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First of many

January 18, 2012
Pine Island Eagle

Dear Pine Island Community:

Although the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce building was destroyed by fire early Friday morning - another "Friday the Thirteenth" tragedy, no one was injured, no lives lost, only a long-standing structure that housed the Visitors Center and chamber office. The outpouring of support from the community has been overwhelming, and I would like to thank those businesses and individuals who have already offered assistance. I will try and send continued "thank you" letters as the help comes in. If I omit a name or business, it is simply that I did not get a card or write it down.

Offers of temporary office space came from Elsie Stearns, Stonegate Bank; Bill Sheehan, Subway building complex; Jim Griffiths, Nautical Mile Enterprises; Randy Ali, Counterstrike Security & Sound; Mark Rudolph, Edward Jones Matlacha; Buzzy Phillips, Raymond James; Judy Bicking, Island Decor; Roger Schutt & Craig Young, Calusa Ridge; SWFL Realty Group; and Jim Konig, Pine Island Eagle office.

Our initial temporary "office" is an RV loaned to us by Calusa Ridge, and sits on site of the chamber facility.

Other offers of assistance have come from Karen Petersen, S. Petersen Homes; Chris Strobel, Servpro of Cape Coral; Michael Gibbons, Marketing Works Now; local musicians, Strange Arrangement. Tamara Pigott, executive director of Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, has offered - and we are utilizing it - their answering service to take calls on our primary phone number - Tam, thank you.

Individuals in the community, individual members, chamber ambassadors, area chamber executives - I cannot thank you enough for your calls of support, hugs and offers of "sweat work." To name a few - Patty Lewis, Linda Willis, John Bohanek, Pam Abbott, June Petteruti, Julie Patterson, Ron Brendel, Frank Galardi, Genie & Leigh Andrews, Pat & Harry Halvorson, Dick Kellner, Derrick Stearns, Stearns Custom Builders; Steve Honc & Jake Herring, Honc Industries; Carol Keiling, Safety Harbour Insurance; Larry Sutton, Islands Insurance; Phil Gilles, Blue Water Realty;Ric Base - Sanibel/Captiva Chamber, Mike Quaintance - Cape Coral Chamber, John Albion - Fort Myers Beach Chamber, Lehigh Acres Chamber - I know I have omitted some. Commissioner John Manning and his assistant Nan Gonzalez have offered their assistance when it comes time for permitting.

Also, thank you to Bob and Annie's Boatyard for donating a laptop computer and office supplies.

I would like to thank the entire board of directors of the Greater Pine Island Chamber and administrative assistant Jennifer Jennings for pulling together to get the rebuilding process started. They are taking on various tasks in this "rebuilding/reorganizing" effort to see that everything is done as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

This random act of arson may have destroyed a building, but it has NOT destroyed the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce. Our community - both commercial and individual - is a strong one, and the outcome will be a stronger, more solid one. Pine Islander work together.

Thank you to our community for stepping up to the plate and helping us.

Lisa Benton

Executive Director, Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce



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