by Jan Holly
City Council’s first agenda item, during its Nov. 5 meeting at MacKenzie Hall, was to celebrate the Children’s Education Center of the Islands, which marks its 45th birthday this year. With a full complement of children, parents and teachers present, Councilmembers gave out coloring books, and Mayor Kevin Ruane read a proclamation citing the Center’s immeasurable value to the Islands’ families.
“The Children’s Education Center provides quality preschool and childcare for those who live and/or work on Sanibel, as well as scholarships to families in need of financial assistance,” Ruane said, adding that the Center also “prepares students for kindergarten. . . [and] provides inspiration to develop confidence and independence while improving social and creative skills.”
Ruane finished his encomium with a tribute to the Center’s core mission, which “encourages children to be children.”
CECI Director Cindy DeCosta was on hand to accept Council’s congratulations. “On behalf of CECI, I would like to say thank you. We appreciate the community and all its support throughout these 45 years. We couldn’t have done it without you,” she said.
Census 2020 Comes to Sanibel
Michele Malsbury, Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, provided important information to Council and the City about the upcoming national Census count. “The goal of the census is to count everybody once, only once and in the right place,” she said, adding, “the decennial census is especially important, because it sets the pace of funding for the next ten years.”
Underscoring this point, Malsbury equated the census “with two things: political power and money. It is worth $675 billion across the nation every single year,” she said. “It helps forecast needs for transportation and infrastructure, grants, education, emergency services, and disaster relief, like FEMA. If you have ever been impacted by a hurricane,” she added, “the [census] count [determines] how much money you will get.”
One of Malsbury’s current tasks is to recruit workers for the count. To that end, the U.S. Census Bureau will hold a job fair, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Sanibel Recreation Center. “The biggest push now is hiring,” Malsbury said. “We need 7000 people for Lee County overall. We are hoping to hire some people at the fair.”
At its Dec. meeting, City Council will decide on the manner of Sanibel’s Census participation within Lee County and designate personnel from the Planning Department to work with the County.
Employee of the Fourth Quarter
Mayor Ruane surprised Steve Schweitzer, a Community Services Department worker, as Employee of the 4th Quarter. The honor was conferred by Schweitzer’s City staff peers.
Hired by the City in 2015, Schweitzer was promoted to his current position of Tradesworker II in 2018. In presenting the award, Ruane noted “the value that Steve brings to the City and how quickly and diligently he completes projects.”
Expressing his surprise at the honor, Schweitzer said, “I wasn’t expecting this, but I am very appreciative of it. I just hope I can continue to do whatever it is that I do that earned me this. I love working for the City, so I will keep trying.”