Kristen Coury Awarded 2023 Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award

Kristen Coury

The Collier Citizens Council is pleased to announce that Kristen Coury – a stalwart of the arts in Collier County – is the winner of this year’s Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award, given annually for extraordinary contributions to the community.

Ms. Coury, previously active in New York theater, came to Naples in 2004 and founded, then served as CEO and Producing Artistic Director of the Gulfshore Playhouse. She has directed over 40 productions for the Playhouse.

Recognizing the need for a larger arts center, Ms. Coury recently led efforts to raise funds for a new and expanded complex in downtown Naples. The Baker Theatre and Education Center, a major addition to the local arts scene, is now under construction and scheduled to open in 2024.

Nina Gray Awarded 2022 Citizen of the Year Award

Nina Gray was named the recipient of the 5th annual Murray Hendel Achievement Award for her tireless work in aiding the needy of Collier County.

The award was presented by the Collier Citizens Council at the Naples Hilton on February 23rd.

Established to honor Murray Hendel, the Collier Citizens Council’s cofounder and first president, the award is given annually to a county leader who has made extraordinary contributions to the community.

Nina Gray fits that description.  She has served the county professionally and through volunteer work for over 40 years, helping to establish several organizations to aid the ill and underprivileged.

She helped launch Avow Hospice and became its first CEO.  She later served as president of the Neighborhood Health Clinic and most recently as founder and CEO of the Collier Resource Center, a broker for the needy that puts hundreds of struggling people a year in touch with volunteer professionals who can provide help.

Holding a BA in education from Arizona State University and an MS in counselling and rehabilitation from the University of South Florida, Ms. Gray says, “Service is the rent we pay for living.  I am committed to improving the quality of life for our residents.”

Previous recipients of the Murray Hendel award were Carrie Kerskie, for her pioneering work in fighting identity theft (2017); Judge Janeice Martin, for her relentless work for the mentally ill in the county’s treatment courts (2018); Nancy Lascheid, cofounder of the Neighborhood Health Clinic, for bringing health care to the less fortunate (2019); and Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, for his enlightened law enforcement to safeguard the residents of Collier County (2021).

Renew Thoughts on Fire Consolidation – By Marvin Easton

Automatic Aid/Mutual Aid where the Closest, Available, Appropriate Unit (or units) responds, as administered by the Collier County Sherriff’s 911 System, no matter the fire agencies’ borders, which is participated by all 5 fire agencies in Collier County (Marco Island, Naples, Greater Naples, Immokalee, and North Collier) is a great benefit to the residents, visitors and commuters to Collier County and must be maintained.

In fiscal Oct 2021 – Sept 2022 there were 69,017 EMS calls: 13.6% or 9,371 were fire or fire alarm calls; 65.4% or 45,123 were medical or medical alarm calls, and 21.0% or 14,523 were rescue or other calls.

The IFD budget was $7,496,079 divided by 4,879 responses = $1,778 per call

The NCFD budget was $48,518,776 divided by 28,958 responses – $2,211 per call

NCFD responded to 379 calls into IFD, and IFD responded to 59 calls into IFD, for a net of 320 calls @ $2211/call or $707,520 funded by NCFD resident taxpayers to respond to IFD territory incidents.    

The annual tax rate for NCFD residents is 1 mill

The annual tax rate for IFD residents is 3.75 mills

Potential solutions:

  1. Modify the borders between IFD and NCFD such that more for the areas that NCFD in mostly responding into IFD territory are legally transferred to NCFD.

The advantage to the NCFD taxpayers is the cost of responding into that area is funded by the resident taxpayers of that area versus being funded by the taxpayers of NCFD.

The advantage to the current IFD taxpayers is their tax rate could be reduced.

  1. Consolidate IFD into NCFD as was done a few years ago when 6 Independent Collier County Fire Agencies combined to form NCFD and Greater Naples Fire Dept (+ Immokalee, Naples, and Marco Island) that improved both operational efficiencies and backoff efficiencies.
  2. Similar to 1 Collier County Sherrif Office, and 1 Collier County 911 System, and 1 Collier County EMS system, combine the 3 Independent Fire Agencies (GNFD, IFD, & NCFD) into 1 agency as a separate Collier County Fire Agency,

or as 1 department combining with the County EMS system,

or as 1 Collier County Public Safety Dept (combining the Sherrif, EMS, 911 and Fire).

  1. There are approximately 30 counties in Florida who have organized their fire departments into either one department for the entire county,

or one department for the unincorporated part of their county plus additional “city” based fire departments.

Nina Gray Awarded 2022 Murray Hendel Award

Nina Grey

Nina Grey was awarded the 2023 Murray Hendel Award.

In 2017, the Collier Citizens Council established the Murray Hendel Award to honor of one of its founders and first president, Murray Hendel.
This annual award is presented to Collier County leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to their community.

This year’s recipient is Nina Gray, whose dedication to helping the less fortunate goes back 40 years. A licensed mental health counselor, who helped launch Avow Hospice in 1982 and became its first CEO. She later served as CEO of the Neighborhood Health Clinic and in 2016 created the Collier Resource Center, an organization that connects people needing assistance with local health and human resources.

Ms. Gray says, “Service is the rent we pay for living. This is my philosophy. I am committed to improve the quality of life for those who need help.”

The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 on Thursday, February 23rd at Naples Hilton. 5111 Tamiami Trail No. Naples FL 34103


Past winners were….
2017 – Carrie Kerskie, for her efforts in combatting identity theft
2018 – Judge Janeice Martin, for her work to advance mental health services
2019 – Nancy Lascheid, for her leadership in providing medical care to the underprivileged

2022 – Kevin Rambosk

Contact, Nancy Kerns 239-821-5208 ,Email:

Murray Hendel – One of a Kind

By Dave Trecker
Published in Florida Weekly

Murray Hendel was just that. One of a kind.

He passed away earlier this month and left a legacy we mere mortals can only dream about.

He never ran for public office but had more clout than most local officials. Political wannabes routinely lined up for his support. Charismatic, direct and funny, Murray mobilized people for a cause, then sent them off to deliver.

From a prominent Connecticut family of retailers and Democrat kingmakers, Murray referred to his northern relatives as “those pinkos.” He was a personal friend of Senator Bob Dole and a self-proclaimed New England Republican. But politics never got in Murray’s way. He was one of those rare people who could rise above politics.

I crossed paths with Murray many times. When he chaired the Collier County Presidents Council, he recruited me, then parceled out an assignment: “Trecker, I want you to follow what goes on in Tallahassee and report on it every month.” Many years and many organizations later, I still keep track of the Florida legislature.

When Murray became disenchanted with the CCPC, he gathered Bob Raymond and me for breakfast at a local Skillets and, together, we founded the Collier Community Alliance, later to become the Collier Citizens Council. Murray, of course, was the first president. He was decisive and very impatient. “Trecker, do you think we should do this? Good. Take care of it.”

A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Murray was — like the writer — a huge UConn basketball fan. When both the UConn men and women won national championships in 2014, he presented me with a commemorative jersey. It doesn’t fit (Murray was a big guy), but it’s still hanging in my closet.

His bio is something to behold. A CPA by training, he served in the military and was a senior executive in a number of firms. While working with the IRS, he received a National Presidential Award from President Lyndon Johnson.

In retirement in Naples, Murray chaired the Tourist Development Council and Naples General Employees’ Pension Fund and served as a director on the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the CCPC and CCC, he served as president of the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums and the Holocaust Museum of SW Florida.

To no one’s surprise, Murray caulked up a slew of awards.

• Community Achievement Award (2010)

• Samuel Noe Award (2010)

• Collier County Community Service Award (2015)

• Collier County Sheriff’s Office Community Star (2018)

•Jewish Historical Society of SWFL Award (2018)

And he has an award named after him — the CCC’s Murray Hendel Award for Civic Achievement. Recipients have included community leaders who battled identity theft, promoted mental health care and provided medical service to the needy.

Murray was in constant motion. I watched as he led the charge to raise funds for the Freedom Memorial, a project that honors veterans and first responders. He also championed a one-cent increase in the tourist development tax, a controversial proposal that was enacted in 2017.

One of his proudest achievements was “Murray’s Mile,” a one mile stretch of boardwalk along the Gulf Shore beach named for him by the Naples City Council. To stroll with Murray on his early morning walks there was the ultimate recognition. Kathleen Passidomo and past mayors Bill Barnett and John Sorey were among his companions. “If you wanted political blessing,” said Bob Raymond, himself a regular walking companion, “you had to join Murray on his ‘mile’.”

He was indeed one of a kind — a friend and mentor to many of us. But you can’t get too maudlin about Murray. He didn’t like praise. It took up too much time. ¦

— A Naples resident, Dave Trecker serves on a number of local boards.

CCC to Host Commissioner Candidate Forums

In Person and on Collier Television CTV. Comcast 97

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Commissioner Chambers

3299 Tamiami Trail East, Suite 303

District 2 Candidates – 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

  • Jason Brooke
  • Reg Buxton
  • Lynn Corr
  • Chris Hall
  • Gerald J. Lefebvre
  • Nancy Lewis
  • John Socher
  • Rob Tolp

District 4 Candidates – 6:45 to 8:15 p.m.

  • Daija Hinojosa
  • Daniel Kowal
  • Michelle McLeod
  • Penny Taylor

The forum is hosted by Collier Citizens Council in partnership with Naples Better Government, the League of Women Voters and Greater Naples Leadership and features a discussion of candidates’ positions and priorities.

View Commissioner Candidate Forum at Collier Television CTV. Comcast 97.

Please contact Nancy Kerns for additional information. 239-821-5208 or

Sheriff Rambosk Receives 2021 Hendel Award

Kevin Rambosk, was presented with the Murray Hendel Civic Achievement Award at the Collier Citizens Council (CCC) Holiday party on November 10,2021

Honoring our cofounder and first president of the CCC, the award is presented annually to Collier County leaders who have made extraordinary contribution to the community.

Past winners were….
2017 – Carrie Kerskie, for her efforts in combatting identity theft
2018 – Judge Janeice Martin, for her work to advance mental health services
2019 – Nancy Lascheid, for her leadership in providing medical care to the underprivileged

Mr. Rambosk, our sheriff, is a New Jersey native who arrived in Florida in 1978 and has served as the City of Naples Chief of Police & Emergency Services and City Manager. He was elected Sheriff in 2008 after serving in leadership roles since 2003.

In addition to his public safety service he has served in both Board and Leadership positions for multiple community and civic organizations. Among his many civic achievement recognitions he’s been the recipient of the “Man of Distinction Award” from The Education Foundation, the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce and the NAACP Humanitarian Award.

Transparency and Full Disclosure of Fiscal Impact Analysis

Transparency and Full Disclosure of Fiscal Impact Analysis

The Collier Citizens Council affirms the fundamental principles of transparency and full
disclosure when examining any issue affecting Collier residents.
Certainly taxpayers are concerned about a possible $3.8 Billion deficit (NDN 9/7/2020) from not following Smart Growth protocols of development in the vast RLSA in Eastern Collier County. This hidden charge is a rounded $10,000 per capita financial burden paid directly or indirectly by the county’s 385,000 residents
We know that either a neutral or positive taxpayer benefit is required by statute (LDC 4.08.07L) as a condition for RLSA development. Any result short of that is not only unacceptable but is a breach of a critical, legal safeguard for the protection of the County and its residents. Therefore, we advocate a pause in the approval of RLSA projects until residents are provided with complete and credible information about the assumptions and calculations documenting statutory fiscal compliance.
We also know that basic principles of transparency and fairness are not in place when developers’ consultants decline to provide full disclosure of the assumptions and calculations within their fiscal impact models. Such ‘black box’ algorithms yield opaque results without credibility to concerned residents expecting that their representatives will protect their financial interests.
Accordingly, the Collier Citizens Council recommends the following protocols and actions prior to any RLSA approvals:
1. Only ‘open box’ financial models documenting fiscal impact compliance. Project cash flows to include a proportion of exterior County improvements allocated to each project.
2. County engagement of consultants to (i) create models, or (ii) validate/amend developer models and (iii) forecast cumulative fiscal impact from prior approved towns and villages, including Ave Maria’s alleged, large deficit paid by residents.
3. The scope and extended timeline for constructing exterior infrastructure and the buildout of towns and villages requires utilization of sound present value analysis. The County is deploying massive upfront cost outlays for exterior and interior infrastructure, core amenities and maintenance prior to the receipt of substantial lagging cash inflows from building impact fees, sales taxes etc.
4. A significant contingency cost is required for all fiscal impact models to account for the uncertainties of costing and timing variables. Developers, not only residents, must share in future risk with updated and rebalanced fiscal impact models at intervals of 5 years or less.

Ian McKeag and Mike Lyster, Collier Citizens Council

2020 Amendments on November Ballot

Published in Florida Weekly 1/10/20




By Dave Trecker


The good news is there will be only six constitutional amendments on the ballot this year as opposed to a staggering 12 in 2018. The bad news is few people have a clue what any of the amendments are about.


Here’s a quick summary.


Amendment 1 tinkers with wording on who can vote in Florida, changing “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state …” to “Only a citizen …” It’s a distinction without a practical difference. Whether you vote for or against matters little.


Amendment 2 gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. Florida’s minimum wage is now $8.56, indexed to inflation.

Supporters, led by activist lawyer John Morgan, claim that falls far short of providing a livable income, said to be $55,000 for a family of four.


The impact could be considerable in Southwest Florida, with its slew of restaurant, hotel and farm workers. Jim Wall of CareerSource Southwest Florida said the boost in minimum wage could add $120 billion to the local economy by 2024.


Opponents see nothing but carnage. Amendment 2, they say, would be a death knell to small businesses. Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce wrote, “We’d lose over 500,000 jobs in Florida.” Carol Dover of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association added, “We need to be sure these [low-income] people understand they literally could be voting themselves out of a job.”


The irony is, by 2026 most of the country will have a minimum wage well beyond $15 an hour.


Amendment 3, the dreaded ‘jungle primary,’ would open the primary election for governor, the legislature and cabinet to all voters regardless of party affiliation, with the top two vote getters progressing to the general election. That could be two Republicans, two Democrats or one from each party.


Spurred by an ‘All Voters Vote’ campaign, the amendment claims to enfranchise 4 million independents now shut out of closed primaries. Supporter Mike Fernandez said, “Florida is among only a handful of states that do not allow all qualified voters to participate in primary elections. How backward is that?”


Neither Republican nor Democrat officials want anything to do with the amendment. They argue it robs registered voters of both parties the right to choose their own candidate. Florida Republican Party attorney Benjamin Gibson said, “The amendment redefines what has worked well in Florida for over a century.”


Amendment 4 would require 60% voter approval of proposed constitutional amendments in two successive statewide elections. “The vote is so nice, we’re doing it twice.”


Proponents say that would do away with whimsical amendments and help keep the constitution clean. They point out the Florida constitution has been amended an unconscionable 140 times in the past 60 years.


Detractors say this is nothing more than a power play by a partisan legislature to make it difficult for citizen groups to have a say in lawmaking. Over the past 20 years, 79% of amendments that made the ballot were approved. But what if supporters had to mount costly campaigns not once, but twice? The legislature is betting few will have the financial chops to stay the course.


Amendment 5 would extend from 2 to 3 years the period a person can transfer Save Our Homesbenefits to a new homestead property. Little controversy here.


Amendment 6 would allow a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran. Again, little controversy.


To learn what the experts think, go to the Collier County website, find “Stay Connected” and punch on “Meeting Video Archives.” Once accessed, go to “Archived Videos” and view “2020 Election Amendments forum.”


A retired Pfizer executive, Dave Trecker serves on a number of local boards.