I don’t know about you, but while I have never taken things for granted, as I’ve grown older I have developed a greater sense of appreciation for the simple things, the quality of life and the sacrifice made by so many that I enjoy today.
Growing up as a small child we spent summers out on eastern Long Island, New York on a place called “Shelter Island,” where life seemed more carefree and innocent. Just by the resonance of the name alone implied there was a special kind of security and peacefulness this island offered that is uncommon today.
We fished, clammed and waterskied all day long. We played flashlight tag until late at night. We sat on the tailgate of our parents Ford Country Squire station wagon on our way to the beach and rode our bikes all over the island enjoying the country sounds, floral fragrances and wildlife along the way. While the island has experienced many changes over the years, 60 years later it remains a very special place that keeps me grounded.
Back then no one judged you by your ethnic background or political views. In fact, there was a non-judgmental inquisitiveness we had as we were eager to hear where our friends lived when not summering on the island, where they went to school and the subjects they took. We talked about what kinds of jobs or businesses our parents had and the dreams we all had for the life we wanted to live. We saw the love for community exhibited by our parents and how they pitched in to help, whether it was for a charitable event or a country club function, and we were taught to take pride in the odd jobs we took on the island as we grew older. It was a time when people seemed to care a lot more about each other and celebrated their time together, sharing common interests and not focusing on their differences. Unfortunately, with all the hype and hysteria in the media today, I feel we are not only losing respect for each other, but overlooking the efforts of those who came before us that sacrificed so much that allow us to enjoy the communities in which we live today.
Years ago, I was told by a boss I had in Texas the mistake most people make is they don’t turn off the major highways and drive through the small towns. He said, “There they will find all the wonderful qualities of life you enjoyed as a young child. The pace may be slower, but the people will be friendlier and there will be a community spirit you will experience that is lost in the fast pace of a major city and society in which we live today.” To this day, I do “turn off that major highway,” and have been fortunate enough to find such a place in Florida I call “home.”
Florida is filled with many small cities like Punta Gorda, Venice and St. Augustine to name a few. They are full of people who celebrate and preserve their community’s history while carefully integrating new thoughts and ideas with that rich history that make those communities special. Where else can you find people from all walks of life and backgrounds who volunteer their time, talents and treasures by giving back to their communities as you find in the small towns in which we live? Or where you can enjoy farmer’s markets, craft fairs, block parties, wine and jazz festivals and even the occasional dragon boat race?
We are fortunate to live in an area where you can speak with community leaders and business owners and where your physicians are usually some of your closest friends. Like many small towns, we have an exceptionally active Chamber of Commerce, a vibrant Civic Association, and in our area an organization known as TEAM Punta Gorda, that fosters the input from business owners and citizens alike in how to best plan and augment our natural resources for all to enjoy.
As we approach this 4th of July, I think back to the sacrifices made by those founding fathers that came to this country seeking a better life and how they crafted the “Declaration of Independence.” As I read the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” I can’t help but think how many small towns such as the one in which we live, still embody that same belief.
The 4th of July is that reminder to me of those special times when we experienced life through the eyes of a child, awed by nature’s simple things and our community’s spirit. It is my hope as we watch with excitement the majestic firework displays we did as children, we’ll reflect on the declaration written by our forefathers with that same love for each other and our community, never forgetting the sacrifices they made.
Fourth of July means many things to many people, but if you are looking for some new family traditions or ready to take on a new adventure. Here are some of our local favorite pastimes.
Freedom Swim– Where else can you jump in and swim, boat, paddle or float across the Peace River on a 1.5 mile trek to celebrate your freedom on the 4th? It started 25+ years ago with no rules (except common courtesy) This annual Punta Gorda tradition is a must to participate in or even just view.
Baseball: The perfect American recipe-baseball game, hotdogs, Coco Cola, and fireworks. Catch one of the local baseball team games such as the Ft. Myer’s Miracle , enjoy a Hotdog or some Apple Pie, and join in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!”
Beach: Gathering family and friends and heading to the Beach to take in the Florida sunshine. Staying all day, relaxing, getting sunburnt, and watching the fireworks with your toes dug in the sand.
Go To A Parade: Local parades haven’t changed much over the years. However, the the sense of community when standing next to neighbors and cheering on the local highschool band carrying flags or watching a local children’s dance class demonstrate their skills along the parade route is like no other. Eat some ice cream, while listening to the float for a local bank blast “I’m Proud to Be an American” from their speakers.
Hang the Flag: Put it up and reflect on the true reason for the celebration of this spectacular holiday.
“Joe Angelini, A True Servant To His Community”
Our community is blessed to have many wonderful people who give generously of their “time, talents and treasures,” but few embody the principal, “to serve and protect” like that of Punta Gorda Police Officer, Joe Angelini.
While I have had the opportunity throughout the years to make many friends within the department (one that does an amazing job in protecting its citizens), there is a common core principle each officer I’ve met seems to embrace, “service to the community”, and none epitomizes this more than Officer Angelini.
Raised in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Philadelphia, Joe attended Plymouth -White Marsh High School where he excelled as an athlete. Graduating in 1977, his mother, now remarried, moved to Florida while Joe stayed behind a year to work with his dad, but in 1979 made the move to Florida himself. Now as a 19-year-old, Joe realized his dream of becoming a professional athlete didn’t seem as realistic as attaining his other goal which was to pursue a career in Law Enforcement. So, in 1980 Joe entered the reserves with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department , then under the supervision of Sheriff Alan Le Beau. A year later Joe would become a full time deputy sheriff before rising to a supervisory level four short years later, a position he held from 1985 until his retirement in 2006.
A year later, then Charlotte County Sheriff John Davenport, asked Joe if he would consider coming out of retirement to mentor the new deputies. When several days passed and Joe hadn’t responded to Sheriff Davenport’s request, future Charlotte County Sheriff and friend Bill Cameron reached out to Joe and told him he was surprised he hadn’t responded to Davenport’s request. Joe agreed to accept the position which he held for a year. It was during this time Joe recalls a funny story of a young officer by the name of Butch Arenal who was a civilian working in the private sector . When Joe arrived on the scene of a domestic violence call, he noticed Butch sitting alone in the front seat of the squad car and asked what he was doing sitting there. Butch told him that his uncle responding officer at the time told him to stay in the car while he went into the home to investigate. Joe replied, “You’re not going to learn anything sitting in the car. Follow me, I’ll cover you,” as they proceeded to assist the officer on call. It was a friendship that lasted for years as Butch went on to become Punta Gorda’s Police Chief and it was under his tenure when he asked Joe, who was now an active officer with the Punta Gorda Police Department, if he would like to take on the role of School Resource Officer at Sallie Jones Elementary School, a position Joe embraces to this day.
While much can be said about Joe’s 33-year history in law enforcement, 27 with the Sheriff’s Department and almost seven with the Punta Gorda Police force, Joe has an equally impressive track record of giving back to his community which dates back to the mid 1980s.
One of the first charitable events Joe created back in those days was “Cops Who Care” where proceeds went to feed less fortunate families throughout the community. Joe was able to recruit the area restaurants to supply the food and Walmart to provide the toys, with local judges, attorneys and community leaders serving up the treats.
He also created a basketball game pitting officers from the Sheriff’s Department against the local attorneys. Now I’m not sure after seeing all those Morgan and Morgan advertisements on T.V. that I would want to play basketball with a bunch of trial lawyers, but back in the 80’s things were different and proceeds went to benefit the “Star Program.” This program provided financial support for those experiencing debilitating illnesses and birth defects, one of which was Down Syndrome, something close to Joe’s heart.
With his love of sports, Joe has fond memories where he helped put together a ballgame against the Texas Rangers Coaching staff. Proceeds helped fund the various non-profit organizations in the area.
Joe recounted how the events he helped create fed hundreds of families and how he would pack up the extra food after these events and drive up and down 41 pulling over to feed every homeless family he came across. He said, “To see the smiles on their faces was worth every effort I made.”
Today as Resource Officer at Sallie Jones, Joe’s involvement isn’t limited to providing security for these children he is so passionate about, he continually implements new programs that he hopes will become a standard within each school district.
In his “Bicycle Pedestrian Safety” program aimed at kids from kindergarten through 5 th grade, he uses an egg to show the importance of riding with a helmet. To generate enthusiasm to wear a helmet Joe created a contest where children from kindergarten through second grade get to design their helmet with the winners being recognized in front of the Punta Gorda City Council.
One of the most intriguing programs Joe has created is the “Watch Dog” program where he and the Assistant Principal have a host of fathers and male figures come into the school to provide that “father figure” role for many of the single parent children who don’t have a father as a role model. Under strict supervision these men not only keep watch for bullying in the playground and hallway, they come into the classroom to help children in need of some additional academic tutoring.
In addition to these two wonderful programs, Joe teaches a program on ” Bullying ” whose goal is to teach ” Zero Tolerance .” He is also in the process of developing a “Gun Safety” program for children. Joe explained with the possibility of children going into a home where a gun may not be adequately secured, he wants children to “be aware, to stay away and to report instances where they have seen a gun has been left unsecured.”
On top of his passion for the welfare of children, Joe serves as an active Board Member for the Charlotte County Fair. He is a member of the board for The Charlotte County Children Services Council, an appointment he received by Governor Rick Scott. He is a Volunteer member for Back Pack Kidz of Charlotte County and mentor for Take Stock In Children, an organization that mentors high school students in Charlotte County. He is a volunteer member for Young Life, a national non-denominational Christian organization for middle and high school students, and for the past two years is an Impact Panel Board Member for the United Way, where funds are voted on and distributed to a host of local organizations. In addition, in conjunction with Team Punta Gorda, Joe has participated in Habitat for Humanity’s “Paint Your Heart Out Punta Gorda.” He sits on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club and Board of Directors of the Homeless Coalition. Joe has also served as guest server for the “Tip a Cop” fundraiser put on by the Punta Gorda Police Department which benefits SpecialOlympics.
Now somewhere in between being a full time Punta Gorda Police officer, getting his Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration, along with all the charitable organizations in which he is an active member, Joe is a Board member and Secretary for the Police Pension and for the past 2 years has been giving presentations to seniors and various organizations on how to avoid becoming a victim to a host of scams that have been on the rise.
For most, Joe’s resume for community service would leave you breathless, however, with a burning desire to do more for those in his community, Joe recently announced his candidacy for the position of Sheriff of Charlotte County . Typical of all law enforcement agencies, Joe explained their primary responsibility is “paramilitary” in nature, but Joe’s goal as Sheriff would bring more of a “business model with an emphasis on customer service ” side to the department. He said, “We need more of a community service approach where people can depend on us to help them in a host a ways, which can mean changing a tire for someone broken down on the side of the road to answering a call for the homeowner who left town and doesn’t remember if they left their home secure.” It is this passion for people both young and old alike that Joe outlines in a 10-point plan where he hopes to build a stronger bond between the department and the general public it serves .
You only have to meet Joe once to see the enthusiasm and passion he has for people. But I didn’t fully comprehend how much of that “service to others” approach he embodies until I was getting up from our interview and without missing a beat he said to me, ” If there is ever anything I can do for you or your family let me know” …….little does he know, he already has!
Interview by GARY CARDILLO
You know that old phrase, “Kids Say the Darndest Things?” Try asking them how to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. The minds of children are priceless. Enjoy!
Put hot wings and Jell-O and macaroni and cheese on the turkey. Then put it in the
oven at five degrees for six minutes.” – Tytiana
Take a 10,000 pound turkey and put some candy and a fluff sandwich inside with strawberry jelly on top. Daddy will cook it in the oven at 10 degrees for 40 minutes. – David
First you find a turkey and kill it. Cut it open. Put it in a pan. Pour milk in the pan. Put a little chicken with it. Put salsa on it. Take out of pan. Put it on the board. Cut into little pieces. Put on a rack. Put in the oven for 7 minutes at 10 degrees. Take out of the oven and put eensy weensy bit of sugar on it. Put a little more salsa on it. Then you eat it. – Lauren
My mom buys it. Then you throw it. Then you cook it. Then you eat it. – Jennie
Go to the store and buy some apples, and then you squish them up. Then you put them in a jar that says, “Applesauce.” Then you eat it. – Shelby
First you put pumpkin seeds in it. Put it in a pan and bake it at 5 degrees for 6 minutes. Then take it out and eat it. – Adam
Buy some dough and smash it and cut them out. Then put them in the oven for 2 hours at 100 degrees. Then take them out and dry them off. Then it’s time to eat them. – Christa
…then there’s Alex, who doesn’t want to steer anyone wrong:
My mother got a cooking book and if you call her, she can tell you how to do it. She already knows how to read. – Alex
October did not disappoint as real estate sales indicate a healthy, thriving market. Are you thinking about putting your home on the market this season? Let us help you get the price you want for it. Here we look at Charlotte County as a whole, along with Venice and Sarasota sales in October 2015 compared to October 2015.
Charlotte County single family home sales
|Total Homes Sold||370||388|
|Average Sq. Ft.||1,697||1,738|
|Days on Market||90||71|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||95%||97%|
Charlotte County condo, villa and townhome sales
|Total Condos Sold||74||75|
|Average Sq. Ft.||1,321||1,232|
|Days on Market||105||77|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||94%||95%|
Punta Gorda Isles and Burnt Store Isles single family home sales
|Total Homes Sold||29||21|
|Average Sq. Ft.||2,256||2,007|
|Days on Market||144||123|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||95%||96%|
Punta Gorda Isles and Burnt Store Isles condo, villa and townhome sales
|Total Condos Sold||13||18|
|Average Sq. Ft.||1,656||1,630|
|Days on Market||86||52|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||94%||97%|
Venice Area single family home sales
|Total Homes Sold||143||127|
|Average Square Feet||1,737||1,794|
|Days on Market||68||58|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||96%||98%|
Venice Area condo/townhome/villa sales
|Total Homes Sold||66||60|
|Average Square Feet||1,259||1,344|
|Days on Market||78||72|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||96%||96%|
Sarasota single family home sales
|Total Homes Sold||513||429|
|Average Square Feet||2,021||2,042|
|Days on Market||73||73|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||97%||97%|
Sarasota condo sales
|Total Homes Sold||282||284|
|Average Square Feet||1,406||1,301|
|Days on Market||85||73|
|Sales Price to List Price Ratio||96%||96%|