Downtown Fort Myers loves when a hot celebrity comes to the neighborhood. But, when it’s Anderson Cooper live on CNN covering the arrival of Hurricane Irma, it can be disconcerting. Still, plenty of local fans drove downtown to get a selfie with him. James Robinson, development director for the De Lasalle Academy, went the extra mile. As he and his partner, makeup artist Alide Jarbeau, were housing their friends, evacuees and local thespians Anne Dodd and Patrick Day, the group watched the Coop on TV. “I could tell that he was a short drive from our house,” James says. “I had just made dinner and we all agreed that we needed an adventure—so we decided to take dinner to Anderson Cooper.” The group made chicken and broccoli for Anderson, and Anne added some of her homemade cookies. “He was very gracious and thankful,” James reports. “And he was more than happy to pose for pictures with us.” Mission accomplished, with smiles all around.
Anyone who has attended an auction knows there’s an art to auctioneering. Fast-talking Sara Rose Bytnar, from Naples, does it better than most. In July, Sara won the women’s division of the 30th International Auctioneer Championship in Columbus, Ohio. The bidding paddle doesn’t fall far from the table. Last year, Sara lost to her mother, Beth Rose Bytnar, by one-tenth of one point. Former winners aren’t allowed to compete again. Sara took advantage and won two months after delivering a baby. She runs the family real estate auction business, Beth Rose Real Estate and Auctions. Sara also works with Scott Robertson doing fundraising auctions in Southwest Florida.
Fans, former flings and debt collectors still confuse two men with the same name who couldn’t be more different. “I look nothing like the Vanilla Ice Robert Van Winkle,” my friend and colleague, the meteorologist version of Robert Van Winkle (pictured), said with a laugh. Behind the scenes in the weather office, Robert pointed to a message a woman sent to his NBC2 Facebook page. “There’s a picture of her in a bikini with a couple of tats on her stomach.” She wrote, “Hey, it’s Tiffany from Connecticut.” Weather guy Robert has never met her. Then there was the time a man from Miami sent him a message and used some of those words you can’t say on television. Something about owing money. “That one I actually responded to and said, ‘You’ve got the wrong Robert Van Winkle.’” Years ago, Vanilla Ice performed a concert in Cape Coral. Opportunistic PR people thought it would be a great idea to have our local Robert introduce the rapper Robert. “Vanilla Ice never came out of the trailer,” Robert recalls. The rapper’s embarrassed PR rep blamed the delay on “Ice” chomping down on tacos. Robert remembers welcoming the crowd and then bolting because he had to get back for the 11 p.m. news. Rapper Robert was made a one-hit wonder by a song nearly 30 years ago. Weather Robert has been forecasting storms for more than 30 years. No confusing those résumés.
Naples venture capitalist Bruce Sherman and a group of investors won the bid to buy the Miami Marlins. The deal was approved by Major League Baseball in late September. Sherman is what the MLB calls the organization’s “control person.” You get that title when you pitch in $400 million. Derek Jeter threw in $25 million and is the front-office face of the team. Sherman will have his work cut out for him in order to turn around an organization expected to lose $60 million this year.
It’s only fitting Scene & Heard follows up on two familiar voices to local sports fans. Mark Miller and David Moulton are back on the radio in Southwest Florida. The two got the boot in the last year from the ESPN radio affiliate. In August, they announced a September return to the airwaves on Fox Sports 94.1. Forget staying up late for the West Coast games. Instead of Miller and Moulton in the afternoon, they’re going on at 6 a.m. Early yes, but they’re doing what they love.
In the days leading up to Irma, local pilot Glenn Frith and his crew at Aeronautical Charters Inc. were busy flying clients, friends and family out of harm’s way. Jessica Wells works with Glenn’s wife, Amy (former ABC-7 anchor), at Chicos FAS and said via Facebook, “If you know Glenn and Amy, you know how selfless, compassionate and kindhearted they are. In fact, Amy and Glenn and the wonderful ACI team helped me and my family—and others—evacuate last week. Now Glenn is currently at a hospital in Georgia having suffered a heart attack.” Glenn, who has donated his piloting services to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other local charities, wasn’t feeling well after evacuating Amy and his two children to Georgia. On the same day that Irma arrived in Southwest Florida, he had a massive heart attack. It was touch-and-go for a while, but Glenn persevered. He later joked about writing a book, with title ideas like: Ouch, Dying Hurts or How to Lose 15 Pounds in Six Days with Multiple Electric Shock Therapy. Still only in his late 40s and with two young children, Glenn is recovering and using social media to urge folks to see a cardiologist. You can help with his medical bills by donating at paypal.me/amyglenn.
In the aftermath of Irma, many Lee County fundraising events were canceled or postponed. The Valerie’s House fundraiser headed up by Norman and Mary Love is on hold for now, Becoming Cosmopolitan for the CCMI Soup Kitchen will return next year, and the AMIkids StarShine in the 239 at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre has been rescheduled from Nov. 6 to April 30. For updates on these charitable events, visit their websites: valerieshouseswfl.org, ccmileecounty.com, amikids.org.