Miracle set to host job fair on January 18

Fair is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the CenturyLink Sports Complex

Job seekers who enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the ballpark are invited to attend a job fair at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex on Wednesday, January 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The job fair will be held in the Press Dining Room on the ground level and can be accessed through Gate 1. The CenturyLink Sports Complex address is 14400 Six Mile Cypress Parkway in Fort Myers.

“Our fans are priority No. 1 and the front lines for them are our employees,” said Miracle Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Ben Hemmen. “We are searching for the best in customer service and look forward to providing all of Southwest Florida with an amazing experience at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex all spring and summer.”

Hosted by the Fort Myers Miracle, employment opportunities include merchandise sales, parking, security, stadium operations and food and beverage operations. Job fair attendees will meet and interview with the management team of the Miracle and are encouraged to bring a resume and to download the pre-employment application by clicking here. For more information, call the Miracle offices at (239) 768-4210 or visit www.miraclebaseball.com.

The Miracle, which manage the operations for the CenturyLink Sports Complex and Hammond Stadium, will be hiring up to 75 positions to support operations during the 2017 Minnesota Twins Spring Training and Miracle seasons. The Twins play a 18-game home schedule beginning on February 24 and ending on March 31. The Miracle season begins on Saturday, April 8 against the Jupiter Hammerheads at 6:05 p.m. The Miracle play a 70-game home schedule at Hammond Stadium.

The Fort Myers Miracle are the Class A Advanced minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball Club. Since moving to Fort Myers in 1992, the Miracle have qualified for the Florida State League Playoffs eight times and won the Florida State League Championship in 2014. Home games are played at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. For a game and events schedule, or more information, visit www.miraclebaseball.com or follow the Miracle on Facebook and Twitter.

All about the…Love

The Finest Chocolates … and So Much More

Norman Love Oozes Artistry and Generosity

by Yvette Schultz Bone

Artistry in Chocolate is associated with Norman Love, but the artistry that flows from him is so much more than the word can convey. His sheer genius, creative vision, and standard of excellence is not born from a hard-driven desire to dominate the confection world. Instead, Norman’s constant pursuit of creative collaboration and expression is the essence of who he is. You experience it when one of his ultra-premium, handmade chocolates melts in your mouth; you also experience it in conversation with him.

When you listen to Norman talk about his career, you understand why he is so successful. His words are eloquent, purposeful, and flow smoothly like a chocolate fountain. Better yet, his thoughts are offered with the same kind calibration needed to construct a four-foot-tall chocolate sculpture. After a few minutes of conversation, I was no longer looking at the man Norman Love; I was mesmerized by his creative mind, which relentlessly seeks expression. You know you’re in the presence of a true artisan when you watch them at work and witness the wonder it evokes in them. That’s art. That’s awe. And that’s Norman Love.

From an early age, Norman knew his destiny. He had an incredible love for art, and when he got his hands on a Betty Crocker Cookbook in the second grade he learned that he could express his creativity through culinary arts. Norman’s first job was working at an ice cream shop in Fort Lauderdale, which he said is the perfect job for any teenager. From there he went to work as an apprentice pastry cook at a restaurant in Pompano Beach, making bread rolls at 4 a.m. In 1983, Norman traveled to the south of France to work for a couple of years for a friend who owned a pastry shop in Lussan. After returning to the U.S., he worked at hotels in the Miami Beach area, then moved to California where he was the executive pastry chef for the Beverly Hills Hotel.

In 1990, Norman joined the Ritz Carlton company and moved his family to Missouri. Shortly after the move, an opportunity came up for him to come to Southwest Florida as the pastry chef of the Ritz Carlton Naples, one of the company’s flagship hotels.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to come to Southwest Florida at that time, but being that I was really embedded and enjoying the philosophical values, the quality and the reputation of the Ritz Carlton brand, it gave me an opportunity to come to one of their more prestigious hotels. So I took advantage of that,” Norman said.

When Norman and his wife Mary moved to Southwest Florida, their two children, Ryan and Carly, were two years old and one month old. The Ritz Carlton was in a very aggressive growth spurt and Norman was approached by corporate to help the company open hotels. He agreed. That led to him traveling some 40+ weeks a year, and eventually opening 38 hotels around the world.

“I was a stranger somewhat in my own home. I could be gone for two months in the Middle East, come home for a week and leave for Barcelona for a month. I was not home for long periods of time, so with small children – the church recitals, school plays, sporting events – they were all missed by dad,” Norman reflects. “It was just a fact that dad was never home and my wife was a single parent for all practical purposes.”

In 1999, Norman had the opportunity to captain the United States World Cup Pastry Team in Léon France, competing against 22 countries. The team prepared for 18 months to work in a makeshift kitchen for a nine-hour period in front of some of the world’s best pastry chefs, who were serving as the judges.

“It was very much like a European soccer stadium: flags, air horns, chants, thousands of people, cameras in your face…” he said of the competition.

Norman’s team went on to win the bronze medal. When they returned to the U.S., Norman and a good friend shared a vision on the heels of that contest: create an international pastry competition in America. They grew that vision into reality and the first competition took place in Beaver Creek, CO. By year two, the cable TV Food Network was invited to come…and they did.

“It was the warmest day in the history of the Farmers’ Almanac,” Norman recalled. “It had snowed previous years, but it was a disaster. And what TV Food Network learned that day through the crashing of these beautiful sculptures is that American consumers love to watch pastry chefs in makeshift kitchens doing art and doing their thing.”

The competition moved to Las Vegas and became the biggest and most talked about competition in the world. The show gained tremendous traction and TV Food Network’s ratings were off the chart. The company commissioned Norman and his partner to do a show called “The Challenge,” which was on the air for a long time, and the reason Norman left his career with the Ritz Carlton.

With a new life in the production world, Love admits he was very nervous about leaving his corporate job, “probably the best corporate pastry chef job in the world,” and setting up shop in a 600-square-foot rented office space in a little home health care building off Daniels Parkway. Worried about supplementing his income, Norman purchased a table and got to work creating.

“I was always known as the chocolate chef, and confections were something I had learned during the course of my long career as a pastry chef, so I began to make chocolates and with a clear – very clear – vision of handmade ultra premium.”

Utilizing his contacts from his years in the business, Norman began driving his confections up and down I-75, delivering and selling them to friends in hotels. By the next year, two weeks before Valentine’s Day, USA Today named Norman’s confections (then sold by the name Ganaché Chocolates) one of the ten best premium chocolates.

Soon after, Norman was approached by Godiva to develop their “G” line of chocolates. Creating 350,000 pieces for Godiva the first year, Love continued to dabble under the radar, making his own chocolates and even opening his first chocolate salon on Daniels. Eventually, he built Godiva up to 2.5 million pieces distributed worldwide. Not able to grow his own company with that kind of production, Love peeled back manufacturing Godiva and eventually stopped in 2008.

In 2010, Norman opened the chocolate salon in Naples, followed by Artisan Gelato in 2012. Artisan Gelato is a separate brand under the Norman Love umbrella, located a few doors down from the Daniels chocolate salon.

“I am an ice cream lover – it’s my weakness of sweets,” he explains. “I wanted to produce a really high quality gelato where all the ingredients (except the dairy) were imported from Italy.”

Since opening, Artisan Gelato has evolved into offering a lunch menu of fresh paninis, salads, soups and savory crepes.

The next store to open was in Miromar Outlets in 2014. But it is his most recently opened location on McGregor Boulevard that currently has him beaming. “It’s our largest, and for me, our most beautiful store. It’s crazy beautiful.”

The McGregor salon, with its Euro-sheik all-Italian design and equipment and furnishings, has outdoor seating and is the first Love location to offer wine and beer. Love’s intent with this location is to offer some really fun and additional offerings visitors don’t ordinarily find at his other stores.

“What I’m trying to create is a little bit challenging because no one expects us to have wine and beer. The manufacturing, the growing, the agricultural aspects of cocoa are very similar as it relates to wine and grapes; mother nature influences the flavor profiles of wine as it does in cocoa,” Love says. “The two work well together and I like having this new environment where people can sit down and relax not just for coffee and a croissant, but now for some really wonderful single origin dark chocolates paired with a merlot or wonderful cabernet.”

After the holidays, which are notably the stores’ busiest time of the year, he hopes to bring in a pastry chef to create some “swinging, cool, innovative architecturally plated desserts.” He wants locals to grow to know the McGregor location as an evening destination suited to finishing out a night on the town, or perhaps a place to hang with friends or colleagues to enjoy conversation or a brainstorming session. One thing you can expect for certain is the location’s menu of offerings will grow. A high English tea and Sunday brunch are planned. Chocolate and wine pairing classes will make the calendar, and possibly classes on some of the artisanal beers they carry.

With the continued expansion and success of Norman’s business, the company now employees 85 people. Two of those employees are the Love’s children: The oldest, Ryan, first went to college at UCF for engineering, but got the food and beverage bug when he worked a part-time job at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. He changed his focus, graduated from the UCF Rosen College with a degree in hospitality management, came home to work with his dad for three years, and then went to pastry school in Chicago. He has been back working at Norman Love ever since.

The Love’s daughter, Carly, works in the office and is a marketing wiz, according to her dad. Carly is pursuing a degree in nursing, wants to continue on to become a nurse practitioner, and is expecting her first child – a little girl – this month.

“Her name is going to be Lincoln and she’s obviously a game changer. My wife is over the moon and back, and then over the moon and back again,” sings Love. “And I am way too young to be a grandfather…I can’t figure out how this happened,” he laughs. “It’s the next step of life, and I’m sure she (Lincoln) will have me wrapped around her finger in no time.”

Norman doesn’t take for granted the blessing it is to have his children working alongside him. He admits going through a lot of struggle to build back, give back and pay back all the time sacrificed in his personal life for years of accelerated growth in his business.

“I’m a big believer that sacrifice is important in order to gain what you want. I’ve learned through experience that tireless effort and sacrifice is a big part of life…and fortunately that’s a life lesson my kids gained from watching me. So for my children, they know nothing in life comes easy and it requires hard work, commitment, tireless effort and sacrifice.”

While Norman knows the cost of his years of sacrifice, he is quick to acknowledge the real reason his family has stayed close over the years: his wife.

“The true credit is deserving to Mary, because Norman was never here,” he speaks in third-person. “He was a rock star, out gallivanting…first-class, limousines, the big suites, people catering everywhere. It was a rock star life. But it was my wife who was here being a mother, raising children and doing everything I wasn’t doing.”

Mary was a dental assistant prior to running the admin of the company, and Love marvels at how incredibly smart she is and the many hats she is able to wear.

“She has an eye for the things I don’t. I have an attention to detail as it relates to art, but she has an attention to detail as it relates to all the things I can’t concentrate on because my mind is always whirling.”

That is what keeps Norman continually focused on vision casting, collaborating with his accomplished culinary team, and creating newness that pushes the company forward. It’s a push that serves his soul’s need for expression as well as a push to constantly improve for his customers and his community.

“There are days Mary and I will put in too many hours, like 18 to 20, and we will go home and plop on the couch and not want to talk to any one. And yet, we will still be shocked and say to each other, ‘Can you believe how many people came to the store today? How can there be that many people in Fort Myers?’ We have these conversations where we are kind of pinching each other asking, ‘What did we do, what did we create?’ It’s so overwhelming and humbling and surreal. These are true feelings we really have, and we are so proud of our community.”

The Loves believe giving back is the responsibility of a small business owner. Their contributions of time and resources to charities like the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Fort Myers Food and Wine Fest, are frequent. Love’s favorite memories of service are being a Wish Grantor with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and serving meals at the Salvation Army.

“We have been blessed with the ability to give generously. We are who we are because of this community that has supported us so strongly since the very beginning. To have the means today, giving back isn’t an obligation anymore; we are just so happy we have the ability to do it.”



What is your favorite thing to do with chocolate?

“Make people happy. At the end of the day, people eat chocolate because they just love to eat chocolate. I still love to eat chocolate. If there’s a piece in my way, I am going to put it in my mouth.

White, Milk or Dark?

“Probably milk, especially if it’s paired with caramel.”

What do you love the most about interacting with your local customers?

“Ah, that’s the best part. It’s instant pacification, instant gratification as a chef to interact with the customers and hear their comments, both good and bad.”

What do you think readers would be surprised to know about you?

“I’m a really private person. And I’m a crazy avid Pittsburgh Penguin’s fan. That’s why my dog’s name is Sid.”

With the last name Love, clearly you were made for chocolate. Tell us more:

“People tell me that. Love is part German and Polish.”

What is the most proud moment of your career?

“There are a number, but the number one would be spending three days in Julia Child’s home filming for a PBS television series called Baking with Julia.”

Tai Chi for Better Health

Tai chi in all its forms is a noncompetitive practice. Although it is one of the martial arts known for its defense techniques, most people practice it for its health benefits. As a form of exercise, it comprises gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness. The gentleness of the Tai Chi movements helps to promote confidence and strength. Regular practice can result in a reduced risk of falling and improvements in balance, fitness, flexibility, postural stability, leg strength, and cognitive function. It also appears to reduce pain and the symptoms of depression. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that has evolved to become a means of reducing stress and anxiety, and is considered to be safe for people of all ages as it does not put too much stress on the muscles and joints. Movements are circular and never forced, and Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to those confined to wheelchairs.

A 12-week program is offered at the Gateway Yoga with Sylvia studio. Classes begin on January 10. Twice-weekly classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. For more info call 239-768-1458 or visit gatewayyogawithsylvia.com.

Living Well

The 1% Solution to Reach Your Goals in 2017

by Darin. W. Stokke, DC

Progress usually takes one of two routes: dynamic sudden changes or incremental improvements over a period of time. Being as most of us are impatient, we tend to desire the dynamic sudden changes that happen all at once like winning the lottery and becoming wealthy over-night. However, most sustainable change occurs in small incremental progressions. This is where the 1% solution comes in to play.

With health, it’s easy to find sales pitches on TV, on the radio or in an ad someplace promising a quick and easy cure to a problem. There seems to be a pill for every ill that will work quickly and help you live happily ever after if we are to believe the commercials. But real health and progress simply doesn’t work that way. Likewise look at the weight-loss ads and the plethora of books on dieting that promise the next best thing for the quickest results. Again, healthy sustainable weight reduction simply doesn’t work that way. In fact, take most things in life and you begin to see a pattern that sustainable progress in most anything of value including reaching a desired goal takes time.

I remember the day I decided to set a goal of running a marathon some years ago. At the time my longest runs were in the 3 mile range and 26.2 miles seemed almost unimaginable. But I looked at the fact that others had somehow accomplished running that distance and became convinced it had to be possible. A month and a half later I was somehow much less convinced that it was possible to run that far as I barely found the strength to complete just 6 miles. I wondered how anyone could do more than 6 miles with the way I felt that day. However, I had already doubled from my starting point. In another couple months I found myself completing 13 miles and realizing I was nearing the half way point to my goal of 26.2 miles but it still seemed almost impossible. By month 5 I finally broke the 20 mile mark on my longest run and it was at that point I became confident it would happen. A few weeks later, I reached my goal and finished my first complete marathon. Anyone that has trained for and completed a marathon can appreciate the struggle of training and the small incremental progress that’s necessary to reach the final goal. Most of us grow impatient in the training and sometimes push the process harder than we should and inevitably suffer small, or even big, injuries along the way that slow the process down even further. The reason I share this story as we head into the New Year is to relate that while a goal may seem miles away and almost impossible for us to reach, it can be done with a patient and steady approach.

The 1% solution is a simple plan of striving for a small 1% improvement each day in whatever goal you have. It’s similar to answering the question of how a person can possibly eat an elephant?…one bite at a time, of course. If we concentrate only on the vast distance we have in reaching our goal, we will likely become overwhelmed and more easily give up. But if we focus on the small 1% steps we can take today and work to improve or progress 1% each day, it becomes much less daunting and much more possible. The most common cause of failure in reaching our goals comes from giving up when we become discouraged. When we fall off our diet, don’t lose weight as quickly as we hoped, aren’t saving money as fast as we wanted because an emergency came up, or we aren’t getting past a sticking point quick enough, we often get discouraged and simply give up and lose all the progress that was made up to that point. When we instead focus on the 1% we can do today and not get caught up in tomorrow or allow ourselves to get discouraged by our past, any goal becomes possible. Within 30 days of practicing 1% improvement it’s feasible to imagine we are 30% closer to reaching our goal. The key to remember is that anything that is sustainable and of great value often takes time and patience. Be patient and remain confident in your abilities. Most of us give up before we even set down that road to try. Don’t give up. A journey of 1000 miles begins with just one step. Focus on that one step today. When tomorrow comes, focus on that next step. That’s how the 1% solution works and how we all can reach our goals in 2017!

Dr. Stokke is a Chiropractic Physician at Lifestyles Chiropractic located on Lindbergh Avenue just off Daniels, near Norman Love Confections. You may reach him by calling 239-334-9355 or by visiting www.LifestylesChiro.com.

Dig In

Growing Veggies in Southwest Florida

by Adrienne Diaz

Most people think that Spring, or maybe Summer, is the best time to grow herbs and veggies. Up north that is true, but not down here. Winter is actually the most productive time to grow your own backyard herbs and vegetables. This is when the humidity is low and the mornings and evenings get a little cooler – all things that temperate plants like. When the humidity and temperatures soar in the spring and summer, and the rainy season begins, almost all herbs and most all beloved vegetables begin to struggle or give up. After hearing this, many people ask me, “Can you grow any veggies or herbs in the spring or summer here?” My answer is always, “Absolutely, but those will be tropical varieties,” and that is a completely different story – stay tuned to read about those in May and June.

I do want to emphasize that you do not need to plant veggies in the ground here. You are actually better off planting them in small raised beds or containers, which is perfect for those who are living in neighborhoods with small to no yard space, or in gated and golf course communities with many rules and regulations about planting in the ground or existing landscape.

If you choose to raise your crops in pots, then all you need to do is have a container that drains well and be sure to use aerated soil (a potting mix that has peat moss, vermiculite or perlite and a bit of compost). If you would like to raise more veggies than your backyard or patio will allow, consider growing in a community garden bed. These are usually 4×8 feet and you can grow enormous amounts of food if you follow the square foot garden method.

I am currently harvesting bok choy, swiss chard, radishes, collards, eggplants, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, lettuce, spinach, peas, peppers, green beans, tomatoes, kohlrabi and soon will have onions and carrots too.

Make a New Year’s resolution to begin growing some of your own food. Not only will you be healthier (because you will have clean, chemical free food), but you will also be wealthier (have you seen some of the prices in the Organic food markets?). And I guarantee you will also be happier – there’s a reason gardening is the #1 hobby in America!

Happy New Year and I hope to see you in the garden!

Backyard Veggie Growing 101

Learn the Basics for a Successful SWFL Veggie Garden

When: January 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: WaKeHatchee Rec Center 16760 Bass Rd, Fort Myers (next to Lexington Middle School)

What: Calling all beginning, transplanted or frustrated gardeners: Do you have a desire to grow honest, non-toxic, nutritious food in your own backyard, but don’t think you have the know-how or even the space? We will discuss in detail our special zone, soil and season information. Knowing how to work in a sub-tropical climate makes all the difference in the world on how successful your garden can be and with much less effort and space than you think! The class is free, but please RSVP to apdwith5@gmail.com for handouts.

Adrienne Diaz is a Certified Square Foot Garden Instructor, a Lee County Master Gardener and the Project Director of the Six Mile Charter Academy School Garden. She grows numerous fruits, vegetables and herbs year round. She offers free workshops & classes monthly, gives garden tours and can speak to your group. Contact her on Facebook at Miss Potters Place, apdwith5@gmail.com, or 239-464-5754.

Student & Families

Creative Kids Tag Art

Now Available for Public Purchase

This school year 2,817 creative designs were completed by fifth-graders from 40 Lee district schools participating in Lee County Kids Tag Art program, which has raised more than $38,000 to benefit Lee County arts education.

Two student designs are selected from each school by a panel of art jurors to receive an Award of Distinction recognition. The 80 license plate designs are available for public purchase by visiting the Lee County Tax Collector website at www.leetc.com. The program is offered by the Lee County Tax Collector in partnership with The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.

Like most art by young children, each design reflects what is on their minds, from an appeal to save endangered animals to a visual inventory of beach sunsets. In some cases, you’ll see the slogan “Love Life” with a brilliant composition of color. These young artists’ tag art is now being offered for sale online and available throughout the school year.

You can support art in education by purchasing a Kids Tag Art decorative front-end license plate to display on the front bumper of your car. The proceeds from your purchase will go to back to Lee County School District art classrooms through a grant program administered by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.

For a special preview party of the selected works, residents are invited to Hotel Indigo in Downtown Fort Myers on January 20, from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Lee County Kids Tag Art program’s mission is to help enhance art education with supplies and resources for the classroom. Additional in-kind sponsorships offset costs and provide additional recognition and rewards for the students such as attending spring training baseball games.

Family Movie Nights Series

Begins January 20

Alliance for the Arts will begin its Outdoor Family Movie Nights series at the Alliance campus on Friday, Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. Families are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, coolers and blankets. Admission is free, but a suggested $10 family donation helps the Alliance continue offering affordable family programming.

“Family Movie Nights are a fun and endearing way to enjoy animated films under the stars with your family and friends,” says Brandi Couse, Director of Education & Operations. “It’s a great, inexpensive way to treat your family to a movie.”

The Outdoor Family Movie Night series continues on Friday, February 17 with Ice Age: Collision Course and concludes on March 10 with How To Train Your Dragon 2. Movies begin at dusk.

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard just south of Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. For more information, please call 239-939-2787 or visit www.ArtInLee.org.

Beauty and the Beast

at Lehigh Senior High School

Lehigh Senior High School Center for the Arts presents Beauty and the Beast Jr. on January 20, at 6:30. All tickets just $2. Join LSHS’s Theatre department for their annual children’s musical. The classic story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity. Contact Janelle Laux JanelleYL@LeeSchools.net for more information.

…more Food Stuff

Veg Fest 2017

Come celebrate personal and global health and compassion at Southwest Florida’s inaugural Veg Fest on Sunday, January 29 at Centennial Park in Fort Myers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will celebrate whole food plant-based nutrition and is expected to attract people looking for an easy way to improve health, along with those already living plant strong lifestyles for either health or compassion reasons. This fun, free event will have a great blend of food trucks, local vendors, cooking demos, contests, exhibitors, and educational presentations by well-known speakers—Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Nelson Campbell, Dr. Hans Diehl, and Andrew Kirschner.

In addition to serving as a Veg Fest sponsor, CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) organizes free health events all year. The public is welcome to learn more and attend. Visit chiphealth.com or fortmyerschip.or call 239-910-0755.

Opening in Gateway

Local restaurateur and business owner, Sal Basile and family celebrated the ground breaking of a new restaurant going into the Gateway area on Dec. 9. The restaurant will be located directly on Gateway Boulevard at 12401 Commerce Lakes Drive. Sal has over 30 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, with a local favorite Two Meatballs in a Kitchen.The Gateway restaurant will serve lunch and dinner and is set to open August/September 2017.

Farm & Flea Market to Open

The weekly farmers market at JetBlue Park returns with an added flea market. Beginning Jan. 9 and running until March 27, Fenway South Farm & Flea Market will run every Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market will include fresh local produce, cheeses, fresh pastas, seafood, baked breads, meats, herbs, ready-to-eat meals, plants, flowers, crafts, soaps, candles and more.

It’s All About the Food

Ham Salad

by Susan Barnett

I am not a ham salad fan because I don’t like sweet pickles. So here is a different version using dill pickles! Great recipe for leftover Holiday Ham.


2 cups – ham cubed

¼ – sweet onion chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 dill pickle chopped (bread and butter can be substituted or the dreaded sweet pickle)

¾ cup – mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons – Dijon mustard


Place ham, onion, celery and pickle in food processor and pulse until ground. Add mayonnaise and Dijon mustard and pulse until completed blended. Taste and adjust mustard and mayonnaise.

Serve as an appetizer with crackers. Or as an entree in a stuffed tomato or as sandwich.


Susan Barnett is a food industry veteran who graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. A self-proclaimed “foodie”, Susan’s philosophy is: “It’s all about the food!” Contact her with your food questions at sbarnett@embarqmail.com.




Tips from South Trail

Heroes Among Us

by Christie Knudsen, Public Education Specialist

What would you do if a major disaster left you, your family, and your neighbors on your own to take care of yourselves for an extended period of time? What if someone was trapped or injured by the disaster, what then? The natural reaction for most people in a disaster is to help others. According to sociologist Dr. Lee Clarke, the true first responders in a disaster are family members, neighbors, or even a stranger on the street. CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training prepares you to help your family and your community in case of a disaster, without endangering your own life.

The first CERT, formed in Los Angeles in 1985, was modeled after teams of volunteers in Japan who were trained to assist in their neighborhoods after earthquakes. Southwest Florida is unlikely to experience a major earthquake; however, we can experience natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hazardous materials incidents, or acts of terrorism. CERT programs have been established throughout the United States, Florida, and Lee County. South Trail Fire & Rescue’s CERT program has trained over 150 people since 2003. CERT teams are established in neighborhoods throughout the South Trail Fire District, and include the Legends, Olde Hickory, Jamaica Bay, Seven Lakes, Pine Manor, Gateway, and Page Park neighborhoods.

The next South Trail CERT training is scheduled for January 31 through February 2, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Participants will be trained on disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, and terrorism. During the final session, the class will exercise their new knowledge and skills in a mock disaster drill.

CERT volunteers have many opportunities to give back to their community. After Hurricanes Charley and Wilma, South Trail CERT volunteers assessed the needs of residents in their neighborhoods, helped establish a neighborhood relief center, and educated their neighbors on the safe use of generators. CERT volunteers also help with public education programs and projects throughout the year, such as the annual South Trail smoke alarm giveaway.
The CERT training class is free of charge to District residents, but space is limited. The training will be held at the South Trail Fire Station 62, 13500 Sophomore Lane. For more information or to enroll, call 239-936-5281 or go to www.southtrailfire.org.

The monthly meeting of the South Trail Board of Commissioners will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 17, at Station #63, 5531 Halifax Avenue. The public is invited.