for the task from the United States and Canada.• The Boca Grande Pick-Up Softball League was created.Obituaries: Mary Ramona Amen; Mary Morrison; Wesley Rowe; Thomas Edward Irvine; John Allston Sargent III; C. Hugh Martin Jr.; Jim Seifert.
September• Island baby Dalton Markett was born to Jennifer and Dalan Markett on September 20.• Lillian Bay Beatty packed her bags and was headed to Philadelphia to combat the cystic hygroma growing in her throat and nose. Island residents Dick and Boots Tolsdorf helped to set Lilly up for a consultation at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The visit was successful, and Lilly continues to improve. She is the daughter of Nikki and Brad Beatty, who both work on the island.• A Hazeltine Nursery truck overturned at the corner of 5th Street at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club, blocking the roadway for hours.• The Charlotte County “iguana panel” decided to stick with the United States Department of Agriculture for all of their iguana trapping needs, to the tune of $54,000. Taxes for north-end homeowners went up to a $135 flat tax from a $75 flat tax, after a mistake in bookkeeping by the county.• The very first monkeys in the trees were sighted on the north end, near Gill’s Grocery.• The Boca Grande Fire Department finalized a two percent increase in their budget. • Boca resident George Melissas donated a large collection of shells to The Island School, worth approximately $6,000.• Winners of the 2011 Lee County Parks & Recreation Kids Fall Fishing Tournament included John Parent, Savannah Pope, Zoey Mills, Cameron Green, Wyatt Steyer, Kodi Snapp, Joseph Schultz, David Hayden and Anna Parent.• Jeffrey Humbarger, M.D. announced he would be joining the staff at the Boca Grande Health Clinic.Obituaries: Max Wildman; John Frank Watkins; Robert Palmer.
October• Winners of the 2011 Bocaween Costume Contest included Charlotte Chatham, Andy Roman, Shelby Lawrence, Eirinn Shortuse, Marcella Wood, the Parent family, Tallulah Newlin, Clara Marra and Lilia Souza.• Karoline Bellamy took first place in the Lee County Library System Bookmark Contest. Abby Turner got an honorable mention.• Scott Allen and Trent Tatum took first place in the Championship Flight of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce Golf Scramble at the Gasparilla Inn & Club. Glenn Price, Dustin Rossow, Jeff Corkhill, Matt Reytkemmer, Randy Porter, Brian Baksa, Dick Yusk, Blake Yusk and Alex Moore also took prizes in the tournament.• The Gasparilla Inn & Club soccer field at 7th Street underwent change, as a fence was put around much of the space. The Inn put the fence up to keep dogs in, and from soccer balls from going out.• Our first real taste of red tide came in from the Gulf, leaving dead fish in its wake that stayed for weeks ... and weeks ...• More monkeys were reported on the north end of the island.• Patti Middleton redid some of the artistry on the mural at the Loose Caboose.• “Keep the traffic flowing” was the message at the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority fixed bridge meeting. Several of the contractors interested in taking on the bridge replacement job were in attendance, and listened to island residents’ concerns.• A Lake Suzy man was rescued after being located by Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office aircraft 15 miles off the coast of Sanibel. Stephen Yobuck was rescued on October 1 after the sheriff’s office helicopter and marine units searched the local area and were unable to locate the missing boater. Obituaries: Mona Perkins; George Landis Arehart; Albert Allen Wilson, M.D.
November• Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority board members got a $6 million slap in the face at their quarterly meeting. They were told that the lowest bid in the fixed bridge replacement project was that much over what their anticipated cost was.• Gina Caccavale married Kevin Alday in a ceremony in Sarasota and Becca Burch married Brandon Riker in Boca Grande.• Winners of the annual Turkey Hoop Shoot included: Brett Matlosz, Harrison Parent, Wyatt Steyer, Mae Phelan, Reece Barber, Abigail Turner, Jesse Sammons, Tallulah Newlin, Jordan Caron and Danielle Robbins.• The Royal Palm Players brought the Sarasota Ballet to the Boca Grande Community Center. • Chef Marco Meola was the big winner at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival Barbecue Cookoff.• GIBA announced that the state of Florida had paid $1.5 million in toward the bridge replacement project. • The Gasparilla Inn & Club leased the East Railroad Avenue bakery space, and announced they would be opening their own bakery there.• Island native Ryan Boyette returned to Boca Grande from the Sudan, but just for a visit. He spoke at the First Baptist Church about the trials and tribulations of the people there, and how difficult it is to live there as a missionary.Obituaries: Jenni Rogerson; Dr. John S. Goetcheus; Adelaide Morton Fox; Don Hargis; David Roy Gavitt; Stanley Aaronson Friedman.
December• Charlotte County commissioners determined that a portion of the old railroad trestle that once connected Gasparilla Island to the mainland was unsafe and needed to be taken down.Serious damage led to parts of the trestle washing away with the tides, creating a hazard for boaters. The most urgent issue was a 100-foot span between Gasparilla Channel and the south spoil island. • Abuse charges against a Wyoming representative who was arrested in November on charges of abusing a disabled adult were never filed. Robert Nicholas (R-Cheyenne) was dining with family members at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club on November 23, including his 19-year-old who suffered from a condition similar to autism. Sheriff’s reports said that Nicholas took his son out in the parking lot of the establishment and, in the presence of witnesses, proceeded to punch the boy in the face repeatedly, threw him to the ground and kicked him in the ribs and stomach.Samantha Syoen of the state attorney’s office in Fort Myers would not comment, other than to say there was “insufficient evidence under Florida law.”• Executive Director Jim Cooper’s four-year contract extension with the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority stood firm, after some board members questioned whether or not the extension should be revisited. A last-minute, unannounced change in the agenda at the board’s November meeting put Cooper’s bonus and contract extension discussions before talks of miscalculated fixed-bridge bids.• Fugate’s took a prize for “Most Original Display” in the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Walk. The Grapevine was given the “Best in Theme” prize. The theme was “Silver King Christmas.”• The Boca Grande First Baptist Church got a brand-new creche, after their old one was damaged and stolen last Christmas. The creche came complete with magi, angels and video surveillance.• A check from the annual GIFT tournament was presented to the Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum, in the amount of $3,800.• The Boca Grande Garden Club held their annual Christmas luncheon at the Gasparilla Inn & Club. The theme was “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”• The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce announced that fishing boundaries would be expanded for the upcoming 2012 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament. The expansion, they believe, will encourage anglers to try their luck in the backwater and offshore, as well as in the Boca Grande Pass.• Finally, a backyard in Boca Bay was terrorized, as a raccoon with a terrible temper beheaded Lolo Weir’s garden owl and threw the body in the pool.• Capt. Tater and Mary Spinks celebrated 30 years of marriage.Obituaries: Daisy Yolanda Romaro Park; James Andrew Kelly; Sharon Ludwig; William Bridgeman Churchman.
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