You may have heard that Southwest Florida has compiled a list of the best places to live.
And I realized that living here has become "very expensive," as Phil Fernandez eloquently wrote as he removed the story from US News & World Report's annual list this week.
Napoli led Florida last year and finished seventh overall in the Americas. In the new 2022-2023 ranking of the best places to live in the US, its ranking has dropped to 12th overall, and it now follows it in the sunny state of Sarasota-Bradenton, which again ranks 9th nationally. Cape Coral Fort Myers dropped from 43rd to 100th.
But I would like to mention some of the many other reasons why we love the place where we live, work and play.
It's always nice to read that our future leaders are having fun and doing good.
Madison Klinger of Fort Myers is one of them. Earlier this month, he finally revealed his closely guarded secret after graduating from the University of Miami: He played Sebastian Ibis, the school's iconic mascot, for three years.
Dressed in fluffy yellow boots, Madison walked across the stage like the last student to be announced, drawing final applause from thousands of people. As Dan DeLuca said, this whole experience also changed the trajectory of his future. And the future is worth celebrating.
Then there are companies, and many of them are stepping in to help their employees by changing their future.
One, Collier County Physicians Regional Health System, announced that it would pay its employees up to $20,000 in student debt.
This is a win-win situation in a challenging job market, especially in healthcare.
Another example is the support of the community, especially after tragedies like the one at the Naples Zoo in December.
Eco, an 8-year-old Malayan tiger, was shot and killed by Deputy Sheriff Collier while trying to free a janitor who stuck his hand over a fence and was bitten.
The story goes on
This week, the zoo announced the arrival of another Malayan tiger, named Odin, who will become a bachelor as part of the Species Survival Plan. According to editor Dave Osborne, this tiger is endangered. One way to help, the zoo said, is to donate to the Ecological Tiger Conservation Fund, which was set up after his death. To date, over $50,000 has been raised.
The Florida manatee is another species that is being helped by someone associated with Southwest Florida.
It looks like the Boston Celtics co-owners will donate $2 million to help the manatee recover from last year's record-breaking death.
The family-run charity, run by Karen and Rob Hale, has announced that it will donate $1 million to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Trust and the Manatee Rescue Club. This is one of the largest awards given to non-profit organizations dedicated to saving the state's iconic sea creatures.
The Hales family, who own a home in Naples, has long been involved in the protection and conservation of manatees. As Jim Weiner says, "They visited her home in Naples and heard even more disturbing news: the critically endangered Florida manatee is in large numbers," according to a press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Foundation.
More reasons to cheer for the Celtics when they take on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals! Not that I need it, because I'm the daughter of an old fan. Come on Celtic!
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Wendy Fullerton Powell
Southwest Florida/The News-Press/Naples Daily News
This article originally appeared in the Fort Myers News-Press: SWFL is still one of the best places to live.