VIP winners of the 12th annual Scarecrows in the Park competition

VIP winners of the 12th annual Scarecrows in the Park competition

The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation and Lee County Parks & Recreation have announced the VIP winners of the 12th annual Scarecrows in the Park competition, one of the featured attractions at the Lakes Park Fall Festival. The theme of this year’s competition is “Favorite Book Character.”

The Fall Festival opened Friday, Oct. 15, and runs through Saturday, Oct. 30, in the Children’s Garden at Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers.

The VIP Award winners this year are:

  • “Waldo” built by Lehigh Regional Medical Center
  • “Medusa” built by the O’Hern Family
  • “Wild Thing” sponsored by Doma Title Insurance and built by Harns Marsh Elementary School

Judges for the VIP portion of the competition included Frank Mann, Lee County Commissioner; Jesse Lavender, director of Lee County Parks & Recreation; and Rachel Anderson, ABC7-TV reporter.

The VIP judges said they were impressed with the creativity, execution and humor conveyed in all the entries. 

The public now gets to choose the “People’s Choice” winners by depositing a ticket in the bucket in front of a favorite entry. Nearly 4,000 votes were cast the first weekend by visitors. Voting hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 30.

The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation has organized this event as part of the Lakes Park Fall Festival for 12 years. The festival includes a pumpkin patch, hayrides, inflatables and concessions presented by Wheelfun, and the Halloween Express train ride presented by the Southwest Florida Train Museum. More than 50,000 people attend the Fall Festival each year.



Lee County commissioners voted to allocate an additional $208,671 in Emergency Solutions Grant CARES Act funds to help rapidly rehouse about 30 households experiencing homelessness. 

The allocation is part of the board’s continuing commitment to assist those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 530 individuals have been rehoused using pandemic funding from various sources. 

Lee County Human & Veterans Services serves as a collaborative hub for resources—federal, state, local, private and nonprofit—designated to aid Lee County residents through supportive programs and services. 

The county accepted emergency solutions grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in June and December 2020. This action allocated funds from administration and outreach to rapid rehousing. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, call 239-533-7996. 



The Lee County Board of Port Commissioners authorized the construction and total budget for the terminal expansion project at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) at a board meeting last Tuesday.

The $331 million project focuses on improving the airport’s efficiency by consolidating and streamlining security checkpoints, adding concession space, and providing passengers more amenities and options.

The terminal expansion project is set to begin in October and construction is planned for three years. The expansion is the second largest public works project in Lee County history, only being surpassed by the airport’s Midfield Terminal Complex construction completed in 2005. 

“Southwest Florida International Airport is the front door to our community and supports travel, new business and tourism in our region,” says Kevin Ruane, chair of the Board of Port Commissioners. “We are pleased to start this essential project that will enhance infrastructure and manage growth while vastly improving the passenger experience at RSW. It will also create hundreds of jobs for our local economy.”

Plans for the project include consolidating the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints into a new 16-lane configuration and providing additional seating, concession spaces and a business lounge. In total, more than 164,000 square feet of space will be remodeled and 117,000 square feet of new walkways and concession space will be added to the airport terminal.

For the full story, click here.

Lee Commissioners vote to acquire 22 acres in Cape Coral for Conservation 20/20

Lee Commissioners vote to acquire 22 acres in Cape Coral for Conservation 20/20

The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to acquire about 22 acres in Cape Coral near county-owned Judd Community Park for Conservation 20/20.

The property is located south of Pine Island Road and a quarter-mile west of U.S. 41. Yellow Fever and Hancock creeks converge on the west boundary of the property, which includes both upland and wetland plant communities.

The purchase price is $1,485,000, plus costs to close. The Conservation 20/20 Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC) voted in July to forward this purchase agreement for Board consideration.

The acquisition is contingent upon the release of all obligations pertaining to the Declaration of Covenants for Judd Creek Preserve, Assignment of Developer Rights for Judd Creek Preserve, South Florida Water Management District’s Environmental Resource Permit, and a Deed of Conservation Easement. All of these would be at the seller’s expense.

There are currently about 31,340 acres within Conservation 20/20, Lee County’s land acquisition and management program. Conservation lands help the county protect drinking water, enhance water quality, provide nature-based recreational opportunities, protect areas from flooding and provide wildlife habitat. For more information, visit



Lee County Public Safety-Emergency Management today continues to monitor Tropical Storm Elsa and its rainfall as well as potential wind and tidal impacts.

The National Weather Service recently expanded the Tropical Storm Warning for Tropical Storm Elsa to include inland Lee County in addition to coastal Lee County. With weather conditions expected to deteriorate mid-afternoon, Lee County Government will close its offices and facilities at 2 p.m. today. Employees who are not needed for T.S. Elsa operations will be sent home.

LeeTran will continue to operate for those who need transportation. Trash pickup on regularly scheduled routes will continue until it is completed, which is expected to happen mid-afternoon. Lee County Parks & Recreation summer camps will remain open until all children can be picked up.

The county asks motorists to drive with caution today.

Lee County Natural Resources and the Lee County Department of Transportation prepare year-round for excessive rain events, particularly during the traditional hurricane season.

DOT’s maintenance on drainage ditches, for example, has helped prepare the county’s roads for necessary drainage during rainfall events. Expect minor intersection and road flooding. During heavy rainfall, it will take the infrastructure time to drain.

The county asks the public to report blocked ditches, swales, canals and areas of local flooding:

  • * First, to find out if your road is maintained by Lee County DOT, visit If it is not maintained by Lee County, find your municipal contact by visiting
  • * Second, put in a Request for Action (RFA) to improve surface water drainage along your county-maintained road by contacting the Request for Action Hotline at 239-533-9400 or
  • * People can use the same phone number and website to also report blocked creeks and streams (example: downed trees, collected debris). The reported information will be directed to Lee County Natural Resources.
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The county is monitoring low-lying areas, where residents should prepare their homes and yards for potential localized flooding. County crews will be monitoring locations such as the Sanibel Causeway islands and roads on barrier islands, Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach, the Fort Myers neighborhoods of Whiskey Creek and Island Park, as well as Bonita Springs and the Matlacha Pass area. They will also monitor Alva/Buckingham and North Fort Myers.

Lee County Natural Resources reports that the county’s water levels remain average to below average, which is typical for early in the rainy season and should help throughout today’s anticipated weather.

Natural Resource crews will be out monitoring creeks and streams, watching for and – where feasible – mitigating any impediments.

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County crews will monitor any potential storm surge that would coincide with today’s high tides. Crews will respond accordingly.

The county will continue to coordinate with its municipal partners as well as with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Lee County Government departmental facilities and operations today are normal. The 20th Circuit is closed. For individuals experiencing homelessness, the Salvation Army Homeless Resource Day Center is open today.

Residents should monitor local meteorologists’ reports, visit and follow Lee County Government on Facebook.

Given the forecasted wind speeds, no shelters are open at this time. Emergency Management is prepared to open shelters, if necessary. LeeTran is prepared to help with transportation, should sheltering become necessary.

Regarding bridges: Lee County does not literally “close” bridges during tropical storms or hurricanes with barricades, cones, gates or signs because they can easily blow away, becoming ineffective and hazardous. Lee DOT strongly advises motorists to stay off bridges – and the roads leading to them— when sustained winds reach 40 mph (tropical storm force). At those speeds, wind gusts can already be much higher. Winds also become stronger at higher elevations, so dangers increase on higher bridges and elevated roadways.

Motorists may encounter law enforcement officers during today’s event around and near bridges. Follow the directions given.

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