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.