Thursday, December 17, 2015

An encouraging update regarding flood insurance in Florida

From Robin Madden:

Insurers ‘encouraged’ by flood insurance rate talks

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dec. 16, 2015 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Tuesday acknowledged “concerns about fairness” in flood insurance rates and said it will respond to a request by Florida’s top regulator for data to help private insurers better set rates and compete.
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty had asked for key rate information from FEMA administrator Craig Fugate. 
“FEMA has received the letter and will respond directly to Commissioner McCarty,” agency spokeswoman Susan Hendrick said Tuesday. “We are aware of Commissioner McCarty’s concerns about fairness in flood insurance policy rates, and FEMA is committed to ensuring our rate-setting process is transparent and appropriate.”
The agency hopes to have additional conversations with Florida regulators “as we publish ongoing and new public disclosures about our rate-setting process,” she said. 
McCarty, responding to a question from state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said earlier this year he would have to conclude National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP) rates are “unfair and discriminatory” if he regulated them in Florida.
Florida has the nation’s most flood insurance policies by far – almost 40 percent of the more than 5 million U.S. policies – but over many years has gotten back in claim payments less than 30 percent of what it pays in premiums, McCarty said. 
Brandes invited state insurers to a workshop this month designed to help them get more information about offering flood insurance themselves. The federal program dominates a market private insurers have largely avoided, though private agents and companies often take fees to administer NFIP policies without assuming any risk. Standard homeowner policies do not cover flood damage.
The talks are a good sign, said a group representing insurers, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). 
“PCI is encouraged by the ongoing discussion between FEMA and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on the sharing of flood insurance rate-setting data,” said Chris Hackett, the group’s director of personal lines policy. “It is critical that private insurers have access to data instrumental to the appropriate pricing of flood insurance policies. The sharing of information will promote a more competitive marketplace for flood insurance.”
The group supports “private market insurance solutions that bolster consumer choice,” Hackett said. “We look forward to continuing our work with all stakeholders in order to support a market that provides consumers the most flexibility and choice for their insurance needs.” 

Copyright © 2015 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Charles Elmore. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An important message from the Island Watch

On Tuesday December 8, 2015, the Charlotte County Public Works Department began work to maintain and/or create parking spaces on North and South Gulf Blvd. The construction is required by the permit for the Stump Pass/ Beach Renourishment Project.  It is also necessary in order to secure maximum state funding for this project. These spaces are considered public and are spaced as required in proximity to the public beach accesses.  Public Works is being paid for this construction out of the Stump Pass/Beach Renourishment taxing unit, not the Don Pedro/Knight Island Streets and Drainage taxing unit (our “Roads & Bridges” taxes). 

Ocean CREST Alliance Fundraiser @ Palm Island Resort


The Ocean CREST Alliance - Palm Island Resort Fundraiser will bring together champions in
environmental, civic, and philanthropy as we honor People and our Oceans.

Don your best and elegant island attire and join us for this first annual OCA - Palm Island
Fundraiser themed: "Your Life, Your Legacy - Adopt A MPA".

Mingle with some of the most amazing people on the planet... featuring an "A" list of ocean leadership, filmmakers, photographers, artists, scientists, deep sea explorers, ocean ambassadors, inspirational leaders and many other notable dignitaries.

Hosted at Palm Island Resort, Cape Haze Florida, by Ocean CREST Alliance, with a special
tribute honoring Mote Marine Laboratory Founder, Dr. Eugenie Clark, keynote speaker famed National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Mission Blue Founder Dr. Sylvia Earle, with featured speakers Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Founder, Dr. Guy Harvey, Mote Marine Laboratory Associate Vice President of Research, Dr. Bob Hueter, and NOAA Office of National Marine Sancutaries Regional Director Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, Dr. Billy Causey. ------ This is an event not to be missed!

The fundraiser supports the ocean conservation organizations; Ocean CREST Alliance,
Mission Blue, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Mote Marine Laboratory and NOAA in their
mission to protect, restore, and inspire conservation of our Ocean and waterways!

2015 Sea Turtle Stats‏

Here's a short form report from Brenda Bossman, coordinator of the Don Pedro Island Sea Turtle Patrol:

Statewide nesting report is done.  Here's some stats. 

Loggerhead nests - 434. Represents an increase of 36 loggerhead nests vs. 2014.  In 2013 there were 248 loggerhead nests.
Green turtle nests - 26. Represents an increase of 25 green nests vs. 2014.  In 2013 there were 17 green nests.
Total # of nests - 460 representing an increase of 61 total nests vs. 2014.  In 2013 there were 265 total nests.

Interesting facts for 2015:
Nests negatively affected by roots:  21
Nests negatively affected by inundation/erosion:  128*
Nests negatively affected by predators:  290*
Predators in order of damage caused: 
Coyote, Armadillo, Crab, Raccoon, Fire Ants, Gulls (probably laughing gulls)
*Note:  Some nests were predated then washed away at a later date

Ms. Bossman did not remember the number of green nests in 2013 being that large.  Still, she found it an interesting increase in 2015 (over 2014 green nests).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Palm Island Transit Christmas Fund

November 15, 2015

Dear Palm Island Transit Customers:

The Christmas Season is rapidly approaching, and we would like to invite you to contribute to the Palm Island Employee Christmas Fund.

Palm Island Transit has many dedicated employees. Some of you may want to recognize their efforts for a job well done during this past year. As you know, our Captains and mates strive to keep your experience on the ferry a safe one; often times in terrible weather conditions. During 2015 the Transit Staff has continued to provide professional and personal service to all our regular customers and guests to the island. The Employee Christmas Fund is a nice way to show your appreciation for a job well done.

The fund is distributed only to captains, mates and rangers. 

You may bring your contributions to our main land office at 7075 Placida Road, Suite 101; or, mail the contribution to Palm Island Transit, 7092 Placida Road, Placida, FL 33946. You may also call Karla at the transit office and she will be glad to help you with this.  Make checks payable to Palm Island Transit and insert “Employee Christmas Fund” on the memo line. 

It is Palm Island Transit Policy that our staff may not accept individual cash tips, gift cards or alcohol. However, gifts of food, baked goods, etc. are acceptable and appreciated.

On behalf of all of us at Palm Island Transit, we wish to thank you for your support and wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.


Chris Shepard
Palm Island Transit
7092 Placida Road
Cape Haze, FL 33946

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Offshore Powerboat Association Racing Returns to Englewood Beach

ENGLEWOOD, FL – The world’s fastest show on the water returns to Englewood Beach on Nov. 19-22 with an action-packed, four-day festival of family-friendly events. With more than 50 world-class teams competing for national and world championships titles, the event is expected to attract thousands of spectators over the course of the weekend.

The Englewood Beach Racefest kicks off at 11 a.m. Thursday along Manasota Key, where the super boat teams will begin testing their watercraft in preparation for the weekend races. Guests can meet the racers, get close to some of the world’s fastest speedboats and enjoy several events over the race weekend. Evening activities include the OPA Racing block party that starts at 5 p.m. and includes a parade with the race teams along Dearborn Street in Englewood.

The festivities continue Nov. 20 at with the OPA National Championship races taking place at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. with awards at 7 p.m. The race village will be open all day Friday and Saturday for spectators to view the race boats and interact with the race teams.

Racing action continues on Saturday with timed trials on the Gulf between noon and 4 p.m., offering onlookers a sneak peak of Sunday’s world championship races. The day wraps up with a concert at the Englewood Event Center featuring Keith Anderson at 6 p.m.

The highlight of the weekend’s activities is Sunday’s world championship races, where super boats take to the water traveling at extreme speeds of up to 180 mph on a 2.5 mile liquid track. Spectators are invited to watch the races starting at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. As many as 50 teams will compete in the three races, which can be seen from Englewood Beach, Manasota Key and designated VIP viewing areas.

Race village passports can be purchased at the Englewood Chamber of Commerce or online at Passes include parking, bus transportation to the beach and access to the race village for all four days of the event and are $12 in advance or $15 if purchased after Nov. 19. VIP passes -- including access to the VIP tent with complimentary food and beverages provided -- also are available if purchased in advance. Due to limited access, vehicles will not be allowed to park at the beach. Parking locations with shuttle routes can be found at

Friday, November 13, 2015



Thanksgiving Week
Sunday, November 22nd through Friday, November 27th - 11:00 PM
Saturday, November 28th - Midnight
Sunday, November 30th - Resuming normal hours

Christmas Holidays
Sunday, December 20th through Wednesday December 23rd - 11:00 PM
Thursday, December 24th Christmas Eve -1:00 AM
Friday, December 25th Christmas Day -11:00 PM
Saturday, December 26th - Midnight
Sunday, December 27th through Wednesday December 30th -11:00 PM
Thursday, December 31st New Year's Eve -1:00 AM
Sunday, January 3rd - Resuming normal hours

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Red tide confirmed in Florida: What you need to know

Article courtesy of Robbin Madden

October 30, 2015
Suggested Tweet: The Florida red tide is naturally occurring and other facts you should know: #Redtide #FWCresearch #Florida
Red tide confirmed in Florida: What you need to know
Red tide is a naturally occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae. In Florida, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. This organism produces toxins that can affect the central nervous system of aquatic organisms such as fish and marine mammals. Red tide toxins also pose a human health risk. The toxins can aerosolize and be carried to beaches with onshore winds, leading to respiratory irritation in people. Toxins can accumulate in shellfish and result in illnesses if contaminated shellfish are consumed. Shellfish harvesting areas are closed when blooms are present.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) researchers are currently monitoring two blooms along Florida’s Gulf coast, one located in northwest Florida and the other in southwest Florida.
“We confirmed the presence of both blooms in September, and they have persisted since that time,” said Alina Corcoran, FWC research scientist. “The bloom in the Panhandle is currently affecting Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf counties. In southwest Florida, patchy blooms have been confirmed along Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties. Extensive fish kills and respiratory irritation have been associated with the bloom in the Panhandle but in southwest Florida the effects have been less.”
Red tide public health tips:
  • People in a red tide area can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation. When a person leaves an area with a red tide, symptoms usually go away.
  • People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease are cautioned to avoid areas with active red tides.
  • In some red tides, dead fish wash ashore; during these conditions it is advised that beachgoers avoid swimming in water where dead fish are present.
  • Pet owners are advised that red tide poses a risk to animals brought to the beach. If a pet swims in a red tide patch at the beach, rinse off its fur and paws as soon as possible with fresh water. Also, do not let pets eat fish or drink water from the red tide.
  • Recreational harvesting of bivalve mollusks such as hard clams, oysters and mussels from approved shellfish harvesting areas is banned during red tide closures. To determine whether harvesting of shellfish is permitted in an area, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture website.
FWC researchers work closely with partners, including Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and NOAA, to track blooms, share information and develop products that help to inform both citizens and scientists about bloom conditions.
“Citizen scientists play a vital role in tracking blooms. Volunteers can provide the majority of water samples for bloom tracking in regions like the Panhandle,” said Corcoran.
For updated red tide status reports, to track blooms or learn more about red tide, To report fish kills to the FWC, contact the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online.
Additional red tide resources:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Red Tide Report 10/2/15

Our thanks to Robin Madden for passing this along:

From: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [] 
Sent: Friday, October 02, 2015 12:53 PM
Subject: [SPAM] Red Tide Report 10/2/15

Red Tide Report 10/2/15

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sent this bulletin at 10/02/2015 12:39 PM EDT

Blooms of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, are present along and offshore of Bay and Gulf counties and adjacent to Franklin County in northwest Florida, and along and offshore of Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties in Southwest Florida
In the past week, K. brevis was detected in background to high concentrations in 11 samples collected in, and alongshore of, Bay and Gulf counties, and in background to low concentrations in 32 samples collected in and alongshore of Manatee County south to northern Charlotte County. One sample collected offshore of northern Lee County contained background concentrations of K. brevis.

Within the Gulf of Mexico, Karenia brevis was not detected in, or alongshore of, Escambia, Okaloosa, Franklin, Hernando, Pinellas, or Collier counties. No samples were analyzed this week from Santa Rosa, Walton, Wakulla, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Pasco, or Monroe counties.

Forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides show slight southeast movement of surface bloom patches over the next three days in Northwest and Southwest Florida.
This information, including maps and reports with additional details, is also available on the FWRI Red Tide website. The website also provides links to additional information related to the topic of Florida red tide including satellite imagery, experimental red tide forecasts, shellfish harvesting areas, the FWC Fish Kill Hotline, the Florida Poison Information Center (to report human health effects related to exposure to red tide), and other wildlife related hotlines.

To learn more about various organisms that have been known to cause algal blooms in Florida waters, see the FWRI Red Tide Flickr page. Archived status maps can also be found on Flickr.  
The FWRI HAB group in conjunction with Mote Marine Laboratory now have a facebook page.  Please come like our page and learn interesting facts concerning red tide and other harmful algal blooms in Florida.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stump Pass info‏

[From Bill Dunson, author of The Island's Better Nature blog site]

Here is the latest report taken from today's Englewood Sun Herald on the progress of the plan to dredge Stump Pass and place a jetty that will reduce the movement of sand southwards to our beaches.  It is exciting to hear that dredging will occur again but scary that the new design is a threat to beaches south of the pass.


Stump Pass project to begin this summer
The Stump Pass 10-year beach and inlet management program provides for continued monitoring, as required by permitting, of the dredging that reestablished the 1980 channel alignment and provided for re-nourishment of critically eroded beaches. As part of the program, maintenance dredging of Stump Pass and beach re-nourishment will be conducted approximately every three years and an engineered structure will be installed at Stump Pass to improve program performance. An Adaptive Management Plan Strategy will be employed to provide options in response to beach and inlet management activities and storm erosion impacts. Overall, this program includes many agencies and stages.
The Florida Park Service prefers a rock terminal groin sited as far south as practicable.
Coastal Engineering Consultants completed a project modeling study to determine how far south it can be placed. This modeling showed that reducing the structure height by 1.5 feet did not affect performance and decreased negative impacts downstream.
However, the park service did not choose this as their desired configuration and asked for a design that would increase the amount of sand placement upstream of the structure. Modeling showed this would be more costly and could have negative impacts on the down drift beaches and the pass itself.
CEC submitted draft t-groin plans to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in response to a Request for Additional Information. The FDEP issued a second RAI to which the CEC and county staff prepared a response. The Army Corps of Engineers submitted permit documents to the State Historic Preservation Office for review of potential impacts to historical and cultural resources.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agency is working on a new Biological Opinion for this project, to include migratory birds including piping plover and red knot as well as sea turtles. County staff and CEC recently held a telephone application conference with the ACOE; the project may change slightly to allow additional fill to be placed behind the structure to provide for quicker impoundment of the groin. To date, the changes are viewed as favorable by the ACOE.
A marine marker survey has been completed and a Charlotte County signing and marking crew has relocated marine markers to better delineate the channel.
The governor signed the 2015-2016 General Appropriations Act and all corresponding bills, which provides funding for beach management projects including $2.5 million for the initial phase of the Stump Pass 10-year beach and inlet management project.
The overall project schedule has permits issued from FDEP in June 2015 and ACOE in July 2015, procurement process in summer 2015, and a projected start of construction in November 2015.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

From the Island Watch: Fire Safety

Our Island watch committee has been tracking the progress of the reporting on the tragic fire that occurred over Memorial Day weekend, and will attempt to arrange a community meeting with the public information officer from the CC Fire dept.  

For now, these general suggestions will contribute to the overall fire safety of your home.

1- Do not store flammables of any kind under your home, including gasoline, paint thinners, oily rags, etc.

2- Do not charge your golf cart under your house.  Hydrogen gas is given off during the charging process, which can accumulate and explode.

Multiple extension chords
plugged into 15 amp maximum receptacle
3- Avoid excessive use of extension chords. Open connections are a source of spark: the more there are, the more you increase your fire risk.  If you only have one receptacle in an area, have an electrician install additional receptacles.

4- Make sure that your house number is prominently displayed on a reflective sign clearly visible from the road.

It is further suggested that you purchase and install wireless smoke alarms in your home.  The key to these new smoke alarms is that they are interconnected wirelessly: if one alarm trips, the other alarm will sound.  You should install one under your home, and one inside your living quarters.  The units we recommend are the KIDDE Wireless Smoke Alarm, model #RF-SM-DC.  They are priced at $25-$35 each, depending on where you shop, and you will need two of them. They can be purchased at Home Depot on the internet, or at  If you buy at Amazon before 6/30, you enjoy a 15% discount and free shipping. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Law & Order on the Island

Deputy John Stewart is our "Island Deputy", and he patrols our islands, Little Gasparilla and the Charlotte County end of Boca Grande.  Going forward, he will frequently be on duty assisted by retired Sheriff Jerry Massey as our new Volunteer Deputy. This is a new position created last year by the Sheriff's officeJerry will ride with John mostly holidays, also weekends and evenings (except Tuesdays and Thursdays).  

Please note these numbers:
FOR NON EMERGENCIES:  941-474-3233

Also, if you are at the Ferry landing, have a look at the new commemorative bronze plaque that has been set at the base of the flagpole.  We're passing on a big "thanks" to Dick Aulenti, Duane Allen, Dick Sadenwater and Ray "TPR" Smith for moving the flagpole to its new location and placing the plaque beneath it.

Fishing Equipment Theft‏

This just in from the Charlotte County Sheriff's office, via Robin Madden (Islander Realty).

Between 2030 hours on June 02 and 0930 hours on June 03, unknown suspect(s) entered the victim's boat and removed approximately $3250 worth of fishing gear.

Thank you again for spreading the word to your contacts on Little Gasparilla and Palm Island. Attached is a flyer you can send out.

Deputy Daniel Cotton 2415,  B.S., FCPP, CPD
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office
Community Policing Officer, District 1
Office 941-475-9005


Tarpon Season is Here

Protect your Gear!
Thieves will target equipment that is not secured.
At the end of the day remove all GPS/Fish Finders, portable radios, rods/reels & coolers.
Report any suspicious activity to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Heartfelt Tribute

On Sunday, May 31st 2015 hundreds of family, friends and neighbors gathered at the Lemon Bay High School auditorium for the Memorial Service arranged for Cheryl and Jake Stevens. A vast majority of the group that had gathered returned to the Island for a reception at John & Kathy Sickles' home.  PIE sponsored the event and Rum Bay Restaurant provided the catering. Everyone came together to celebrate the lives of Cheryl and Jake. For those of you who are out of town, the following eulogies were prepared for the service.

Cheryl Ann (Grapp) Stevens

Cheryl Ann (Grapp) Stevens was born to Raymond and Janice Grapp in Iowa on April 30, 1962. She was raised on the family farm and graduated from Allison- Bristow High School in 1980. Cheryl continued her education at Iowa State University where she obtained her bachelor's degree and also met her future husband Kevin Stevens.

Cheryl and Keven were married April 12,1986, and 2 months later they enlisted in the Air Force, and the roller coaster ride began. They were eventually stationed at 6 Air Force bases throughout the US and Osan Airbase, South Korea.

Their son Jake Stevens was born November 30, 1991, and daughter Holly Stevens arrived May 24, 1994.

In late 1999, the couple found a home site on Palm Island. In 2001, Cheryl and Kevin, along with other family members, put in many hours of hard work and dedication to build their dream home on the island which was completed in 2003.
While Kevin was still on active duty, Cheryl and the kids became full-time Palm Island residents in July 2005.

Cheryl devoted much of her time to being a full-time mom to Jake and Holly but her resume also included being a repo officer in Marquette, MI, a teacher's aide to special needs kids in Pensacola, and a rental agent on Boca Grande.

Most recently she became the fitness coordinator for her many girl friends on Palm Island. They enjoyed bike rides, tennis, water volleyball and more. Cheryl also appreciated time spent with the island ladies’ Bible study. 

Cheryl and their dog Jasmine were well known for their daily walks around the island. Initially people knew Cheryl as Jasmine's mom.

Cheryl was an outstanding mother and a gracious hostess, welcoming friends and family into their home. Along with Kevin, they were known for their great culinary creations.

Cheryl and Kevin loved their time spent with family and friends on the island. A major part of entertaining included boating and golf cart rides. Cheryl loved being on the water.

Cheryl is survived by her loving husband Kevin Stevens, her daughter Holly Stevens, her parents Raymond and Janice Grapp in Iowa, her father and mother-in-law Norm and Norma Stevens in Florida, sisters Janell and Scott Steffen, Susan and Richard Blessing, brothers-in-law Mark and Pat Stevens, Robbie and Crystal Stevens along with several nieces and nephews.

Cheryl and her son Jake tragically lost their lives on May 24.

Cheryl is also proceeded in death by her grandparents and brother-in-law Craig

The immediate family appreciates the outpouring of love and support from other family members, their Englewood friends, and friends they have known throughout the years.

Jake Daniel Stevens

Jake Daniel Stevens was born to Kevin and Cheryl Stevens on November 30, 1991, at K,I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Michigan, on a blissfully snowy night. Kevin reluctantly admits he chose the wrong vehicle for the trip to the hospital and got stuck in a snow drift en route. They managed to get there and Jake arrived 2 hours later.

Jake grew up living throughout the U.S. at 6 Air Force Bases as well as Osan Airbase, South Korea. The family settled in Englewood, FL, in April 1999, but due to the events of September 11, 2001, the family returned to the Air Force and had a short stay in Pensacola.

June 2005, the family become full-time residents of Palm Island. Jake attended Lemon Bay High School. Following in the family footsteps he joined NJROTC as a freshman where he established relationships with many of his treasured friends. In 2010 he graduated from high school with dual enrollment in Charlotte Technical Center for Culinary Arts. He continued education at Santa Fe College, Gainesville.

Jake moved to South Carolina, where he worked and reconnected with great friends from Lemon Bay. He temporarily returned home to Palm Island as he completed plans to return to Gainesville, for further education.

Jake had an artistic soul. He loved to cook and create meals for family and friends. He was a self-taught guitarist who enjoyed singing and writing songs. He also enjoyed drawing, painting and pottery.

More information about the Knight Island Fire

Reprinted from the Sun-Herald News online, 5-29-2015

Charlotte details response to Knight Island fire
   ENGLEWOOD — Neither the State Fire Marshal nor the Charlotte County Medical Examiner’s Office have released reports on the Knight Island fire that killed a mother, her son and their dog Sunday.
   Charlotte County Fire/ EMS, however, did release a report Thursday detailing the firefighters’ response to the fire.
   “There was an extreme fire and heat hazard that would have been fatal to enter,” the report stated, describing what firefighters faced when they first arrived at the scene. The bodies of the victims were discovered by firefighters and a State Fire Marshal officer in the ashes only after the fire was safely extinguished.
   According to the report, the fire department received the call at 2:49 a.m. Sunday of a residential fire at 70 North Gulf Blvd. on Knight Island with the first unit from the county’s fire station on the island arriving at 2:55 a.m.. Initially, authorities reported the fire at a different address.
   “We had multiple emergency calls coming in and multiple addresses,” Fire/EMS spokeswoman Dee Hawkins-Garland said Thursday. “We verified the exact address.”
   The Charlotte County Tax Collector’s Office website identifies the owners of the residence as Kevin Lee and Cheryl Ann Stevens.
   While authorities have not yet confirmed the identity of the victims, islanders have been expressing their grief and sympathy since Sunday for the Stevens family of four. Kevin Stevens and his daughter were not home at the time of the fire.
   Islander Mary Moore told the Sun Wednesday, “Everybody is still in shock at this tragedy. People are putting flowers and crosses near the home.”
   The fire department report described the residence as three stories — a two-story, wooden structure on pilings. The report also said the residence had no “automatic fire extinguishment system,” and firefighters could not determine whether the home had smoke detectors.
   According to the report, the first firefighters on the scene couldn’t station their vehicle in front of the home due to the heat from the blaze. The “severity of the heat and fire” made accessibility to the front of the home impossible. Firefighters fought the blaze from the side of the home.
   Embers had ignited vegetation between the residence and threatened a neighboring home. Firefighters extinguished the threat to the neighboring property.
   And, once the neighboring residence was protected, firefighters turned their full attention to the residence engulfed in flames. The report stated, “Shortly after the attack started on the main structure, building sections started to collapse.”
   The call also went out for assistance for firefighters on the mainland. Charlotte sent additional units and an ambulance from the mainland. The Englewood Area Fire Control District also assisted. The units from the mainland had to be transported onto the bridgeless barrier island by the Palm Island Transit ferries.
   By the time the Englewood firefighters and subsequent units arrived from the mainland, the residence had collapsed and was a “free burning fire,” the report stated. The Englewood department was released from the scene at 5:20 a.m. and the last unit was cleared from the scene at 3:44 p.m.
   The report estimated the property damage at $940,000.
   Charlotte County Fire/ EMS has only been manning the island fire station with two, full-time professional firefighters since January.
   The Englewood Area Fire Control District had manned the station from 2011 to 2014 after the island’s volunteer department folded. The fire district served the islands from the mainland during the ferry’s operating hours and with volunteer firefighters on the island during the off hours.
   The islanders decided to be served by county firefighters when the Englewood fire district wanted to station the island with full-time firefighters 24/7. The county’s assessment was less than what the fire district intended to assess islanders for the same service.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Memorial Service Announced for Sunday

There will be a memorial service for Cheryl and Jake Stevens on Sunday, May 31st at the Lemon Bay High School Performing Arts Center. The service will start at 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Immediately following the service (starting approx. 2:30-3:00 PM) , there will be a Celebration of Life reception held on the Island at the home of Kathy and John Sickles, 130 Kettle Harbor Drive. Palm Island Transit is waiving all barge fees for vehicle transport to the Island for this event.

Many have asked about making donations to the family.  The daughter of a family friend (Andrea Coleman) has posted a memorial fund online that is accepting contributions. You can find it at

Rose Malone has also offered to collect donations to be re-directed according to the family wishes. You can reach her at or stop by her house at 111 Bocilla Drive, 10:00-3:00 M-F. Some people may be out of town and wish to mail something to the Stevens family. They can do that through Tim and Rose Malone. Rose Malone's address is: PO Box 3787 Placida, FL 33946.